Blockchain Scores Triumph as ASX Adopts DLT to Replace CHESS

The Australian Securities Exchange announced on Thursday it would adopt blockchain technology to manage clearing and settlement of securities transactions and register shareholdings.

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 ASX thus becomes the first mainstream exchange to fully rely on distributed ledger technology (DLT) for complex tasks.

The bourse will replace its Clearing House Electronic Subregister System (CHESS) starting in March 2018, but the precise timing of the full transition is still unclear.

Operating since 1994, CHESS has been the key system applied to record shareholdings and handle stock trades. Even though there is nothing wrong with it and the ASX says it remains reliable, the exchange wants to move forward with “a next-generation post-trade platform using contemporary technology.”

ASX CEO Dominic Stevens commented in a statement:

“ASX has been carefully examining distributed ledger technology for almost two-and-a-half years, including the last two years with Digital Asset, in order to understand its potential application.”

“Having completed this work, we believe that using DLT to replace CHESS will enable our customers to develop new services and reduce their costs, and it will put Australia at the forefront of innovation in financial markets,” he added.

In January 2016, ASX invested over $11 million in US-based blockchain company Digital Asset, which is responsible for developing and providing DLT solutions for the Australian stock market. Digital Asset CEO Blythe Masters welcomed the ASX announcement with the following comment:

“After so much hype surrounding distributed ledger technology, today’s announcement delivers the first meaningful proof that the technology can live up to its potential.”

We previously reported that Digital Asset had raised over $40 million in a Series B funding round in October, and a total of approximately $115 million since its launch in 2014. Besides ASX, corporate giants such as IBM, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, BNP Paribas, and CITI Bank participated in the rounds.

Blockchain is getting more recognition as the number of successful pilots grows. Earlier, blockchain solutions developer Axoni announced the successful completion of an experiment that involved Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, among others.