Australia bourse delays blockchain settlement launch amid coronavirus crisis

The Australian Securities Exchange has announced it is delaying the launch of its blockchain settlement platform, amid the growing global coronavirus crisis.

The new system, which was earmarked to go live in April 2021, has now been deferred to an unspecified later date, with the exchange citing coronavirus concerns as the deciding factor in extending the timeline.

The system, which is expected to replace the current CHESS system, remains one ASX is “fully committed” committed to, according to Deputy CEO Peter Hiom.

“In light of recent events, ASX is replanning the implementation of the CHESS [Clearing House Electronic Subregister System] replacement system. We are conscious of the importance of providing a new schedule, and the need to get the valuable input of CHESS users.”

He added, “Right now, however, in this environment of heightened volatility and activity levels, the industry needs to focus on day-to-day operations. We will therefore wait until June to consult on the new timetable when we expect everyone will have more time to consider the replan and better assess the implications of COVID-19. We will then announce the new schedule.”

The exchange is expected to consult with its users in June, before announcing a revised timeline for the rollout of the blockchain system.

The delay is only the latest to affect the project, after it was first postponed in 2018. The system was then planned to launch by the end of 2020, before being deferred further into 2021.

The new delay could now see the system pushed back later in 2021 or beyond into 2022.

Undeterred, Hiom said ASX would continue to work on the development of their system, with an eye on the long-term benefits from the financial services sectors and the wider economy.

“ASX remains fully committed to CHESS replacement. We continue to progress the project, including system development and testing, supporting back office software developers, and assisting users in their readiness activities. The investments we are making in the new system and in distributed ledger technology are for the long-term benefit of the financial services industry and the Australian economy,” Hiom said.

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