KARACHI: Chaos reigned in the shares market on Wednesday as “technical issues” caused by the newly adopted Chinese trading and surveillance platform forced the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) to suspend trading at noon for two and a half hours.
The PSX management first announced a halt in trading for a couple of hours to “conduct a detailed review of the issues and to protect the interests of the investors” and then extended the suspension time for another half an hour “to conclude review (of) the issues”.
The exchange replaced the 20-year-old Karachi Automated Trading System with the Designated Time Schedule on Oct 25. The three subsequent sessions have witnessed thin volumes as users complained about the absence of basic features and frequent glitches causing trade execution delays.
The PSX held 18 mock sessions before formally adopting the platform. But the association of stockbrokers claimed a day ago that none of the mock sessions was error-free.
Brokers demand restoration of old system
Speaking to Dawn on Wednesday, a stockbroker said his fraternity is sticking to its earlier demand about the restoration of the old trading system. “Brokers have only one demand. Take as much time as you want, but restore the old trading system. We can’t work on the new system. We’ve formally communicated this to the PSX management today,” he said while requesting anonymity because the negotiations with the PSX were still ongoing.
“It’s going to take at least 24 hours for the management to restore the old system. I think it’ll do it over the weekend,” he said, adding that the suspension of trading for technical issues has caused a loss of credibility for the exchange.
Another broker who was part of the negotiation claimed the two sides have agreed to stick to the new system for Thursday’s session. “If glitches continue, the exchange has agreed to start preparing for the restoration of the old system,” he said.
Repeated attempts to seek comment from PSX CEO Farrukh H Khan or his communications team on the chaotic transition to the new trading platform remained futile for the second consecutive day.
The PSX acquired the new system from the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE), a related party, for Rs461.26 million, according to its latest annual report.
Next Capital CEO Najam Ali wrote on Twitter that the glitches were mainly related to a lack of testing on part of some members. The founding CEO of the Central Depository Company of Pakistan termed the criticism of the PSX management “harsh and unjustified,” noting that any major system change experiences teething problems.
Economist Ammar H. Khan called the PSX a joke that keeps repeating itself. “It’s 2021, and they can’t even get the technology stack right... There will be no accountability because no one cares,” he wrote on Twitter, adding that the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan is “most likely drafting a letter or boilerplate notice right now to get it off its plate rather than doing anything tangible”.
Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2021