Global Exchanges Eye Blockchain

Non-U.S. exchanges are beginning to examine the practical uses of blockchain and other digital ledger technology (DLT) to boost profitability and increase efficiency.

While blockchain and DLT usage in the U.S. and parts of Europe has been common and in development, usage in other geographies hasn’t been ass widespread. According to a recent report in the Nikkei Asian Review, exchanges in the Far East are now getting more comfortable with these new technologies and that the security, lower costs and time savings they afford could boost their competitiveness.

Blockchain’s distributed ledger can share and record information with individual devices throughout a network while ensuring that there are no discrepancies between transactions. The technology is more secure against cyberattacks and inexpensive in comparison to centrally managed systems like stock exchanges.

Here in the U.S. Nasdaq has recently made an investment in French blockchain startup Stratumn, which develops authentication technology, and set up a stock exchange for unlisted companies incorporating blockchain technology in 2015. Going forward, Nasdaq will accelerate technology development through joint research with emerging companies, said Ulf Carlsson, general manager of Nasdaq North Asia and Japan.

The Australian Securities Exchange, meanwhile, is considering introducing blockchain to next-generation clearing and settlement systems. It will issue a decision by year’s end.

The Japan Exchange Group set up a laboratory to experiment with stock issuances, trading and settlements through blockchain technology. Participating companies rose from 23 to 32 as the end of March. The lab will work with affiliates such as the Japan Securities Clearing Corporation to optimize the group’s internal operations.

If blockchain technology took over these tasks, it would reduce system construction costs and shorten settlement times, translating to big savings for investors as well. In the U.S., the DTCC recently told Traders Magazine that it too was looking at DLT to help make the settlement and clearing of securities more efficient and secure.

Moves by stock exchanges to boost their competitiveness by reorganizing on an international basis have been dashed by politics. Deutsche Boerse CEO Carsten Kengeter said at a meeting in June that his company will make small acquisitions in the financial technology industry, after a merger with the London Stock Exchange fell apart following a European Union veto.

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