Online currency, commodities, and derivatives broker easy-forex has named Weber Shandwick as its exclusive PR agency in China.
The firm won the contract in a competitive bid earlier this year after the Cyprus-based financial trading company expanded its mainland China operations.
"We were impressed by Weber Shandwick's strong international and Chinese financial media relationships," said easy-forex CEO Michael Konnaris.
Weber will dispense PR advice and help the company raise its brand profile in China. Darren Burns, MD for Weber Shandwick China, noted that "there is great demand in China not only for detailed currency analysis but broader macroeconomic analysis."
He explained that easy-forex has a team of Chinese analysts in Cyprus to track markets, crunch numbers, and draft financial reports in Mandarin.
"We help to make sure their owned content gets seen by China's financial and foreign exchange (forex) media and other stakeholders," Burns added.
Online trading activity in China is on the rise in step with the spread of Internet and mobile connectivity and the gradual liberalization of the financial sector. According to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, the turnover in the Chinese Yuan’s foreign exchange market in 2012 was $9.2 trillion, 6.2% higher than the previous year.
The growth in commodity derivatives follows China's emergence as a world leader in the supply and consumption of commodities. Beijing has made it easier for online trading platforms such as easy-forex to do business in China. In 2010, it allowed the direct trading of the Yuan against the Australian and Canadian dollars. The government last year announced steps toward financial reform, which includes the launch of a private banking pilot program and encouraging "healthy growth" of online banking.
So-called "aggregation services" have gained a foothold in Asia, where interest in currency trading is growing rapidly.
"Over the last two to three years, we have seen a significant number of firms set up in the region," Alex Knight, global head of Citi’s foreign exchange margin trading business told e-Forex magazine in April.
However, the trade also suffers from an image problem, meaning winning the trust of the investor community has become a priority for brokers.
"The reality is, the bigger names that are thriving in this space are those demonstrating transparency and a commitment to customer service, which easy-forex is actually quite well known for," said David Liu, chairman of Weber Shandwick China.