What is OpenBB Terminal? - A Free Alternative to the Bloomberg Terminal
OpenBB Terminal is an open source investment research software platform for accessing and analyzing financial market data. Using the platform, individuals can make use of real-time data on the financial markets to generate high-quality reports and to gain useful insights into companies and finance. OpenBB has the potential to transform the investment landscape.
What is the OpenBB Terminal?
OpenBB Terminal is a modern, Python-based, open-source integrated environment for investment research that is available for free to individuals from any background. OpenBB aims to solve the challenges associated with the glut of financial information by providing end users with a framework for doing all their investments in one place. The goal of the team behind OpenBB is to provide quality financial information that is highly customizable and affordable. By using the platform, retail traders can make sense of raw unrefined data and make informed investment decisions.
For years, the sharks of Wall Street have used Bloomberg Terminals to get real-time access to financial market data and to trade. But the Bloomberg Terminal price is very high at approximately US$24,000 a year, making it unaffordable to those without deep pockets. OpenBB Terminal is likely to be popular among private investors; however, whether it becomes popular among those in the financial services industry is unclear.
The OpenBB Terminal is operated through a command-line interface. Users execute functions (commands) using a keyboard, and results are returned in the form of interactive charts, tables, and text. Navigation through the terminal menus is much like traversing folders in an operating system’s command line prompt. The importance of OpenBB lies in its ability to provide comprehensive and customizable access to a wide range of data providers. It allows users to import API keys from various data providers, automate repetitive tasks, create custom workflows, and run sentiment and machine learning analyses. OpenBB’s command-line nature also allows for powerful data manipulation and processing that would be difficult in a traditional graphical interface. The platform integrates a variety of toolkits, libraries, and backend services, including Python projects in data science (Pandas, Numpy, Scipy, Jupyter), machine learning (Pytorch, Tensorflow, Sklearn, Flair), and data acquisition (Beautiful Soup, and numerous third-party APIs).
Financial market data has traditionally been considered protected intellectual property by those in the investment research industry. OpenBB, as an open source, democratized platform, is set to disrupt this industry and open it up to the current and next generation of market makers, traders, and equities professionals.
How is OpenBB Terminal different from existing financial data service providers?
The fact that OpenBB Terminal is open source software is its major distinguishing feature, because not many firms in the financial services industry are as open. Transparency is a core value of OpenBB, and being open source allows the company to receive contributions from the broader community and develop a quality service. Furthermore, the flexibility offered by Python allows small-to-medium-sized institutions using the platform to tailor it to their specific needs.
OpenBB is also looking to differentiate itself in areas such as portfolio optimization and attribution (reports), and it aims to target asset classes that may not be covered so well on existing platforms, including cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and fintech lending services. Academia is an area where OpenBB are looking to provide a useful service. Teachers could use the OpenBB Terminal to explain market movements to students using real data, and PhD students could develop their theses around innovations to OpenBB Terminal.
Given that the entire source code is available for anyone to modify, companies can create their own version of OpenBB Terminal with customizations that suit their niche use-cases. If they want to remove all the clutter and work purely with one type of asset, they can create a light-weight version of the terminal with a much narrower focus on, for example, Forex or cryptocurrency markets.
What is the history of OpenBB?
OpenBB Terminal is actually a rebranding of what was previously called Gamestonk Terminal, which was the first iteration of the open source investment research platform. Gamestonk Terminal was released publicly on Github on February 24, 2021, by software developer and artificial intelligence and machine learning enthusiast Didier Rodrigues Lopes, who had spent two months building the software. Lopes came up with the idea and motivation for creating the software because he wanted a more efficient way to do investment research. In a blog post, Lopes described his motivation for developing Gamestonk Terminal:
I had multiple tabs open on my browser, looking at different information such as fundamentals, historical prices, insider trading, government regulations, etc. It was a time-consuming process and I was taking screenshots of the information and putting it into a report. I realized that there was no way to automate the data retrieval process, which led me to start Gamestonk Terminal.
The public response to his project inspired Lopes to continue working on the software and to make it a platform suitable for everyone. His decision to make the project open source was crucial in allowing for its rapid development. A team of like-minded individuals quickly formed around the Github project and worked on it over the following year. Then, in early 2022, that team was approached by venture capital firm OSS Capital to make an investment and build a commercial company around the platform.
With the goal of “investment research accessible to all,” the team rebranded themselves and their software platform to OpenBB and subsequently managed to raise funding of US$8.5 million for further expansion.
What features does OpenBB Terminal offer?
OpenBB has a wide range of features. The following are high-level examples of what can be accomplished on the platform:
- Time series analysis: Take historical data analysis further with menus dedicated to algorithmic, quantitative, and technical analysis.
- Current events: Stay informed on the latest news and trends in the investment universe.
- Automate: Increase efficiency by automating repetitive tasks by using OpenBB Routines.
- Portfolio: Understand exposures to risk by using portfolio optimization.
- Bring your own data: Export data in csv, json, and xlsx formats and import custom data sets to perform forecasting and econometrics.
- Machine learning and forecasting: Build and train models with any time-series data to create forecasts, and analyze audio data by using Whisper AI.
- Create custom reports: Create custom reports and use the OpenBB Reports menu to turn them into shareable Notebooks and HTML files.
What are the pros and cons of OpenBB Terminal?
- Easy to use and intuitive.
- Has a decent layout.
- Completely free.
- Abstracts technicality while providing depth and customizability.
- Has a solid amount of features.
- Is highly customizable.
- Has solid documentation.
- Slow at times.
- Does not have a graphical user interface.
- Some of the documentation is already outdated.
What are the prerequisites for using OpenBB Terminal?
- Basic knowledge of the command-line interface. OpenBB Terminal does not have a graphical user interface. Therefore, understanding the basics of operating in a command-line interface environment can be beneficial. Familiarity with commands, navigation, and syntax used in command-line interface environments will make using OpenBB Terminal more comfortable.
- Understanding of financial data. Because OpenBB Terminal is designed to manage financial data, a fundamental understanding of financial concepts and data types is helpful. This could include knowledge of stocks, bonds, cryptocurrencies, and other financial instruments, as well as an understanding of various financial indicators and metrics.
- API Keys. OpenBB Terminal provides methods for consuming data feeds from various data providers. In many cases, this will require obtaining (free or subscription) API keys from these data providers. No API keys are required to get started using OpenBB Terminal, but having them will allow you to access a broader range of data.
What other products is OpenBB working on?
OpenBB have a few other products in their investment analysis software suite:
- OpenBB SDK. The OpenBB SDK is the core engine of the entire OpenBB platform. It provides programmatic access to the OpenBB Terminal commands directly in a Python script or Jupyter Notebook. The SDK allows users to access a wide range of financial data through a single endpoint, simplifying the process of obtaining financial data from hundreds of data providers (who all have different interfaces).
- OpenBB Bot. The OpenBB Bot facilitates collaborative investment research by delivering high-quality data directly to users in their preferred chatting platform. With the OpenBB Bot, users can access real-time market data instantly by using simple bot commands. Team engagement and learning can be encouraged through the use of group chats with the bot. Teams can share investment ideas and strategies seamlessly by accessing relevant data through simple chat messages.
- OpenBB Terminal Pro. The OpenBB Terminal Pro is the paid version of the OpenBB Terminal and it has superior investment research capabilities. It has a graphical interface that is intuitive and fully customizable, making it easier for users to access and analyze financial information. Additionally, high-quality financial data is provided that has been curated from official partnerships with data providers.
- AskOBB. AskOBB is a kind of ChatGPT for investment research. It uses natural language processing to receive instructions and provide data back to users. The service is still in development. A video of a prototype of AskOBB was posted to Twitter by Lopes earlier this year.
Although still early days for the OpenBB Terminal, the team behind the product are fully committed to bringing investment research to the masses, and the traction they have gained so far suggests real demand.
Ashley is a technology writer who is interested in computers and software development. He is also a fintech researcher and is fascinated with emerging trends in DeFi, blockchain, and bitcoin. He has been writing, editing, and creating content for the ESL industry in Asia for eight years, with a special focus on interactive, digital learning.