Archive for the 'IT' Category
April 22nd, 2016 by Tom Minney
This story is not strictly capital markets, but a useful cautionary tale
REUTERS, 21 APRIL 2016
Bangladesh’s central bank was vulnerable to hackers because it did not have a firewall and used second-hand, $10 switches to network computers connected to the SWIFT global payment network, an investigator into one of the world’s biggest cyber heists said.
The shortcomings made it easier for hackers to break into the Bangladesh Bank system earlier this year and attempt to siphon off nearly $1 billion using the bank’s SWIFT credentials, said Mohammad Shah Alam, head of the Forensic Training Institute of the Bangladesh police’s criminal investigation department.
“It could be difficult to hack if there was a firewall,” Alam said in an interview.
The lack of sophisticated switches, which can cost several hundred dollars or more, also means it is difficult for investigators to figure out what the hackers did and where they might have been based, he added.
Experts in bank security said that the findings described by Alam were disturbing.
“You are talking about an organization that has access to billions of dollars and they are not taking even the most basic security precautions,” said Jeff Wichman, a consultant with cyber firm Optiv.
Tom Kellermann, a former member of the World Bank security team, said that the security shortcomings described by Alam were “egregious,” and that he believed there were “a handful” of central banks in developing countries that were equally insecure.
Kellermann, now chief executive of investment firm Strategic Cyber Ventures LLC, said that some banks fail to adequately protect their networks because they focus security budgets on physically defending their facilities.
Police blame bank, SWIFT
Cyber criminals broke into Bangladesh Bank’s system and in early February tried to make fraudulent transfers totaling $951 million from its account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Most of the payments were blocked, but $81 million was routed to accounts in the Philippines and diverted to casinos there. Most of those funds remain missing.
The police believe that both the bank and SWIFT should take the blame for the oversight, Alam said in an interview.
“It was their responsibility to point it out but we haven’t found any evidence that they advised before the heist,” he said, referring to SWIFT.
A spokeswoman for Brussels-based SWIFT declined comment.
SWIFT has previously said the attack was related to an internal operational issue at Bangladesh Bank and that SWIFT’s core messaging services were not compromised.
A spokesman for Bangladesh Bank said SWIFT officials advised the bank to upgrade the switches only when their system engineers from Malaysia visited after the heist.
“There might have been a deficiency in the system in the SWIFT room,” said the spokesman, Subhankar Saha, confirming that the switch was old and needed to be upgraded.
“Two (SWIFT) engineers came and visited the bank after the heist and suggested to upgrade the system,” Saha said.
The heist’s masterminds have yet to be identified.
Bangladesh police said earlier this week they had identified 20 foreigners involved in the heist but they appear to be people who received some of the payments, rather than those who initially stole the money.
Bangladesh Bank has about 5,000 computers used by officials in different departments, Alam said.
The SWIFT room is roughly 12 feet by 8 feet, a window-less office located on the eight floor of the bank’s annex building in Dhaka. There are four servers and four monitors in the room.
All transactions from the previous day are automatically printed on a printer in the room.
The SWIFT facility should have been walled off from the rest of the network. That could have been done if the bank had used the more expensive, “managed” switches, which allow engineers to create separate networks, said Alam, whose institute includes a cyber-crime division.
Moreover, considering the importance of the room, the bank should have deployed staff to monitor activity round the clock, including weekends and holidays, he said.
(Additional reporting by Jim Finkle in BOSTON; Editing by Paritosh Bansal, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Alan Crosby).
$81m to Manila casinos
If you want to read more about how the missing $81m ended up in casinos and with junket operators in the Philippines, brought in by 2 Chinese residents of Manila and Beijing, Fortune takes up the story.
Photo credit: www.dhakatribune.com
October 13th, 2015 by Tom Minney
ECX buyers and sellers make deals. (Photo credit – John Humphrey. From www.globalisationanddevelopment.com)
The Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) has unveiled an online trading platform that has capacity for nearly 5,000 times more transactions than its current “open outcry”. Since the ECX was started in 2008 trading has been done on a trading floor in its Addis Ababa headquarters by dealers trading directly with each other, and about 200 transactions a day could be done.
Initially, dealers using the eTRADE Platform would be based at the ECX HQ’s trading centre. However, eventually market players will be able to trade electronically from anywhere. The platform will be gradually rolled out to newly built ECX trading centres in regional cities Hawassa, Humera, Nekemte and, in the near future, an additional 4 centres. The ECX has trained and certified more than 445 ECX trading members and representatives who are qualified to trade on the platform.
The trading platform has been under construction for the past 2 years and was developed in-house at the ECX. It was unveiled on 8 October and, on launch day, a record $400,000 of coffee was traded according to this news release
A test run was done on 20 July with trading in local washed and unwashed byproduct coffee. ECX says 2,390 metric tonnes of farm produce has been traded on the platform so far with a trade value of ETB 120 million (about $5.7m).
ECX chief executive officer Ermias Eshetu said: “The inauguration of this eTRADE platform sets a new course for Ethiopia and brings with it unparalleled economic and social benefits. The platform inevitably breaks the physical and time barrier of the current open-outcry trading platform and provides the ECX with vital economies-of-scale to trade a number of additional new commodities.”
Transforming life for small farmers
The Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF) and other partners have been supporting the programme, according to this news release. William Asiko, CEO of ICF, said the platform would bring a revolution to Ethiopia’s agriculture sector: “The modernization of ECX will help to improve the business environment for stakeholders involved in the commodities sector and give Ethiopian agricultural products a competitive advantage.
“But for farmers, this modernization will be life-changing. It will enable farmers to get better pricing for their produce, thereby creating a more equitable distribution of wealth that has far-reaching social implications.”
The ECX was founded with the aim of improving agricultural marketing – a large part of its success is due to the large network of warehouses, quality controls and logistics up and down the country, and its main aim is to empower smallholder farmers, including through better information about prices. The current Government 5-year Growth and Transformation Plan II, launched from July 2015, sees state-run ECX serving 24 “agro-centres” with increased storage and warehousing facilities and better transport links.
Ermias, who became CEO in January after coming from Zemen Bank, said in April that the Government is establishing an enterprise to oversee the upgrading of warehousing, which will rely on a mixture of public and private capital. Donors including the World Bank and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are considering supporting what will require “huge investment,” he said.
One key tool for ECX has been its short message service (SMS) and interactive voice response (IVR) notifications of market data to farmers and others. This was introduced in 2011 in Amharic and English and gives real-time access to commodity prices. The SMS service processes 800,000 transactions a month and the IVR handles 1m calls a month, according to the news release. An upgrade was unveiled on 8 October which expands to Oromiffa and Tigrinya languages and introduces menu-based services (USSD) and new interfaces.
ECX mulls trading securities
Earlier this year it was also considering whether it could trade securities, including stocks and bonds, as part of its 5-year expansion plan. Ermias told Bloomberg in April: “We want to be a marketplace for any kind of stock, be it derivatives, agricultural commodities, financial instruments. That’s the ultimate vision.” He added that formal discussions have not yet begun on trading securities.
“With the two components, logistics and scalability, we will be able to introduce multiple commodities to the market,” he said. “ECX must offer the truly transparent marketplace for anything that’s going on in the Ethiopian economy.”
He said the market could move from coffee and sesame seeds, which account for more than 90% of volumes and are the two biggest generators of foreign exchange in Ethiopia, to sugar and grains such as corn and then add equities, government debt, power and metals.
Bloomberg cites Yohannes Assefa, the director of Stalwart Management Consultancy, a Dubai-based group working on Kenyan and Tanzanian exchanges, saying that ECX has capacity to expand beyond agricultural commodities within 12 months: “The existing platform is robust and the regulatory system is mature and well managed.”
The main problem would be changing government regulations, and Yohannes warned this “may require serious internal consultation before a change of policy.”
Exporters want futures
Bloomberg adds that coffee exporters such as Fekade Mamo, general manager of Addis Ababa-based Mochaland Import and Export, criticize the ECX for not allowing futures trading to hedge positions in a volatile global market. Ermias said it would take more than a year to build necessary steps for this, including insurance options for farmers in case they can’t deliver, better access to credit and the strengthening of the legal system.
Donors including USAID and the United Nations have supported the ECX when it was launched in order to boost efficiency of food markets in a nation where millions regularly went hungry. It had strong support from the Government, which decreed that exporters of coffee – Ethiopia is Africa’s biggest producer – must buy from traders on the bourse before they can export and within a year the ECX was the main route for coffee exports.
In 2014 it traded ETB 26.2 billion birr ($1.3bn) worth of goods.
ETB 1.6m for trading seat
In May the 17th trading seat was auctioned and won by an individual, Abayneh Zerfu, who bid ETB 1.6m ($76,000), according to this story in Addis Fortune newspaper, which said there were 4 bids. The ECX manages the bid if a member sells his or her seat and they are only allowed to do this after trading for 3 years and meeting requirements. Yohannes Hamereselassie, member development specialist at the ECX, said the original price for a seat was ETB301,000.
The new e-TRADE facility (credit ICF Africa)
The ECX developers of the eTRADE platform (credit ICF Africa)
October 7th, 2015 by Tom Minney
All 4 Namibian stockbrokers have switched their front-end links into the local bourse trading system to the trading solutions supplied by IRESS. The company is a leading supplier of innovative technology for financial markets, wealth management and the mortgage industry in South Africa, Asia, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
IRESS says that the fully integrated solution incorporates order and execution management means that brokers no longer have to use multiple and legacy trading systems when managing orders on the local Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) and their institutional order flow to South African brokers for execution on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). Order routing is fully managed by IRESS and delivered within a unified multi-market order-management system. Brokers can leverage IRESS’ international trading connectivity and seamlessly access counterparties on the IRESS network, which includes many “buy-side” or institutional investors. Efficiency benefits include unified systems and no need to enter data twice or more, removing the potential for human data entry error.
Ridwaan Kharva, Head of Trading Solutions at IRESS, explains in a press release: “Having an integrated order-management system and execution platform creates a huge amount of efficiency in terms of both cost and workflow. We are delighted to include all Namibian brokers as IRESS exchange trading clients in addition to our presence in South Africa. IRESS has been connecting market participants for over 10 years and brokers in Namibia will now be able to benefit from enhanced trading capability, delivering improved speed and reliability with reduced cost.”
IRESS has also supplied the NSX with IRESS Professional Market Data, enabling comprehensive market monitoring and analysis.
The NSX made history in 1998 when it became the first African exchange to run its trading systems on the system offered by the JSE under an agreement to exchange technology, skills and . That has ensured, over the years, that it has remained with one of the world’s best and most up-to-date trading systems, currently running out of Johannesburg and previously run by the London Stock Exchange. The arrangement was renewed in 2014, and details of its benefits are given in this JSE press release.
The NSX has 34 listed companies and 4 listed exchange-traded funds (ETFs), 4 stockbroking members and 7 sponsoring brokers.
IRESS, headquartered in Australia, employs over 1,340 staff globally, with local knowledge and industry experience. All its product streams support a diverse range of roles and offer front, middle and back-office functionality for clients that range from financial service institutions through to independent operators
July 8th, 2015 by Tom Minney
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) started successfully trading on its new automated trading system (ATS) on Monday 6 July and volumes were picking up during the week. This is a long-awaited change as the stock exchange moved away from call over and paper-based systems.
ZSE CEO Alban Chirume and a couple of Zimbabwean stockbrokers confirmed to AfricanCapitalMarketsNews that was working well. Monday had started slowly, as expected, but once orders were being matched successfully and there were no problems, volumes seemed to up on Tuesday and today (8 July). Chirume described it as a “major transformation” for the ZSE, founded in 1896. Stockbrokers were upbeat, saying their clients local and international had been waiting for this.
There was a false start on 3 July, originally announced as the launch day, when the “close coupling” linkage between the ATS and the settlement system gave some teething problems. This was resolved by Monday and the settlement system seemed to be working well after that.
The news comes as a relief to brokers and dealers, who can now trade from their own offices and do not need to spend time travelling to the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange building. Earlier this year the ZSE had moved out of its city-centre office and into its own premises.
Chirume said the ZSE staff were cheering as the first trade went through.
The ATS is supplied by InfoTech Middle East LLC and the settlement is run by Chengetedzai Depository Company Ltd, which is using Depo/X system supplied by CMA Small Systems from Sweden to run the central securities depository (CSD). The only securities which can now be traded are those which have been dematerialized, which means that paper share certificates have been replaced by dematerialized entries on the CSD computer. However, all the ZSE shares are now dematerialized apart from Border, which is under judicial management.
July 3rd, 2015 by Tom Minney
According to an announcement today, 3 July, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange says it did not launch electronic trading today as planned and the launch has been delayed indefinitely. The ZSE says: “Erring on the side of caution, it was decided to resolve a technical issue to ensure a seamless completion of the settlement processes. Further updates on ‘go live’ will be issued by the ZSE in due course.”
The ZSE has been trading securities using “callover” sessions since 1896 and had announced yesterday it was ready to launch online trading today through a new automated trading system (“ATS”) installed by InfoTech. It says it had opted for a close coupling model between the ATS as the front end of the trading cycle and the central securities depository (“CSD”), which has a mandate for settlement of both scrip and cash.
July 3rd, 2015 by Tom Minney
Electronic share trading is due to go live today, 3 July, at the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) with new trading hours for the exchange. According to an announcement yesterday all registered stockbrokers meet the requirements and will be able to provide uninterrupted services and the new platform trades only the securities that are dematerialized at the central securities depository (CSD) Chengetedzai Depository Company.
The new automated trading system (ATS) has been supplied by InfoTech, an IT firm headquartered in Singapore with offices in Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Ghana. It replaces the call-over through which stockbrokers traded shares in Zimbabwe since the bourse was established in 1896 including stockbrokers gathering in a room once or twice a day to discuss trades on a list of securities.
According to the ZSE announcement: “The new electronic platform enables participants to conduct their business from various locations by accessing the ZSE through the Internet. The ATS operates on agreed rules which are in-built in the system and therefore guarantees adherence to price and time priority principles in the interest of market fairness and transparency”.
Newsletter ATS Watch published on 2 July says the ATS hardware was installed in May 2015 including servers and disaster recovery servers. It has “close coupling” links to the CSD: “Given the need to ensure real time exchange of information, the ZSE opted for close coupling and the vendors of both the CSD and the ATS worked for at least six months to ensure that the interface for close coupling was provided.”
Training ran from 8-26 June, led by Ejaz Anwar (Project Leader), Dilshard Ahmad and Muhammad Asghar from InfoTech. Martin Matanda, Operations Executive of the ZSE, is also the project manager leading a team of consultants and IT staff. Training was given to staff of ZSE, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Zimbabwe and the CSD and there was separate training for all other market participants, mainly stockbrokers. Trainees learned how to enter orders and generate reports. Participants also talked to the system vendors and this led to refinements being made to the system to ensure that it is fully customized to the Zimbabwe capital market. Mock trading has also been held.
Other key changes in trading include:
1. New trading times (local time): Monday to Friday (except public holidays)
Continuous Session – 10:00 am to 12:30pm; Market closes – 12:30pm
2. Continuous trading during open sessions, which means multiple prices could be established and traders will have more flexibility
3. The ATS can only trade dematerialized securities that are loaded at the CSD via Chnegtedzai’s Depo/X facilities
4. Algorithms will discover the prices, so that an order can be filled at different prices depending on the book
5. Circuit breakers on price with lower and upper price limits (percentage) for each counter on the ATS, based on the previous closing price. These limits can be set for all counters or for each counter
6. Real-time data throughout the “open” phase, accessible to market participants and other stakeholders for a fee
Manufacturing and construction Masimba Holdings on 8 June separately listed its plastics manufacturing subsidiary, Proplastics, on the ZSE through a dividend-in-specie, according to a news report. It is the second listing on the ZSE in 5 years after Padenga Holdings which also listed through a dividend-in-specie following its unbundling from Innscor Africa in 2010. The last initial public offering (IPO) of shares was Zeco Holdings in 2007.
The latest listing of 60,000 shares at 3c follows a successful restructuring exercise by listed Masimba that resulted in the group unbundling the plastics manufacturing from the construction business. The aim is for both entities to attract capital and strategically position themselves in line with their core business, to unlock shareholder value and Proplastics focus on it business.
January 5th, 2015 by Tom Minney
Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE) says it is getting closer to introducing an Automated Trading System using trading technology from Nasdaq OMX. It will also link its trading infrastructure to the Central Securities Depository (CSD) and Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) at the National Bank of Rwanda.
In March 2014, there was a report in The East African that the RSE was aiming to use the Nasdaq X-stream system installed at the East African Exchange (EAX) regional commodity market. The latest news from the East African Securities Exchanges Association EASEA press communiqué (available here) from the 24th meeting in Rwanda on 26-27 November was: “The RSE is in the final stages of automation of its trading system”.
Nasdaq describes X-stream as “a flexible, out-of-the-box solution trading multiple asset classes simultaneously on a single platform” on its website. It says X-stream is “the world’s most widely deployed matching technology” among market operators and is deployed in over 30 exchanges globally.
According to the March story in The East African: “John Rwangombwa, the governor of the National Bank of Rwanda, told Rwanda Today that though electronic trading had been delayed due to the heavy financial outlay required, RSE and EAX are now in advanced stages of sharing the NASDAQ system. .. We have been working on our side as a central bank to link the central securities depository. In the course of this year —in three or four months — automatic trading will be up and running.”
The report added: “While trade volumes on the RSE have been steadily increasing, its current manual trading platform makes it uncompetitive in particular among offshore investors.”
The RSE also reported that the bond market is becoming more “vibrant”, with quarterly issues by the Government of Rwanda. This was after work by a team made up of Capital Market Authority (CMA), Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE), Central Bank of Rwanda and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.
East African Exchange
The EAX was launched on 3 July 2014 by His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya. It had been established by Tony O. Elumelu, CON, of Heirs Holdings, Nicolas Berggruen of Berggruen Holdings, Dr. Jendayi Frazer of 50 Ventures and Rwandan investment company Ngali Holdings. Acccording to a press release: “the EAX is a commodity exchange that aims to increase regional market efficiency and give the growing population, particularly smallholder farmers, better access to commercial markets.
“EAX will use NASDAQ’s OMX X-Stream trading platform for electronic trading and warehouse receipts so farmers can deposit their produce into EAX certified warehouses and access its services.
“At the formal launch, Mr. Elumelu said: ‘The EAX showcases our desire to identify far reaching investment opportunities, while ensuring that most of the value-adding aspects of Africa’s resource wealth stay on our continent. Africa must move toward greater self-sufficiency with private investment and strategic partnerships, just as we have done at EAX through our partnership with NASDAQ.’
“Nicolas Berggruen said: ‘EAX is complementing the EAC’s goal of regional economic integration, and putting in place a world-class exchange to create a globally competitive market for Africa’s commodities.’ EAX’s goal is to facilitate trade across all five East African Community member states. EAX is wholly owned by Africa Exchange Holdings, Ltd. (AFEX). EAX in Rwanda is additionally owned by local investment company Ngali Holdings.”
According to an earlier story on AFEX and its plans in Nigeria, Jendayi Frazer was key in U.S.-Africa policy for nearly 10 years and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (2005-2009). Nicholas Berggruen has a charitable trust which funds the investment arm to take “a long-term, patient capital value-oriented approach”.
A story written in New York Times in March 2014 described “A commodity exchange, with its dozen terminals and state-of-the-art software provided by Nasdaq, held its first six auctions over the past year — a fledgling venture, but the kind that helps explain how a nation with no oil, natural gas or other major natural resources has managed to grow at such a rapid clip in recent years.
Rwanda Stock Exchange trading boards (2013 – credit The East African/umuseke.rw).
For 2104 photos of the Rwanda Stock Exchange and the East African Exchange see the New York Times website here.
November 20th, 2014 by Tom Minney
According to the London Stock Exchange, the listings of companies focussed on sub-Saharan Africa total 115 companies:
• 26 companies on the Main Market
• 3 Global Depository Receipt (GDR) listings on the Main Market
• 2 GDR listings on the Professional Securities Market (PSM)
• 84 companies quoted on AIM, the growth market
The LSE headquarters are in London and it has significant operations in Italy, France, North America and Sri Lanka and employs approximately 2,800 people.
In its press release about a link-up with the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the London bourse says it offers partner securities exchanges and investors a broad range of international equity, bond and derivatives markets, including London Stock Exchange; Borsa Italiana; MTS, Europe’s leading fixed-income market; and the pan-European equities platform, Turquoise. Through its markets, the Group offers international business, and investors, unrivalled access to Europe’s capital markets.
Increasingly important are the post-trade and risk-management services including CC&G, the Rome headquartered central counterparty clearing house (CCP) and Monte Titoli, the significant European settlement business, selected as a first wave participant in the T2S (TARGET2-Securities) European settlement engine that aims to offer centralized delivery-versus-payment. The Group is also a majority owner of LCH.Clearnet, the leading multi-asset global CCP.
LSEG offers its customers an extensive range of real-time and reference data products, including SEDOL, UnaVista, Proquote and RNS. It owns FTSE which calculates thousands of unique indices that measure and benchmark markets and asset classes in more than 80 countries around the world. African exchanges have recently been taking strong interest in FTSE products that will help their visibility and data flows.
By purchasing Sri Lanka’s MillenniumIT trading, surveillance and post trade technology some years ago, the LSEG established itself as a leading developer of high performance trading platforms and capital markets software. According to the LSE press release over 40 other organizations and exchanges around the world use the Group’s technology, although smaller African such as the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange are switching to other systems as reported on this blog, as Millennium IT’s focus changes.
October 10th, 2014 by Tom Minney
The Nairobi Securities Exchange (www.nse.co.ke) is trading corporate bonds and Government of Kenya treasury bonds on an automated trading system. It marks another step forward for South Africa’s financial software development company Securities Trading & Technology Pty (STT), which also supplies the STT bond trading system used by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), Africa’s most liquid bond market.
The new system allows on-line trading of debt securities and is integrated with the settlement system at the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) for treasury bonds. It offers true delivery-versus-payment (DVP) to mitigate risk. In August 2014 the NSE increased the number of settlements in treasury bonds to 3 per day, with settlements at 11:00, 13:00 and 15:00 each day so that a bond trader can buy a Kenyan treasury bond and sell it the same day.
The new STT automated trading system (ATS) also is efficient, scalable and flexible, and supports trading in bonds that have been issued in different currencies.
Peter Mwangi, CEO of the Nairobi bourse, said in a press release: “This is a significant step towards the exchange’s goal of ensuring that the secondary market becomes more transparent and the price-discovery mechanism is beyond reproach.
“The multicurrency trading functionality of the new system means that foreign-denominated bonds can now be listed and traded on the NSE. With this development, we look forward to the listing of the Government of Kenya Sovereign Bond at the exchange.” He was referring to Kenya’s debut $2bn Eurobond that was successfully floated on the Irish Stock Exchange in June after attracting bids for 4 times the initial target.
Nairobi’s stock market was reported to be working with the Central Depository and Settlement Corporation (CDSC) and the CBK for settlements of corporate bonds.
It also follows the South African practice and allows reporting of bond prices by yield (i.e. the current interest rate to investors). According to an earlier report in Standard Media, Mr Mwangi said: “the bond trading system.. will allow reporting of bond prices by yield… Decision-making will be faster and this should spur further liquidity in the bond market.”
The STT system supports market-making, a 2-way-quote trading model, ability to integrate with regulators’ surveillance systems and ability to report transactions that are concluded over-the-counter (OTC) for purposes of settlement.
In enhancing the bond trading system, the Nairobi Securities Exchange acknowledges the vital role that a vibrant secondary market for active African bond trading continues to play in raising long-term capital for the Government and corporate entities. County governments can also use the same system to raise capital through issuing and listing county bonds.
Ms. Michelle Janke, Managing Director of Securities Trading & Technology said: “I am delighted to have partnered with the NSE, all teams have put in an enormous effort to take the market live”. The market went live on 26 September.
The Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange went live using the STT system on 27 June, as reported on this blog, after switching from Millennium IT system.
September 1st, 2014 by Tom Minney
Electronic trading is coming to the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in terms of a contract signed recently with InfoTech Group of Pakistan. Meanwhile the central depository Chengetedzai Depository Company Ltd said that 3 listed companies – CBZ Holdings, Cottco Holdings and FBC Holdings – would be moved onto electronic registers from 8 September, according to local media reports.
The InfoTech Capizar software is also installed at Ghana Stock Exchange since 2008.
According to reports in the Pakistan Observer and The Nation in June, the contract with ZSE is a turnkey deployment of the automated trading system (ATS). According to a press statement by the ZSE in March, the contract was signed on 19 Mar for for the supply and installation of the Capizar ATS product by Infotech Middle East FZ LLC.
Trading floor at the Zimbabwe SE (photo from www.4vf.net)
The agreement was signed between Alban Chirume, CEO of the ZSE, and Naseer A Akhtar, CEO & Chairman of InfoTech Group, assisted by Murad Baig, VP Business Development at IFTL-London. According to the reports, the project was expected to start soon and to be finished within 6 months (by December). The ATS replaces the current manual trading system, which uses MS Excel and other packages to create and publish data, which the new system also does.
The ZSE statement in March adds: “On 31 Jul 2013 we announced the appointment of Central Depository Settlement Company of Mauritius (CDSM Ltd) as our consultant to the automation project. The consultants have since successfully guided us through the tender and vendor selection processes.
“The immediate next steps are the study of the local environment, and the gap analysis to be carried out by the Vendor in order for us to finalise the project plans. These limited activities will be followed by the procurement of computer hardware and construction of the data centre itself. We are expecting that in 3 to 4 months’ time, the project will be in the training and acceptance testing stages with the final live date being our target within a period of 6 months from now.”
CSD going live
Chengetedzai was approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Zimbabwe to run a CSD, after winning a competitive tender on 27 Dec 2010. According to a recent news report in The Herald and the Chronicle newspapers, its market update statement said: “Chengetedzai Depository Company Limited would like to advise all capital markets players, issuers of securities and the investing public that the necessary regulatory approvals to commence the Central Securities Depository (CSD) operations has been granted.
“In this regard, CDCL is ready to commence the opening of investor accounts and dematerialisation (migration from paper based title to electronic securities) of approved securities, in preparation for the trading of electronic based securities.” The company urged the investing public to open securities accounts through registered custodians, who include banks, from 25 August and deposit their securities in the accounts.
According to its website, Chengetedzai won the tender in which two bidders were invited to submit proposals after an initial expression of interest round in Apr 2010. This is in terms of the Securities Act 17/2004, which established the legal basis for the Securities Commission, its mandate and the establishment of a central securities depository (CSD) to maintain securities deposits in electronic form. The SECZ was only established in 2008 and the commissioners immediately embarked on setting up a CSD.
The Ministry of Finance put a hold on the project in Feb 2011 and announced in Aug: “The CSD project was deemed by Government to be of national interest and thus Government would take 51% shareholding in Chengetedzai and that only one CSD to be set up in the country. The ZSE would also be included as a shareholder in Chengetedzai. Then followed protracted negotiations between Chengetedzai to value the “sweat equity” and this was settled on 13 June 2012 by Government and SECZ, and the Shareholders’ Agreement was signed on 26 Jun 2012, after which a new board of directors began.
According to the CDCL report: “The first task was to confirm the software to support the CSD operations and a system selection process was kicked off immediately. After visits to South Africa, India and Moscow, the decision was made to select the Depo/X system supplied by CMA Small Systems from Sweden. The purchase and implementation contracts were signed in March 2013 and in April 2013 the implementation of the project started, exactly fourteen months after the tender was awarded.”
Check this amazing profile in Daily News of 23-year-old Samuelle Dimairho who has been dreaming of transforming the ZSE (and trading on it) since he was 15 and is the driving force behind Chengetedzai.
Background on the ATS
The Africa Report magazine wrote in Jan that the contract is expected to cost $2 million and says daily turnover on the exchange was currently $1.5m on average and there were 68 listed companies, down from a peak of 83. According to the report: “Apart from enabling longer trading hours, the ATS would reduce the fraudulent sale of non-existent stocks. The automation of the bourse has been on the agenda since 2000 although plans have stalled due to liquidity constraints. However, as the new system comes on board, more companies are set to delist this year due to the harsh economic environment obtaining in the country.” It cites Chirume saying: “Tentatively, there are companies which have already shown that they might merge and there is a possibility of some de-listings.” He believed that the de-listings would not have any implications on the bourse as some of the affected counters were not trading.
According to the ZSE press release in Jan, 11 vendors expressed interest, and 4 submitted full responses. They were:
1. A consortium of local vendors led by Chartered Systems Integration in partnership with CMA Small Systems of Sweden.
2. A consortium of Infotech Middle East FZ-LLC and local suppliers.
1. National Stock Exchange of India in partnership with Valentine software of Zimbabwe.
2. New York Stock Exchange Euronext Technologies.
“The initial valuation of all bids submitted narrowed down the competing vendors to a short list of 2 – CIS/ CMA Small systems and Infotech Middle East. During the last week of November the shortlisted 2 vendors were given the opportunity to give oral presentations and demos to support their bids. The CSI /CMA Small Systems consortium was however unable to participate in the demo exercises due to other circumstances beyond their control. Additional due diligence measures were taken during the month of December and as a result of the report outcome of these efforts the Board of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange has approved the engagement of Infotech Middle East FZ-LLC subject to a successful contract negotiations.”