While it is often reported that “banks are embracing the blockchain”, such terminology often obscures the wide range of financial institutions that are actively testing the emerging technology.
For example, the DTCC, a major US clearing house that facilitates quadrillions of dollars in annual transactions, and global credit card processing network Visa are just a few of the most notable non-banks to launch pilot projects. That said, some financial sectors are certainly more active than others.
Major stock and commodities exchanges have arguably been among the more active in seeking to investigate blockchain through trials and investments. Major US stock exchange provider Nasdaq, for instance, even launched a blockchain prototype last fall.
Called Linq, it facilitates the trading and tracking of shares in private companies, and is envisioned as an early experiment in how blockchain could expand the reach of major stock exchanges to new asset classes.
Though the use cases vary, 10 major stock and commodities exchanges have so far voiced their enthusiasm for the technology.
Here’s our complete list below:
1. Australian Securities Exchange (ASX)
ASX has been one of the most ambitious firms when it comes to blockchain applications, investing more than $10m in industry startup Digital Asset Holdings in January as part of its R&D efforts.
In conjunction with its investment, ASX also revealed it would seek to go beyond trials of the technology, building a new post-trade settlement system to be developed by Digital Asset using a distributed ledger architecture.
Since January, however, updates on the project have perhaps been overshadowed by controversies at ASX. In March, Australia-based news outlets began speculating that the blockchain project could be in doubt following the untimely resignation of CEO Elmer Funke Kupper, though ASX has since reaffirmed its support for the trial.
2. CME Group
One of the founders of the “Post-Trade Distributed Ledger Working Group”, CME has so far been more active in the industry through its investment arm, CME Ventures.
Unique among its peers, CME Group has pursued a diversified investment strategy across the industry, contributing to funding rounds raised by distributed ledger startup Ripple, blockchain investment conglomerate Digital Currency Group and Digital Asset Holdings.
Combined, the firms represent a significant cross-section of industry activity.
However, apart from these announcements CME Group has yet to speak much publicly on its theses toward the technology and larger industry.
3. Deutsche Börse
The operator of Germany’s Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Deutsche Börse is yet another entrant on this list to have participated in Digital Asset Holdings’ $60m funding round in January.
Unlike its co-contributor ASX, however, Deutsche Börse has been less vocal about its support for the technology.
In a rare interview with CoinDesk in February, Deutsche Börse indicated that it is working on several proof-of-concepts related to the technology, though it has yet to publish any of its findings or test results.
4. Dubai Multi Commodities Centre
In the Middle East, blockchain activity had been notably scarce until the recent unveiling of the Global Blockchain Council, a 32-member consortium of startups, financial firms and tech giants established to review the technology and its impact.
Among these members is the Dubai Multi Commodities Center, a special economic zone and commodities center that oversees trading of precious metals and other tangible goods.
The DMCC announced in February that it was working on a trial of the technology with bitcoin startup BitOasis that explores how blockchain tech could improve its customer onboarding process.
5. Japan Exchange Group (JPX)
One of the more active stock market operators in Asia, Japan Exchange Group announced its interest in the industry in February with the news it had formally partnered with IBM as a user of its Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) offering.
At the time, reports indicated that Japan Exchange Group was now embarking on proofs-of-concept that found it investigating how blockchain tech could be used to create new systems for the trading of low-liquidity assets, with a report on any findings to be released later in the year.
Earlier this month, Japan Exchange Group also announced it is working on trials with Nomura Research Institute (NRI) that would examine how the technology could be applied in the securities markets.
6. Korea Securities Exchange
Korea’s only securities exchange, the Korea Exchange, is one of the newest entrants to the list, announcing it would seek to launch an over-the-counter trading platform using blockchain tech in February.
In statements to local news outlets, the Korea Exchange indicated it is hoping the technology will help reduce costs.
No further details as to the trial, or the firm’s participation in consortium efforts, have been announced.
7. London Stock Exchange (LSE)
One of the founders of the “Post-Trade Distributed Ledger Working Group”, LSE has emerged as one of the most active, yet most quiet companies when it comes to its experiments with blockchain tech.
The working group emerged as one of the first consortiums to follow in the footsteps of startup R3, and served as one of the first indications that major financial firms would seek to leverage collaborative models for blockchain testing that went beyond R3’s framework.
Since then, a number of major financial firms have embarked on private proofs-of-concept along with larger tests involving parties in the operation of certain areas of capital markets.
Further, LSE is one of the initial clients of IBM’s Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) offering alongside Kouvola Innovation and Japan Exchange Group.
Perhaps the most progressive firm when it comes to testing blockchain technology, US stock market operator Nasdaq became the first financial institution to take a blockchain proof-of-concept live when it debuted its private shares trading platform, Linq, in 2015. The platform is currently in beta.
The announcement was the culmination of a significant press push behind the technology, which found Nasdaq unveiling a partnership with blockchain solutions provider Chain, as well as making its internal experts available publicly to speak about the technology.
In 2016, Nasdaq has continued this momentum, revealing it is working to develop a trial with the Nasdaq OMX Tallinn Stock Exchange in Estonia that will find blockchain tech being used as a way to reduce barriers preventing investors from participating in shareholder voting.
9. New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
One of the earliest firms to signal an interest in the industry, NYSE made two key announcements in 2015, both related to bitcoin.
In January of that year, NYSE invested in bitcoin services firm Coinbase as part of its $75m Series C funding round. At the time, NYSE chairman Jeffrey Sprecher indicated the investment was a vote of confidence that digital currencies could become actively used by millennials, who he described as having more progressive views on value exchange.
10. TMX Group
The operator of the Toronto Stock Exchange, TMX Group has also been tight-lipped about its interest in blockchain technology.
However, it gave its first public indications in March that it was potentially interested in exploring the technology following its hiring of Anthony Di Iorio, one of the co-founders of the Ethereum project, as its first chief digital officer. The next-generation network has emerged as one of the foremost blockchain applications in the public eye following its production launch in March.
Still, TMX Group has indicated that it is in the early stages of generating a strategy for blockchain, and that it may soon move to conduct tests of the technology.
Exchange image via Shutterstock
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, institutional digital assets exchange. Bullish group is majority owned by Block.one; both groups have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.