AN online trading platform, UTrade by Unicapital Securities Inc., and homegrown non-bank financial services firm MLhuillier have signed a partnership to make participation in the country’s stock market more convenient and accessible to investors.

Unicapital Securities Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Leonardo Arguelles Jr. said the partnership aims “to strengthen UTrade’s mission of providing efficient and innovative financial and investment solutions that will build a stronger sustainable income stream” for current and potential clients.

The firm is tapping MLhuillier’s over 2,000 branches nationwide and 16 branches in the United States to make opening an online account and fund transfers for stock investors easier.

Michelle Ungco, assistant vice-president of UTrade, said they will first conduct a trial run for MLhuillier’s top five branches in Metro Cebu next month to ensure there would be no technical glitches, before they will roll out the program to all Mlhuillier branches nationwide and the US.

Breaking an obstacle

According to Arguelles, this is the first time an online trading company has tapped a non-bank services firm to boost local participation in the country’s bourse.

“We wanted to break the first obstacle in joining stock trading, which is opening an account. We wanted to make it easier, more convenient and accessible by partnering with MLhuillier,” said Ungco.

Aside from partnering with the non-bank financial services firm, UTrade recently launched a mobile app to make it easier for investors to trade conveniently and hassle-free anytime and anywhere. The app is available for both Android and iOs platforms.

According to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), online accounts went up by 27.8 percent to 302,516 last year from 236,669 in 2015.

Meanwhile, the growth in the total number of stock market accounts, which include both online and traditional accounts, was at 8.5 percent, from 712,549 accounts in 2015 to 773,187 at the end of 2016.

“Technology has played a big role in the growth of our investor base over the years. We are pleased to see that more Filipinos have continued to adopt online trading to invest in the stock market,” said PSE President and CEO Ramon Monzon, in a statement.

Last year, 53.7 percent of total market transactions, measured in terms of number of trades, were accounted for by online accounts.