COVID-19: ASX Postpones Launch of Blockchain Stock Exchange Platform

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The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has announced the postponement of the launch of its blockchain stock exchange platform due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The postponement is the latest delay in the deployment of the project which is supposed to see the country’s stock market transitioning to a decentralized ledger technology (DLT) framework.

Over the last 30 days, the novel coronavirus outbreak has adversely impacted economic activities in several countries across the world while causing the deaths of close to 20,000 people.

In response, central banks of many major economies are planning stimulus packages with the U.S. Federal Reserve reportedly set to print $6 trillion.

ASX Pushes CHESS Blockchain Stock Exchange Platform Launch

In a press statement issued on Wednesday (March 25, 2020), the ASX announced its decision to delay the launch of its blockchain-based Clearing House Electronic Subregister System (CHESS) due to current COVID-19 outbreak. An excerpt from the media release reads:

“In light of recent events, ASX is replanning the implementation of the CHESS replacement system.  We are conscious of the importance of providing a new schedule, and the need to get the valuable input of CHESS users.  Right now, however, in this environment of heightened volatility and activity levels, the industry needs to focus on day-to-day operations.”

According to Peter Hiom, deputy ASX CEO, the Sydney-based stock exchange will meet in June 2020 to work out modalities for a new launch timetable for the blockchain trading platform. Before Wednesday’s postponement announcement, CHESS was scheduled to launch in April 2021.

Despite the delay announced by ASX, the scheduled testing of the platform will still happen in July 2020 with developers invited to participate in an Alpha test of the system. By October 2020, the ASX plans to move on to a Beta test with more users and other stakeholders invited to test the novel blockchain stock exchange infrastructure.

The delay also lengthens the time spent in developing the project with the ASX first announcing plans to use DLT as a replacement for its legacy clearing infrastructure back in late 2015. In 2016, the stock exchange held successful trials of the platform and floated an initial launch timetable of Q1 2020.

ASX’s planned blockchain stock exchange infrastructure is one of several DLT-based adoption cases in Australia. Since 2018, the country has been known for developing many blockchain adoption cases as the nation’s digital landscape continues to mature.

However, Australia is also home to a litany of crypto-related scams with Blockonomi reporting in mid-2019 that scammers were turning the crypto-friendly nation into a crime hub. According to a report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), crypto fraud in the country surged by about 200 percent in 2018.

COVID-19 Causing Disruptions to Global Markets

The announcement of the decision to postpone the CHESS launch presents yet another financial market disruption being caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier in the week, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) announced the closure of its trading floor for the first time in its 228 years of being operational.

Many governments are already considering substantial stimulus package payments to soften the economic impact of the near-total shutdown of commerce and trade brought on by the need for social distancing and quarantining. The U.S. Federal Reserve is already set to print $6 trillion to be injected into the U.S. economy with the White House and Congress agreeing to a stimulus deal that will see payments made to low-income families in America.

For crypto bulls like Mike Novogratz of Galaxy Digital, the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 presents an opportunity for Bitcoin (BTC) to serve as a haven asset. Despite a massive drop experienced during the panic of mid-March 2020, the top-ranked cryptocurrency has seen some significant recovery with bulls optimistic of a return to the $7,000 price mark.

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