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CHESS Replacement

ASX commenced a process of evaluating replacement options for CHESS in 2015.

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Background

ASX is planning for the replacement of the system that underpins post-trade processes of Australia's cash equity market, known as CHESS (the Clearing House Electronic Subregister System).

The development of CHESS by ASX over 20 years ago enabled the successful dematerialisation of the cash equity market (the conversion of physical shares into an electronic format); a move to T+5 settlement (which was lowered to T+2 in March 2016); and improved the general efficiency and effectiveness of post-trade processing in Australia. CHESS was world-leading and led to the development of a proprietary electronic messaging standard because existing standards lacked the message sophistication to accommodate CHESS's functionality.

ASX performs these post trade functions on transparent and non-discriminatory terms of access, under the supervision of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

Today, CHESS is the core system that performs the processes of clearing, settlement and asset registration, which are critical to the orderly functioning of the market. CHESS continues to be stable and to effectively deliver these services. This is demonstrated by CHESS's average monthly service availability over the last five years of 99.99%. While there is nothing to indicate that CHESS will not continue to provide this service level, ASX is evaluating whether replacing CHESS with more contemporary technology will provide a broader range of benefits to a wider cross section of the market. While ASX assesses the requirements and potential technical solutions for the replacement of CHESS, it will continue to support and invest in maintaining the high performance and availability of CHESS.

ASX commenced a process of evaluating replacement options for CHESS in 2015. In January 2016, ASX selected Digital Asset Holdings LLC as a technology partner to develop, test and demonstrate to ASX a working prototype of a post-trade platform for the cash equity market using distributed ledger technology (DLT, an example of which is commonly referred to as ‘blockchain'). This initial phase of work was completed in mid-2016. From this work, ASX concluded that DLT:

  • has met initial capacity tests for ASX's scalability, security and performance requirements for a replacement system when deployed in a permissioned private network. Further testing of the technology will be conducted as part of the next phase of development
  • offers potential benefits for issuers, investors, intermediaries and regulators through improvements and innovations in operational processes

GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR THE REPLACEMENT OF CHESS

Operate for the benefit of issuers and end investors

Provide issuers and end investors with greater control over, and enhanced confidence in, their market activities through timely, secure and simplified access to the register of holders (for issuers), financial assets (end investors) and associated information.

Take future needs into account

Meet and respond to changing local and global markets, and promote further innovation through new levels of functionality, open standards and flexible technology.

Accessibility

Be readily available to those who are authorised to use it in a non-discriminatory manner.

Ease of integration and global interoperability

Ensure capacity to integrate with upstream and downstream business systems, and embrace global standards and openness to competition through interoperability in a cost-efficient way.

Availability, reliability and performance

Provide users and regulators with confidence that the solution will be available and transactions performed as and when expected.

Privacy and security

Provide users with confidence that the system is traceable and secure, and that it won't expose them to new risks as a result of information being fraudulently obtained or corrupted.

Operational efficiencies

Streamline functions and workflows, remove embedded paper-based processes and mitigate manual errors, and be effective and cost-efficient to operate, support and enhance.

Compliant

Comply with relevant laws, regulations and licences relating to the operating entities.

Industry engagement

ASX has commenced the business requirements gathering and definition phase of this project and commencing a process of industry consultation to inform the definition of the business requirements, including software demonstrations and a series of workshops with stakeholders.

Stakeholder engagement forums and communication media will include:

  • A public consultation paper
  • Demonstrations of the CHESS replacement software prototype in ASX's acceler8 space
  • Business requirement workshops between ASX and CHESS user organisations
  • Technical Committee meetings between ASX and CHESS user organisations
  • Webinar industry updates
  • Website, email and market notice updates, where necessary

While ASX will keep customers and industry stakeholders updated throughout the project, there will be times where greater engagement will be important to ensure the new system is developed in a way that meets the needs of the market and is implemented smoothly. ASX will notify customers and industry stakeholders when this is required.

If you would like to be added to ASX's contact list for this project, please email ASX.

Consultation Paper – ASX's replacement of CHESS for Equity Post Trade Services:

In September 2016, ASX commenced consultation on the replacement of CHESS with the release of the consultation paper. The objective of the Consultation Paper was to:

  • Provide the market with an update on ASX’s evaluation of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)
  • Set out ASX’s preliminary thinking on the business requirements for a system to replace CHESS and
  • To seek initial views from users on their business requirements

 Download Consultation paper

The deadline for submission of responses was 28 October 2016.

ASX received 36 written submissions, including 23 that were provided on a confidential basis.  The submissions provided on a non‑confidential basis are available below.

ASX provides its response to the consultation paper on the business requirements for the replacement of CHESS.

 Download Public Consultation Feedback Summary

Supplementary Business Requirements Questionnaire - ASX Replacement of CHESS:

On 22 December 2016, ASX released a Supplementary Business Requirements Questionnaire seeking additional information from stakeholders.

 Download Supplementary Questionnaire

The deadline for submission of responses to the questionnaire was 14 February 2017.

Webinars

ASX will provide regular quarterly updates on the CHESS Replacement project by webinar.  If you would like to be included on ASX’s contact list for the webinars, please contact the ASX project team at ASX CHESS Replacement.

Webinar date (Sydney time) Registration link Webinar recording Presentation
2.00pm Thursday 30 March 2017 closed 30 March 2017 Webinar recording (wmv)* 30 March 2017 Presentation slides
2.00pm Thursday 6 July 2017 closed 6 July 2017 Webinar recording (wmv)* 6 July 2017 Presentation slides
Q3 (Date TBC)      
Q4 (Date TBC)      

*note, the webinar recordings are large files - about 160MB

ASX has prepared a document with tips on how to set up your PC for the optimal webinar experience:

Webinar tips

ISO 20022 Technical Committee

The ISO 20022 Technical Committee comprising ASX (Chair) and industry representatives has been formed to focus on CHESS messaging and the adoption of  ISO 20022 messaging.  The adoption of ISO 20022 is a major workstream for the CHESS Replacement project and members of the Committee will be involved in the detailed work associated with this workstream.  The key objectives, activities and governance of the Committee are outlined in the Charter.

The Committee will meet regularly from December 2016 with invitations distributed by ASX.  The meeting schedule and documents are provided below.

Meeting Date and Time* Meeting agenda and attendees Meeting documents Meeting minutes
 24 September 2014     Meeting Minutes
Tuesday 13 December 2016, 3.30pm Meeting agenda Meeting presentation Meeting Minutes
Tuesday 7 February 2017, 3.00pm Meeting agenda Meeting presentation
SWIFT ISO 20022 overview
Meeting Minutes
Tuesday 14 March 2017, 3.00pm Meeting agenda

Meeting presentation

SWIFT MyStandards overview

Meeting Minutes
Tuesday 2 May 2017, 3.00pm Meeting agenda Meeting presentation Meeting Minutes
Tuesday 6 June 2017, 3.00pm Meeting agenda Meeting presentation Meeting Minutes
Tuesday 18 July 2017, 3.00pm Meeting agenda Meeting presentation  
Tuesday 22 August 2017, 3.00pm      
Tuesday 10 October 2017, 3.00pm      
Tuesday 21 November 2017, 3.00pm      

*Sydney time

If you have any questions about the Committee please contact ASX at CHESSReplacement@asx.com.au.

Summary of MyStandards comments and ASX responses on draft usage guidelines

Resource material on ISO 20022 and related standards

Request your electronic copy of the booklet "ISO 20022 for Dummies" here.  You will be asked for name, company and contact information. Please enter "ASX CHESS Replacement on ISO 20022" for the question about the ISO 20022 initiative you are interested in.  The booklet will appear in a browser. You can download a PDF copy by clicking on the PDF icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
ISO 20022 Harmonisation Details on the SWIFT-led industry program to ensure a cost effective and seamless adoption of ISO 20022 by Market Infrastructures and their communities - available here
ISO 20022 web site Information about ISO 20022, business domains, catalogue of messages, external code sets and news here
Market Identifier codes (MIC) Codes for exchanges and market identification (MIC) issued per ISO 10383. The latest list is published here

Project Timeline

ASX's pathway for the replacement of CHESS is outlined below.

Milestones Timeline

Develop a prototype platform using DLT technology

January 2016 – July 2016

Formal gathering of business requirements for a replacement system – to perform all current core functions of CHESS, with limited introduction of new features initially

Build out the prototype to an ‘industrial scale' platform using DLT technology

Commenced August 2016

End-2017

Key decision point: commitment to implement DLT or alternative technology for the purpose of replacing CHESS

End-2017

Implement replacement system

Following a positive decision at end-2017, ASX will provide further information on the implementation schedule

Investigate opportunities for leveraging technology to further increase operational efficiency

Ongoing consultation with stakeholders

Technology solution

As part of the CHESS replacement project, ASX is evaluating the use of distributed ledger technology - DLT.

Click here for more information

Contact us

You can contact the ASX CHESS Replacement project team on the following email address:

ASX CHESS Replacement

Distributed Ledger Technology

Accelerateacceler8 is the innovation space where ASX and Digital Asset Holdings are developing distributed ledger technology (DLT), sometimes called blockchain, for the Australian equity market.

 

Frequently asked questions

What is blockchain?

Blockchain is a type of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). These terms are often used interchangeably. Not all distributed ledgers employ blocks or chain transactions.

What is distributed ledger technology (DLT)?

A distributed ledger is a digital record of who-owns-what. But unlike traditional database technology, there is not necessarily a central administrator of the ledger, nor is there the need for a central data store.

What does this mean for my business with regard to CHESS, and equities clearing and settlement?

The CHESS system and its procedures and operations remain unchanged. ASX is exploring the potential of DLT alongside CHESS. The existing equities clearing and settlement arrangements will continue to operate normally.

Is ASX using bitcoin?

No. ASX is not using the bitcoin or any cryptocurrency in any part of its investigation of the blockchain.

Will ASX give everyone access to the blockchain?

No. ASX does not intend to investigate the use of a publically available implementation of DLT. ASX is investigating the use of a permissioned system where ASX clients – that meet the necessary regulatory requirements - are permissioned to access the network, just as they do today when connecting to CHESS.

What is ASX’s involvement with Digital Asset?

ASX's relationship with Digital Assets is twofold:

i) as a shareholder with a director appointed to Digital Asset’s Board

ii) as a joint development partner to produce a candidate replacement system for CHESS

How did ASX come to partner with Digital Asset?

ASX conducted a global search for DLT companies working on applications of DLT for financial services. Viability workshops were then conducted with a shortlist of firms. The list was further narrowed, with some firms invited to Sydney for an intensive development and analysis workshop. At the conclusion of this process, Digital Asset was selected as the successful partner.

How will ASX stakeholders participate fully in the innovation process?

As ASX progresses its work with Digital Asset, it will invite relevant stakeholders to review, provide feedback and help shape developments.

What are the potential benefits?

ASX believes that DLT has the potential to lower risks and associated costs while unlocking further innovation in the post trade processing functions of the market.

When will a final decision be made on CHESS replacement?

ASX intends to make a decision and notify the market of the system to replace CHESS towards the end of 2017. CHESS will be replaced when an industrial strength system that meets all business, technical and regulatory requirements is delivered and after all relevant stakeholders have had the opportunity to provide input into the process.

Are government and regulators involved?

Yes. To ensure the maintenance of Australia’s extremely high standards for critical financial market infrastructure, ASX is keeping government and regulators involved in developments and across all relevant decisions.