FEAS holds an interview with the CEO at The Tehran Securities Exchange Technology Management CO. (TSETMC) – Mr. Roohallah Dehghan. Ms. Armenuhy Hovakimyan, FEAS Deputy Secretary General spoke with Mr. Dehghan about how TSETMC’s is handling the growth of trades in 2020, the most challenging issues, how COVID-19 affects the company and more.
Armenuhy: Hello, this is FEASTalks and I’m Armenuhy Hovaakimyan, Deputy Secretary General of the Federation of Euro-Asian Stock Exchanges. Pandemic has the second wave and we are at home but hosting again FEASTalks with FEAS members. Today, my guest is the CEO of Affiliate Member of FEAS TSETMC, which is Tehran Stock Exchange Technology Management Company. With Mr. RoohAllah Dehghan, we will speak about technology and how they are managing their work during a pandemic. Welcome Dehghan to FEASTalks. Thanks for joining me.
Mr. Dehghan: Hi, thank you, Armenuhy. Nice to see you here. And I’m very glad to speak with you.
Armenuhy: Thank you, just a very short introduction of Iranian capital markets in general and your company. So, in Iranian capital market, one company – TSE Technology Management Company is responsible for technology: for training systems, for data vendoring, for everything. The website of TSETMC is one of the most visited because in your country the financial literacy is on a very high level and every individual is using your services for trading and for getting the information. As an information, it is also needed to mention for all the people watching this, that all the stock exchanges in Iran are using the technology of TMC. And this is a unique model that Iran is using now. So Mr. Dehghan, will you please tell us during 2020, during the pandemic, the Iranian capital market grew fast. And you had trade war looms, they’re growing very fast. So how do you manage this? How did your company handle this amount of trades?
Mr. Dehghan: Thank you for your introduction. As you said, in 2020, Iranian capital markets grew very fast. From the start of the year, we had around 5 million investors in our database, now, we have more than 20 million investors and the number of trades at the start of 2020 was around 100,000 – 200,000 per day. And at the top point we had more than 3 million trades per day. It shows that the Iranians come to the capital market and have a high interest to invest in this market. This kind of engagement in the capital market puts pressure on our systems and, you know, due to the sanctions, we cannot update our system. We have an old system from Euronext bought before sanctions 10 years ago.
In these conditions, we have two big problems: one of them is pandemic that limits our work and another one is the pressure on the systems. So, we start with our engineers, with our colleagues to develop the trading engine and improve the capability of the systems. We succeeded. Nowadays the trading engine is working very fast and we identify the bottleneck of the systems and rewrite all the programs. Now we are ready to support this amount of trading in Iran but we put such a pressure on our colleagues and Iranian engineers to make a new trading engine that can support this amount of trade.
This was one of our big issues in 2020 and could overcome this challenge and now the conditions are good. As you said, in Iran all the stock exchanges are using our service for trading and also post-trading, CSDI post-trading system is also operating by our company. The business of post-trading related to CSDI, the technical part is handled here. Iran Fara Bourse, Iran Energy Exchange, Iran Mercantile Exchange and also Tehran Stock Exchange are using our platform. For the Iran Mercantile Exchange, only the part of the trading is here, another part is being done by themselves. So, three exchanges in Iran are fully using our systems.
Armenuhy: You have built your own trading system, because of the difficulties of having an updated one, right?
Mr. Dehghan: Yes, but I cannot say this is fully developed by us. It is based on the platform we had, but we developed a module that can support more capabilities.
Armenuhy: This made some big issues for you in the beginning of the year and you overcame it! What is the most challenging issue for the company and how you are handling this?
Mr. Dehghan: As I said, the most challenging issue was pandemic beside the pressure when you put these two together it makes a big issue and especially because we cannot work from home. We have to operate the systems onsite and have to come to the office. We face the pandemic and also we have to keep our employees safe. We try to do both of them and this was one of the biggest issues here we faced in TSETMC and we could pass it by keeping the people safe, providing more facilities for them. Used a one-by-one working routine. We tried to keep our people safe and until now we have good conditions. Pandemic didn’t come closer to our company or by a small percentage of the infection. In our company it was less than at the other companies in capital markets.
Armenuhy: You managed your working procedures! Good, and it’s really important for technology companies to be resilient during these times. This is all about 2020. What are the goals of the next year?
Mr. Dehghan: We have four big goals for 2021. We try to develop the company more and more because if we want to have a developed capital market in Iran, the main part infrastructure is TSETMC. If we can develop TSETMC we will have success in developing the capital market and we will try to establish a full in house developed trading engine.
We are working on that project this year and we will continue it during the next year. But we know this is a big project and we will need time to be successful in this.
Another one is developing the post-trading system. Also besides the trading and we have some engineers that are working with the post-trade system. It’s another project for 2021.
With the next project we want to provide the data center for the capital market because we don’t have the specific data center which is related to the capital market, and TSETMC is the best company to establish it. We hope that maybe in the first quarter of 2021 we can establish our data center to host all the capital market companies in Iran.
Armenuhy: You will have a big technological change next year. Good luck with this!
Having the changed world and facing these several challenges, and you as a central hub of the Iranian capital markets technology parth, how are you managing to be positive and how are you managing the communication between your partners and members?
Mr. Dehghan: As you mentioned, TSETMC is a company which is serving b2b services (business to business) we have limited members: stock exchanges in Iran and brokerage firms are our members and we try to use the technology in communication because we are a technology company. We are using technology to make some facilities for them. Conducting online meetings, which is the way we are succeeding and keeping our employees safe. As the main rules in our company are related to people! Talented people are needed here and we invest in the people of our company. So, missing one of them is very hard for us because we have the main pressure.
So, we try to do that. But another issue for us is keeping the employees happy and satisfied. And you know, all the people have family in this pandemic that may be affected by the COVID-19. And in this way, we had a very hard situation, we tried to make them feel safer. Deliver the message to the team that they are important for us and we try to keep them safe and make a better and happier condition at the company for working. And in this way, we try to face with this issue.
Armenuhy: Right! Now, during pandemic employees are equally important together with the customers. So, this is good that all the companies are treating their employees to keep them safe and to be a guarantee of their safety.
And my very last question, from the technology company view and from your personal view, what the world will look like after the Covid pandemic and what other challenges we will face in the future?
Mr. Dehghan: Personally I think after removing COVID-19 we will face a new kind of life. And I think this year taught us that all the people in the World are important. We have to pay attention to the poor people all over the world.
From the technology part, I think after this pandemic, all the people will use more technology and try to keep the World as a safer place. Especially with less greenhouse gases. This will be important for all the people and I hope this year taught us that we have to be kind with each other and that all the people are equally important.
Armenuhy: Thank you very much! CEO of TSETMC, Mr. RoohAllah Dehghan. Thank you.
Mr. Dehghan: Thank you. Thank you for your talk and I wish all the best for all the people in the world.