For an archipelagic nation consisting of more than 7,000 islands, technology has played an important role in bridging the gap between people and businesses throughout the Philippines. The importance of technology has been proven once again with the launch of the Philippine Stock Exchange’s ('PSE') retail individual investor web platform and mobile application called PSE Electronic Allocation System ('PSE EASy').
PSE EASy was developed to allow greater participation in the local small investor (LSI) tranche of initial public offerings (IPOs). PSE’s listing rules mandate that at least ten percent of the shares offered during IPOs should be set aside for LSIs. The LSI subscription in the past was cumbersome and tedious because it required the investor to personally collect the IPO application form from the IPO kiosks located in a few malls in Metro Manila, bring the documents personally to their stock broker who would acknowledge on the form that the investor has an account with them, and then bring back the forms to the kiosks for payment. This process deterred investors from Metro Manila primarily because it was time consuming due to the traffic in the metropolis, and also due to the kiosks’ operational hours which were the same as regular office working hours. It also prevented investors based outside of Metro Manila to access the IPO due to the requirement that the documents be processed personally.
With PSE EASy, however, investors can subscribe to IPO shares wherever they may be, and at any time during the offer period after completing a single account registration. Since its launch in August 2019, investors from 62 out of the 81 provinces in the Philippines were able to subscribe in IPOs. PSE also registered LSI participation from investors based in 17 countries such as Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malta, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Singapore, United Arab Emirates. In the past, LSI subscriptions only reached 10 percent of the total LSI trance of the IPO offering. With PSE EASy, two of the four IPOs had over 90 percent LSI subscription of the LSI tranche.
The PSE EASy platform is just one of the technology solutions introduced by PSE in recent years. Previously, PSE launched a website and mobile application for corporate disclosures. This application allowed investors to receive real-time notifications if companies they followed submitted disclosures of material information. Noting that the increase in retail investors was mostly due to online account openings, PSE also introduced an online trading platform that can be private labelled by stockbrokerage companies. Dubbed 'PSETradex', the facility allows stockbrokerage firms to immediately offer online trading to their clients without having to set up their own research and development team, or invest in the technical infrastructure needed for such a project. Currently, there are close to 30 stockbrokers that have signed up for this service. Aside from a private, web-based platform, PSETradex subscribers may opt to offer their clients online trading through an app called Tradex Mobile.
Utilising technology for convenience and accessibility extends to PSE’s financial literacy initiatives. With only one percent of its population investing in the stock market, PSE actively undertakes investor education activities including webinars. The PSE regularly hosts market awareness lecture series via webinars for the public who invest or are interested in investing. The sessions, which tackle a range of basic to advanced investing topics, attract potential and existing investors from all over the Philippines and from abroad.
PSE has successfully used technology to improve the service it provides to its stakeholders and enhance the investing experience among investors. It also constantly explores more opportunities to deliver more innovative services through technology.