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ASX’s In-the-Works DLT Settlement System ‘on Track,’ Says Yearly Report

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has released its full 2019 financial report, offering some insight into its upcoming distributed ledger-based settlement system.

A project that was announced back in late 2017 after trials with blockchain tech had proved promising, the DLT platform is aimed to replace ASX’s ageing CHESS settlement system using technology built by New York-based Digital Asset, then under the leadership of Blythe Masters.

The exchange said at the time it would build a similar payment messaging system to CHESS, but anonymized and accounted for on a distributed ledger, allowing a wide range of financial products that rely on automated settlement to be created.

ASX’s yearly results, published Thursday, indicate that work is “on track” to complete the system (likely in 2021), which will “will deliver upgraded security, resilience and performance” for equity post trade services. It will also offer new functionality over and above what is currently enabled by CHESS, with a new messaging ISO 20022 protocol (an international standard for financial services) that “aligns with local and global standards.”

The document sets out that there will be an optional for institutions to access the upcoming system by hosting their own DLT node. That, the ASX says, will offer synchronised and standardised data across the permissioned participants on the network, advanced auditing and data analytics. It will also enable the market to build “new, innovative” applications.

The ASX also indicates that it’s investigating DLT application use cases with “multiple parties” related to equities and more.

As far as costs go, the ASX’s capital investment in infrastructure, including the DLT system have cost $75.1 million in financial year 2019. That also includes work on a new secondary data center, ASX Net communications infrastructure, a data analytics platform called ASX DataSphere and an effort to speed up corporate transactions.

Overall the firm said it’s had a “strong” 2019, with revenue at $863.8 million – up 6.5 percent on a like-for-like basis. Underlying profit after tax and expenses was $492 million, up 7.7 percent from 2018.

Back in May, the ASX said it was already allowing clients to test its DLT system. Via a Customer Development Environment (CDE), customers are able connect to the system via a blockchain node and experiment with the tech. Once connected, users can design, build and test system changes, as well as access some of the new business functionality.

ASX image via Shutterstock

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