Automation, Algos and AI: is FX catching up with Silicon Valley?

New technologies inspired by Silicon Valley are transforming the foreign exchange markets.


While terms like automation, big data and artificial intelligence (AI) once belonged in the world of Silicon Valley, foreign exchange (FX) market participants are now reaping the benefits of these technological advances to free up time, lower risk and reduce cost. 

Smart homes or robot vacuum cleaners usually come to mind with the word ‘automation’, but FX firms are transforming their businesses with sophisticated automation tools to complete pre-trade, execution and post-trade processes in a matter of seconds – tasks that would once have taken hours to complete.

Banks are a key driver of this trend, harnessing automation for their own operations and leveraging the latest technology to develop powerful digital tools such as execution chatbots, algorithms and AI-driven solutions. Moreover, with banks collecting ever greater quantities of data, they now have the potential to innovate even further.

Automation in FX

The automation journey in FX started with execution algorithms for large trades, designed to intelligently read multiple markets in real time and dynamically adjust their behaviour to optimise execution: they have since expanded into new currency pairs and products such as non-deliverable forwards (NDFs). Recently, they evolved into more sophisticated automation with the introduction of multi-currency portfolio and gamma hedging algos.

These latest innovations are helping FX participants automate time-consuming processes and reduce operational risk – in some cases by using AI to improve execution performance.

Gamma Algos

BNP Paribas has endorsed more than 10 major universal rights and principles, including the U.N.BNP Paribas recently launched its new Gamma algorithm, which gives clients a fully automated way to manage their gamma profile – previously a manual, time-consuming operation that could lead to human error.
Asif Razaq, Global Head of FX Algorithmic Execution at BNP Paribas, shared his insights with FXAlgo News on the benefits of Gamma. Find out more

Innovating through integration

However, creating algos was just the first step in the automation evolution. Finding a way to integrate them seamlessly into a client’s daily workflow was the next challenge.

Services such as Apple Pay, Amazon Pay and Google single sign-on speed up online purchases, removing the need to remember usernames, passwords or manually input addresses and payment details each time. Banks have taken similar steps, building their platforms on OpenFin – the financial industry’s operating system for desktop application deployment – to allow “interoperability” between sell-side and buy-side applications. BNP Paribas also collaborated with Bloomberg to create an app for its FX platform Cortex, allowing direct access to the platform and its features through Bloomberg. This level of integration and user-friendly approach is somewhat similar to the integration products emerging from Silicon Valley.

The rise of big data

With FX execution now almost fully “online”, buy-side clients have become more sophisticated in their capacity to interrogate data. In addition to the emergence of independent Trade Cost Analysis (TCA) providers, banks continue to innovate their proprietary analytics suites, with real-time TCA tools the latest innovation in this space. In a very similar concept to receiving live updates from Google Maps to optimise an itinerary, banks have brought together multiple data sources in real time to show live data throughout the whole trade execution, giving users the ability to adjust an order’s ‘flight path’ and display relevant information along the way.

In-flight tools

BNP Paribas recently launched Insight Live, a real-time market intelligence portal that enables clients to track the full execution lifecycle. Insight Live provides clients with essential information about live trades – such as liquidity, volatility and pricing -, giving them greater control of execution and the ability to adjust parameters if necessary. Providing this extra layer of detail on execution and the underlying market conditions is especially valuable as clients continue to work in remote set-ups where the fluency of traditional communications channels is challenged.


AI advancing

Like Silicon Valley, banks are now looking at how they can harness the power of AI to further enhance their offering. One example is by the use of predictive models. Similar to Ocado or Amazon predicting what a consumer might want to add to their shopping cart, banks are using predictive models to evaluate clients’ trading profiles and suggest the most relevant trading axes or identify the research they are likely to be interested in.

Virtual assistants

One of the most significant developments to come out of Silicon Valley in recent years is virtual assistants such as Amazon Alexa, and we are seeing similar products in the FX industry. In 2020, BNP Paribas introduced the first virtual assistant that can support clients with their trades, ALiX. Using Natural Language Processing (NLP), users can interact with ALiX in plain English, request information about a trade and give orders it will understand and respond to instantly. Like Alexa, ALiX acts as a gateway to access the bank’s full product suite and can reassure clients who may still be unsure about using machines to execute trades.  

Evolution of ALix

BNP Paribas has witnessed growing demand for ALiX, which saw a big increase in use in 2020 as clients looked for greater reassurance on their trades in uncertain markets conditions. BNP Paribas has since expanded ALiX across the full FX product suite on the bank’s FX trading platform, Cortex FX, including spot, forwards, swaps, options, orders in addition to algos. The new version of ALiX is available as small widget that fits into the corner of a client’s screen. Read about the latest features 


 “With ALiX having expanded its skillset across the entire FX suite, it now offers a true one-stop shop for clients to trade effortlessly via Cortex FX,” commented Nick Hamilton, Head of EMEA eFX Sales at BNP Paribas. “Our clients have had to adapt to new trading environments over the last year, and through listening to their needs, and leveraging cutting edge, innovative technology, ALiX continues to define the next generation of FX trading platforms.”

Joe Nash, digital FX COO at BNP Paribas, added, “In an ever evolving and complex market we continually strive to offer clients a bespoke personal trading experience, adapting to their ever more sophisticated needs. ALiX has been designed to fit a world where screen real estate is at a premium and an ever-expanded number of users are working remotely. ALiX has a diminutive screen stature but is indisputably pixel for pixel the most powerful FX platform on the market.”

Virtual trading assistants are just the start of the AI journey in the FX markets and as the technology evolves, they are likely to become an ever more prominent feature.

Related solutions

Global Markets

BNP Paribas’ Global Markets offers consistent client service and innovative solutions for investment, hedging and financing opportunities across asset classes and geographies, as well as cross-asset strategy and economics to help our clients make informed decisions.


ALiX has the full power of Cortex FX in a conveniently small window on your desktop. ALiX is indisputably pixel for pixel the most powerful FX platform on the market. Understanding everything from a spot ticket to a complex option ALiX is there to save you both screen space and time.


BNP Paribas has been present in the Americas for more than a century. It provides capital markets, securities services, financing, treasury and advisory solutions to corporates and institutional investors, together with an extensive retail banking network in the United States.


BNP Paribas has a strong heritage in the Asia-Pacific region, having established our presence over 150 years ago. Today the bank offers one of the region’s most comprehensive branch networks and provides investors with products and solutions tailored specifically to their needs.

Brexit and the temporary permissions regime: your guide

With the Brexit transition period having ended on 31 December 2020, banks must ensure they are able to operate as normal and provide a continued service to clients. Find out the core information about the Temporary Permissions Regime and your UK banking partner.


This platform offers clients the ability to conceptualise and test their investment strategies before connecting with their sales representative to proceed to transaction, specifically for Delta One and Quantitative Investment Solutions (QIS).

Commodity Derivatives

With a global footprint and over 30 years of expertise in the commodities market, we are one of the few banks in the world with a long term commitment to the growth of our commodity derivatives franchise bringing innovative and ground breaking solutions to clients worldwide.

Cortex ATS

The Cortex ATS is a non-displayed order book for listed equities that can be accessed by clients directly, or via any of BNP Paribas’ equity execution products.

Cortex CD

Cortex CD is our online-cross commodity trading platform. It offers a wide range of hedging solutions for clients who are exposed to the price of physical commodities. The platform provides transparency and live pricing through its accessible interface and helps you track derivatives transactions on a wide range of energy and commodities.

Cortex Deposit

BNP Paribas’ corporate deposits platform, allowing you to quickly consult and securely trade deposits.

Cortex Equities

By harnessing the power of innovation, we continue to drive digital transformation and strengthen our electronic offerings for our clients by taking an agile approach.

Cortex Equities Americas

Cortex Equities connects you to the deep global pools of BNP Paribas’ liquidity and our long-standing expertise to help you manage it.

Cortex FX

Cortex FX is BNP Paribas’ advanced multi-product FX trading platform

Cortex iX

Cortex intelligent execution (iX) is the cutting edge FX spot algorithm execution service from BNP Paribas

Cortex Listed

Our best-in-class Execution Management System for listed derivatives trading, powered by Fidessa

Cortex Plus

Cortex Plus is our online derivative structures platform, providing live pricing and simple click and trade execution.

Cortex Rates

Cortex Rates offers a comprehensive range of Fixed Income Interest Rates products and services

Cortex Secondary

Cortex Secondary is BNP Paribas’ secondary market trading platform.


BNP Paribas has presence across most financial centres in Europe. Thanks to our strong local representation and long-standing relationships with governments and regulators we can offer unparalleled access to European, Middle Eastern and African markets.

Forex & Local Markets

Our Forex & Local Markets business has been designed to respond to the complex and constantly evolving market. Discover our truly global network which boasts diverse market access capabilities and both onshore and offshore solutions.

G10 Rates

We aim to be a top-3 house in every asset, area and client. Our business has grown substantially and we operate a culture of “shared purpose”. Our focus is aligned around the social and economic outcomes of supporting our broad client base across Corporates and Institutional investors.

IBOR, fall-backs and their impact on businesses

London Interbank Offered Rates (LIBORs) are being replaced by Risk-Free-Rates (RFRs) with the reform leading to multiple impacts on market participants, including changes in the way certain products and contracts operate

Initial margin requirements: your questions answered

As of 1st September 2021, firms above the €50 billion threshold will be subject to initial margin requirements for uncleared products, in line with the latest worldwide regulations to reform the OTC derivatives markets.

Markets 360

A radical new approach to strategy and economics to provide you with top quality views, focusing on evidence-based research and thought leadership. We bring economics and strategy together in thematic notes across asset classes, delivering what you need when you need it and continuously adapting to your needs.

Primary & Credit Markets

Our combined Primary and Credit business enables us to realise synergies while maintaining strict boundaries between the public and private sides. We provide solutions to clients throughout the entire credit continuum from origination through execution to secondary market trading and post trade services.

Prime Solutions & Financing

A global and cross-asset platform for the clearing of listed and OTC products, execution of listed derivatives, prime brokerage services, securities financing through repurchase agreement (repo), and a market leading electronic execution provider. Prime Solutions & Financing (PS&F) is one of four banks globally offering a full suite of investor services, from trading to financing, clearing and custody, in partnership with BNP Paribas Securities Services.

Smart Derivatives

SMART Derivatives is our cutting edge platform providing full integrated services from marketing, primary and secondary trading, to post-trade information on structured products, built around 3 interactive and complementary applications.