Blockchain will revolutionize Stock Exchanges

Norbert Biedrzycki Head of Services CEE at Microsoft, recently wrote a piece in datadriven investor about how blockchain will transform the stock market. According to Norbert Blockchain can be used by the world’s stock exchanges especially since the govern trades in financial assets has changed little over the past two or three centuries.

He states, “ Today’s investor relies on a traditional system of buying, selling and accounting for transactions that are old enough to be called ossified. The system generates considerable costs and adds to the time needed to close transactions. This is because trading in financial assets requires multiple entities arranged in a complex web of intermediaries, settlement systems and business partners. Whether they are investors, brokers, depositaries, stock exchange management or central supervisory bodies, all actors taking part in asset trading – buying, selling, or transferring – are obliged to generate messages, receive authorizations, and continuously update transaction status records.”

As such blockchain comes in to change transaction processes such as as issuing securities, trading, clearing, and settlements could be handled swiftly and without much friction with the use of blockchain’s distributed ledger. Blockchain companies are offering Blockchain solutions for various sectors

The fiscal crisis of 2008, triggered (in part) by the proliferation of opaque financial instruments, called into question the transparency of the existing global model. The crash we experienced a decade ago laid bare the need to search for alternative solutions that would help build a more transparent, tamper-proof system. What emerged in the wake of the crash were new government regulations that today, in the U.S., are being rolled back.

Given its properties, he thinks that blockchain would give hope for a stock exchange of the future. In a blockchain-based exchange, murky transactions would become a thing of the past. Smart contracts could dispel doubts as to whether settlements have been made correctly. Supervisory mechanisms – today indispensable, albeit inefficient – would no longer be needed.

He adds, “trust would be a given. Blockchain hits the largest trading floors. The investment market is on the cutting edge of early blockchain deployments. For instance, Nasdaq management has been looking at blockchain for three years. As early as May 2015, the private share-trading platform, Linq, was launched to enable unlisted companies to represent their shares digitally. Last year, Nasdaq Stockholm and the Swedish bank SEB started testing the use of blockchain to register all transactions in real time. Blockchain-based solutions have undergone rigorous testing on the Nasdaq Tallinn exchange. The premise of the project is that corporate shareholders would be able to vote during investor meetings or digitally transfer their voting rights to a proxy.”

In addition  The London Stock Exchange Group, in cooperation with IBM, has begun testing a blockchain-based platform to fully digitalize trades in the shares of small and medium-sized enterprises. The tests are being carried out by the Italian operator of LSEG, Borsa Italiana. And the Australian Securities Exchange plans to finish its two-year-long process this year to develop a system that will increase operations transparency and enhance investor security.

His advice to financial institutions is that above all they need to be certain that their customers’ money is secure.  It is therefore unsurprising that even given the examples related, capital markets are still slow to embrace blockchain. To see genuine progress, certain conditions must be met, primary among them the establishment of the most stringent security standards for the block system. Blockchain implementations require proper laws. Unfortunately, right now, the legislative environment everywhere is somewhat polarized and inconsistent.

In addition the technology continues to be limited. Work is underway to boost its capacity and reduce transaction costs. On the New York Stock Exchange, there are around three billion trades on a normal day. The development of new platforms to handle such volume is likely to prove complicated and time-consuming. And that translates into costs.

Eventually he believes that stock markets will embrace blockchain.