Australia's main stock exchange to start using blockchain technology

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

It will work similar to the blockchain that bitcoin trades on.

But ASX is now replacing CHESS with a next generation post-trade platform using contemporary technology.

The ASX has been consulting on this decision for more than a year, and two years building and testing a prototype with Digital Asset, of which it owns 8.5 per cent, that could work at scale.

Australia's equity market the ASX has chose to replace its CHESS system to record changes in shareholding with distributed ledger technology found in blockchain.

The exchange has been looking at the possible adoption of the technology for more than two years as an alternative to developing an update for its Clearing House Electronic Subregister System, or Chess, which was introduced more than 20 years ago as a replacement for paper share certificates.

"The testing confirms ASX's confidence in the functional, capacity, security, and resilience capabilities of [Digital Asset's] application of DLT to meet the needs of Australia's financial marketplace and maintain the highest regulatory and operational standards", the statement explains. Instead, the system will be a private network. It will also give ASX's customers choice as to how they use ASX's post-trade services.

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The exchange, which has been looking to replace its existing system for more than two years, said it aimed to disclose the proposed timing of the change and the functions the new technology will initially have by the end of March.

Over the past year, the ASX conducted industry-wide consultation, including quarterly webinars with over 150 participants; performed demonstrations of the blockchain-based technology to 110 companies from global finance companies; held a series of engagement workshops; and arranged six business committee meetings to prepare the DLT solution.

Dominic Stevens, the ASX managing director and CEO, says the exchange has been carefully examining distributed ledger technology for nearly two-and-a-half years.

The world will "look on carefully" as the ASX becomes the first major stock exchange to implement distributed ledger technology (DLT) across its trading platform, says deputy chief executive Peter Hiom.

"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. Together, DA and our client ASX have shown that the technology not only works, but can meet the requirements of mission critical financial infrastructure". The ASX, which invested $14.9 million in Digital Asset in January 2016, today announced it had subscribed to $US3.5 million in convertible notes at Digital Asset. JPMorgan in October rolled out its latest pilot program to use blockchain to enable faster, more secure transfers of cross-border payments between it, Royal Bank of Canada and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd.

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