Colombo Stock Exchange
- Prime Minister to officiate at ceremonial kick off of fully digital on-boarding experience, to enable seamless post-trade and settlement and adopt e-contract notes and e-statements and electronic dividend payments
- New measures to save cost, enhance convenience and efficiency for brokers, investors and listed companies
- Capital market to be the first to implement a host of initiatives under the new Electronic Transactions Act
By Nisthar Cassim
SEC Chairman Viraj Dayaratne PC
The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) will today kick off a fully-fledged digitisation journey which the regulator Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) describes as a ‘paradigm change’ benefitting all stakeholders.
The breakthrough initiative spearheaded by the SEC and the CSE and fast-tracked following the COVID-19 induced shutdown of the market, the digitisation drive will involve a fully-digital on-boarding experience, enable seamless post-trade and settlement and adopt e-contract notes and e-statements.
Electronic services include opening of accounts, trading and settlement without having to physically visit a Stock Broker Firm; despatch of Bought/Sold Notes (Contract Notes) electronically as opposed to printed format previously as well as online bank transfers of dividend entitlements to shareholders which hitherto took about 14 days. A fully fledged mobile app will be launched to facilitate some of these services as well as provide live information and research etc.
The initiative follows a joint committee appointed by the Chairman of the SEC comprising of representatives of the SEC and the CSE to take steps to ensure end-to-end Digitisation of the Colombo Stock market.
Necessary amendments were introduced to the Stockbroker Rules, Central Depository Systems (CDS) Rules and Listing Rules to facilitate the digitisation as well.
The required approvals and legal clearances have been obtained to facilitate stockbrokers to perform the Know Your Customer (KYC) verification on line thus eliminating the need for clients to physically visit a stockbroker office.
Furthermore an identity management tool has been built in to the CDS account opening app with the CDS being able to verify the authenticity of the national identity card through an integration with the Department for Registration of Persons having entered in to a MoU.
The required approvals and legal clearances were also obtained for stockbrokers and the CDS to obtain electronically signed account opening and other requisite documents from CDS account holders and clients of stockbroker firms.
The first phase of the digitisation will be rolled out today ceremoniously with Prime Minister and Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Chief Guest and Money and Capital Markets and Public Enterprise Reforms State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal as the Guest of Honour.
“We will be the first under the new Electronic Transactions Act to implement a host of initiatives,” SEC Chairman Viraj Dayaratne PC told the Daily FT in an interview.
“The end-to-end digitisation journey which will be completed in three phases will make Colombo one of the most technology savvy stock markets in the region and almost bring it on par with other developed markets in the world,” he added.
“The entire digitisation process is a paradigm shift in my view and the most significant step after Sri Lanka pioneered South Asia’s first Automated Trading System in 1997,” SEC Chief said.
Dayaratne said the CSE and stockbrokers have rallied behind the digitisation initiative since it benefits all stakeholders.
For stockbrokers there is considerable cost saving as digitisation eliminates cost of printing of contract notes, posting. Additionally there is no cost of printing cheques or delivery with sales proceeds now transferred online to the respective bank account of securities account holders. There is further cost saving on CDS forms, opening of Securities Account Form as with the acceptance of the digital signature the relevant documents are downloaded and digitally signed and stored in the database.
Cost of printing Statement of Accounts monthly for debtors and creditors will not be required since those will be sent via email. The mobile app will give greater marketing visibility for brokers as well.
For the listed entities cost saving measures include quarterly financials and annual reports can be sent via email to its shareholders than hard copies; cost of printing of cheques for dispatch of dividends is eliminated as electronic transfer facility is now available.
Digitisation will empower the investor most. Benefits include the convenience of being able to open a securities account in the CDS from anywhere via the mobile app; view the stock market information directly or by talking to Siri or Alexa; ability to connect to CDS portal to view the securities account share balances either amalgamated or separately with each stockbroker registration and print without visiting the stockbroker; ability to receive credit to their bank account on the same day of the sales settlement via online transfer of the purchase proceeds from their stockbroker; receive from the Listed Entities the dividend entitlements as a shareholder within two days; do online transfer of funds for purchase proceeds on the day of the purchase settlement date to avoid delayed payment interests and download and create online trading platform with the selected stock broker tor either view or trade.
To the CDS, cost saving measures include monthly, quarterly and annual statements can be emailed, thus reducing the cost of printing, stuffing and postage and digital storage of securities account opening forms of securities accounts registered.
SEC Chairman said the app will be expanded to link Board of Investment and other institutions as well to give foreign investors and others seamless and latest information.