Blockchain and stock exchanges

Settling for more

Stock exchanges find novel uses for blockchain

BLOCKCHAIN, THE technology underlying bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, was designed with an ideological aim: to sidestep central authorities and governments. But many people have become intrigued by its practical uses, such as updating back-office processes. And few institutions have shown more interest in such applications than financial exchanges.

Although stock trades are often made in milliseconds by algorithms, completing them involves co-ordinating payment and delivery among a mess of databases and then reconciling the records. In big financial centres trades take two full days to settle. Some stock exchanges wonder whether blockchain’s distributed, tamper-proof ledgers and immutable and transparent transaction records could speed up and simplify the process.

Exchanges from America and Australia to Switzerland and Singapore are studying the concept. Australia’s stock exchange, the ASX, has moved furthest towards using blockchain to…