A special market opening ceremony was organized by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) and the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) under the patronage of Mr. Viraj Dayaratne, President’s Counsel, Chairman of the SEC, to mark the third phase of digitalization of the Sri Lankan Capital Market and to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the SEC.
The launch event, themed ‘Sri Lankan Capital Market – The Odyssey’, was also attended by Mr. Dilshan Wirasekara, Chairman of the CSE, SEC Commission Members, Mr. Chinthaka Mendis, Director General of the SEC, Mr. Naresh Abeyesekara, SEC/CSE Joint Committee Chairman for Digitalization, CSE Board of Directors, and Mr. Rajeeva Bandaranaike Chief Executive Officer of the CSE, Stock Broker Firms, SEC Management and CSE Management.
A joint committee was formed by the Chairman of the SEC, Mr. Viraj Dayaratne, with the objective of identifying measures and mechanisms required for the Colombo Stock Market to conduct its core activities digitally.
The committee comprised representatives from the SEC and the CSE and has worked towards converting paper-based statements to electronic forms. The committee launched a transformative digital offering through the CSE Mobile App, an end-to-end digital onboarding and online account opening feature.
In the third phase, the committee explored avenues to bring in investments from retail investors living outside of Sri Lanka. The committee developed infrastructure to offer convenient registration and investment opportunities to these foreign investors. Fourteen new features were also introduced as part of the third phase of Digitalization.
CSE Chairman, Mr. Dilshan Wirasekara, while welcoming all those presented thanked and appreciated the joint effort of the SEC and CSE in digitalizing the capital market operations. He said that the CSE is looking forward to its journey ahead, in terms of broadening the organization and truly living up to its vision of creating wealth and value and stressed thatthe CSE would not just develop the market but also work as a partner to develop the country in the face of the existing economic crisis.
Chairman SEC/CSE Joint Committee for Digitalization Mr. Naresh Abeysekera, said, “Today this digital interface is not only operating the capital market but has changed the entire digital landscape of the capital market industry. It’s a remarkable feat we achieved”.
Stating the Committee’s achievement withpride, he also mentioned, today 220,000+ CSE Mobile Apps have been downloaded by users, and it’s a great platform for potential investors. “We created a new potential age group; 18-40 years old, and 18-40-year olds make up 92 percent of this entire new base. Previously, it was more towards 50 plus. Thus, with regard to market sustenance, asset sustenance, and market growth, it’s a new base and a note on more investors coming into the market. “
He also said, with regard to the testament of the platform, having zero complaints up to nowis a great achievement.
Mentioning the developments of a Central Counter Party System (CCP), CSE CEO, Mr. Rajeeva Bandaranaike, said that to continue to broad base the capital market, it is needed to ensure that the overall systematic risk in the market is managed, and to do that, we need to manage and minimize the risk of default by buyers and sellers, and a CCP is the mechanism to do this effectively. “A central counterparty system can offer significant benefits to the market. CCPs are highly interconnected with financial institutions and they are too important to fail. CCPs acted like firewalls during the global financial crisis in 2008. They successfully contained the consequences by stopping the contagion of losses from spreading to other financial institutions.”
Mr. Sunil Lankathilake, the Chairman of the SEC/CSE Joint Committee for the Setting up of the CCP, mentioned that the policy framework for the Central Counter Party mechanism is a groundbreaking market infrastructure development. He further mentioned that implementation of a CCP will enable the introduction of new products that broaden the investment asset classes available for investors as well as benefit the stakeholders of the industry.
SEC Director General, Mr. Chinthaka Mendis, stated that, “I am particularly glad to see our initiatives coming to a particular point to celebrate. Today we complete the final stage of the digitalization goal while the elusive CCP goal looms in the legal framework brought by the new SEC Act. It is very satisfying to hear that all market activities in the CSE can now be carried out digitally.
It is important that regulator and operator of the market work closely together as partners, so that the market has the benefit of unbiased approach and can do what is necessary to daunt market misconduct. Regulation to my mind is an inherent expectation as I have often stressed a robust regulator is a fundamental pillar in a market economy and we are deeply conscious of this expectation. “Never in the last so many years, have all of us worked so hard to get things done” he said.
“The challenges we face will not disappear overnight, but as we look forward, I am filled with fresh hope about the possibilities of better days to come so I expect commitment from everyone. I have optimism and confidence. I believe with an even stronger and better market, the country will emerge from this situation.”
SEC Chairman, Mr. Viraj Dayaratne PC stated that “The market could not be opened for trading with the onset of the Covid pandemic in 2020, since not every function of the market could be carried out without a physical presence. The need to digitalize end-to-end operations of the market was badly felt and as a result a joint committee of the SEC and CSE was appointed to carry out the digitalization initiative.”
He further elaborated that “It was important for the SEC to support the CSE in this exercise since the SEC also had a duty towards the development of the market and that with the ultimate achievement it proved that difficult and complex tasks could be achieved if parties worked collectively.”
He paid glowing tributes to the work carried out by the joint committee and other officials of the SEC and CSE who were involved with the work. He also said that The CCP joint committee too had made much headway and that they were hopeful of having a CCP in place by early next year. With regard to the SEC completing 35 years, he thanked all past Chairpersons, Director Generals and staff as well as the present Commission Members, Director General and staff for their contribution over the years.
He also thanked the CSE and other stakeholders for the co-operation extended to the SEC over the years. He recalled that the CSE and SEC have been transforming the stock market since its inception and are on a mission to redefine the landscape of Sri Lanka; enhancing and broadening the investment experience for investors, stockbrokers, listed companies and other stakeholders. The digitalization of the Sri Lankan Stock Market brings the future to Sri Lanka positioning it to become a global financial hub, which will redefine the stock market landscape, taking a hyper-leap into the future.