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A clutch of investors, led by Goldman Sachs, are close to acquiring a stake in instant messaging platform provider Perzo, a move that will challenge a similar service offered by global news and financial information giant Bloomberg.
Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, Blackrock, hedge fund Maverick Capital and HSBC Holdings, were all mulling an investment in Palo Alto, California-based Perzo, unnamed sources told Reuters.
Pursued by the news agency, Goldman Sachs refused to comment on its likely investment in Perzo, its plans to develop a chat programme or its use of the so-called Bloomberg terminals.
Bloomberg refused to comment as well.
Banks have been trying to lower costs as sluggish trading volumes and higher regulation impact revenues.
Bloomberg has dominated messaging on Wall Street for a while but its application, viewed in high regard by customers, is tied to a data, trading and news terminal that costs about $20,000 (£11,889, €14,898) a year.
Perzo's 'open-source' applications, which encrypt messages end-to-end, are free.
Bloomberg rival, and Reuters News parent, Thomson Reuters also offers a messaging platform that counts 200,000 users as opposed to Bloomberg's 320,000.
"Bloomberg is a very tough ecosystem to break," said Jefferies analyst Dan Dolev. "People say it is the most expensive social network system in the world," Dolev told Reuters.
In 2013, Bloomberg was forced to tighten up its client data policies and restrict its journalists' access to large amounts of sensitive internal information, following two reviews into the firm triggered by a snooping scandal.
The client data scandal blew up in April 2013 when a Bloomberg journalist approached Goldman Sachs about a partner's employment status, which led to a complaint from the investment banking giant.
It emerged that journalists had access to client data held by Bloomberg, which provides financial information to market professionals through paid-for terminals at banks across the world.