Public Release: 

NPL launches atomic timing service for financial trading

National Physical Laboratory

Intergence signs distribution agreement with the National Physical Laboratory to offer NPLTime® - a certified and precise time signal that will enhance the ability to deliver high-speed data between trading venues and traders

The UK's National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has signed a distribution agreement with trading technology company Intergence to deliver NPLTime® - a new service providing a precise time signal directly traceable to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and independent of GPS. The service provides the end user with a distributed solution that is certified at their premises. Having NPLTime® in multiple locations offers inherent synchronisation.

Having traceability back to such a highly accurate time standard will ensure that transactions completed in microseconds can be easily certified. NPLTime® will provide end-users with a trusted timestamp, regardless of how many locations the trades cross.

Time and speed are essential in trading and at the heart of Intergence's service is a technology that can process trades in microseconds. The company currently provides high end networking solutions and expertise for many financial power houses and is the first managed service provider to invest in this technology. Rob Smith, Chief Operating Officer explains 'There is a significant and growing need in the financial sector for higher degrees of timing accuracy and its resilience when trading. Over the last few years we have seen some high profile cases of mistiming in trades and service cessation at major trading centres due to synchronisation issues. Financial organisations are also compelled by MiFID (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive) to ensure best execution and fairness in trading and heavy fines have been exercised for non-compliance.'

To ensure that all trades are legal, data packets are timestamped as they move through different networks. However, different organisations implement time in different ways, which can make an accurate tracking of trades impossible. For example, in some cases, data can appear to travel backwards in time when sent from one location to another - as the second timestamping clock is slightly ahead of the first one.

To protect against this and ensure that all trades are synchronised, a recognised standard needs to be in place to provide traceability and confidence. This is what NPLTime® delivers, providing the traceability and confidence needed for traders.

NPLTime® will provide end users with an underpinning timing capability for traceable time-stamping, latency monitoring and synchronisation. The additional metrics it provides will deliver enhanced resilience, confidence and security in the services offered.

NPLTime® also completely eliminates reliance on GPS and removes susceptibility to jamming, spoofing, urban canyon effects and space weather. It reduces the costs associated with managing a complex assortment of timing devices and the need to access roof space to locate GPS antennas. The signal is fully compliant with the FINRA OATS 7430 timing traceability requirement.

Dr Leon Lobo, Strategic Business Development Manager at NPL, said: "At NPL, our remit is to manage and disseminate the UK's timescale, UTC(NPL). NPLTime® is an extension of many decades of time dissemination expertise. We operate one of the world's most accurate atomic clocks, NPL Csf2, which is accurate to one second every 158 million years, and are developing the next generation of optical atomic clocks which will be accurate to one second in 14 billion years. By launching this new dissemination solution, with a direct connection to UTC, we are able to provide users of NPLTime® with a trusted and traceable distribution service for the financial sector that completely eliminates reliance on GPS."


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