Chinese Markets STEP Forward
Dr. Bai Shuo of the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) explains the importance of the STEP Protocol and its development in China.
How did the STEP Protocol begin and which organisations originally developed it?
Back in 2003, at the same time when the SSE began to prepare the Next Generation Trading System (NGTS) project, which would later go live on Nov 23, 2009, the SSE decided to introduce a message-based protocol between the exchange and brokers, which is widely accepted to be FIX. The pioneering work was encouraged by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).
Under the framework of national standardization, this protocol became one of the eight standards in the securities industry. The WG01 group was responsible for the drafting of the protocol under the direction of the CSRC. The membership of the WG01 group includes: SSE, Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE), Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE), Guoxin Security Co. and some other securities companies. The protocol, which is informally called Chinese FIX, or CFIX, is named STEP (Securities Trading Exchange Protocol), as it is regarded as the initial ‘step’ towards a first-class stock market. STEP 1.0 was written in 2004 and issued in 2005. STEP was revised as version 1.1 in 2006.
How does STEP fit into China’s overall usage of standards in the financial world?
While FIX is a global standard in the securities industry, STEP is more suitable for the Chinese market, since STEP introduced many native business and local definitions. The CSRC is responsible for the STEP standard. The SSE has agreed to use STEP and is eager to promote STEP, so as to encourage brokers to follow STEP. In China, investor accounts that should be supervised are designed to be contained in Parties component block. Tags in range 8500 to 8540 are allocated for Chinese market usage, such as market data delivery and business for funds, warrants and voting. Quite a few tags are enhanced for local businesses, such as tag 40 (OrdType), tag 103 (OrdRejReason), tag 269 (MDEntryType), tag 326 (SecurityTradingStatus).
What is the scope of STEP’s usage? What parts of the trading cycle was it intended to cover and what asset classes is it used for?
STEP covers the pre-trade and trade parts of trading cycle, as well as some specific registering instructions. STEP is used for stocks, funds, bonds, warrants, ETFs, and lots of featured non-trading businesses, such as IPOs, right issuances, fund creation and redemptions, warrant executions, bond deposit and withdrawals, voting, etc.
Who were the early adopters of STEP? Who currently uses STEP and for what?
The SSE uses STEP for level2 market data service. Information vendors have taken STEP for level2 service in the meantime. Creative businesses like this are suitable to take the new protocol standard in order to have the ability to easily maintain and extend, without a burden to support a legacy interface.
What is the next stage in the development of STEP? Where is adoption of STEP going to grow most significantly in the near future? Are there new goals or applications for STEP?
STEP is under revision as many new businesses were introduced during the last five years. STEP is considered easier to be adopted in market data and other creative businesses. Also, STEP over FAST will be used for SSE level 1 market data delivery. Block trading, quote repo, agreed repo and margin financing on the Alternative Trading Platform (ATP) of the SSE will take STEP as the format for business records. Traditional trading business will gradually be enhanced to support STEP in near future as we get more confidence through the experience on creative business.