ASX to replace post-trade systems with Digital Asset technology

The ASX is replacing its CHESS share clearing system with blockchain technology

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

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has announced the official adoption of blockchain for registering shareholder stakes and managing clearing and settlement procedures after testing the technology for about two years.

The contractor supplying the post-trade clearance system will be Digital Upset, a start-up headed up by former JP Morgan global commodities chief Blythe Masters, pictured left.

The ASX had been planning to upgraded CHESS in any, said chief executive Dominic Stevens.

ASX will now consult with its stakeholders on the system's functionality when it goes live.

It also expected to announce the vendor responsible for the platform by March 2018, when it was going to determine if the blockchain was the right solution.

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While blockchain technology is considered to uncrackable, the risks have been highlighted after Bitcoin mining marketplace NiceHash lost at least $60m this week when it was hacked.

The DA system will be operated by ASX on a private, permissioned network. It also would give ASX customers choice over how they use its post-trade services.

Dominic Stevens, managing director and CEO of ASX, commented: "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".

Consultations on the implementation on the new system will continue in 2018, it says. "While we have a lot more work still to do, today's announcement is a major milestone on that journey". We've given over 80 DLT system demonstrations to more than 500 attendees, and conducted over 60 CHESS replacement workshops for more than 100 organisations from the global financial services industry.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said the roll out is consistent with the Government's agenda to put Australia at the forefront of financial technology and efficient financial markets.

Mr McCarthy said the success of the ASX system "will rely on it being encrypted to be fully secure but if it can be hacked, it's game over for blockchain". "It supports the Turnbull Government's clear commitment to improving the worldwide competitiveness of Australia's financial markets and the efficiency of our financial sector". "Developing this sector will drive a stronger economy, a more competitive market for consumers and more and better paid jobs".

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