Australia's ASX selects blockchain to cut costs

Blythe Masters Digital Asset Holdings

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) will migrate away from its Clearing House Electronic Subregister System or "CHESS" to a system using Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) commonly referenced as Blockchain.

Australia's ASX Ltd said on Thursday it would replace its registry, settlement and clearing system with blockchain technology to cut costs for customers.

It dates back to the 1990s and is now still in use by the exchange.

Dominic Stevens, ASX Managing Director and CEO, said, "ASX has been carefully examining distributed ledger technology for nearly two-and-a-half years, including the last two years with Digital Asset, in order to understand its potential application".

The latest announcement follows the development and testing of the enterprise-grade DLT software by ASX and Digital Asset over the past two years.

The testing confirms ASX's confidence in the functional, capacity, security and resilience capabilities of DA's application of DLT to meet the needs of Australia's financial marketplace and maintain the highest regulatory and operational standards.

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Australia's main stock exchange has said it will become the first global market to use the technology behind bitcoin to clear and settle trades.

The ASX has spent the past two years building an "industrial strength" blockchain-based solution to determine whether the technology can work at the scale of the local equity market. The deal entails the construction of a prototype for securities lifecycle processing, using the platform provided by Digital Asset Holdings. In early 2016, it selected Digital Asset to replace CHESS with a next-generation post-trade platform using cutting-edge technology. "Together, we look forward to continuing to work with the industry as we finalise the requirements and the roadmap for implementation of the new system".

The transition is expected to start next year, with the timing to be decided around the end of March.

ASX managing director and CEO Dominic Stevens says the move puts the market operator "at the forefront of innovation".

Digital Asset chief executive Blythe Masters said the announcement delivers the "first meaningful proof" that blockchain technology can live up to its potential.

The bank's head of blockchain has revealed the Commonwealth Bank is now implementing with a large world issuer in what will be a "world-first" issuance of a bond on the blockchain that it hopes to bring to market in 2018.

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