United Stock Exchange’s ‘big-bang’ entry into currency futures is faltering
Moneylife Digital Team 12 November 2010

The newly-established USE boasted of a world record for capturing the highest market share and daily turnover. Turnover has crashed now. With trading being literally free, will the USE survive?

The country's newest stock exchange, the United Stock Exchange (USE), was launched amid much fanfare a couple of months ago. With eyes firmly set on the skies, the USE went on a vigorous membership drive, even with established rivals like National Stock Exchange and Multi-Commodity Exchange - Stock Exchange (MCX-SX) patrolling the waters in this keenly-contested segment. It made headlines on its debut on 20 September 2010, for capturing a whopping 52% of the market share on its very first day coupled with a world record for the most contracts traded in a single trading day. This has turned out to be a flash in the pan.

The USE clocked a turnover of Rs45,486 crore on its debut, outshining rivals NSE and MCX-SX who recorded a turnover of around Rs21,000 crore each. Volumes continued to hold steady for a few days as the USE maintained a leadership position in the segment with a market share of 38% by 6th October.

However, this superlative performance soon started losing steam. USE witnessed a steady dip in volumes and turnover since this 'big-bang' opening. With a turnover of just Rs4,142 crore on 11 November 2010, USE has seen its market share plunge to 18%. Indeed, since 1 November 2010, its market share has averaged just 15% while NSE and MCX-SX enjoy a much bigger slice of the pie at 37% and 48% respectively. Volumes and turnover on the much-hyped new currency derivatives exchange have almost halved from mid-October 2010.

Another important indicator of the failure of the USE is its low average open-interest position relative to volumes. Since its launch, daily open interest has averaged a measly 5% of the total daily volumes at the USE. Comparatively, the figure is much healthier at the NSE (38%) and the MCX-SX (30%). Open interest is the total number of futures contracts that have not yet been offset or fulfilled by delivery. It is an indicator of the depth or liquidity of a futures market and commitment of the participants. Low volumes and low open interest point to a shallow market, one that is dominated by day traders. In this case, a large part of such volumes are possibly created by Jaypee Capital, a stock broker that SEBI quite happily, allowed to be a promoter of an exchange.

After making a splash initially, the USE now faces an uphill task trying to keep pace with its bigger competitors. Unless it makes some changes to its revenue model and introduces some innovations soon, it could end up the same way as the Bombay Stock Exchange's (BSE) failed currency derivatives segment. The BSE, which has a 15% stake in USE, had set up and shut down its own currency-derivatives market within a matter of months. Unfortunately, there is no revenue model possible for this segment.

The USE is forced to impose zero transaction fees in line with the predatory move made by NSE earlier, and followed by MCX-SX. In doing so, the nascent exchange is already burning a lot of cash with each passing day. This works out for the NSE as it can use its highly profitable equity segment to subsidise the currency segment. But even for an established player like the MCX-SX, it hurts business badly. The MCX-SX, which had dragged the NSE to the Competition Commission for its anti-competitive strategies, has already incurred a loss of around Rs120 crore, reveal sources. In one of its lawsuits, it has said that it is losing Rs5 crore a month. For a relative newbie like the USE, the situation is dire. If it incurs the same costs as the NSE and the MCX-SX, its net-worth would get eroded rapidly.

Surprisingly, the USE continues to maintain a stoic silence when asked about its revenue model, despite repeated attempts on our part. 

Click here to view the data for currency turnover of MCX-SX, NSE and USE

1 decade ago
Dear Sucheta,
From day 1 - it was apparent that - truth is getting manufactured and people are coaxed to believe through news paper ad that - here is a guy who stood first in the class before he understood the alphabets properly. I wonder why such things are not under scrutiny.

The more important thing - How do you get USE turnover data? I have tried several times - those guys have made it impossible to download historical data. I do not think it is technical error. I am afraid it is a tactical decision to hide the long time series data. If you happen to have it, could you post it in your site in a time series manner.

with regards,
Replied to Rishi comment 1 decade ago
As per your suggestion, pls find the link for the turnover data below the article.
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