Article | April 7, 2020
What does it mean to be financially literate? Is it more important to be able to balance a checkbook or to understand the power of compound interest? Does a financially literate person pay down student debt or consumer debt first? And does a truly financially literate person even take on debt in the first place? A growing number of fintechs – many of them Finovate alums you’ll meet below – have devised innovative ways to help young people in particular, become better earners, savers, spenders, and investors.
Article | August 17, 2021
The current global pandemic has changed our mindset and habits, as we are forced to revaluate the current ways we do things by thinking further outside the box. Over the last 12-18 months there has been a complete contrast of fortunes in the capital markets technology sector, with some firms flourishing, some struggling to survive, and others having to reinvent themselves to do so. Here at GMEX Group it has presented a substantial opportunity for innovation, which continues to accelerate on the back of the momentum already built.
One such opportunity centres on digital market infrastructure-enabled digital assets which, despite near-term market-driven volatility, will continue to experience increasing demand for solutions and services from institutional capital markets firms.
Market Infrastructure Evolution
GMEX Group started as a FinTech company over 9 years ago and focused on supplying technology to traditional exchanges and post trade operators based on a partnership-driven approach. Over the last few years, as a growth-stage company, we have focused on both digital market infrastructure solutions (including issuance, exchange trading, clearing, settlement and digital custody for digital assets), as well as continuing with traditional market infrastructure enablement. Our hybrid market infrastructure approach has enabled us to deliver technologically advanced, institutional grade, future-proofed solutions that take advantage of the inherently positive characteristics of both traditional and digital market infrastructure.
In today’s environment, exchange matching engines, digital trading platforms and post trade systems need to embrace a hybrid ecosystem approach. Bridging the gap between traditional and digital capital markets, whilst effectively mapping to evolving regulatory frameworks, is essential. This requires an approach which encompasses traditional and digital assets, digital currencies, security tokens and digital securitisation of traditional assets including derivatives and commodities. The increasing regulatory requirements for digital asset infrastructure and the resultant demand for solutions that are fit for purpose has played into our core strengths.
We’ve worked to provide a complete hybrid market infrastructure product suite called GMEX Fusion, which is ideally suited for regulated exchanges, trading venues, custodians and banks focused on both traditional and digital assets of all kinds. Our solution set has been designed to support the latest technology and business challenges that are impacting the way traditional exchanges are looking to operate as they look to embrace digital transformation. GMEX Fusion also addresses the demands from the cryptocurrency exchanges, digital asset trading venues, Non Fungible Token (NFT) marketplaces and emerging markets looking to start-up or enhance their exchange ecosystem and support digital assets. GMEX is working with many of these entities across multiple jurisdictions as our footprint is very much global, with clients and partners all over the world.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is driving technological innovation in many spheres, and with it comes the need to move from analogue to digital - and embrace Exchange 4.0. The industry-changing network will see exchanges, trading venues, post trade operators, custodians, and other services interconnect more seamlessly, with the ability to swap services and assets across jurisdictions and across different types of users. This transformational solution will necessitate digital exchange trading systems, order matching engines and post trade platforms to transition from the legacy solutions that have been around for decades.
We are now moving past the second and third generation of blockchain in financial services towards Exchange 4.0 at an accelerated pace.
As an industry, we’re in a state of flux which has merely been exacerbated by the crisis. If we look at FinTech firms now, I would argue it’s the most exciting time ever because so many new technologies are emerging. With blockchain on the one hand, and AI, Internet of Things (IoT) and quantum computing on the other. From being nascent, many of these are now starting to grow as well as integrate. With all this technology around, the opportunity for innovation is immense. But that’s counter-balanced by the inertia of existing legacy platforms, processes and mindsets.
We know how the smartphone revolutionised the way we communicate, online and in every other fashion. Even 10 years ago, we couldn’t have envisioned where we are now and the extent to which it’s developed.
We are now in the same place in financial markets. We don’t necessarily see it and despite the innovation there are many silos which don’t talk to each other effectively. There is strong client demand for the full spectrum of digital and hybrid services. However interoperability and time to market remain a challenge, with traditional and multiple types of blockchain-enabled digital market infrastructure being severely fragmented.
The team at GMEX group firmly believe that digital market infrastructure and related services need to integrate with existing market infrastructure and technologies to foster interoperability. By doing so there is an opportunity to interconnect the whole capital markets value chain of participants across international nodes (jurisdictions), to more easily trade, clear and settle traditional assets and digital assets and eradicate the age-old exchange silos.
The immense opportunities
As unfortunate as the current crisis is, it will end and immense opportunities will follow once normality resumes. There is expected to be exponential growth in digital assets over the next five years, with a continued uptick in institutional demand. This is not only a huge opportunity for FinTech firms, but also a big opportunity for financial markets firms and those that provide financial services.
To GMEX, this presents an opportunity where the right answer isn’t the traditional status quo and it isn’t the decentralised Wild West. The right answer is somewhere in between, and that presents an opportunity to create new products, new asset classes and new revenue streams.
The ability to harness hybrid market infrastructure will be essential in the capital markets sector, irrespective of whether the underlying asset class is traditional or digital. And to achieve the winning position, innovation now is key!
Article | August 17, 2021
Powered by Ledgers: Leading Market Experts Predict How Exchange 4.0 will Digitally Transform Financial Market Infrastructure
The move to Exchange 4.0 is well underway, with profound implications for financial markets.
Forward-thinking firms are already positioning themselves for a DLT-fuelled future. But behind the buzzwords, there are lingering questions. What benefits will digitalisation bring, both to trading venues and the market participants they serve? What are the main obstacles to Exchange 4.0, whether they stem from outdated thinking or misaligned stakeholder incentives? And what sort of step-changes can we expect as digitalisation takes off?
In a recent report, Hirander Misra, Chairman and CEO of GMEX Group, and the Realization Group interviewed experts at firms pioneering the new world of crypto asset trading
Alokik Advani, Managing Partner, Fidelity International Strategic Ventures
Charles Kerrigan, Partner, CMS London
Jessica Naga, Director Responsible for Legal and Compliance, SECDEX
Anoop Nannra, Global Blockchain Segment Leader, Amazon Web Services
Nicholas Philpott, Director, Zodia
Duncan Trenholme, Head of Digital Assets, TP ICAP.
We summarise the key highlights and perspectives from virtually every stakeholder group involved in the trend towards digitalisation.
Introducing Exchange 4.0
Just as the world is experiencing a fourth industrial revolution, sometimes called 4IR, financial exchanges are beginning their own technological revolution. The 4IR concept is the driving force behind the Internet of Things, where AI and web technology combine to create smart products. A similar idea is taking hold in the world of financial market infrastructure enabled exchange trading, as DLT, smart contracts and tokenisation make it possible to facilitate true asset portability while linking far-flung liquidity centers.
But there is a great deal of confusion as to how distributed technology will change financial market infrastructure so that it can make the transition, be fit for purpose and what benefits it will bring. There are also significant roadblocks, either in terms of old-fashioned thinking or stakeholders defending their turf. Experts say it is only a matter of time before these obstacles are overcome. The first step, they say, will involve trading venues and participants developing a new mindset, one that embraces open-source practices. As Exchange 4.0 becomes better understood, and as firms move from proof of concept to bottom-line benefits, we can expect a rash of major changes. New trading centers, new products, new ways of doing business and new ways of enabling post trade are all on the way.
Creating the network effect
A growing number of exchanges and trading firms are embracing distributed ledger technology (DLT) and tokenisation, recognising a surge of interest in crypto asset trading from both retail and institutional investors. But many of the venues are replicating silo-based models and missing out on the most important lessons from the digital revolution. DLT, tokenisation and crypto asset trading offer a chance to create much larger market ecosystems by enabling participants to transact across borders more easily and by facilitating asset portability. Rather than divvying up the pie, it’s all about making the pie much larger.
“The key thing about this is asset portability,” says Hirander Misra. “If you look at marketplaces in this space, there are lots of exchanges across the world and there’s tumbleweed growing through most of them. How do you create that network effect? But then also, how do you focus on what you’re really good at?”
Misra says the problem starts with exchanges adopting a silo mentality, where they seek to service clients exclusively rather than building a more collaborative model. Trading, clearing and settlement end up being offered in a closed-in environment. “Essentially these exchanges are just pockets of their own liquidity.”
But the future could soon look very different. “You’re going to see exchanges, custodians and other services interconnect more seamlessly, with the ability to swap services and assets across jurisdictions and across different types of users to get that network effect. This is a construct that I have labelled Exchange 4.0,” Misra says.
What the Experts Expect
Provided that network effect can be created, what sort of benefits can firms look forward to? The list is long and varied.
Alokik Advani:“You have to try this in pockets of smaller assets, where it can be really efficient – private markets, alternative assets, private equity, venture capital, real estate, private debt. All of these things are obscenely inefficient. They trade like bulletin boards today. If you wanted to bring that to some level of an exchange-like infrastructure with a DLT backing and speed of clearing and settlement, it’s a revolution.”
Charles Kerrigan: “You are seeing the move towards digitalisation as a prime example of capitalism forcing change. You are talking about another wave of creative destruction. We have digitalised the front office of financial institutions – what you see as a customer – but the real benefits will come from digitalising the market infrastructure. Crypto shows how this can be done. Payments have learnt from that. Securities issuance is following. We are simply following the logic of the information economy. This is a big one.”
Hirander Misra: “With Exchange 4.0, say you’re an existing exchange and you have existing infrastructure. You may want to set up a digital exchange, but you may not want to replicate everything you have. You may not need another matching engine, you may need digital custody or you may need issuance. The thing about Exchange 4.0 is that you can combine the services you have with services others have or augment what you already have. So, you’re not beholden to creating yet another siloed infrastructure.”
Jessica Naga: “There is something to be said for the countries that take the jump and do this now fast. They will have first movers’ advantage, if they build the necessary legal framework and infrastructural ecosystem in a sustainable way. The clear advantage of technology and FinTech companies is that their business is cross border and therefore from one centre, they can service the world.”
Anoop Nannra: “We look at Exchange 4.0 and the opportunities in terms of creating digital assets on virtually any aspect of our business. I think it’s really exciting, being able to create a futures index based on real-time solar energy production. Right down to the second. You create new patterns and opportunities for liquidity to occur. Capital historically will move to the environments where liquidity is most easily had.”
Nicholas Philpott,: “The locations and the cities that succeed in the future may no longer be the same as the ones at present. It’s a much more even competition now. If you can spin up a virtual exchange with none of that physical infrastructure that opens up the possibility of some very interesting developments as far as the new trading centres of the future are concerned. You’re broadening the market across a bigger spectrum of participants. More people can have access.”
Duncan Trenholme: “It’s possible that some of the private permissioned blockchains get traction in certain areas and solve certain use cases, but over time we believe the open permission-less blockchains will eat market share. The idea of running your own distributed ledger, in a centralised manner, just misses the point of what this technology can do. It’s repeating the limitations of vertical silo’s all over again. As people do connect, they’ll increasingly experience the benefits of transacting on an open, interoperable, and programmable financial system.”
A way forward
All of this leaves traditional venues and market participants having to prepare for a wholesale change in the way they operate while still conducting business in the here and now. At the same time, scores of new exchanges have sprouted up with DLT technology and digital assets that can only be traded on one platform.
By forging the DLT-based world of the future while still servicing traditional assets in traditional ways, we will see a hybrid model which bridges the gap between digital and traditional financial market infrastructure. This will serve to eradicate the current silos and fragmentation to facilitate better portability of assets by interconnecting the whole capital markets value chain of participants, across international nodes (jurisdictions), to more easily trade, clear and settle.
Article | February 10, 2020
The following article looks at Big Tech and its impact on the financial services sector. Whilst competition from small fintech startups will certainly take away some market share from traditional banks, the impact of “GAFA” could be huge. The fintech movement did more than unbundle banking and its core services — it spurred financial inclusion across Asia, increased overall economic growth, and made significant inroads into the finance value chain. The born-digital companies brought technology to the forefront, attacking the traditional risk-averse sector from various points — digital payments, insurance, P2P lending, and investment management, among other avenues.