ASX delays blockchain CHESS core replacement

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ASX delays blockchain CHESS core replacement

Anxious brokers slip earliest go live to 2021.

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is set to push back its planned go-live for its planned distributed ledger-based core system to early 2021.

The exchange said today [pdf] that it would “push back the earliest commencement date for the new system from Q4 2020 to target March-April 2021” in response to industry concerns over the aggressive implementation timeframe.

It will also afford the industry an extra six months to conduct “user development and testing” and defer the start of industry-wide tests of the system by the same amount of time.

“There was a common view in responses that too much new functionality was being proposed to be implemented in too short a timeframe,” the ASX said in a response paper today.

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

Seven out of 50 new business requirements planned for day one availability will now be deferred in a bid to reduce complexity and buy industry time and comfort.

The ASX said it remains committed to a single cutover weekend from the existing core CHESS system - used by the ASX to record shareholdings and manage the clearing and settlement of equity transactions in Australia - to the distributed ledger-based system.

While some parts of the industry had sought a more phased deployment approach, the ASX said most were supportive of the single cutover, as long as the exchange provided some “tools to aid their migration and conversion activities”.

Most industry concern was around what they would have in front of them to prepare their own systems, and how early they would receive documentation.

The ASX said that “a number of [industry participants asked] clarifying questions around the timeline for release management and the testing environments” in a recent consultation on the project.

“They requested earlier access to system documentation, a detailed timetable for documentation release, a longer period between technical documentation release and commencement of testing, and more information on the types of testing in each environment,” the exchange said.

The ASX committed to provide technical documentation “at least three months prior to each incremental software release into the customer development environment”, with the first set of documents to be released in December.

These documents will cover “a subset of core clearing and settlement services”, the ASX said.

The “target go-live window” will also be pushed back to March-April 2021. This is now the earliest - rather than the latest - time by which the system is expected to be live.

ASX had previously been pushing for a go-live between “Q4 2020 and March-April 2021”.

“With these revisions ASX is confident that a successful market-wide implementation of the CHESS replacement system will now be achieved,” the exchange said.

“The focus now turns to providing users with the more detailed information necessary for them to further progress planning and development in preparation for the transition to the new system.”

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