Senator hints new CHESS Replacement partner already chosen


Labor Senator Deborah O’Neill has revealed during a senate inquiry today that the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has chosen NASDAQ as its development partner for its troubled CHESS Replacement program, countering ASIC chair’s Joe Longo’s belief that the ASX is still making its decision on the matter.

Citing an unnamed source, O’Neill, chairing today’s Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services (oversight of ASIC, the takeovers panel and the corporations legislation), revealed that NASDAQ, the US stock exchange and exchange platform developer, has been formally “engaged” by the ASX or sufficiently “advanced” in the selection process as the Australian securities exchange’s newly anointed CHESS Replacement program partner.

ASIC chair Joe Longo, appearing before the Committee, expressed some surprise regarding O’Neill’s claim, stating that he was not aware that the ASX – which is required to regularly report its progress on the CHESS Replacement program to the corporate regulator – had selected its technical partner to develop its new clearing and settlements platform.

“Our understanding is the ASX have a way to go in identifying options and making decisions about what a CHESS replacement platform and program would look like,” Longo said.

He added: “We don’t, as presently informed, expect that to take any real shape much before the end of the year, sometime before the fourth quarter”.

ASIC’s Nathan Bourne, who heads the regulator’s market infrastructure arm, confirmed Longo’s statements, noting that the ASX had still yet to inform ASIC which of the four ‘archetypes’ – that is, the method of development – it has chosen for the CHESS Replacement Program.

“As we understand it, the four options, which [the ASX] terms ‘archetypes’, are still being processed through their decision-making framework,” Bourne said.

“But they did issue an RFI [Request for Information] and an RFP [Request for Proposal] to industry and shared that with the stakeholders as part of the CHESS replacement technical committee and the business committee.”

Among the four archetypes to be decided on are: a complete in-house build of the new CHESS system; an off-the-shelf product that would be customised by the ASX; a progression of the DAML technology solution currently being developed; or an iterative update on the current CHESS system.

“A decision is still to be made around some of those four archetypes, but they [the ASX] are processing their work on all of those,” Bourne said.

“We’re aware they’re still assessing those, and they still have a few parties in the mix they’re looking at.”

Following the decision late last year to scrap its originally proposed blockchain-based clearing and settlements platform, the ASX has been required to regularly report to the regulators ASIC and the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) on the progress of its CHESS Replacement program.