MarketAxess Holdings has an answer for the bond market’s liquidity woes: Open Trading, a protocol introduced in 2012, “provides all participants a way to interact with each other for the first time,” says Nicholas Themelis, chief information officer of the New York–based company. “We’re changing the world.” The anonymous, all-to-all trading functionality may be compelling — “those connectivity points [among dealers and money managers] just didn’t exist in the past,” the 51-year-old explains — but the take-up is gradual. MarketAxess, which according to research firm Greenwich Associates handles 86 percent of electronic trading in corporate bonds, is executing just 6 percent of its transactions through Open Trading. “Why couldn’t it be 15 percent or 40 percent?” asks the upbeat Themelis. His answer: While “lots of companies are talking” about structural fixes, “we’re proving this works. We’re able to leverage the community we’ve built and connect liquidity pockets wherever they may be.” Formed in 2000 and a public company since 2004, MarketAxess reported a record $767 billion in total trading volume last year; its $475 billion U.S. high-grade volume accounted for 14.5 percent of that part of the market. Themelis, who joined MarketAxess in 2004 and previously held regional CIO positions at Barclays Capital and Lehman Brothers Holdings, is currently focusing on the first-quarter launch of Open Trading in Europe and on growing demand for data services. “Participants want more data and context around the market before they are comfortable putting in a price,” he notes.