Reuters launches IM for financial services industry

News and technology company Reuters Group PLC officially launched its instant messaging (IM) product for the financial services industry on Monday.

Announced earlier this year, Reuters Messaging was developed by Reuters and Microsoft Corp. with the support of more than 30 financial institutions. The product meets the financial industry’s security and regulatory compliance requirements, including storing and auditing of all messages, Reuters said in a statement.

About 1,100 companies in 85 countries have signed up for Reuters Messaging, according to Reuters. The service will also be part of Reuters’ premium desktop services. The London company provides financial news and information to customers worldwide.

Reuters’ more than 15,000 employees also use Reuters Messaging for customer contacts and to reach colleagues, Reuters said. The application allows users to see who is online and to hold one-to-one or group conversations, features also available in standard IM applications.

IM is rapidly gaining popularity among business users, but free IM software lacks security features critical for corporate use, analysts agree. America Online Inc.’s Instant Messenger, Microsoft’s MSN Messenger and Yahoo Inc.’s Messenger may cause sensitive data to leak, or open a new door for hackers to get into a corporate network.

In addition, viruses that exploit security holes in all three popular IM applications have spread this year.

Nearly half of the 506 million IM users expected online by 2006 will be business users, according to IDC in a recent report. IDC expects the IM market to boom from US$72 million in 2001 to $781 million in 2006.