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ASX to Replace CHESS with DLT Settlement System

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The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is moving closer to replacing its CHESS clearing and settlement system with a distributed ledger-based alternative.

Details about the system’s progression toward production launch were included in an 87-page¬†consultation paper¬†published Friday, which included a timeline for when the switch will be made as well as descriptions of the types of functions it will and won’t support.

ASX is targeting a rollout date sometime in the quarter of 2020 or the first quarter of 2021. But before then, ASX – by way of the consultation paper – is seeking early feedback on its plans as they exist today.

“Depending on the extent of consultation feedback received, ASX expects to provide a final functional scope and implementation roadmap in late July 2018,” the firm explained in the opening of the report.

ASX has been exploring the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) since 2015. It announced in December that it would become the first major stock exchange in the world to use DLT for post-trade settlement, using technology developed in partnership with Digital Asset, a blockchain startup led by former JPMorgan Chase executive Blythe Masters. ASX also owns a stake in Digital Asset.

ASX’s embrace of DLT is a notable one, coming at the end of a years-long research period. Speaking at the Synchronize conference in New York City earlier this month, CLS Group CEO David Puth said ASX’s move is “going to establish standards by itself” by providing an example for enterprise blockchain implementations across the sector.

ASX deputy CEO Peter Hiom, who was on stage with Puth, suggested that the decision to launch a DLT-based system would help demystify the technology for others in the industry:

“You’re not entering the fourth dimension,” he remarked.

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