Australian stock exchange says software overhaul won’t involve blockchain

By Byron Kaye

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s stock market operator said it will no longer attempt to rebuild its software platform with blockchain-based technology, one of the highest-profile repudiations of the once-feted concept best known for powering cryptocurrency.

ASX Ltd frustrated market participants in November by “pausing” a rebuild of its all-in-one trading, settlement and clearing software based on the decentralised computing concept, after an external review found it had to be largely reworked after seven years of development.

The company has since said it is considering options for another attempt at the rebuild of the 30-year-old software, but at a meeting with participants this week it said it would not involve blockchain or related “distributed ledger technology” (DLT).

Asked if the next attempt would “go down the more conventional route, that is without the focus on DLT (or) blockchain”, exchange project director Tim Whiteley told the meeting that “while we continue to explore all the options, certainly we will need to use a more conventional technology than in the original solution in order to achieve the business outcomes”.

ASX supplied Reuters with a recording of the May 17 meeting.

The statement signals the end of what was to be one of the world’s most prominent use cases of the concept that promises to accelerate online transactions by processing them securely in multiple locations.

Until now, ASX has said it may resurrect the project using blockchain-based technology developed by New York-based contractor Digital Asset. It has said it will announce a new strategy for the project by year-end.

Digital Asset, in which ASX bought a small stake after hiring it to rebuild its software in 2016, was not immediately available for comment.

Whiteley told the meeting ASX was on track to decide a new strategy by year-end. It sent a request for information to potential software vendors and “issued an RFP to a number of vendors who responded more positively … for more detailed feedback”, he said, using the acronym for a request for proposal.

Market participants had told ASX they did not want a risky, single-date changeover to new software, and “that feedback has been taken into the implementation planning”, Whiteley said.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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