“This [incident] highlights how important it is for consumers to have access to information,” Mr Matheson said. “Market data is critical, it should not be a monopoly.”
He said Australia should consider re-regulating the ASX’s stranglehold over company announcements, similar to reforms in the UK which allow companies to choose between a range of organisations to lodge mandatory disclosures with, such as newswire services.
ASX client and broker OpenMarkets agreed the incident drew attention to the ASX’s problematic monopoly status. “The industry is concerned that ASX has too much power to dictate play and there isn’t much of an opportunity for competitors to create a diverse environment that will ultimately benefit customers,” said chief executive Ivan Tchourilov.
However, he said the market operator was right to make changes to its previous archaic website and that these long-term benefits for investors would outweigh the “unfortunate teething problems”.
John Daly, chief executive of markets information provider Listcorp, similarly had sympathy for the ASX, noting it was a “huge challenge” to launch a new website. “We’re happy to help keep investors informed while the ASX beds down their new site,” he said, having stepped in to publish all company announcements on the Listcorp website ahead of a busy week of annual general meetings.
But many individual investors were unconvinced that the website changes were for the better. “The new site hides share prices and company stats behind a login,” said one regular ASX visitor. “How is that a better user experience?”
Others speculated that the new login requirement may be commercially motivated on the part of the ASX, with fears that personal data may be sold or passed on to third parties.
An ASX spokesman clarified that there is no commercial model associated with the website and that revenue previously garnered from advertising
The launch of the revamped platform comes at a busy time for the bourse, with the commencement of the second week of annual general meetings, with biotech company Opthea set to hold its shareholder meeting on Monday and other blue chips like Commonwealth Bank and Telstra to follow on Tuesday.
The problems sparked a flurry of criticism on social media and in emails and communications to the Financial Review, including from market participants and service providers whose business operations have been disrupted by the crash.
Ben Williamson, co-founder of fintech Fresh Equities, told the Financial Review the problems were “frustrating”, especially given how long users of the website had waited for an upgrade.
“We were very excited to see an update to the ASX website, it has been a long time coming and we are very supportive of the ASX’s continued innovation,” he said.
“The new announcement feed is nice and clean, they have better structured corporate information, but still could have gone further … The back-end data is still flowing though to data providers like ourselves, so it seems to be an ASX website issue rather than a ASX infrastructure issue.”
John Winters of popular trading platform Superhero said the website “feels a bit buggy” and that the ASX was right to try to improve the quality of its website.
“The future of investing is going to be about the user experience,” he said.
But while some complaints related to the technical problems, others harboured criticisms of the design and and functionality decisions taken by the ASX in its renovation.
One ASX website user complained about changes to viewing company announcements, accusing the stock exchange of keeping him “wilfully uninformed” and “mushroomed by administrative malice”.
The Financial Review‘s Rear Window column was also unimpressed by new functionality
The new Australian Securities Exchange website has made a chaotic debut – freezing, crashing and failing to show company announcements – prompting market watchers to vent spleen on social media.
The site has a sleeker look than the old one but has far less at-a-glance market data on its home page, with the standard ASX 200 prices list seemingly axed.
A company spokesman recommended users set up their own personal watchlist instead.
As the trading session opened, the bourse tweeted: “ASX announcements are currently not displaying on the ASX website. All company announcements are available to view via brokers and news agencies.”
“Huge fail for the @ASX,” @eadatt tweeted.
@SmallCapEagle labelled the new website “atrocious” and implored: “Kindly put the old one back.”
“The new website is a disaster! One can no longer easily see that there is a company announcement relevant to a particular security on their watchlist, there are no longer ‘sector comparisons’ on the page of a particular security, the feedback page or investors page won’t open …” @cnboston wrote.
Another user wrote: “Where is the multiple price search on the new website? Can anyone point me in the right direction? Help!”
Shareholder activist Stephen Mayne was also critical.
“The old ASX website had an archive of every listed company announcement back to 1998 – the new version launched over the weekend starts at 2016. Let’s hope they fix this – fast,” he wrote.