CNET : E-Business : E-Commerce


By Julian Matthews
February 3, 2000

Investors Xchange, a free, multi-broker, Internet-based trading facility finally arrived on Malaysian shores last week, vaulting retail investors onto the high seas of online trading. The system's promise is that shareholders can become masters of their own fate and realize their dreams of finding a proverbial pot of equity gold at the end of their rainbow-dotcoms.

The timing could not have been better. Trading volume on Malaysia's Kuala Stock Exchange (KLSE) breached one billion shares on January 17, the first time in nearly five months. Its benchmark composite index closed at 953.42 points that day, a two-and-half-year high, and a sharp contrast to the September 1, 1998 low of 261.33 points, which coincided with Malaysia's introduction of controversial capital controls. In the punter's speculative world, memories are short. What better time then to attract new players to the game and veterans to their old habit? The political and financial torrent the nation underwent during the Asian Financial Crisis appears to have finally subsided. Provided the US economic weather holds up, all signs indicate that Malaysian bourses are headed for bright and sunny days.

"We want to reach out to small investors in towns where they may have access to the Internet but not to broking houses. We are providing a cheap and easy trading service for the masses. The days of getting engaged tones when calling up your brokers are gone. Now you can trade by just clicking," said Nik Mohamed Din, executive chairman of Virtual Commerce Group, the company that launched the new service.

Investors Xchange aims to attract a modest 50,000 subscribers within the next 12 months. The basic service that provides delayed quotes, analysis and point-of-sale avenue to investors and broking houses is free while real-time quotes are available for a RM20 (US$5.26) monthly fee. The financial portal offers trading in three Malaysian bourses - the KLSE the Commodities Exchange (COMMEX) and the Kuala Lumpur Options & Futures Financial Exchange (KLOFFE).

Virtual Commerce Group managing director Fahizul Khairi describes the new service as the "common technology glue" that will unify the Malaysian securities market's four pillars --the stock exchanges, investors, brokers and regulators. "We are confident that retail cybertraders will use Investors Xchange because we are a completely independent entity, in which investors would enjoy the convenience of trading with multiple brokers at a time and have access to neutral market information," said Fahizul.


Julian Matthews is the Malaysian correspondent for CNET Malaysia. Email us your comments.

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