JSE launches online trading platform

BY RICHARD BROWNE Business editor browner@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, May 07, 2015

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THE Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) launched its new online trading platform yesterday in a move that is expected to attract greater interest from investors abroad as well as the youth demographic.


The trading portal, said to be the first of its type in Jamaica and the Caribbean, allows investors to buy and sell securities, view market performance, monitor their account balance and view statements. Previously, online trading was a function limited to stockbrokers as a result of various restrictions and highly priced transaction fees.


It was foreign interest that propelled the creation of the platform, mainly from the Jamaican diaspora, but also from other potential investors. A common question on JSE international tours was "how can we invest in an easier way?" JSE General Manager Marlene Street Forrest told the Jamaica Observer.


The platform was launched to an audience of about 200 participants at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston. Three of the four starting brokerages also had booths at the function, to sign up any new customers.


To use the platform, investors will first need an account with one of the four initial stock brokers -- NCB Capital Markets, Victoria Mutual Wealth Management, Barita, or Sagicor Investments.


But that number could soon expand, as Street Forrest expects other stock brokers to join, driven by increased customer demand. "We believe the (presence of the first four) brokers will force the others to come on," she said.


Although investors will have 24-hour access, each transaction must be settled by a broker and will be executed only during business hours.


"This online portal will improve financial inclusion in Jamaica and the proportion of individuals who have access to financial institutions. It will also help to make the economy far more robust as financial inclusion in the Jamaican society will drive products such as online trading," said Dr Paul Golding, associate professor and dean at the College of Business and Management at the University of Technology, Jamaica, in his keynote address.


Allan Lewis, chairman of the JSE and senior vice-president of group strategy at Victoria Mutual Building Society, said the JSE plays a vital role in the growth and development of the country and has now placed the power of investments in the hands of the investor.


"Investors have been yearning for new innovations and investment solutions and online trading is one step in meeting their needs. This step, coupled with the prime state of the market, will ensure growth and high returns for Jamaica," Lewis said.


Street Forrest lauded JSE Technology Manager Suzette McNaught for leading the team which built the platform over a six-month period.


Haiti


Meanwhile, the JSE is also working with Haiti to create a stock market.


"It is a project that is ongoing," Street Forrest said, "but it isn't as active as we would want."


Haiti does not currently have its own stock market. The two countries do have business interests in each other though. On the Jamaican side, mobile company Digicel has a larger presence in Haiti than in Jamaica, while JSE-listed Jamaica Broilers has invested in the Haitian egg market. Locally, Haiti's GB Energy is the third largest player in Jamaica's petrol retail market, with the Texaco-branded stations operated and owned by GB Energy.


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