HARARE- The Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX) will launch its mobile securities trading platform, VFEX-Direct, at the end of this month in a move meant to simplify trading, especially the capture of the burgeoning retail investor community.
VFEX, a subsidiary of Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE), is a financial offshore center that trades in foreign currency.
The product is the VFEX’s version of the ZSE-Direct which enables users to also view their CSD holdings, buy and sell securities listed on the ZSE remotely with the only difference being that VFEX-Direct will make payments in foreign currency.
In an interview with Finx, VFEX chief executive Justin Bgoni said the development informs the reason the exchange this week introduced broker controlled accounts to ensure convenience in trading on the US dollar denominated trading platform.
“We are hoping to have the VFEX Direct by the end of the month, that’s end of July or a bit earlier. The reason why we have to develop it separately from the ZSE Direct is because of the currency issue. So we don’t want to mix the Zimbabwe dollar and the US dollar. We want it to be on separate platforms and there are also a little bit of different rules but largely it has been because of the currencies.”
There has been a significant increase in retail investor participation on the ZSE since the ZSE-Direct platform was introduced in September 2020 with the mobile version launched in October last year. Active users on ZSE Direct grew fivefold to 5 000 in 2021 from 1 000 in 2020 and the value of trades also increased to $248.5 million in 2021 from $14.4 million in 2020.
The VFEX-Direct is hence expected to similarly trigger appetite on the VFEX which has so far received a somewhat lukewarm reception from the market.
There are currently only four stocks listed on the VFEX since it was founded in 2020, and analysts claim that this is primarily because investors are reluctant to leave the ZSE after its bull run over the last two years, as well as because there is a lack of liquidity on the exchange as a result of fewer trades.
However, Bgoni says all this is about to change as several listings are in the pipeline and are expected to reach 10 by end of this year.
“We are getting more comfortable with the VFEX. We have more listings coming up. We are expecting at least two on the debt side; on the specialized products we think we will get about four that are the ETFs and ADRs that we are looking into and equities maybe another two. The timing is what we are worried about and we are still hopeful that we will get to 10 at the end of the year but things in Zimbabwe take time.”
VFEX is currently conducting investing master classes with prospective companies on the benefits of listing on the bourse. A cocktail of incentives are already in place for listed companies on VFEX as part of measures to make it attractive.