Bitcoin’s price took a beating last year, but blockchain, the technology that underpins the digital currency, continues to gain prominence in the financial industry, with the latest sign of interest coming from a financial utility company that’s adopting it for a derivatives platform.
The Depository Trust and Clearing Corp., which is owned by several large financial firms, is working on a project in which a distributed ledger like blockchain will be used for processing what’s known as credit derivatives trades. DTCC is the custodian for many of the securities owned by investors, and safeguards transactions against default by either counterparty.
Blockchain is a decentralized computer-ledger technology that allows for the digital recording and distribution of transactions by a network of users. No centralized authority governs or regulates the transactions — it is run only by those who use it. It is increasingly being explored by banks and financial services firms, foreign governments, and technology startups.
“At DTCC, we acknowledge the disruptive nature of these technologies, and our goal is to explore their value to create more efficiencies while further reducing risk and cost for the industry,” Jennifer Peve, managing director of business development and the co-head of DTCC’s Office of FinTech Strategy, said in a post on the organization’s website.
DTCC is testing a project to use a new platform for its trade information warehouse for credit derivatives, which often act like insurance against the risk that companies or municipalities default on loans or other borrowing. These are sometimes credit default swaps, but can also take other forms. The warehouse processes 98 percent of credit derivative transactions globally.
Peve said the re-platforming is being done to make use of distributed ledger technology and cloud-based storage.
“By managing massive quantities of data in a much more efficient manner, it enables smoother business dealings and removes significant costs from the process,” Peve said. One advantage, she said, is that a distributed ledger provides a single source of transaction data, eliminating a need for the various “reconciliation” stages of other systems.
But the technology has the potential to go much further. She cited a DTCC study from October that found blockchain and other forms of distributed ledger technology could support average daily trading volumes in the U.S. equity market of more than 100 million trades.
“If you can envision organizations looking to one single source of transaction data, versus copying that transaction data in multiple data stores within their organization, eliminating that reconciliation is really powerful,” she said.
Peve’s comments appeared on the DTCC’s website on Jan. 15.