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Rooting for Reform: Samir Shah

Sneha Jha | April 14, 2015
Shah has launched several innovative contracts and breathed new life into shelved IT projects during the time he led the organisation. And that's transforming NCDEX.

This shows that people trust us. Open interest indicates that the true end user is actually participating at the Exchange. Our OI is actually higher than our volume which is a fantastic foundation to have for any Exchange and we have always focused on it. We achieve that focus by keeping the end user in mind. We have a special team of product specialists who engage with end users, explain to them the meaning of hedging and get them connected on to the platform. At the same time, we like to connect our mandi participants and farmers with our platform and technology has a very critical role to play in that.

Also, our three technology platforms--spread trading, COMTRACK and unified market platform--are indigenously developed and they contribute to price discovery.

CIO: That's interesting. Would you prefer to be an early adopter of technology?

Samir Shah: I tend to believe that it's 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.

I've 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: I thinks that's far too simple a way to look at it. It's important that the heads of business and IT are joined at the hip. They should work like a pair of Siamese twins. I've 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: 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.


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