Asterisk Networks is a fintech platform operating in the global security finance marketplace. Their mission is to allow the world's largest financial institutions like banks, broker-dealers, asset managers, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, and hedge funds to connect and negotiate trading opportunities with any other participant in an electronic format.
Asterisk Networks works with the world's largest financial institutions, so they're currently focusing on a pretty narrow market. Their platform essentially works like a financial dating app with an extensive rolodex of companies to deal with. Its goal is to widen the user's spread, increase revenue, and provide more opportunities to trade.
Asterisk Networks' clients want to connect directly with like-minded peers to negotiate securities financing transactions. Their non-bank clients, such as pension funds, hedge funds, and asset managers, can face a host of challenges in the securities lending process:
So the company set out to create a peer-to-peer marketplace that would enable participants to connect to their app and negotiate in an electronic format, digitally record their transactions, and eliminate some of the lengthy reconciliation processes they would have to go through.
To do that, they wanted to create a completely open platform for financial institutions to decide who they want to trade with.
Which is why they decided to go with Handsontable.
Dave Stewart, lead front-end developer of the app, tested out many options before going with Handsontable. It was visually appealing, less complicated than the other grids, and had an amazing API.
What's more, it integrated nicely with other libraries used in the app. Handsontable's out-of-the-box functionality allowed them to get started immediately, and its customizability made it easy for them to build whatever feature they needed. The two basically sealed the deal.
The app's implementation of Handsontable is very sophisticated, with extensive functionality including:
They used the grid to build an easy-to-use, flexible tool, with features including:
Beyond the features and functionality, the unsung hero in the development process was Handsontable's customer support. To Dave, it was huge:
The next bit I always come back to is the support and the forums and getting answers quickly. That was key for us. Whenever we had a question, we always got an answer. It was brilliant.
Implementing Handsontable meant that Asterisk Networks was able to build a prototype that was ready and out to market within three months. They estimate that it saved them nine months of total work on the front end, as well as the ongoing costs of documentation, development, and testing of building a data grid in-house.
The platform's flexibility allows clients to continue following well-established security financing protocols while providing direct trading routes and making the whole process more efficient.
In addition, the lengthy reconciliation process has been removed entirely. By negotiating directly on the Asterisk Networks platform, clients record information there instead of on their own platforms, preventing divergence in the data. And if there is no divergence in the data, there is no need for reconciliation.
The value of the UX that Handsontable brings to the app is something Dave calls "immeasurable", and users confirm their experience with the app is smooth and familiar. Throughout a transaction, the app suggests the next steps, and all the user has to do is press a button. And Handsontable provides an Excel look and feel that creates a sense of recognition and trust in knowing how to work with the app.
The business couldn't exist the way it does without Handsontable. It's the core of the communication between counterparties, and it provides a familiar tool that people already know, making it more attractive to potential clients.
In a broader context, the app has given Asterisk Networks the ability to go out and show clients what they're doing. This comes in handy, especially if their clients are not familiar with how an API works. They can also connect with best-in-breed providers in the market and are now planning to expand their product range and keep growing their app based on their clients' needs.
Lead Front-End Developer