Pro-Web3.0 provides enhanced UI and trading experience for Upstox customers
Ratan Tata backed discount brokerage firm, Upstox also launched a new Global Investments service, that introduces Indian investors to invest in 60 exchanges across 25 countries on a single platform. This makes Upstox one of the few Indian brokers to offer access to such a wide range of exchanges. EC's Abhishek Raval speaks with Shrini Viswanath, Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer, Upstox
Upstox moved a chunk of its processes to cloud-based systems in April to cope with the jump in trading volume and account openings. Please elaborate.
While there has been a surge in customers and trading volumes over the past two months on the Upstox platform, we have already been scaling our back-end systems to accommodate this growth. We also moved a large part of our infra processes on to cloud. Our migration to higher systems was completed last month and all our customers have access to all the exchanges and products. We combated the lockdown impact on our customer service processes by making app ticketing the primary customer service touchpoint. Our IT team is vigilant and actively monitoring our systems to ensure they are functioning positively for our customers in the current volatile markets.
The kind of surge in new account openings since the lockdown. Why the surge?
Trading volumes, as well as the demand for opening new accounts has seen a 2X increase in the number of orders within a 2 month period, in Upstox. Interestingly, while metro cities continue to contribute to the growth of Upstox’s customer base, we have more than 75% of customers from Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.
One of the primary reasons for increasing consumer interest is the availability of more time while at home due to lockdown restrictions. It gives the new investor an opportunity to analyze their financial portfolios, learn about how to invest in equity markets for wealth creation, hone their trading skills, given the uncertainty of the end of the pandemic Covid-19. Secondly, customers are also looking at this lockdown period as the right time to enter the markets, given the prevailing attractive stock prices. They are viewing income from market trading as an alternative source of income during these trying times.
USP compared to competitors like Zerodha, 5Paisa and other online brokerages?
Customer feedback forms the backbone of our customer-centric innovations and a major driver to ensuring enhanced user experience. Pro-Web 3.0 is a major UI change for options traders. Typically, options trading is more involved. There is more knowledge and risk inherent in options trading thus requiring access to high-speed data that can enable faster decision-making, particularly at the time of expiry. Keeping in mind the above requirements, we have recently introduced Pro-Web 3.0 which offers some unique features with an improved user interface and a better trading experience. We have used the powerful ‘React framework” to provide high-speed data, all-in-one place, and in a few clicks.
Additionally, we have launched a new Global Investments service, that introduces Indian investors to invest in 60 exchanges across 25 countries on a single platform. This makes Upstox one of the few Indian brokers to offer access to such a wide range of exchanges. With the new Global Investments platform, Indian investors can invest in any global exchange such as the NASDAQ, Dow Jones or the Hang Seng. They can own shares of the world’s biggest companies like Apple, Google, Tesla, Amazon, Mercedes-Benz, or Teva, among others. Additionally, investors can also invest in any US exchange at zero commission.
Recently, Zerodha experienced a major downtime. What steps have you taken to avoid such incidents?
While the national lockdown has caused disruption across all segments of business, at Upstox, we have witnessed a spurt in business in terms of the growth of customers and trading volumes. We have already been scaling our back-end systems to accommodate this growth. Safeguarding our customers has always been our number one priority.
How are you managing security?
Rapid technology developments have trebled the possibility of security threats in our financial markets. Therefore, the security of the customer’s fund becomes a prime objective and at Upstox, it is our guiding principle. Upstox is the first broker to implement an electronic delivery instruction slip (e-DIS) facility to help customers sell shares in real-time after seeking authentication from investors through OTP. This makes e-DIS a secure way of transferring shares without giving power of attorney to a third party. Since the customer doesn’t have to give a physical POA, there is no authority given to the broker to transfer shares from customers’ Demat account without customer consent. This makes e-DIS a natural choice v/s POA and curbs the possible misuse.
Our entire technology suite is built in-house, which enables us to better identify and implement controls for possible security threat vectors. Our technology platform is constantly upgraded to make it more secure and threat proof. It helps us to implement the best practices adopted in those markets for mitigating security threats into our systems and processes.
To what extent are you using DevSecOps and how does it help in the current situation when you are experiencing exponential growth?
In order to reduce the security threats in cloud deployments, security must become a shared responsibility instead of an afterthought. Adopting DevSecOps for software development is part of this transition. DevOps automates a lot of processes that required a discussion previously. We are making builds happen by communicating on tools rather than based on physical discussions. Since teams cannot congregate physically to address production issues we rely more on DevOps to make release management a highly process driven approach.
Technology initiatives you are taking to manage the post COVID times?
Even before the lockdown was brought into force, Upstox opted to work from home, in the interest of the safety of its partners and employees. As such, we have ensured safe, anytime, anywhere access to our networks and services to ensure business continuity. In fact, the onboarding of new employees is completely digital. Safety and security has always been core to our business, regardless of the situation around us. Deep back-end systems have been built to support our teams as they monitor production systems at different shifts from home. We have also looked at utilising our online tools to manage projects and deliveries, while we have also invested in automated Q&A to fully test and certify new systems.
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