Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Naspers gives Europe its biggest consumer tech listing

Naspers has pulled off a dramatic restructuring of its holdings to unlock value after the successful listing of Prosus on Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange and simultaneously on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). Prosus Group is valued at EUR120 billion ($134bn) and is Europe’s biggest consumer Internet firm and the third in value on the Amsterdam bourse after Royal Dutch Shell and Unilever.

South Africa’s Naspers is Africa’s most valuable company and still owns some 73% of Prosus. It has spun off its global Internet investments into Prosus including the largest stake (31%) of China’s Tencent and the largest stake (28%) stake in Mail.Ru, a giant Russian internet company, reported to be worth $1.4bn.

According to an announcement in Amsterdam: “The Prosus Group’s businesses and investments serve more than 1.5 billion people in 89 markets, and are the market leaders in 77 of those markets. The Prosus Group’s consumer internet services span the core focus segments of classifieds, payments and fintech as well as food delivery, plus other online businesses including e-tail and travel. The Prosus Group aims to build leading companies that create value by empowering people and enriching communities.”

Other investments include Russia’s Digital Sky Technologies (which invests in Facebook, Groupon and Zygna), Indian e-commerce start-up Swiggy, Takeaway.com, Germany’s Delivery Hero, investment in Brazil and e-commerce in the Middle East through Souq.com as well as financial services firms PayU and Wibmo.

In May 2018 Naspers sold its 11% shareholding in India’s Flipkart for $1.6 billion after buying it for $616m (Walmart bought 77% of Flipkart for $16bn in its biggest acquisition as it sought to square up to Amazon and local competitors for domination of the growing Indian market.

Although Euronext Amsterdam bourse set a guide price of €58.70 per share, investor enthusiasm was high as the shares opened trading at €76 and reached a high of €77.40, up 32%, on the first day before closing the week at €73.90. News reports say the market valuation of Prosus is based mostly on the Tencent holding and does not count many of the other investments.

Unlocking value in Naspers

Naspers had made what has been described as “the best venture capital investment ever” when in 2001 it bought 46.5% of Chinese Internet tech company Tencent with an initial investment of $32 million, which had grown to $175bn in value by March 2018, according to Bloomberg. It has also made huge profits by selling some of its Tencent holdings but remained with 31.1%.

Naspers has been listed on the JSE since 1994, and its investors are predominantly South Africans including the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), managed by the Public Investment Commissioners (PIC). Before the spinoff it made up 25% of the JSE’s total market capitalization, and investors had to scale back their holdings to avoid over-concentration, so that the total value of Naspers was less than that of its shares in Tencent, ignoring the other companies.

After the spinoff, Naspers share price fell nearly 30% and it became only 15% of the JSE market capitalization.

The Amsterdam listing opens the global holdings to a wider pool of investors and should permit reassessment of both the value of both Prosus shares- Naspers still owns some 73% of Prosus which has also – and allow for future capital raising. One of the biggest investors in Naspers is the South African Government Employees Pension Fund, managed by the Public Investment Commissioners.

$314m for African tech start-ups

Naspers is seeking to find similar media, e-commerce, consumer, fintech and other successes in Africa. It has appointed 48-year-old Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa as CEO, its first black and first woman chief executive, according to Quartz. She was previously chief executive of Shanduka Group, an investment company founded by South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa. In October 2018 Naspers announced a $314m fund to invest into promising African tech start-ups.

History of Naspers

Naspers was set up in 1915 as De Nasionale Pers Beperkt (National Press Ltd) to promote Afrikaner nationalism and it continued to support the National Party over the decades until 1989, throughout apartheid.

The first newspaper was Die Burger in 1915 and magazine Die Huisgenoot in 1916 (both originally name De.. ). Naspers started publishing books in 1918. In 1985 it set up M-Net, the first pay-TV in southern Africa.

(Disclosure: the writer owns Naspers and Prosus shares)

Work starts on African exchanges linkage project

Africa’s stock exchanges, regulators, central banks, stockbrokers and clearing systems are working together on the African Exchanges Linkage Project (AELP), set to create trading and information links between the 7 leading securities exchanges.

Participating exchanges at the first capital markets stakeholders’ roundtable were the West African regional exchange Bourse Regionale Valeures Mobilieres (BRVM), Casablanca Stock Exchange, The Egyptian Exchange, Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Nairobi Securities Exchange, The Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Stock Exchange of Mauritius.

The linkage project is a joint initiative by African Development Bank and African Securities Exchanges Association. It aims to facilitate cross-border trading and settlement of securities, unlock pan-African investment flows, promote innovations and diverse investments, and address lack of depth and liquidity in Africa’s financial markets. For more background, see our recent article.

The project is backed by $980,000 grant through the African Development Bank Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation Trust Fund (KOAFEC).

Karim Hajji, ASEA President and chief executive of the Casablanca Stock Exchange, said according to the press release: “Regional integration is a high-priority continental agenda. By organically linking 7 exchanges in Africa which collectively have a market capitalization of over US$1.4 trillion, the AELP will stimulate intra-African flows and provide opportunities for investors and trading participants in over fourteen African countries.

“With the expected outcome of boosting liquidity in African capital markets, the AELP will unlock the powerful potential of African markets to access and redistribute domestic capital for economic development.”

Pierre Guislain, African Development Bank’s Vice-President, Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization, said: “The partnership between us and ASEA complements the Bank’s interventions towards deep and resilient capital markets in Africa. The African Exchanges Linkage Project will contribute to a wider financing pool for African corporates and SMEs and help close Africa’s infrastructure deficit, estimated at US$67–107 billion annually. Indeed, the continent needs deep, liquid and linked capital markets that will enable accelerated mobilization of domestic resources and incentivize private financing of infrastructure”.

Participating partners at the workshop on 24 April at African Development Bank’s headquarters included:
• Regulators Le Conseil Régional de l’Epargne Publique et des Marchés Financiers, Autorité Marocaine du Marché des Capitaux, Securities and Exchanges Commission of Nigeria, and the Capital Markets Authority of Kenya.
• Central bank – Banque Centrale des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest,
• Stockbrokers and exchanges associations – Association Professionnelle des Sociétés de Bourse, Association of Stockbroking Houses of Nigeria, Kenya Association of Stockbrokers and Investment Bankers
• Clearing systems – Association Professionnelle des Banques Teneurs de Compte Conservateurs, Maroclear, Central Securities Clearing System – Nigeria, Central Depository and Settlement Corporation Ltd. – Kenya
• Investment banking – Afrinvest West Africa.

Pierre Guislain of African Development Bank and Karim Hajji of African Securities Exchanges Association and Casablanca Stock Exchange

IPO report – Airtel Africa looking for $1.25bn in 2019

++ STORY UPDATED AFTER ARTICLE IN SUNDAY TELEGRAPH IN UK ON 3 FEB 2019 ++

Airtel Africa, a UK-based company, is on track for an initial public share offer (IPO) on an international stock exchange in 2019 expected to raise $1.25 billion. Last November 2018 the board announced it had appointed 8 global banks JP Morgan, Citigroup, BofA Merrill Lynch, Absa Group Limited, Barclays Bank PLC, BNP Paribas, Goldman Sachs International and Standard Bank Group for the IPO. It aims to value the African business at some $8bn.

The company has denied a report on Bloomberg that the IPO could be delayed from March 2019 for 6 months due to emerging markets turmoil.
By that date parent Bharti Airtel had raised $1.25 bn in pre-IPO placements to 6 global investors, according to a regulatory filing on the Bombay Stock Exchange (reported in Economic Times of India).

On 3 Feb, an article in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper suggested the IPO would come to the London Stock Exchange later in the year, after delaying the float because of volatility. At $8bn it would be the LSE’s biggest listing since 2017. It adds that Airtel Africa in January secured a further $200m investment from Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund to reduce cash borrowings ahead of the listing.

According to journalist Christopher Williams: “Airtel Africa has turned around in ¬recent years, after making heavy losses in competition with financially stronger players in Africa, including Vodafone-controlled Vodacom. In its most recent quarter profits doubled as mobile data consumption increased across its territories, building on its first full year of profit.”

For various reports, the IPO is expected to raise another $1.25bn. After the IPO Bharti Airtel will only hold some 65%, down from around 92%-93% at present. The pre-IPO investors include Warburg Pincus, Temasek, Singtel and Softbank Group International, according to the report. The money will be used to cut back debt and free up cash to combat rival Reliance Jio Infocomm in India.

Airtel Africa is the holding company for Bharti Airtel’s operations in 14 countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana. It is Africa’s second largest telco with over 94 million customers, and ranked in the top 2 carriers in most of the countries where it operates, offering 2G, 3G and 4G services, plus mobile commerce through Airtel Money.

In December, the tax authority in Niger had ordered the closure of Airtel Niger which has 4.4m customers, over a tax dispute. French-owned Orange said it had also been threatened with closure in Niger over a tax demand, according to this report.

Airtel also announced a new board from the parent company and the investors: Sunil Bharti Mittal, Raghunath Mandava, Akhil Gupta, Vishal Mahadevia, Alok Sama, Arthur Lang, Shravin Bharti Mittal and Richard Gubbins. In a press release it said the board: “brings extensive experience across industry verticals including – telecom & ICT, financial markets as well as in technology, software development and consultancy”.

African revenues rose nearly 13% for the quarter to September, and net income compared to a loss a year earlier.

12 questions Silicon Valley investors ask – focus for African policymakers

African #tech superstar Alysia Silberg General Partner, Street Global Venture Capital, says she replies when asked what African policymakers can do to encourage investment into the tech sector in Africa, one focus is to look at the 12 investment questions of Silicon Valley:

1. Whether the government is stable?
2. Company incorporation structures and the limitation of liability?
3. The availability of reputable experts able to advise companies on their IP Protection and other assets?
4. Availability of legal recourse and the cost?
5. Whether or not there is a risk of asset seizure by government or any other organization?
6. The prevalence of fraud and corruption and whether it is a material risk?

L-R: Dawit Hailu (Wudassie Daignostic), Alysia Silberg (Street Global VC), Agnes Gitau (GBS Africa). Photo: AfricanCapitalMarketsNews

7. Reliability of infrastructure including financial and banking payments platforms and ease of international funds transfer?
8. Availability and productivity of a highly skilled workforce able to meet the needs of scaling business with a strong focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths?
9. Whether or not “hotbed” exist for different niches and industries?
10. A progressive environment for diversity and women’s empowerment?
11. Whether any startups have succeeded at scale and its resultant effect on the surrounding ecosystem?
12. Availability of and ease of access to local capital for entrepreneurs, Not just for the first rounds of investment, but through a startup’s growth from startup to scaleup?

She was speaking at the UK-Ethiopia Trade & Investment Forum 2018 in London on 16 October 2018.

Consensys ramps up blockchain rollout in African financial markets with new appointment

Leading #Blockchain innovator #Consensys continues to ramp up its role in shaping the future of financial services and capital markets in Africa with the recruitment of #fintech veteran Ian Bessarabia. He joins the team as Head of South African Operations to support the implementation of enterprise Blockchain solution.
Bessarabia has been working in fintech for 20 years, and has managed operations teams, project implementations and market-driven initiatives in an array of countries and across industry. He is best known in African and global capital markets for his work as Market Development Lead – Fixed Income, Foreign Exchange and Blockchain – Africa at Thomson Reuters and previously as Business Development Manager at SWIFT.

Ian Bessarabia


ConsenSys is a worldwide venture production studio that specialises in building decentralised applications (DApps), enterprise solutions and various developer tools for Blockchain ecosystems, focused primarily on Ethereum. Powered by smart contracts, and secured through encryption, the applications provide the benefits of transparency, auditability, and immutability that are unique to solutions based on blockchain.
In a recent post on LinkedIn Bessarabia wrote: “Blockchain has the power to transform the way businesses share information and deliver services. However, this relatively new technology needs to demonstrate clear value to businesses before it builds enough trust to go mainstream.
In a recent press release Bessarabia adds: “Much time has been spent analysing and challenging the underlying technology, and there is a pressing need to shift the thinking into a tangible business narrative, and pragmatic adoption. Expansion within the local financial sector will see our marketplace becoming Blockchain enabled. The idea is that every asset bought or sold would be on the ledger”.

Monica Singer

Monica Singer, South Africa Lead at ConsenSys, recruited him: “It provides me tremendous pleasure to take someone with the abilities and experience as Ian on board. We are on such an incredibly exciting journey and having Ian provide his input is a real boon for us.”
According to the press release: “(Ian) thrives on mentoring start-ups and early-stage initiatives looking at deploying technology for social good. As an ethical protagonist, he is also a participant of the Ethics and Governance Think Tank, run by The University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science” He is on the South African Financial Blockchain Consortium (SAFBC), a group aimed at educating and bringing the benefits of Blockchain to the industry for the benefit of the entire country.

What is Ethereum?
According to the Ethereum website it’s a way to build “unstoppable applications”:
“Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third-party interference.
“These apps run on a custom built blockchain, an enormously powerful shared global infrastructure that can move value around and represent the ownership of property.
“This enables developers to create markets, store registries of debts or promises, move funds in accordance with instructions given long in the past (like a will or a futures contract) and many other things that have not been invented yet, all without a middleman or counterparty risk.”

Barclays Bank call for standards for derivative trades on blockchain

Blockchain can revolutionize trading in derivatives, fix inefficiencies and cut cost of trading, but only if there is much more standardization across the industry. Barclays Bank is one of the key champions and yesterday (26 April) spoke out at the annual meeting of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) in Miami, USA.

According to this preview article on Coindesk: “Before banks and traders can rely on a distributed ledger technology as the vaunted ‘single record of truth,’ there first needs to be better standardization. Yet as it stands, they use a hodgepodge of data structures and formats to track the life cycle of trades, reflecting in part the variety of regulatory requirements imposed after the 2008 financial crisis.”

ISDA had proposed a common domain model (CDM) in May 2017, with the support of blockchain firms including R3, a consortium of the world’s biggest banks including JPMorgan and Citigroup among 200 enterprises, dedicated to researching and delivering new financial technology, and Axoni, a capital markets technology firm specializing in distributed ledger infrastructure.

ISDA is to release the first iteration of the blockchain-compatible version of CDM in early summer 2018 and Barclays has an internal CDM adoption working group. Coindesk quotes Sunil Challa from the business architect team at Barclays: “There is a shiny new technology promising to be a panacea for fixing many post-trade processing issues. So, now is an opportune moment to re-engineer our processes.”

“Simply replicating the existing fragmented state would be a colossal missed opportunity.”

How blockchain works for derivatives
Derivatives are traded using a contract between two or more parties, as highlighted in April 2016 on CNBC. Derivatives “contracts are made up of three main parts with ISDA creating the standards for derivative trading across the financial world. But the process is arduous with current paper contracts in the form of computer documents still being issued.”

Barclays showcased a prototype of using smart contracts through the lifecycle of a derivatives trade, including negotiating an ISDA master agreement, entering individual trades and performing the trades on a distributed ledger. The bank replaced traditional derivatives contracts with an electronic smart contract, whose fields could be pre-populated with certain values agreed by ISDA. This way, all the banks have the same document which will not vary slightly from bank to bank, something that can cause delays and unnecessary human intervention. The UK bank used a blockchain called Corda, developed by R3.

The banks involved could then populate the fields with the terms of the derivatives agreement such as the price with any changes being recorded. Those can then be seen online. Previously, a bank would have to search through its inbox or pile of documents to find an earlier version of the draft.

Even if banks use CDM on transactions between them, often they use their own ways to communicate data internally. CDM and distributed ledger could standardize data within institutions. It also provides a way for derivatives trading to be “blockchain agnostic” as many different providers are providing blockchain platforms and it is seen as risky to be on one.

Coindesk quotes Lee Braine of Barclays CTO Office, describing a future scenario in which banks are trading with each other on different distributed ledgers. If there are some counterparties on one network and other counterparties on other networks, would each need to host a node on every network or could they be genuinely interoperable? “A simplistic solution would be to revert to the traditional model of silos with messaging between them, but that risks replicating the fragmentation of the past. If you instead transition to the CDM, then at least there is opportunity to standardize on data structures, lifecycle events etc.”

Better for costs, better for regulators
Barclays working group estimated around 25% gains in efficiency form using CDM only in clearing, and about $2.5 billion in annual running costs.

Goldman Sachs, another keen supporter of CDM and shared ledgers as a way to deal with some of the extra pressures from implementing the European Union MiFID2 Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, which started being rolled out across financial institutions in the EU in January 2018.

One appeal for blockchain is that regulators can streamline reporting, by pulling data from a node on the blockchain. The Financial Conduct Authority of UK participated in a proof-of-concept for regulatory reporting of data mortgage transactions, using R3’s Corda platform.

According to Coindesk, Clive Ansell, head of market infrastructure and technology at ISDA, says: “There is a fantastic opportunity … but the level of success will depend on the industry operating to a common data and processing model.”

This article also appears at my new company website, www.innovation-wire.com.

Top learning on the future of African exchanges – BAFM seminar this week 19-20 April

The 7th Building African Financial Markets (BAFM) seminar has a top lineup and tomorrow (17 April) is the last day to register The seminar is part of the annual programme of capital markets development and synergies of the African Securities Exchanges Association and is also backed by the World Federation of Exchanges. It is hosted by Nairobi Securities Exchange, will be on 19-20 April at the Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel in Nairobi.

Leading the programme will be William Ruto (Deputy President of Kenya), Geoff Odundo (CEO, Nairobi Securities Exchange), Samuel Kimani (Chairman of the Nairobi SE), Oscar Onyema (President of ASEA and CEO of the Nigerian Stock Exchange), Paul Muthaura (CEO of the Capital Markets Authority of Kenya).

Topics are focused on market structures, innovation, new technology and linkages, including top international speakers:

• Adaptive innovation and the blueprint for orderly markets in Africa – Siobhan Cleary (Head of Policy and Research, World Federation of Exchanges) and Stebbings Archie (Principal, Oliver Wyman)
• Building blocks for innovative markets: effective risk management for clearing and settlement, a CCP in a box – Stuart Turner (Founder, Avenir Technology)
• Building new markets in a frontier economy and the impact on indigenized solutions: The Kenyan experience – Terry Adembesa (Director, Derivatives Markets, Nairobi SE)
• Linking African exchanges organically – Selloua Chakri (Managing Director, SCL Advisory)
• Building blocks for innovative markets: A guide for managing cyber risk – Joseph Tegbe (Partner and Head of Technology Advisory at KPMG, Nigeria)
• FinTech as an enabler for sustainable development: An innovation showcase – Panel with moderator Catherine Karita (Executive Director at NIC Securities), Farida Bedwei (Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer, Logiciel Ltd), David Waithaka (Chief Strategist at Cellulant Kenya), Candice Dott (Head of Market Development and Customer Experience across Africa, Thomson Reuters), Alex Siboe (Head of Digital Financial Services at KCB Bank Kenya) and Julianne Roberts (F3 Life)
• RegTech: Leveraging technology in the effective risk management and regulation of African capital markets – Michele Carlsson (Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Nasdaq)
• Effective financial education: The role of emerging technology in contemporary Africa – Abimbola Ogunbanjo (Managing Partner, Chris Ogunbanjo & Co.)
• Financial innovations in SME financing: Opportunities for African MSMEs – Sofie Blakstad (CEO, Hiveonline)
• Disruptive technologies reshaping the future of African financial markets: M-Akiba – Irungu Waggema (Head of IT, Nairobi Securities Exchange)
• Impact of EU Regulation on African Capital Markets (EMIR, BMR, MIFID II, GDPR) – Anne Clayton (Head of Public Policy, Johannesburg Stock Exchange)
• Financing sustainable development: Product and market innovations – Anthony Miller (Coordinator at the Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiatives)
• Disruptive technologies: Blockchain – the future of finance or a flash in the pan? – panel with moderator Ade Bajomo (Executive Director, Information Technology and Operations, Access Bank), Reggie Middleton (CEO and Founder of Veritaseum), Abubakar Mayanja (MD of ABL), Adriana Marais (Head of Innovation SAP Africa) and Samuel Maina (Research Scientist at IBM Research Lab Africa)

It’s a key gathering for Africa’s securities exchanges and key learning for all interested in the future of capital markets and their role in African development. For more information and for bookings, rush to this registration link.

Strate’s CEO Monica Singer steps down to focus on blockchain

Monica Singer, the former CEO of South African central securities depository Strate, stepped down at the end of August 2017. Monica had been the project manager of Strate since its inception, and has led the organization for nearly 20 years. She will concentrate full time on blockchain.

Maria Vermaas, who has been Head of the Legal and Regulatory Division since the start of Strate, has been appointed as Interim CEO. The long-standing executive team will continue to drive strategic objectives, according to an announcement from Strate, which adds that Monica is leaving “to fulfil her dream of living in Cape Town and to pursue new opportunities”.

“Monica’s entrepreneurial spirit, together with her visionary leadership” drove the introduction of electronic settlement for South Africa’s financial markets. Strate is proud of “being a Conscious Company that creates shared value for all stakeholders” and globally recognized as one of the most progressive CSDs.

Monica says (in the statement): “I have always had a passion for innovation and technology that drives societal change. With the potential disruption that the financial markets may face, particularly with disruptive technologies like blockchain, I will continue to research to stay ahead of developments which may lead me to consulting on these topics.”

She has been key in several networks that share ideas internationally including as Vice President of the Africa & Middle East Depositories Association (AMEDA), over 18 years in the International Securities Services Association (ISSA), World Forum of CSDs (WFC) and Americas’ Central Securities Depositories Association (ACSDA).

Strate Chairman Rob Barrow, comments: “The Board, together with the Executive team and staff, would like to thank Monica for her contribution to Strate and the legacy that she has left behind. We would like to wish her all the best for her future endeavours.”

Full time in blockchain
According to this news story by Michael de Castillo on Coindesk, Monica is devoting her considerable energies “to dedicate her career to bringing blockchain to industries from finance and insurance to medicine and retail”.

Monica Singer: Blockchain is coming and its going to change the world (Photocredit: coindesk)

“In her first conversation with the media since her resignation, Singer explained how she believes the tech could help her finally cut out what she describes as ‘unnecessary middlemen.’

“Singer told CoinDesk: ‘I’m so in love with blockchain, that the only thing I’m doing, all the time, is telling the world, “Guys, wake up! This is coming, and this is going to change the world.”’ According to the story, Monica will use her global contacts to widen her interest beyond the financial sector. The article mentions ethereum startup ConsenSys and digital ledger startup Ripple among the “fintech” companies Monica is interested in working with.

She still believes CSDs can provide important services, even if blockchain means they will “not have a role to play” in the blockchain world. She is set to speak at the Sibos banking conference in October on blockchain in the cash and securities settlement space and at the World Federation of CSDs in Hong Kong in November.

It quotes her saying: “I love saying to people: ‘Give me a brief description of your industry.’ I can quickly tell them in which way that industry will be affected by this new, incredible technology. So, that’s what I need to do.

“I was the person who moved South Africa’s financial markets from paper to digital.. When I discovered blockchain, I thought this is exactly what we need in the world.”

Brief history of clearing and settlement in South Africa
Johannesburg Stock Exchange rang the final bell on 108 years of open-outcry trading on 7 June 1996. Most recently trading had been in a huge hall at the bottom of its then headquarters in Diagonal Street, so the noise of trading filled the whole building when the market got busy. From market open on 10 June all equity trading has been on the automated Johannesburg Equity Trading system. As volumes increased, stockbroker back offices talked about “how many feet of work do you have?” referring to the huge piles of share certificates and transfer forms stacked high on desks, while the motorcycle delivery drivers at the back of Diagonal Street and Kerk Street, Johannesburg, got ever busier.

Electronic clearing and settlement were urgently needed but the banks that dominate this aspect of capital markets had each invested in their own systems. They had further formed the Bond Market Association to create a self-regulating bond exchange in 1990 and had worked with the South African Reserve Bank the same year to form UNEXcor to set up an electronic settlement system using a CSD. The first fully electronic settlement through UNEXcor and the CSD (called CD Ltd) had been on 26 October 1995.

Monica, famous for long-term vision backed by unstoppable energy, was brought in to break the logjam and move the market forward in 1998. Gold-mining group Harmony was the first equity on the JSE to move to full dematerialization of securities in 1999 and the whole market followed in orderly stages.

According to a brochure by Strate a few years ago: “The transition to an efficient electronic-settlement system increased market activity and improved the international perception of the South African market by reducing settlement and operational risk in the market, increasing efficiency and ultimately reducing costs. Accordingly, by heightening investor appeal, Strate has enabled South Africa to compete effectively with other international markets and not just those of emerging markets.

“Since 2000, Strate has used the South African Financial Instruments Real-time Electronic Settlement system (SAFIRES), an adaptation of the Swiss securities settlement system (SECOM), operated by SIX SIS Ltd, to continuously provide investors with secure and efficient settlement of equities.”

UNEXcor merged with Strate in 2003 and as the platform became more aged, Strate began market consultation to replace the technology and move to a Securities Ownership Register for bonds.

Participants set up the Money Market Forum in 2002 for dematerialization of money-market securities and awarded the contract to do this to UNEXcor, which devolved to Strate after the merger. After extensive market consultation, Strate developed the business requirement and employed Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to develop the code. Successful testing was completed on 1 October 2008 and Rand Merchant Bank issued the first electronic security to Strate via FirstRand Bank in November 2008. Electronic settlement of newly issued money market securities began in the second half of 2009.

The latest transformation was the switch to T+3 settlement across the South African capital market, carried out successfully on 11 July 2016 and profiled on this blog.

Computers quieter,faster than open outcry

Another floor of shouting traders has just closed in New York, after CME Group (named after Chicago Mercantile Exchange) closed its open outcry trading pits. The trading floor still continues in pits on various commodities in the Chicago building that houses the Chicago Board of Trade, in an approach that dates back to when the building opened in 1930, writes The Economist magazine this week.
The Chicago exchange only has 9 pits, down from 32 in 2007, and closed one trading floor in 2015 that used to be very crowded and busy. Like the rest of the hyperactive world securities and commodities markets that used to heave with life, emotion, despair, greed, fear, ambition, deception and many other human conditions, gradually the computers have taken over.
The magazine writes: “In the end it was not scandal or terrorism that undermined open outcry; it was efficiency. Computers turned out to be quicker, cheaper and more precise than humans”.
It notes that CME Group was quick to understand that most business was in interest rates, stockmarket indices and currencies, not in traditional commodities. It picked up good volumes and made economies of scale in trading and clearing and then bought up other exchanges that ran into problems. Volumes continue to climb and a tumultuous year of surprising votes in UK and US have seen a big spike in activity and volatility. It provided US and UK traders with a record December and record-breaking volumes on exchanges such as the CME.
The Chicago Board of Trade was formed in 1848 and moved in 1856 to make space for 122 new members.

Chicago Board of Trade building, the figure on top is the goddess Ceres (photo Wikipedia)

Rwanda to host 20th African Securities Association conference on 27-29 November

The Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE) and the African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA) will host the 20th Annual ASEA Conference in Kigali, Rwanda on 27-29 November. The ASEA annual conference is the flagship event for Africa’s capital markets and all those who work in them. This year’s theme is “The road to 2030: Making the African capital markets relevant to the real economy”.
Celestin Rwabukumba, RSE CEO, explained: “The conference will bring together more than 300 global and regional experts and stakeholders in capital markets, regulators, law firms and issuers, domestic, regional and international investors, rating agencies, portfolio and investment managers, government representatives, and technology providers to ask questions and address the big question of how African securities exchanges should become more effective and play a bigger role in mobilizing capital for African businesses that will drive our economies on the global economic stage.” He added it offers an opportunity for the East Africa Community (EAC) region to demonstrate how much can be achieved through integration of regional securities markets – the EAC is leading the way with an exciting capital markets integration programme as part of stronger regional economic links.
The gathering will also celebrate the RSE’s 5th birthday, it was formed in 2011. “It’s been an exciting 5 years for us. We have grown on all fronts and are increasing our numbers every year in terms of market participation, companies coming on board and technology. This will definitely be a good occasion,” Rwabukumba added.
There will also be scope for tourism and other enjoyment after the conference.

Kigali under Vision 2020 (photo: www.TopBoxDesign.com)

Kigali under Vision 2020 (photo: www.TopBoxDesign.com)