1) The biggest strength of Bloomberg s and Reuters financial data products is coverage. You can punch almost anything into a Bloomberg terminal and get meaningful, reasonably accurate data back.
2) The next most important strength is ubiquity (network effect). As a financial professional, you can quit one job, start at another the next week, and be immediately up and running because everyone has Bloomberg (or, to a lesser extent, Reuters).
3) Finally, Bloomberg and Reuters are highly available. I can remember only one large Bloomberg outage in the last decade I ve been using their terminals, which is very difficult to pull off with such a large and complex platform.
Potential competitors from emerging markets appear all the time, but in general, financial jobs are in developed markets, and the barriers to entry there are very high for EM companies. Usually, if an emerging market startup gets strong enough to be useful, it will be bought out by a developed market company looking to expand its offering there.
For example, Capital IQ bought Simply Stocks, an Indian firm, in the early 2000s. Simply Stocks actually had more employees than CapIQ at the time and was producing good primary-source data by manually mining company financial reports, but they were minimally profitable and their infrastructure consisted of cobbled-together desktop PCs. They had essentially no backup systems. Their power would go out regularly. Their database systems and back-end software needed lots of optimization. And so on.
Generally speaking, a new emerging market competitor faces massive difficulties in breaking into the financial data platform business – underdeveloped infrastructure, low capitalization, and being on the wrong side of network effects, just to start. And we haven t even touched on the low availability of trained talent to work on this potential competing platform, the cost of sourcing the data for it, the difficulties in advertising it to the target audience, and the myriad other minor difficulties facing any startup technology venture.
China (by which I mean an SOE) could probably do it. There s an underserved market of financial professionals throughout Asia and Africa that could use a financial data platform targeted at them specifically, but it would be a long hard slog to get such a thing up, running, profitable, and eventually competitive with Bloomberg and Reuters.