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NSE Outshines COVID-19 Challenges With Technology As Securities Hit N1.72trn

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The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has revealed how it overcame in the year 2020 market, despite being the most challenging years of modern existence.

Brandnewsday understands that the NSE during the year under review conquered its challenges through innovation and technology as the value of listed securities soared to N1.72 trillion.

On 23 and 24 March 2020, the Exchange took steps to preserve the health and safety of its stakeholders by activating its Business Continuity plan which saw the transition to working from home and remote trading in response to the spread of the COVID-19. Since then, the Exchange has maintained seamless working and trading operations, experiencing zero downtime.

Furthermore, NSE has displayed remarkable resilience, continuing to deliver on its mandate to provide a platform for Issuers and Investors to meet their financial objectives even in the toughest of times. Since March 2020, NSE has listed securities worth over $4.5 billion (N1.72 trillion) while it provides support for secondary market activities.

Market Activities

On top of that, many stakeholders have certainly reaped the benefits of the Exchange’s efforts over the course of 2020, evidenced by increased activity in the market. Market Activities Players in the Nigerian equities market appear to be riding the waves of the market rally with market capitalisation currently at N19.2 trillion while Year-to-Date (YTD) return standing at 37.1% as at Friday, 18 December 2020.

At least twice in 2020, the NSE has been dubbed the best performing exchange in the world according to Bloomberg. It would also be recalled that on Thursday, 12 November 2020, the NSE All-Share Index (ASI) posted its largest daily gain in more than five years. The ASI rose beyond the set threshold of 5%, triggering a 30-minute trading halt of all stocks for the first time since the circuit breaker was introduced in 2016.

Nigerian Stock Exchange: NSE

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What is also noteworthy is that as a multi-asset Exchange hub, the Exchange continues to recognise opportunities in the alternative investment asset space and is working assiduously with stakeholders to deepen market activity across these asset class. In the fixed income space, capitalization has risen to N17.7 trillion from N12.9 trillion as at the end of 2019 as a result of increased listing activity from the Federal Government and Nigerian corporates.

The Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) segment of the market continues to enjoy investors’ attention with the NewGold ETF returning 78.36%, the Vetiva S&P Nigeria Sovereign Bond ETF returning 45.93%, the Lotus Halal Equity ETF returning 43.99%, and the Vetiva Industrial ETF returning 55.79% as at Wednesday, 2 December 2020. In September 2020, The Exchange listed two new ETFs from Meristem Wealth Management Limited – Meristem Growth (MERGROWTH) and Meristem Value (MERVAL) ETFs which are expected to further attract market activity.

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Digital Resilience

Following the activation of its Business Continuity Plan and transition to remote working and trading, The Exchange remained resolute in its commitment to ensuring zero disruptions to operations for any of its stakeholders. It leveraged its existing digital assets to ensure a continuous flow of information and activity in the market and continues to explore creative solutions to enhance stakeholders’ experience during this period.

Consequently, all brokers have access to the requisite platforms to trade remotely and seamlessly including FIX Protocol, X-net and VPN. Furthermore, NSE has continued to implement on its commitment to improve market integrity, reduce market asymmetry and improve the flow of information into the market with the upgrade of several platforms. In 2020, The Exchange released an upgrade to its Data Portal, X-Data Portal; Issuers’ Platform, X-Issuer; and its whistleblowing portal, X-Whistle. The upgrade of the X-DataPortal is in line with the desire of the NSE to continue to provide an exchange that is easily accessible leveraging digital technology.

Speaking in an interview, the Chief Executive Officer, NSE, Mr Oscar N. Onyema, OON stated, “The enhanced X-DataPortal has been equipped with market-focused features that will complement the NSE website and other NSE portals in response to stakeholders’ increased demand for easy access to data.

Given the importance of Market Data in investment decisions, we remain resolute in our commitment to provide capital market participants with more channels to access relevant market information required for making investment decisions.”

On the back of the critical role information plays in driving a vibrant capital market, the Exchange introduced its revamped X-Issuer to the market with new features that will enable easy, convenient and more reliable submission and dissemination of company information, corporate actions, directors’ and insiders’ share dealing information, financial statements, earnings forecasts, meeting notices, and much more. It is expected that the upgraded X-Issuer will further enhance the experience of issuers and expedite the discharge of post-listings obligations in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

Of course, the importance of investor protection cannot be emphasized. Speaking on the introduction of the upgraded X-Whistle, the Executive Director, Regulation Division, NSE, Ms Tinuade Awe, stated, “The Exchange is pleased to introduce the upgraded X-Whistle to the market with robust features that will allow people with information about misconduct to come forward to report it and to provide all stakeholders with the means of expressing their concerns in a responsible and effective manner. In 2019 alone, the complaints, tips and referrals received have led to investors’ restitution in excess of N1.4 Billion. The X-Whistle will, therefore, further equip The Exchange with the tools required to properly assess reports, carry out the necessary investigations and resolve issues efficiently.”

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