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Innovator Spotlight: TradeKing - Using APIs to Deliver Next-Generation Trading Experiences

May 22, 2012








TradeKing is a nationally licensed online broker/dealer dedicated to empowering the independent, self-directed investor. The TradeKing platform features powerful online equity, options, ETF, mutual fund and fixed-income trading tools, along with a rich set of news, research and analysis capabilities.

Dan Raju, TradeKing's CIO, talked to us about how the TradeKing API is serving as a core element of the firm's strategy for delivering the next-generation trading experience for traders and fueling the company's growth.

How are you using APIs today?

When we launched our API last year, we were one of the first brokerage firms to offer a simple REST-based API. Our API is an absolutely critical piece of our infrastructure now, promoting efficiencies and innovation across every channel: from our website and other internal systems development to our external partners and the broader app developer community.

We've made our API available so that the development community can do any possible mash-up of our services– and they are. This level of integration and innovation we are seeing is something we could never have accomplished by ourselves this quickly.  

What kind of business benefits have you experienced as a result of your APIs?

We get a million plus calls every day on our API, and a growing number of partners have built their platforms on our API. We also have individual traders who write apps or trading algorithms for their own personal use.

Everyone has his or her own personal way of trading, and the API opens up endless possibilities for traders to define their own experience.  In a couple of months, we'll be launching our own app gallery to showcase the apps developed by business partners and developers with our APIs.  We are just scratching the surface now. We think in the next 12 months, we'll have a much larger set of partners on top of the API. All this is benefiting our customers by offering them a greater set of choices they never had before.

What has helped you promote developer adoption?

To attract a wide array of developers, it is crucial to offer a simple yet rich API, so that’s what we have done.  We couple that with good developer engagement - extremely good and continuous engagement.  Developers then grow into partners and traders or create trading experiences that benefit our customers.  We believe TradeKing offers the most secure yet simple API in the marketplace. We've also conducted incentivized virtual hackathons and crowdsourcing initiatives, which have been very successful. This past fall, we conducted an extremely successful API Campus Challenge program, in which we encouraged undergraduate students to create platforms on our API. Young brains from colleges and universities all across the nation participated to create amazing apps.

As a part of our overall API growth strategy, we also provide special pricing discounts for our API Partners.

How do you work with Apigee?

We built our API platform on Apigee Enterprise, and then we customized it to meet our requirements.  Initially, we considered developing the entire API ourselves, but we decided to keep our primary focus on the core of our business, delivering a great brokerage experience for our customers, and draw on Apigee’s expertise to help develop our API platform.

Because we are in the financial sector, security is of the utmost importance. Apigee's platform delivers excellent security features and is very customizable. In addition, Apigee's staff worked with us in many, many ways, helping us think through APIs as a technology platform and helping us build the delivery platform itself.

In our view, it comes down to three things: response, understanding customer needs, and relationship. Apigee delivered on these and has been a very valuable partner.

What is your vision for your API program?

We are one of the top-ranked online brokerages in the country, growing very rapidly. We manage people's assets, give them a set of capabilities to trade, and offer an extremely transparent pricing structure. However, we recognized that our customers’ demands for next-generation interfaces are rapidly changing, and our API helps us stay in front of that.

We anticipate that in the next phase, the API will be a meaningful revenue driver for us. It is already opening us up to new markets.

We will continue to develop our own platforms on the API and incentivize and engage our development partners.  At the end of the day, it’s all about delivering value to our customers, and the API will continue to help us drive increased value at an accelerated pace.

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