Mobile phone app for trading on Zimbabwe securities exchanges

Investors can check their portfolios and send orders to their stockbrokers on their smartphones in Zimbabwe with an app called C-Trade from today (4 July). C-Trade is an online and mobile trading platform for shares on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) and the second licensed exchange, the Financial Securities Exchange (FINSEC).

According to an article in the Herald newspaper, C-Trade is for financial inclusion in Africa: “The platform will enable investors, both local and foreign to purchase securities from anywhere in the world anytime, using mobile devices. The initiative is being led by capital markets regulator, Securities Exchange Commission of Zimbabwe (SECZ), and seeks to promote financial inclusion by encouraging participation by the smallest retail investor.”

The Herald newspaper reported SECZ chief executive Tafadzwa Chinamo saying that President Emmerson Mnangagwa had agreed to launch the programme. “After that what you will be seeing more of is our campaign as SECZ to educate the public on what investing on the capital markets is about.”

“We have taken the issue of deepening and broadening the capital markets very seriously, to the extent that we added a new committee to our board of investor education.” In July 2017 Chinamo said SECZ had committed $300,000 to a campaign to get more people engaged in the capital market.

Escrow Systems headquartered in Zimbabwe has created the C-Trade programme to trade bonds and shares, using the same technology as Kenya’s world-first M-Akiba mobile Government bond sold on mobile phones to small investors in Kenya, from minimum denomination of $30. Here is our post on M-Akiba from October 2015 and a Reuters story on the eventual M-Akiba launch in March 2017.

According to a report in Newsday, Escrow Group chief executive officer Collen Tapfumaneyi said: “C-Trade is a mobile trading platform and is combination of a number of systems that enable investors to access the securities market or capital markets popularly known as the stock to enable people buy shares and all that. It comes in three forms, USSD application which can be utilised by mobile network subscribers. We have Econet and Telecel, but we are about to finalise with NetOne as well so within a few days all three will be on board,” It is not restricted to local mobile operators to enable foreign investors, including those in Diaspora.

Trading is still through a stockbroker, as before, says Chinamo of SECZ: ”This application is essentially sold to a stock broker to give the brokers clients access to the market. Rules of the exchange are still valid. For your trade to go through, it needs the authenticity of your broker so the broker is still liable for your trade, settlement, clearing and feed.”

The platform allows easier access for smart-phone users to manage their portfolios when they are away from a desktop/laptop.

Escrow is offering it on revenue-sharing basis to users with “minimal or no costs to market participants” according to an older news story in Financial Gazette.

According to an article today in Newsday, there are 13 licensed stock-broking firms in Zimbabwe, of which 3 signed up to use C-Trade. Escrow’s Tapfumaneyi said they were still talking about sharing fees: “C-Trade acts as an agent for the broker. The broker will still earn his full revenue according to the fee charged. However, the brokers pay a fee to use the platform which is negotiable.

“What we are basically doing is get business for them and they keep their traditional business. But, if we get people registering online and placing orders online, all that traffic is being channelled through to the brokers which then gets channelled to the exchange. So we are basically an extension of the brokers,” he said.

“These orders, when they come to the brokers, is also the issue of evaluation and trading is not just picking an order from a client and sending it through. You have got to analyse the market and advise the client what the pricing should be and all that. So we still have that interface.”

The target for C_Trade is about 20,000 individual participants by year-end and an ultimate goal of 2 million people.

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