ASX could shape a brave new blockchain world

ASX could shape a brave new blockchain world

Innovation in the global $77bn post-trade market will ramp up if ASX’s blockchain proof of concept is successful, according analysts at Morgan Stanley.

ASX is working with Digital Asset Holdings to build a "distributed ledger" that could ultimately replace the clearing and settlement systems provided by ASX through its CHESS platform.

The exchange has paid close to $15m for a 5% equity stake in the New York-based company.

A "go or no go" is expected by mid-2017 after a blockchain prototype has been built and trials in Australia begin. 

The move represents the first attempt to implement permissioned blockchain technology in a large-scale market.

“If the ASX 'flicks the switch', this would increase the pace of innovation and disruption risk to the post-trade securities market,” said Morgan Stanley analyst Daniel P Toohey, based in Sydney. 

For ASX, blockchain deployment seeks to reduce market costs, defend the clearing monopoly and grow new revenue streams (e.g. data analytics, custody, registry and new tech).

Toohey reckons first movers, like ASX, may build a competitive advantage and create opportunity for new revenue pools, a differentiated offering and P/E premium.

Laggards could see lost revenues and their business models challenged.

Outside of Australia, Morgan Stanley reckons vertically integrated exchanges operating in unfragmented markets seem best placed to further shape the blockchain opportunity.

Names include Singapore Exchange, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, Japan Exchange Group, Moscow Exchange.

"While the future state of the world is unclear, post-trade processes could see large changes," adds Toohey.

"Blockchain could catalyze a new area of post-trade competition - most likely in data & analytics and securities services.

"In a more simplified value chain, custody (BNY Mellon, Bolsas y Mercados, Deutsche Boerse, London Stock Exchange Group, State Street) and registry (Computershare, Link Market Services, Equiniti) functions may be impacted.

"Both registrars and custodians are also actively exploring the threats and opportunities presented by blockchain."

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