ASX blockchain-based CHESS replacement April 2023 go-live date ‘no longer viable’

Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) group executive Tim Hogben has conceded that the April 2023 go-live date for the new post-trade solution that would replace the company’s legacy Clearing House Electronic Subregister System (CHESS) platform, which has been running for more than 25 years, will not be happening.

Hogben pre-warned the market about the delay in March, blaming Digital Asset, the firm behind the build of CHESS with the ASX, for the delay. On Wednesday, Hogben confirmed the April 2023 go-live date is “no longer viable”.

He explained it was due to changes to the CHESS application software release schedule in its Industry Test Environment 1 (ITE1), which has also impacted the start of accreditation and other project milestones.

“This decision reflects the delay to the remaining delivery of application software, which no longer gives ASX and CHESS users the time allocated to complete their testing and other readiness activities before April 2023,” Hogben said.

A new go-live date has yet to be determined, but Hogben said it will consult Digital Asset and other stakeholders on the timing of project milestones, including industry testing, operational readiness, market dress rehearsals and implementation, to establish one.

“We will seek this input through our stakeholder engagement working groups, commencing with an implementation and transition working group webinar on 23 May, followed by CHESS user and software provider working groups in June,” he said.

This delay is the latest of a series for the ASX, which had initially expected the system was going to be ready for industry-wide testing in July 2020, and for the system to be ready to go-live by April 2021.

However, the ASX revised the implementation timetable for replacing CHESS due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It then announced it was going to consult on the timetable in June 2020 where it had flagged as a possibility that the CHESS platform would be ready by April 2022.

Subsequent to that consultation, ASX announced a month later the new go-live date would be April 2023, a date the ASX CEO Dominic Stevens confirmed in February the organisation was still on-track to achieve.

When the new platform eventually goes live, it would be the world’s first industrial-scale blockchain use case.

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