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India considering clamp-down on high-frequency trading

First Published 5th May 2016

Aftershocks of the scandal relating to preferential treatment of high-frequency trading firms in India are being felt as regulators consider what rules to put in place.

In the aftermath of a report that covers activity going back to 2011, the NSE and the BSE are alleged to have given certain members preferential access and information about their exchange operations. Two of the firms implicated are OPG Securities Pvt. and Way2Wealth Brokers Pvt. The supposed unfair advantage came down to exploiting timing differences in the market data distribution.

Under public pressure (including various broker associations), the regulators seem to be coming to the conclusion that a tighter framework of rules is needed. And with tighter, we really mean any framework at all, as there aren't any regulations covering specific HFT activity in India today.

The chairman of India's primary regulator SEBI, Upendra Kumar Sinha, postulated that while tougher regulation may be needed, such regulation should be measured as any rules could potentially affect "hundreds of people". It's not clear why he focuses on hundreds of people when the market place is used collectively by millions around the globe, but those are his words.

Rather than conducting the study itself, SEBI will apparently reach out to consultants and market participants to come up with recommendations. When this will be is anybody's guess at the moment.