ASX reveals latest updates in CHESS overhaul, introduces new API access point


The Australian Securities Exchange’s (ASX) blockchain-backed CHESS upgrade will feature a new API access point, giving developers and fintechs a direct plug-in point for a range of innovative ‘micro services’.

In a ‘fact sheet’ update to stakeholders on its new, to-be-launched equities clearing and settlement system – a long-awaited replacement for its quarter of century-old CHESS platform – the ASX revealed it has made available seven of 10 “software drops” for existing service providers to test customer development environments.

The ASX expects its new API capability will encourage fintech developers to create “micro services” for listed companies on the new DLT platform, such as a better voting application or shareholder analytics engine.

“We believe that many of the most exciting changes will come from service providers competing for your business by offering more cost-effective and innovative products,” it said on its fact sheet update.

The latest update comes ahead of market consultation next week to determine a new launch date for the next-gen CHESS system, which had its planned April 2021 delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

However, the ASX confirmed its original release date for the platform’s Industry Test Environment (ITE) will go ahead next month as planned.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted resourcing and readiness activities among ASX and CHESS users, requiring some project milestones to be pushed back,” it said.

Despite the more open, fintech-friendly nature of the new settlements platform, the ASX assured stakeholders that no change will be made to the existing data use framework.

“Data is provided in accordance with the Operating Rules and used for clearing and settlement services. The rules specify the purpose for data use and restrict unauthorised disclosure.”

“Issuers”, the ASX stressed, will, in fact, “have greater control over data enabling service providers to develop new data-driven services, subject to privacy obligations”.

CHESS has for 26 years served as the ASX’s clearing and settlements system for equities trading in the Australian market.

The new DLT-backed upgrade of CHESS will, it said, “[digitise], increase efficiency and capacity, reduce risk, deliver new functionality, lower barriers to entry for service providers, and stimulate product development and innovation”.

The ASX said no extra charge will be borne by companies listed on the new platform, assuring users that “fees for like-for-like services will not change”.

“ASX is not recovering the costs of CHESS replacement by charging issuers more,” instead relying on capex to fund the upgrade.