DTCC Vice Chairman Calls for Single, Global Distributed Ledger

Comments from a high-ranking DTCC official have yielded interesting new insights into its vision for distributed ledger tech.

Apr 10, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 1:13 p.m. UTC

One of the most powerful people at the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) has aired a lofty vision for the future of blockchain and distributed ledger tech.

While he kept the door open to multiple directions going forward during a recent address to the US Treasury Department, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England, he made clear his vision for a single, shared ledger that unites the global financial infrastructure.

Reading from a prepared speech at the third joint workshop, "Setting Global Standards for Granular Data," DTCC vice chairman Larry Thompson described the potential benefits of moving every global derivatives user to a single distributed ledger network.

Thompson said:

"All of us here have discussed how standardization across repositories and jurisdictions is a precursor to effective global data sharing. Agreeing to one common ledger could end the discussion."

Already, the DTCC is making progress towards moving its own, significant, share of the global market to a blockchain solution, typically thought of as a sub-set of the distributed ledger technology Thompson mentioned.

As part of DTCC's own push into blockchain, the settlement platform is in the process of moving $11tn worth of its derivatives processing to a blockchain by next year.

Then, in February, the firm entered its second phase of a separate project with Digital Asset to potentially move the time-consuming process of its repo services to another blockchain.

While a single blockchain could potentially increase the network effects enjoyed by each participant, several solutions such as Interledger and Cosmos are seeking to simplify blockchain interoperability by helping create what is being referred to as the 'internet of blockchains'.

To give an idea of the potential influence Thompson's organization could have, the DTCC transacted $1.5qn worth of global transactions in 2015, according to its most recent annual report.

Further, Thompson reiterated the often cited statistic that the DTCC’s Trade Information Warehouse processes about 98% of credit derivatives around the world.

But with an estimated $20qn in the global OTC derivatives market, there's still a long way to go to achieve Thompson’s vision, and the going could be tough.

Speaking in Frankfurt, Germany, on 29th March, Thompson described collaboration among industry consortia in the field as "considerable". But he also noted that technology firms and vendors have been "jockeying" to position themselves as the technology provider of choice.

Thompson concluded by describing his vision for a connected, global, financial infrastructure if developers agree on a standard:

"We are a long ways away from this outcome, but it can be realized. It would take disciplined coordination and a disciplined insistence on common standards to achieve."

 Thompson image via DTCC / YouTube


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