Also, our three technology platforms — spread trading, COMTRACK and unified market platform — are indigenously developed and they contribute to price discovery.
CIO: Thats interesting. Would you prefer to be an early adopter of technology?
Samir Shah, MD & CEO: I tend to believe that its wise to be an early adopter and take some calculated risks. The growth opportunities in the market are aplenty. Commodity markets in India have been fairly uni-dimensional as far as the use of technology is concerned. We need to deploy more leading edge technologies to widen the participation of retail players, farmers and traders in the mandis.
Ive had the fortune of working with companies that are at the cutting edge of technology. It gives me the confidence to explore possibilities that have so far not been explored in the commodities market in India.
CIO: Should the role of the CIO be given to someone from business rather than technology?
Samir Shah, MD & CEO: I thinks thats far too simple a way to look at it. Its important that the heads of business and IT are joined at the hip. They should work like a pair of Siamese twins. Ive made that integration happen. For instance, we are in the process of selecting our new trading system and that we believe is a paradigm shift to the way trading is done.
The sponsor of that project is my chief business officer. However, the CIO is a key participant in the project because he handles the selection of the partner and implementation of the project. Likewise, when we rolled out our Spread Engine, we put in place a cross function team comprising business and technology people.
CIO: The retail investor base is small in India. How are you using IT to tap into this opportunity?
Samir Shah, MD & CEO: There is a two-pronged strategy to engage and attract retail participation. One is to have better designed contracts to suit retail investors. For instance, gold and silver hedge contracts, and the one metric ton contract that we launched for gram and castor are better suited for a retail investor.
Another strategy is to launch an awareness drive for retail investors. We are using IT, mobile, Internet technologies and social media to promote awareness and connect with them more effectively.
Aggregation of retail investors through fund structures is a global best practice that is needed in India. Worldwide, retail investors participate mostly indirectly through financial institutions. They participate through vehicles called CTA (commodities trading advisors). This is a unique practice followed worldwide and we need to import it to India. But we need a regulation to make that change.
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