Technology is at the heart of everything we do at the JSE. As are most exchanges, we’re a fully automated electronic marketplace. What sets us apart is that we offer investors access to a broad range of markets and service offerings, using technology and regulatory standards to create marketplaces that our clients can trust.

Getting here has been a journey. It started several years ago with the transformation of our core technology platforms, beginning with the cash equities market. We have a way to go but the process is showing significant results. Over the years, we’ve seen that every time we have invested in new trading technologies it has taken the exchange to the next level, with increased trade volumes. Large parts of the JSE’s ICT infrastructure are on par with other exchanges and once we complete our core platform transition, we believe this will be true for all our markets.

In 2012, we implemented our new equities trading platform, which has been hugely successful – with high performance, low latency and excellent stability. This bodes well for our other asset classes, which in due course will run on the same platforms as we standardise. In 2016, in partnership with the market, we went live with our T+3 settlement cycle, which proved to be a hugely successful implementation. We’ve had very positive feedback from our clients and have achieved zero failed trades in a T+3 settlement environment, which is largely unheard of globally. This project also laid the foundation for moving to a T+2 settlement cycle in the future.

As far as risks are concerned, security and cybercrime are top of the agenda. Information security is a big deal for the JSE – hactivists tend to target financial organisations, making us a more likely target than many other institutions. For this reason, it is crucial to secure our perimeter. We have invested significantly in this regard and, speaking to our peers about what they are doing, we’re confident that our efforts are aligned with theirs in terms of focus and priorities.

We do not see the technology investment and innovation cycle ever stopping. All the key strategic growth areas we have identified are technology-enabled. At the JSE, we believe that being a digital business is as much about how we think and operate in a fast-changing world as it is about the technology itself.

As we progress our transformation to digital, our ambition is that these technology investments come in shorter, smaller, sharper implementations that are responsive to rapidly changing market conditions, rather than the big core platform replacements we are currently engaged with. If you look at global trends and which industries are likely to be disrupted in the near to medium term, financial services is one of those. We must evolve ourselves as an organisation to be more like a fintech firm and less like a classical financial institution.

In the new era of cloud and big data, we are actively looking to expand the use of cloud to reach a wider customer base to, for example, enable on-demand service offerings where clients can pull services from us rather than a classic push model. One of our biggest strategic growth areas centres around information and data, and a significant part of our business is focused on monetising this. Big data plays squarely into these efforts.

Looking to the future, digital technology can play a significant role in financial education and, in my opinion, it is more of a necessity than a consideration. If you look at the younger generation (the so-called ‘digital natives’), they are looking to do everything on devices and want everything to be intuitive, simple and on-demand. Digital technology plays squarely into that space – to simplify and empower. This is something that guides our thinking in the area of catering for individual investors.

The digital journey we are on is certainly interesting. Like most businesses, it will be an ongoing process of working on how to change and evolve rapidly in this, the fourth industrial revolution.

Riaan van Wamelen
Chief Information Officer

April 2017
Image: Athiyah Cader