Interview with Wes Mahir (CEO of VForex)

VForex LLC is an Irvine, California, based hi-tech startup company looking to fill a rather overlooked gap in financial trading. And they plan to do it in a quite unusual way — by introducing virtual and augmented reality technologies to both sides of the dealing desk.
AM: Hello Wes! What is VForex and what are its plans for the world of financial trading?

WM: Hi! VForex is a team of a computer science professionals. I have formed it to work on a specific task — to create virtual and augmented reality packages that will revolutionize the retail Forex trading. Despite some previous efforts in the direction (CYBER-II comes to mind), there is complete vacuum of working solutions that would help traders and brokers work efficiently and with full engagement. VForex is just a few steps behind of shipping the working solution.

AM: What has VR and AR to do with Forex trading? As far as I know, all current applications are related to gaming or military and are not very successful.

WM: Right! In fact, the market is craving products we are about to offer. Success is a measure of fitness — we are implementing great ideas and we are working hard to make the end result a real solution to real problems. That is why we are not worrying about success at this point.

As for how VR and AR can benefit Forex, I will try to explain our two main products briefly. Seer is an augmented reality package aimed for the use by the brokers — dealing desk, account management, even money managers. Basically, it is like an all-knowing automatic virtual assistant that projects all the relevant information directly into broker’s eye, ear, any other body part based on what he is looking at or analyzing. Our client-side product — Depth is a virtual reality package that lifts the trader’s interaction with the market to a whole new level. Just imagine being able to control every aspect of trading with tiniest motions of your hands, head, or with a blink! It also means complete immersion into the world of quotes, charts (traders are not limited to lines/candles/bars in 3D!), relevant news, and perfect controls to make dealing as efficient as possible.

AM: So, is it a hardware or software product? What part does VForex play in it?

WM: We are working on a complete stack — both hardware and software. Initially, we tried using existing hardware and improvign things by adding our own software. That did not turn out so well. We realized that in order to create new industry — and I frankly believe that’s what we are doing — we need to develop everything from scratch. So, now we have several devices prototypes as well as a range of applications (both for these devices and for the server side) that are just days from launching into production.

AM: Is the technology available to accomplish all these things? It sounds hardly believable at all.

WM: Yes, definitely. Some of the things still need polishing but it is there already. Actually, the technology is nothing the world did not have some few years ago — we just made it usable and useful by improving and working on it. Of course, some of the things we would like to accomplish with VR or AR are still a bit of ahead of our time, but hey some years from now we’ll all be living in a much more different world and our product will evolve accordingly.

AM: Who are your customers? Why did you turn to Forex industry and not the stock market or futures?

WM: Forex brokers are our target institutional clients. Professional Forex traders are our target retail clients. We are not going to cater to every small-time FX trader — our product is not cheap enough for that — but traders with monthly turnover of 7–8 digits will definitely like our offer.

As for why have we turned to the foreign exchange vs. other financial trading markets — there are two big reasons. The first one is that we are going to offer our solutions outside of US and thus outside of CFTC/NFA regulation. We do not want to mess something up in regulatory department hence no US Forex brokers, no equities, no futures, etc. The second reason is money — Forex industry is ripe with crazy money, and the competition among brokers is enormous — companies are happy to invest in anything that would help them beat the rivals.

AM: Are you expecting wide adoption of you technology?

WM: Yes, but not now. Currently, we are closely working with four big market players who are experimenting with our prototypes. Of course, when the genie is out, we expecting nothing less than skyrocketing industry-wide adoption of our products. It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when. If late adopters will only suffer losses, the non-adopters will simply get crushed by their competition.

AM: Will it be worth the price? By the way, how much will it cost to an average trader?

WM: As I have said, once we release the product, brokers will have no other option than to jump on the bandwagon. It will be their only chance to survive. Basically, we will set our price for corporate customers based on their yearly turnover. Of course, it won’t be cheap.

As for the retail side, an average trader will not be able to afford it at all, I’m afraid. That’s not like average traders even matter. We plan selling to rich traders — the price for our “budget” package will be somewhere in mid-six-figure range.

AM: And what advantages will it bring those traders who will be able to afford your VR solution?

WM: OK, let’s start with the basics. The trader is immersed into artificial environment literally surrounded by data and information presented in the most convenient way possible. With simple (and quick) motions, the trader can discard or embrace some piece (for example, news with the latest CPI data). Trading process now involves very comfortable price adjustments with sliding motions. Think of how easy it is to drive a car using wheel and pedals versus keyboard and mouse. The same principle is at work here.

Now, the great thing is that we are not limited to audio and visual signals here. With the current technology, traders can receive signals and get alerted about some important events with vibrations, sensations, shock impulses, touch, strokes or whatever else you can only imagine. Trader’s body becomes fully engaged as the apparatus for receiving market feedback. It’s an unbeatable experience. But that’s just a half of it!

With the same technology, the feedback will condition traders — reinforcing correct trading decisions and discouraging the bad ones. Just imagine how your trading could progress if every accurate step would be followed by a slight impulse of satisfaction while every incorrect action would be punished with painful sting! We could even go a bit further! Set some weekly or monthly goal — and get orgasmic burst of stimulation impulses when you accomplish it. Fail it — and get your worst nightmare come true feedback from the trading equipment.

AM: Isn’t that too much?

WM: Why? Virtual reality equipment can go even further — inflicting real damage to traders (think account managers) who perform poorly. That sounds a bit harsh, but it is something a lot of market players would be fond of. And such a technology is just around the corner.

AM: Is equipment for such “feedback” available already?

WM: It’s nothing new actually. Some of the stuff have existed for several decades already. We just wire it all together and make it work with the markets in a meaningful way. Moreover, we probably won’t release everything to the public at once. We will start with the most conventional things first and will upsell all the exciting (and the most expensive) parts at a progress of time — as customers get themselves used to it.

AM: How can these technologies advance in the near future?

WM: It is the future! Of course, it won’t stop at what I just described. We aim for a complete real world emulation shaped to work with the market. Consider adding all senses to the bucket of feelings that would transmit trading information to your brain: smells, taste, some direct-to-consciousness signals. Same stuff could be going on with the control — imagine trading the markets at the speed of thought!

AM: Is there any chance for a hacker or malicious broker to manipulate a trader via VR or AR?

WM: No, definitely not! We make sure nothing like this can happen. Of course, a trader would still need to trust the broker and us, but he already does that now when he chooses a company to trade with and a trading software supplier.

AM: OK. My last question is personal — do you trade Forex? What are your results?

WM: No, I’ve abandoned the idea of trading a long time ago! I don’t think it’s a good idea to put myself into dependence upon some blind chance.

If you have any questions for Wess Mahir or if you have some suggestions for our future interviews, please use the commentary form below to submit them.

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