Technology creating opportunities for online stock investing in Southeast Asian market

Ian Leong, Tiger Brokers Singapore’s Head of Business Development

Nasdaq-listed Tiger Brokers, a global online stock brokerage founded in 2014, sees plenty growth opportunities for online brokerage platforms in the Southeast Asian region.

In the region, stock brokers often engage with agencies or representatives to onboard new clients, which drastically brings up the costs because payments made need to be split. While Southeast Asian brokers offer an interactive website with charts, stock screeners and live news, there has also been a noticeable shift to mobile trading. Investors looking to start online stock trading have traditionally experienced slow processes and relatively high trading fees.

Tiger Brokers’ proprietary trading platform, Tiger Trade, seeks to reduce these costs by eliminating the middlemen layer, and at the same time improving the trading experience for investors. The platform was launched in 2015 with the mainland Chinese equities market, and has since onboarded several new markets including the US and Hong Kong for retail investors. The platform allows users to interact with charts, customize information and view newsfeeds, and even heatmaps.

“We invest a lot of resources into our mobile application, Tiger Trade,” Tiger Brokers Singapore’s Head of Business Development, Ian Leong tells BusinessToday. 

Tomas Franczyk, Nasdaq’s Managing Director and Head of Global Information Services APAC

Tomas Franczyk, Nasdaq’s Managing Director and Head of Global Information Services APAC, also sees investors’ trend for ease and speed. “Opening an account must be easy and quick. Investors can’t wait weeks or days; they want to have instant access and they want to start trading the US market immediately,” according to Tomas.

Within six months from its launch, Tiger Trade managed to secure access to various exchanges on the platform, including Nasdaq, Shanghai/Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect, Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX), Singapore Exchange (SGX), and the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).

The pandemic has not stopped the growth of Tiger Brokers. “Eight months in, when we compare our third quarter account opening figures to our second quarter, we saw a rise of 126%, quarter on quarter for Tiger Brokers Singapore.” In particular, Malaysia has seen significant uptake. In March, the number of account openings by Malaysian investors made up about 8 to 12% of the total account openings of that month. By October, Malaysians took up 25% of the account opening numbers. This is a testament of the potential and opportunities of this market, according to Ian.

During the pandemic, Tiger Brokers also witnessed a spike in trading activities. “Traditionally, investments in Southeast Asia have typically been about equities, in which we have seen a spike during the pandemic. But our clients have started to trade more in other asset classes, mainly in terms of US options, and also futures,” Ian points out. 

As part of Tiger Brokers’ ambition to grow, it has been collaborating very closely with Nasdaq as its partner in a few areas. Apart from helping companies list on Nasdaq, Tiger Brokers also work with the technology company to help investors make better-informed investment decisions. 

“For example, to provide investors with live prices to make investment decisions, Tiger Brokers offer Nasdaq Basic prices for free to its customers. For more detailed pricing, we give them access to Nasdaq TotalView at a very small cost,” Ian says.

Moving forward, Tiger Brokers will be adding other products such as FX and crypto assets to its  platform. 

Nasdaq, often seen as an exchange, also sees ample opportunities in the market for its information services and technology business, which Tomas described as ‘a strategic area’. 

Over the five years that Tomas has been in Asia, he has observed the move to digital financial services has been exploding – a trend that he expects to continue accelerating in the coming years. 

“Retail investors are quite sophisticated in Asia. They want to have access to the same type of tools as the institutional clients are accessing including market data that can help understand how the market behaves and how they can adjust strategies to be more successful. So, us partnering with Tiger Brokers makes it much easier for retail investors to get access to similar tools and real market insights via market data solutions such as Nasdaq TotalView.” 

Nasdaq’s collaboration with Tiger Brokers is an example of the technology company’s bid to treat all investors equally in a transparent market. “Our collaboration makes it possible for retail investors to get access to the full universe of US-listed equities via one single market data source powered by Nasdaq Basic,” Tomas points out.

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