The One Metals Trader With No Hangover This Week? A New Bot

(Bloomberg) -- Here’s one metals trader who won’t be leaving LME Week with a hangover: Societe Generale SA’s new commodity-trading robot.

As the global metals industry descends on London for its annual jamboree, the French bank is unveiling a new product: a robot that can join chats between clients and salespeople, and execute simple trades without any need for a human trader’s involvement.

The point of the robot, called ‘SG Bot’, is not to replace human traders, but to free them up from time-consuming small business, said Azeem Malik, head of eCommerce at SocGen.

"When you have volatile markets -- and metals have been volatile this year -- and you have all the clients calling up at the same time, that would also alleviate that."

The robot can take trade requests from clients via a chat, provide pricing quotes, and execute trades, Malik said. He said it was the first product he was aware of being offered to external clients that could take text-based instructions and execute trades without any human involvement.

For a client, "it’s a way to have a better experience, faster pricing, he doesn’t have to go from sales to trader and back and forth," he said.

The electronic metals trader is also unlikely to feel the impact of the succession of lunchtime-to-early hours parties human traders are subjecting themselves to at hotels, pubs and nightclubs across London’s swanky Mayfair district this week.

For now though, the scope of the SG Bot is relatively limited: it can only understand formulaic instructions, and it only handles fairly simple, small trades. Will SocGen one day build a robot that can take the place of a human trader on the LME Ring, the last bastion of open outcry trading in Europe?

"I don’t think so," Malik said.

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