THE Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) marks the end of an era as it closes its trading floor today, June 24, and shifts to virtual or "floorless" trading.

PSE President Ramon Monzon issued a memorandum stating that the exchange's board of directors has decided to make the shift, "given the technological advancements that have made a floorless trading setup efficient and responsive to the needs of the investing public."

In a television interview, Monzon said the Covid pandemic has proven that the bourse can do away with the traditional trading floor.

"We had 85 brokers that were trading on the floor. But during the pandemic when the time of the lease renewal came up, only 29 renewed. Also, our trading floor may be officially closing, but it will still be there for bell ringing ceremonies, so in fact, we are going to enhance it for this purpose," Monzon said.

Philstocks Financial Inc. senior research analyst Japhet Tantiangco said the shift to floorless trading will not have a significant impact on trading activity.

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"In the end, whether at the trading floor or virtual, market players are still expected to take their cues from the macroeconomic picture both local and global, as well as from corporate developments," Tantiangco said.

TradeAsia President Grace Cerdenia believes the move to go "floorless' will be beneficial for the stock exchange.

"It will aid in reducing overhead expenses in operating the main trading floor, especially for energy conservation, cleaning/maintenance, and the like. Also, most listed companies have also gone virtual in conducting meetings/updates to investors," Cerdenia said.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. chief economist Michael Ricafort said the pandemic accelerated the digitalization of financial market transactions, including stock market trading, especially the shift to electronic/digital channels by market players, including the investing public.

"Many stock market transactions around the world have been digital for many years already, so there is less need for physical trading floors anymore," Ricafort said.

He said the local stock exchange is adopting the best practices in the region and globally with the shift towards electronic channels, as well as the initiatives to be more integrated with other Southeast Asian stock markets in the coming years.

The PSE opened on Dec. 23, 1992 following the merging of the Manila and Makati bourses. Manila's trading floor was in Binondo while Makati's was in the city's central business district.

The Manila Stock Exchange was established on Aug. 8, 1927 by five businessmen and was one of the oldest stock markets in Asia. The Makati Stock Exchange was incorporated in May 1963.

Then President Fidel Ramos was instrumental in the merger of the Manila and Makati exchanges, which was one of the conditions for a loan grant from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In 1994, the Manila and Makati trading floors were electronically linked.

PSE's first home was at the Tektite Tower in Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City.

On Feb. 19, 2018, stock brokers from Ortigas and Makati moved to their new home at the PSE Tower in Taguig City.