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Australian Securities Exchange to transition to blockchain

The ASX has said it will be the first global marketplace to use blockchain to clear and settle equities.

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The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is to replace its current clearing system with blockchain, the technology behind the increasingly popular and volatile digital currency Bitcoin.

According to media reports, the new system has been in development and testing for over two years, with the timeline for full transition to be released in March 2018.

The ASX on Thursday said Digital Asset Holdings, the company run by former JPMorgan Chase executive Blythe Masters, has built and tested the software.

“ASX has been carefully examining distributed ledger technology for almost two and a half years, including the last two years with Digital Asset,” said Dominic Stevens, chief executive of ASX.

He said the system would aim to cut the cost of transactions and make them faster and more secure, while putting Australia “at the forefront of innovation in financial markets”.

Global exchange Nasdaq has also been looking into the use of blockchain, and has already employed it in the US for trading private securities with a view to test in the Estonian market.

The news seems to confirm predictions made by Fidor Bank earlier this week, which expects blockchain to become more globally adopted in 2018 by financial institutions.

Blockchain has already been widely embraced in Australia, including by its government which recently awarded funding to a Perth start up using the tech.

"After so much hype surrounding distributed ledger technology, today's announcement delivers the first meaningful proof that the technology can live up to its potential," the chief executive of Digital Asset Holdings, Blythe Masters, said.

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