South Africa’s Johannesburg Stock Exchange (www.jse.co.za) has launched currency future instruments which will help investors and businesspeople looking to hedge against African currency movements. The 3 new currency futures are the first to track exchange rate between the rand (ZAR) and Nigeria’s Naira (NGN), Kenya Shilling (KES) and Zambia Kwacha (ZMW).
The move will allow investors, importers and exporters to protect themselves against the currency movement in the foreign country. The JSE has partnered with Barclays Africa and specialist brokers, Tradition Futures, to bring this new offering to market.
A press release from the JSE quotes Andrew Gillespie of Tradition Futures: “It is a groundbreaking development to have a transparent, independent, well-regulated platform to mitigate or assume FX (foreign exchange) risk in these African countries, against any other currency of their choice – that does not prejudice anyone, irrespective of size, domicile or nationality.
“The ability to transact anonymously, through specialist brokers such as Tradition Futures, and to have access to full and fair, timeous price discovery is an international benchmark requirement for a developed market. This allows for a level and fair playing field, where the best price is available to all, without bias or favour, which is a significant facet and feature of this market in African FX on the JSE.”
The JSE already offers futures against the ZAR in: USD (contracts of $1,000), Euro, Sterling, Australian dollar, Japan Yen, Canada dollar, New Zealand dollar, Chinese Renminbi, Swiss Franc, Botswana Pula and a couple of custom instruments. See the helpful brochure available here.
How they work
A currency futures contract is an obligation to buy or sell an underlying currency at a fixed exchange rate at a specified date in the future. For example, a futures contract can give an investor the right to buy USD at ZAR10 per USD1 at the end of December. One party to the agreement is obligated to buy (longs) the currency at a specified exchange rate and the other agrees to sell (shorts) it at the expiry date. A futures contract is therefore an agreement between two investors with different views on the way or extent a currency will move.
The underlying instrument of a currency future contract is the rate of exchange between one unit of foreign currency and the South African rand. The value of the futures contract moves up and down with this exchange rate – the level of the exchange rate determines the value of the futures contract. Currency futures contracts therefore allow participants to take a view on the movement of the exchange rate as well as to hedge against currency risk. Currency futures are used as a trading, speculating and hedging tool by all interested participants.
The new JSE futures contracts will provide the market participants with the ability to get exposure on the JSE to the exchange rate between the USD and the Zambian, Kenyan and Nigerian currencies through trading synthetic cross-currencies. For example, investors can get exposure to the exchange rate between the USD and the KES by trading both against the ZAR. To promote cross-currency trading the JSE will charge trading fees on only one of the foreign trade logs and not both.
Boosting African trade
The currency futures were launched on 3 October. The press release quotes Warren Geers, General Manager: Capital Markets at the JSE: “The JSE is very excited about this new groundbreaking initiative as we have been working on this strategy for 2 years. With Africa being a global investment destination it makes sense for the JSE as a major exchange player in Africa to be involved in providing appropriate products to mitigate currency risk and exposure when dealing in Africa.”
Trade statistics from the South African Revenue Service (SARS) show trade between South Africa and Nigeria totalled R34.4 billion, between South Africa and Zambia was nearly R18bn, and between South Africa and Kenya amounted to R4.6bn for for January-July 2014.
For more information, look at the currency futures details on the JSE website.