ASX Calls for Review of Distributed Ledger Settlement Platform

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) will soon have to decide if it’s going to become the first global stock exchange with a distributed ledger settlement system, or if it will pursue a more traditional upgrade.

As revealed in an analyst and media briefing just hours ago, while progress toward a self-imposed December deadline for that very decision is still on schedule, considerations remain. Before adopting a distributed ledger system, deputy CEO Peter Hiom said ASX now intends to commission a review of the technology, “in particular the cryptographic features of the platform.”

Speaking during a review of the exchange’s financial results for fiscal year 2017, Hiom said information from tests by an unnamed third party would be used to determine if blockchain technology is ready for one of the largest exchanges in the world.

He said:

“This is necessary to enable us to test the capability of the solution to meet enterprise grade business and technical requirements regarding scalability, speed, persistence and security.”

The update is the latest in a long line that have occurred since January 2016, when ASX first began working with portfolio firm Digital Asset Holdings to see if its distributed ledger platform could meet the the exchange’s equities settlement demands.

Among the desired features listed by Hiom and ASX CEO Dominic Stevens are reduced costs, as well as the creation of new, more easily replicable products, some of which appear to be largely contingent on data created by moving transactions to a shared, distributed ledger.

Hiom called the progress on these measures “satisfactory” during last night’s address, while Stevens described the work as providing possible future value for the exchange.

“The more we investigate, the more we see potential for the technology across a wide range of applications,” he said.

Contingency plans

If ASX does choose Digital Asset’s technology, a scope for the new system is expected to be available for “market consultation” by March of next year – but that is far from guaranteed.

While Stevens refrained from saying there were other options options being actively considered, in response to a question from the audience, he added that if Digital Asset’s technology wasn’t deemed suitable, the exchange was open to other more traditional solutions.

“We would move to what we would call a more classic answer of software providers that can provide services that could provide clearing,” said Stevens, before adding that the technology looks “promising.”

He concluded:

“If we don’t go down that path then there will be another path to go down and we’ll have a very, very rich book of information.”

ASX image via Shutterstock

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