Coming of age, blockchain technology will power $11B in credit derivatives trades

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The blockchain has finally hit the mainstream. Depository Trust and Clearing Corp., which has been called the central bookkeeper for Wall Street’s securities trades, announced Monday that it will use the technology that powers bitcoin to handle payments and record-keeping for credit default swaps.

DTCC has selected IBM Corp., in partnership with blockchain startups Axoni Communications Inc. and R3CEV LLC, to remake its Trade Information Warehouse, which processes a staggering $11 trillion in credit swaps annually among 2,500 companies located in more than 70 countries.

The new blockchain-powered platform is intended to allow DTCC clients to streamline, automate and reduce the cost of derivatives processing across the industry by removing the need for disjointed, redundant processing capabilities and the associated reconciliation costs. Companies assisting DTCC on the design of the new platform include Barclays, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan, UBS and Wells Fargo, IHS Markit and Intercontinental Exchange. Under the deal, IBM is managing the implementation, with Axoni providing the blockchain infrastructure and R3 acting as a solutions adviser.

“As one of the largest and most groundbreaking distributed ledger projects to date in the financial services industry, DTCC together with its member banks are reimagining the credit derivatives process,”Bridget Van Kralingen, IBM’s senior vice president of industry platforms, said in a statement. “The combined expertise of IBM and our partners enables us to provide DTCC with a resilient, open and innovative new technology platform to support this groundbreaking opportunity.”

The decision to go ahead with a blockchain-powered revamp of the DTCC’s Trade Information Warehouse follows a successful trial of technology by the company last year. It also follows in the footsteps of a similar deal between the Australian Stock Exchange and Digital Asset Holdings LLC last January that provides similar transaction clearing services utilizing the blockchain for transactions.

Rollout of the new blockchain-powered platform, running on Axoni’s AxCore distributed ledger platform, won’t be immediate. The initial delivery date is expected to be January 2018. But the code developed for the warehouse will also be submitted to Hyperledger, the open source collaboration project hosted by the Linux Foundation that aims to promote standards for blockchain technology.

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