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ASX Postpones Roll-Out of Blockchain Settlement System to Q2 2021

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has pushed back the expected launch time of a blockchain network to Q2 in 2021 that is set to replace the country’s decades-old CHESS clearing and settlement system.

The ASX published a new report on Tuesday in response to public feedback it had gathered that commented on a consultation paper it published in April for the replacement. The company expected at the time the new system would go live by the end of 2020.

The ASX said it received 41 written submissions from various stakeholders in the process, such as clearing and settlement participants, payment providers and market operators.

Based on the responses, the ASX decided to postpone the targeted go-live time to March or April in 2021. It will also extend a user development testing period and an industry-wide testing phase for another six months, respectively, prior to the official implementation.

The reason was due to concerns raised by respondents “whether the proposed implementation window of Q4 2020 to Q1 2021 was achievable given the significance of the technology change and the range of new scope being introduced.”

The ASX went on to explain that “there was a common view in responses that too much new functionality was being proposed to be implemented in too short a timeframe,” adding:

“It was argued that this would result in increased complexity and risk across project phases and in the implementation timeframe.”

As such, seven features of the blockchain system that the ASX initially planned to include at the launch will be released at a later stage, such as settlement in foreign currencies and a reporting feature for showing account balance information.

Further, the ASX cautioned that whether all new features can be made available to users at the launch will also depend on potential risk issues and regulatory clearances.

The ASX has been exploring how to adopt distributed ledger technology since 2015 and announced last year it will launch a blockchain-based settlement system in an effort to cut operational costs and to boost transaction efficiency.

The revised implementation timeline also follows recent remarks made by the exchange’s managing director and CEO Dominic Stevens that the new system is able to save as much as $23 billion once implemented.

ASX image via Shutterstock

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TD Bank Considers Public Blockchain for Asset Tracking

One of Canada’s largest banks may be considering the use of a public blockchain to digitally track assets.

In a patent application published Thursday, TD Bank outlined how it could use a public distributed ledger to help point-of-sale computers track transactions. In the scheme, computers would create blocks of data in which information about the assets being sold, their value in a given currency and the transactions themselves would be stored.

Filed in September 2016, it’s not clear if the bank has pursued the idea further than the application. However, it’s a notable indication of interest, as big bank blockchain work has generally been confined to private or permissioned ledgers (though that may be changing).

That said, the filing offers ample praise for public blockchains, in which any individuals running the software may successfully approve transactions.

“One advantage of block chain [sic] based ledgers is the public nature of the block chain architecture that allows anyone in the public to review the content of the ledger and verify ownership,” the application states.

Going further, such a ledger would allow anyone to verify that a transaction occurred, while using a decentralized platform increases redundancy, thereby “[minimizing] risk of falsification of ledgers.”

Elsewhere, the patent also comments on the slower speed of such a system, suggesting TD Bank may be becoming more accustomed to the attributes of blockchain systems that have been treated by other institutions as drawbacks.

TD Bank image via Alan Stoddard / Shutterstock

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Immutable Google? Search Giant Eyes Blockchain for Audits

Google may be looking to secure audit information using blockchain tech, a patent application published on Thursday suggests.

The filing, released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and submitted in September 2017, proposes using a blockchain to create a “tamper-evident” log which can store signatures, verify that information stored by the system has not been altered, or provide a clear path to find what information was changed and when.

The application describes using two blockchains, one referred to as the “target blockchain,” which contains “first signatures.” A second, separate blockchain would store the data verified by the signature.

The company goes on to explain:

“The method may include, by the electronic device, adding a new block to the target blockchain, by linking the new block to both the existing block and the block of the second blockchain that is identified by generating a signature for the new block that is based on the first signature and the second signature, and associating the signature with the new block. The target blockchain and the second blockchain may be part of a block lattice.”

The application noted that the blockchain could be based on multiple data storage spaces, or the entire chain could be stored on one device.

The timing of the release is notable – though likely incidental – given that Bloomberg reported Wednesday that the search engine giant is developing what the news service characterized as “a blockchain-related” platform to support its cloud business.

Citing anonymous parties, Bloomberg claimed that the tech giant was working on a distributed ledger that can store transaction histories. However, it is unclear when such a project would be launched commercially.

A Google spokesperson told Bloomberg that it is “way too early for us to speculate about any possible uses or plans.”

Separately, Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s senior vice president of ads and commerce, said Wednesday hat the company has an internal team looking at applications of the tech.

Image Credit: achinthamb / Shutterstock.com

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Colorado New Bill Encourages State to Adopt Blockchain for Data Security

A new state bill introduced to the Colorado Senate is looking at using blockchain technology to secure private data from cyberattacks.

Introduced on Jan. 16, Senate Bill 086 suggests that using a distributed ledger would eliminate the need for paper records and in-person updating of such data. The blockchain system would subsequently solve the State’s existing data collection and retention issues, and creates a more secure record.

If passed, the bill would direct Colorado’s chief information security officer to evaluate the costs and benefits of using distributed ledgers in various government systems, and to determine blockchain’s capability in handling cyberattacks compared to traditional computer systems.

In 2017, according to the bill, there were somewhere between six and eight million attempted breaches of the Colorado state government’s digital platforms per day.

Many of the records kept by the government are unsecured, and therefore are “valuable targets for identity thieves and hackers with the intent to steal or penetrate corporate records.” The bill went on to note that there is an increasing number of threats to steal personal information.

In addition, the bill pointed out that Colorado currently still requires citizens to visit state agencies in person to modify their information, which can be solved by a blockchain system. The bill went on:

“Blockchain distributed ledgers provide the capability of openly traceable transactions while maintaining the privacy of each person performing the transactions.”

Colorado flags image via Shutterstock

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Hong Kong Official Touts Blockchain for China's 'Belt and Road' Plan

A senior official for the government of Hong Kong has said blockchain could bolster China’s ongoing efforts to significantly expand its trade capabilities.

According to Chinese news service Caixin, James Lau, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, touted the technology during a forum appearance on Friday. Lau said that blockchain would bring “great benefits” to nations participating in President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” initiative, citing a forthcoming trade finance platform to be built on the tech.

It was only several weeks ago that Hong Kong unveiled a new partnership with Singapore that will see the development of a new platform also utilizing blockchain. The goal of that initiative is to shift away from a largely paper-based process to one that moves the trade finance industry “into the digital era,” officials said at the time.

That blockchain might find its way to being used in conjunction with the Belt and Road project is notable, given the its scale and reach. The project, unveiled in 2013, aims to connect regions across the South Pacific, Africa, Northern Europe and Russia, encompassing dozens of countries.

Also focusing on blockchain, Hong Kong’s Monetary Authority (HKMA) completed a proof-of-concept for trade finance in March, which included the Bank of China and HSBC as participants.

Truck image via Shutterstock.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.