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MCX-SX should take innovative steps that will help in doubling the present market turnover which will not only benefit the investors but create a new benchmark for other stock exchanges to emulate
The MCX Stock Exchange (MCX-SX) having got the Securities and Exchange Board of India’s (SEBI) clearance for setting up a third all-India stock exchange in the country must be preparing to launch its capital market operations shortly. It is said, “two’s company, three‘s a crowd”. Only time will tell if the third exchange will result in too much of a crowd in the capital market.
But MCX-SX must not lose sight of the fact that it can succeed only if it proves itself daringly different from the existing stock exchanges and do something unique to win investors’ confidence and influence FIIs, and make a mark in this “dog-eat-dog world” of capital market.
Here are a few innovations that the MCX-SX should consider introducing not only for the benefit of the investors, but also from the angle of giving a new orientation to the capital market dealings in our country.
Speed-up settlement system
The most important innovation that is required in the stock market today is how to speed up the operations of the settlement system. In April 2003, when SEBI introduced T+2 rolling settlement system in both the stock exchanges, there were apprehensions about its success, as it was felt that the banking system in the country was not prepared then for the speedy transfer of funds from one account to another even on the next day. And without the availability of funds in the account of brokers for no fault of theirs, settlement might get delayed and investors may not get the payments on the stipulated date. But fortunately, there have not been any noticeable mishaps in the market and the settlements have been smooth in both the stock exchanges for the last ten years.
At preset the T+2 settlement system is practiced more in its breach rather than in its adherence. Because, even under the automated online trading system, you do not get the payment for the shares sold on the third day of completing the deal and you get the payment only on the fourth working day. In the case of purchase of shares also, though your bank account gets debited with the amount payable on the next day, the shares are credited to your demat account only on the fourth working day. The present settlement system of T+2 is, therefore, only for the brokers, and for all investors virtually it continues to be T+3. Unfortunately SEBI has not done anything to ensure that the benefit of T+2 settlement system percolates down to the investors, who form the backbone of the capital market.
Since then, the most important development that happened in the banking industry in our country is that all public and the private sector banks have introduced core banking solutions in all their branches, and have put in place a technology for transferring funds from one account to another in any bank ad in any place in the country within a few minutes under the real time gross settlement system (RTGS). This system has been perfected over the last two years and is the preferred mode for transfer of funds among all the institutions in our country.
It is, therefore, possible now to go the whole hog to introduce T+1 rolling settlement system in the place of the present official T+2 (but unofficial T+3) settlement system that is in vogue in both the stock exchanges now.
It is a golden opportunity for MCX-SX to commence operations on T+1 rolling settlement system, thereby stealing a march over the other two stock exchanges, which have done precious little to speed up the settlement system for the last ten years. With the technology forming the backbone of all operations, it shouldn’t be difficult for MCX-SX to go for this speedier settlement system, giving a boost to the entire stock market operations in our country.
Introduce delivery vs payment system
The second improvement required in the settlement system is the introduction of delivery vs payment system that is in vogue in the gilt-edged securities market. In the wake of the Harshad Mehta scam that happened in the securities market in early 1992 which was unearthed by the noted journalist Sucheta Dalal, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) came out with the new system of all settlement of government securities (G Secs) on the basis of delivery vs settlement, thereby totally eliminating the risk of non-delivery or non-payment in that market. In the present system followed in the capital market, it is not clear whether this system is followed, as the investors are not given the benefit of this delivery vs payment system, as they are out of funds two days before getting delivery of shares or they get funds only after two days of delivery. Also the risk of not getting payment or not getting delivery of shares is very much prevalent, though technically it may be covered by the stock exchange guarantee, invoking of which will take its own time.
The MCX-SX should therefore, devise a system whereby the investor will get delivery of shares on the same day of payment, or gets the payment for the shares sold by him on the same day of delivery. This will not only obviate the risks involved, but will considerably improve investor confidence in the market that will go a long way in drawing new investors into the market.
Reduce cost of dealings for the investor
At present there is plethora of charges levied while buying or selling shares in the stock market. There are as many as six different types of charges and taxes levied on the investor, which discourages people to deal in the stock market. Starting with brokerage, demat charges, transaction charges, securities transaction tax, stamp duty and ending with service tax, these add to a substantial amount, which is not justified when the entire operations are done through the internet, without manual intervention. The biggest share of this cost comes from the brokerage payable to broker, and this requires to be considerably reduced, having regard to the fact that the investment in the stock market is a risk investment and keeping the charges low will be the only way to attract more investors to the market.
MCX-SX should, therefore, ensure that the brokers empanelled by them should be allowed to charge only a fixed amount of brokerage for every transaction done, and not according to the value of the transaction, which is neither reasonable nor ethical under the present system of online trading done on all exchanges. This will bring down the cost for investors considerably, serving the cause of investors admirably.
SEBI should also consider bringing down the brokerage currently charged by the brokers in all the exchanges by converting ad-valorem to fixed charge per transaction, to contain the dwindling investor interest in the stock market.
If these innovative steps are taken by the stock exchange to be started by MCX, it will help in doubling the present turnover and will benefit not only the investors, but will be a step in the right direction for it to succeed and create a new benchmark for other stock exchanges to emulate.
Will MCX-SX rise up to the challenge and prove equal to the task of taking the Indian capital market to the new orbit of convenience, confidence and safety unheard of before?
(The author is a banking & financial analyst. He writes for Moneylife under the pen-name ‘Gurpur’)