The Philippine Stock Exchange, one of Asia’s oldest bourses, on Friday permanently closed down its trading floor in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.
PSE said it decided to shift to floorless trading given the technological advancements that have made a floorless trading set-up efficient and responsive to the needs of the investing public.
“The shift to digitalization and automation, driven by the pandemic, has resulted in trading participants now conducting their trading actives off-site,” PSE said.
“Under the circumstances and continuous evolution of trading operations in the global markets, the exchange has decided to permanently close the trading floor to migrate to floorless trading,’ it added.
PSE earlier reported that online investor accounts grew by 23.8 percent in 20221 to 1,159,034 in 2021 from 936,200 in 2020.
Online investors’ share of total trades also increased to 74.7 percent in 2021.
A closing ceremony was held with traders and officials in attendance, some of them seen taking photos and hugging each other.
The trading floor will be converted into office space. But the ticker and the LCD screens will remain for the ceremonial ringing of the bell and other events, an ABS-CBN report noted.
The PSE moved to the 695-square meter trading floor in Taguig in February 2018 from Makati. But during the pandemic, traders and brokers were forced to work remotely due to the lockdowns.
Of 86 brokerage with leases, only 29 renewed their slots when the PSE reopened to trading. In the recent months, out of the 29, about 10 physically use the floor to trade, prompting the PSE to shut the space for trading activities, said PSE president Ramon Monzon.
Monzon noted the Philippines was the last country in Southeast Asia to fully shift to virtual trading.
While its service to brokers was “short-lived”, the space would be repurposed to better serve stakeholders, he said during the closing ceremony.
“With COVID, these 86 [traders] experienced offsite trading when we had to go floorless due to the lockdowns. This clearly demonstrated to the trading participants that seamless trading can be done so long as they are connected to the PSE’s trading platform,” Monzon said.
“The PSE may be among the few exchanges to have retained a trading floor up to this day. But in the end, technology finally prevailed,” he added.
Monzon said closing the physical trading floor was a “sentimental moment,” recounting that the Manila Stock Exchange was organized in 1927, but the first formal reference to a trading floor was in 1964.
“I understand this is a sentimental moment for everyone who found comfort and security in being on the trading floor. Decades-long friendships have been built over the years among the trading participants and traders on this floor and this should not and hopefully will not end,” Monzon said.
“More than the physical closing of this trading floor, what we are also closing is a 64-year-old chapter in the history of the local stock exchange,” he added.
He said as technology allowed for remote trading, it should also help keep the camaraderie among traders alive.