ConFEAS 2024: A Growth Strategy for Exchanges

By Magnus Almqvist – Head of Sales at Exberry

May 27, 2024


I’ve recently returned from the ConFEAS 2024 conference in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. The location, right at the heart of the ancient Silk Road, together with the conference gathering of international stock exchanges and market actors, perfectly illustrates how modern markets meet the past. Here, the fundamentals of a well functioning market have not changed over millennia. However, technology and market access are changing more rapidly than ever. 

The Uzbek bazaars found in major cities like Toshkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara, which date back to before the 9th century and are famous for their haggling, embody the same principle of providing fair and transparent markets for optimal price discovery that is just as relevant on today’s stock exchanges.* 

The panel, entitled “Beyond Capital Markets: Instruments, Technology and Synergy”, covered the evolution of new instruments, and the use of technology, as well as how cost efficiency could be reached. Speakers included Michael Völter (Professional Board Member and Executive Consultant), Khikmatullo Tillaboev (Advisor to the Chairman at UZEX), Idel Sabitov (Deputy Chairman of the Management Board at KASE Clearing Centre), Askarzhon Zakhirov (Head of the Department for Development of the Crypto-Assets at NAPP), and moderator Michael Volter (Advisor, Professional Board Member and Executive Consultant).

The panel noted how the the major markets in Uzbekistan were playing such a pivotal role for the country; all stakeholders, including politicians, regulators and industrial players, see the markets as absolutely key for their ability to promote growth for individual companies and the national economy as a whole, just as markets were pivotal to the prosperity of the region when these bazaars were originally created. 


The spirit of growth

The key focus for Uzbekistan is to increase prosperity within the population by growing the economy. This is achieved by reducing barriers and increasing competition. Panellists spoke about how the exchanges are pivotal to this effort and are enabling a vibrant market for producers, intermediaries and buyers, trading physical commodities such as cotton and refined oil, and for companies looking to raise much-needed capital. A new cotton farmer, for example, can simply join an established market rich with buyers to sell goods to, instead of going through the time-consuming and effort-intensive process of establishing their own sales channels. 

In the spirit of growth, Uzbekistan markets are moving beyond trading the established asset classes of futures, equities and bonds. For example, car registration plates are made available for trading with physical delivery! This is a great example of national regulated stock exchanges thinking outside the box and creating new types of markets, and serve as a good model for what other global exchanges can do. 


Importance of infrastructure

While all these market innovations are exciting, what is necessary, from a technology standpoint, for an exchange to be able to innovate?

Moving beyond the traditional assets of the equities, the bonds and derivatives trading space requires innovation and speed in order to stay ahead of the competition. This means systems need to be agile, fast-moving and flexible in order to adopt, test, pivot and scale their offering. In today’s world, that is best achieved by cloud-based technology delivered via a subscription-based, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.

A key factor is that the technology vendor has the ability to work in an ever-changing environment. They need to be prepared to deliver retail-focused systems that can trade in a 23/7 (or even 24/7) environment, along with offering T+0 settlement, and supporting very short contract types, such as same-day options. Exchanges might even be aiming to offer direct market access via mobile applications in the future, so technology vendors need to be prepared. 


In support of new assets

The key to success for exchanges in this evolving landscape is to help markets understand how to evaluate new and unknown assets, and support price formation. It is, therefore, important to choose a vendor who can properly support and underpin this type of infrastructure. For some countries, the chance of their increasing prosperity may well rely on it. 

The idea that the ancient concept of haggling is relevant to modern-day stock exchanges may surprise you. If you’re interested, get in touch, and I can explain how these ancient markets embody that same principles of modern markets. You can message me here,

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