It is no secret that the Coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, has significantly altered the world of work and how organisations conduct business. While it has created a gap between some brands and its stakeholders, others have leveraged digitisation to improve service delivery. One thing is however certain, brands without strong digital strategy will be left holding the short end of the stick during this lockdown and possibly beyond as consumers increasingly crave products and services that can meet current and evolving needs.
A brand that is reaping the rewards of steady and consistent capacity building in technology, automation and digitisation of its operations is The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE or The Exchange). The resilience that the Nigerian bourse has shown in these trying times is indeed noteworthy. Since the activation of its Business Continuity Plan on Monday, 23 March 2020, the employees of the NSE have engaged in remote working effective Tuesday, 24 March 2020, while Dealing Member Firms have been trading remotely and seamlessly since Wednesday, 25 March 2020.
True to the commitment made by the Chief Executive Officer, NSE, Mr. Oscar N. Onyema, OON, the Exchange has continued to maintain trading activities during normal trading hours and has witnessed no disruptions to it activities. Rather, it has continued to actively pursue avenues to deepen the capital market and widen the pool of investment instruments for investors with new listings and capacity building exercises. All of these achievements have been made possible through the use of technology that has been systematically put in place since 2011.
Enabling Seamless Trading Activities and Business Operations
In what has been dubbed the ‘X-Era’, the NSE achieved a major milestone in its transformation agenda with the launch of the historic and robust technology platform, X-GEN in 2013. X-GEN has demonstrated its innovative trading capabilities, delivering benefits including: improved market order flow, increase in the number of trades, direct market access, remote trading through FIX, VPN and X-Net, and income diversification for The Exchange and its stakeholders. X-Gen has also brought about the advent of mobile trading technologies to the retail and institutional segments of the Nigerian capital market.
NSE continued the deployment of cutting edge technology in 2013 with the launch of an Issuers’ Portal, called X-Issuer. X-Issuer is a secure web-based portal designed to enable Issuers file information in an electronic format to The Exchange, thereby improving the compliance and regulation experience of Issuers. Some of the unique benefits of the application include data capture, form submission validation, and other ancillary services such as submission notification mechanisms and tracking of the submitted information. With this, Issuers are no longer required to submit hard copies of information to The Exchange by post, hand delivery, or courier, which we will agree is more relevant than ever under today’s circumstances.
While X-Issuer focuses on regulatory requirements for Issuers, the Broker-Dealer community has certainly not been left unattended. In 2015, the NSE launched the Broker Oversight & Supervision System (“X-BOSS”), a first of its kind in the West African capital market. Describing the platform as a marriage between cutting edge, twenty-first-century technology and robust, comprehensive regulation, Executive Director, Regulation, NSE, Ms. Tinuade Awe, said, “The system is designed to promote compliance as well as reduce the financial and operational burden of complying with regulatory requirements. At the time of the launch, she asserted that the system would provide a secure central repository for information about Dealing Members of The Exchange, which is critical from a regulatory perspective.” The system would also ensure that Dealing Members are abreast of their regulatory obligations at all times; a function that is heavily leveraged today.
Enhancing Investors’ Experience and Maintaining Market Integrity
Undoubtedly, the needs and experience of investors were the driving forces of the transformation agenda developed by The Exchange. To strengthen the integrity of the market and create a safe and secure trading experience, the NSE deployed X-Smart. This market surveillance tool leverages artificial intelligence and allows The Exchange to proactively monitor market manipulation (including spoofing and layering), detect and deter manipulative tendencies, gather intelligence, carry out traders’ monitoring and analysis, conduct multi-asset, and cross-market surveillance, and execute risk-based supervision of flagged participants.
Furthermore, 2014 saw the launch of the X-Whistle – a program that empowers a whistleblower (an employee, an investor, a compliance officer, an Issuer, a stockbroker or any member of the public) to report possible violations of the rules and regulations of The Exchange, the securities law, and fraud related to activity within the capital market. This platform promotes The Exchange’s zero-tolerance policy for misconduct and has played a significant role in minimizing market infractions. NSE was reported to have assisted the Federal Government of Nigeria in building a whistleblowing portal that has seen the country receive several billions of Naira in stolen loot.
The NSE’s customer-centric approach has given rise to several other solutions including:
- X-Bot – the artificial intelligence (AI) powered Chatbot that allows investors make enquiries through Facebook Messenger. A first of its kind for an African Securities Exchange, it was designed to provide market participants, especially retail investors with fast, convenient and real-time access to data that can influence investment decisions. An additional benefit of the X-Bot is its capability to learn through customers’ interactions and become better at providing our customers with more relevant and timely solutions progressively.
- X-Mobile – a dynamic and user-friendly mobile app designed to enhance investors’ participation in the Nigerian capital market. It features market snapshots, stock prices, market analytics, financial news, dealing members directory and trade simulation.
Ultimately, the NSE has made significant progress in building a digital ecosystem that is serving stakeholders excellently in these unprecedented times. Without the foresight of Management and the dogged implementation of these initiatives, the Nigerian capital market would have suffered major disruptions with local and global stakeholders incurring major losses. Rather, the market continues to enjoy seamless operations with continuous trading, frequent stakeholder engagement, market deepening activities, and all other functions fully activated.
Of course, the journey does not end here. The Exchange has made its commitment to building best-in-class technology with smart trading tools that will continue to enhance stakeholders’ experience in the market. We are, therefore, eager to see what the local bourse will bring to the fore in its efforts to effectively and sustainably serve Africa’s largest economy during and post-COVID.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a sponsored content.