Fintech’s Biggest Nightmare – Bloomberg’s Fortran

Bloomberg's Codebase Unsurfaced

The fintech community has circled around a recent post (which is actually a re-blog from a 2006 article by John Sullivan) which unearths the fact that Bloomberg, a multi-billion dollar financial software, data and media company - has built their infrastructure with an archaic programming language called Fortran. Fortran would give most fintech firms nightmares.

For those of you unfamiliar with the rise of computing and programming, Fortran is a programming language that was developed in the 1950's by IBM. It's a powerful language for scientific and numeric computation - but this language is 65 years old. As the author notes:

"Apparently, Bloomberg has been trying to make the jump from Fortran to C++ for some time, but the Fortran codebase and the guys that maintain it are too entrenched. Cripes – in the oil industry we made that transition 15 years ago !"

fortran code gives fintech developers nightmares

The Issue With Overhead

Making the jump from one language to another on a platform of that size and significance is certainly not an overnight task. Yet a portion of this "failure to launch" is also due to the inherent inability of large, entrenched data firms and banks to be agile, flexible and innovative.

In the fintech space we like to highlight the concept of overhead in these large firms and how it can be such a hindrance ( think 25 million lines of Fortran). Inefficient overhead creates an opportunity for more responsive firms with less onerous code bases and smarter processes in general, allowing firms to compete through innovation. The very innovations that form the backbone of fintech are designed to create flexible, agile, and efficient processes that leave the concept of "overhead" in the dust.

Fintech - A Better Solution

Take Robinhood for example, who is slicing the overhead out of the brokerage process, or YCharts which squashes charting and analytics overhead.

From payments to portfolio management, and from blockchain to trading - fintech is taking the stage and bringing a competitive, lean edge that large traditional institutions are unable to replicate.  It's no surprise that we see banks such as Santander and Citi incubating young fintech startups and backing them with millions. Based in St. Petersburg, Florida - C1 Bank is ahead of the game developing internal technologies through "C1 Labs".

The team here at Intrinio is tackling overhead within the financial data industry. Our data feed is built on a contemporary framework utilizing modern, scalable technologies. We live and breathe automation at Intrinio, eliminating overhead, and building innovative solutions to age-old processes allows us to bring investors financial data faster, more efficiently, and therefore more affordably than ever before. We're fast, we're efficient, we're streamlined, and we don't use Fortran - we can promise you that.

Valuation snapshot from fintech firm Intrinio