Currency probe drives bank demand for Big Brother software

Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:11pm EDT
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* "Traderspeak" incomprehensible to most people

* Firms developing software to detect dubious activity

* Programme can scan billions of communications

By Jamie McGeever

LONDON, April 16 (Reuters) - "What's your interest in Bill and Ben in the pick?"

While most people wouldn't understand the question, this is common vernacular for London currency traders active in the daily 4 o'clock "fixing" of global reference exchange rates.

A basic translation of that particular line of Cockney rhyming slang, originating in London's working class East End, would run something like: "Are you a buyer or a seller of dollar/yen at the daily benchmark rate-setting fix?"

The wisecracking, rhyme-based language that can make a "whistle" mean a suit (from "whistle and flute") or a "Barnet" mean hair (from "Barnet Fair") has been used by traders in the City of London for decades. But can a computer crack the code?

Financial regulators are now trying to translate such exchanges into plain English as they investigate whether dealers have colluded to rig benchmark foreign exchange rates used to price trillions of dollars' worth of deals.   Continued...