eMarket trader (eMT), a foreign exchange (FX) portal’s entry into the local market will see Stanbic Bank customers remove the constraints of office hours for the buying and selling of currency. The service which is new to the local market was launched on Thursday last week, a move which the bank recognised as mindful to the digitisation wave currently sweeping today’s life.
The portal offers real time pricing of 64 currencies and four base metals. This broad view of the market allows customers to see where the market is going and accept what they deem as the best prices that the market offers. The real time pricing therefore allows them to either accept or reject the rates and as such do a transaction on the basis of the market’s performance.
Previously customers called the bank’s dealer room and could only buy and sell currency between nine in the morning and three in the afternoon. The introduction of eMT gives the bank’s clients access to 24 hour trading with the exception of weekends. The tool also allows trade in the forward market. In addition clients are able to place and monitor foreign exchange orders, run mark to market (MTM) reports and access historical trade data.
In recent years innovation has become synonymous with the local market’s financial sector. An article titled ‘a new map for business in Africa’ by strategy-business puts this into context by highlighting that the South Africa based First National Bank has delivered impressive profits in countries such as Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland, based largely on its innovations in such areas as mobile applications and online banking. It observed that “such features are popular in these countries, where income is higher, infrastructure is more robust, and penetration of banking and mobile phone services is greater than in many other African countries.” The observation indicates that digitisation in the banking sector is establishing itself as the new norm which the local banks are tapping into. During the eMT demonstration a showcase of different other portals available in South Africa and not yet offered in Botswana was done. This showed that further innovations which exist in other markets are yet to be introduced in the local market.
eMarket does not only speak to the convenience that the bank’s customers gain but also demonstrates the ease with which local businesses with a footprint across different geographical areas can transact. In 2015 the local think tank, Econsult, compiled a list of listed companies with a cross-border presence. Out of the 22 companies listed on the main board, it noted, 13 have regional operations in countries outside of Botswana. “Almost all of them originated in Botswana, and now use Botswana as their primary hub for regional operations,” it stated. Though the analysis was restricted to listed companies it gives the idea that Botswana based businesses transact across the region and as such validates tools such as eMT. The current limitation of eMT is that it is available only to the bank’s customers which means people using other banks would need to open an account with the bank so as to use the tool. The portal’s use is at present recommended on the laptop as an application for the phone is yet to be developed.