A Q&A with Hazem Dawani, Co-Founder of OptionsCity – A Leading Provider of Electronic Trading Solutions


Hazem Dawani - Headshot 200pxThe economic volatility of the late 2000s showed options traders that they urgently needed more intuitive and reliable tools, and OptionsCity aims to provide them. Their flagship product, Metro, gives traders control over pricing and risk management in all market conditions. The newly launched Freeway Analytics platform enables clients to quickly build and simulate trading strategies. Co-founder Hazem Dawani discusses in this Q and A how OptionsCity, an Equinix customer, focuses on speed and scalability as it designs products that enable clients to develop successful trading strategies.

It might have seemed like a bad idea to build a financial technology company during the economic turbulence of the late-2000s, but the incredible volatility proved that traders needed intuitive and reliable trading tools. It was out of this turmoil that OptionsCity launched its flagship product Metro, a fully configurable electronic trading and market-making platform that creates a distinct edge by enabling options traders to have full control over pricing and risk management in any market condition. Metro’s colocated server-based architecture provides low latency access to the world’s derivative markets.

The company continued to innovate with the 2011 launch of Freeway, a platform designed for quick development and deployment of automated trading strategies. OptionsCity has been continuously adding to its growing and integrated suite of pricing, risk management, execution and analytics tools.

What is OptionsCity?

We launched OptionsCity in 2006 as a company built around the needs of professional trading firms, market makers and financial institutions. When we first started, we made sure to introduce the most technologically advanced and innovative products available, designed for speed and scalability – and traders responded. What we believed – and what was confirmed – was that the less time traders have to spend navigating complex software, the more time they can spend developing successful trading strategies.

With offices in Chicago, New York, and now London, OptionsCity is a growing, international company with connectivity to Europe’s leading futures exchanges. London is our gateway to both Europe and EMEA markets, but the biggest reason for expanding there was to better serve our existing, growing client base.

In addition to what we offer and where we offer it, OptionsCity is focused on building an enlightened trading community and fostering education within the industry at large. We do this by participating in and hosting several educational events throughout the year and by sharing our expertise on industry panels, in industry trade publications and in other venues.

Who does OptionsCity serve?

Our customers are a diverse group of traders, from professional trading firms and market makers to large financial institutions. They trade in derivatives markets – with increasing growth in commodities, energy and the European markets.

Traders turn to OptionsCity for our constant innovation and evolving technology, which enables us to create more intelligent products on a short timetable. Our architecture is designed for both speed and scalability.

What challenges do your clients turn to you to solve?

Increasingly, our clients’ top technology priorities are reducing time-to-market for their trading strategies, having open systems that connect to third-party technology and having technology partners who can cost-effectively scale as their businesses grow. OptionsCity Metro is perfect for these demands, as it gives traders and market makers an intuitive and powerful tool to price and execute trades, a great API to integrate internal and third party systems and the scalability required to accommodate a growing client’s needs.

Freeway was designed with these demands in mind, as well. For multi-asset automated trading needs, Freeway reduces the cycle from trading strategy concept to execution. Since the market quickly opens and closes the door on opportunities, its ease of use and speed are critical.

Speaking more broadly, the futures industry is also dealing with ever-growing mountains of market and event data, something that even the largest institutions struggle to store, maintain and access. That’s one of the reasons we introduced Freeway Analytics, a new trading analytics platform that allows for comprehensive historical data back-testing in a simulated environment, whether the data is provided by us or a client’s own source.

What is new with OptionsCity’s product offerings?

New features and functionality are always being added to OptionsCity’s products in an effort to empower our customers with the latest innovations.

One area we are very excited about is our Algo Store – the trading industry version of the iTunes App store. Developers and quants upload trading strategies they develop, and these can be purchased and utilized by trading firms within Freeway. It’s an exciting space, and developers and traders both have shown incredible interest.

We constantly have new and innovative changes in the pipeline, but Freeway Analytics, launched in November, is our newest. Freeway Analytics makes it easy for our clients to quickly test, build and simulate trading strategies, allowing them to capture market opportunities before they’re gone.

To learn more, visit www.optionscity.com