A global trade organization for financial exchanges released a new survey today on distributed ledgers, highlighting views held by industry incumbents regarding the technology.

Twenty-four firms, constituting exchanges, central securities depositories and central counterparties, collectively dubbed “financial market infrastructures”, or FMIs, took part in the survey, published by the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE).

In total, there were 25 participants, and of those services, 21 said that they were actively exploring applications of the technology. Firms who participated in the survey include Nasdaq, CME Group, the Australian Securities Exchange, LCH.Clearnet and the Japan Exchange Group, among others.

The report largely mirrors similar publications in the past, outlining how market incumbents are exploring the technology and developing proof-of-concepts while at the same time expressing regulatory and cybersecurity concerns.

The WFE report states:

“In most cases FMIs are focusing on applications which aim to create process efficiencies and cost savings, though some are also pursuing new service lines and revenue opportunities. Given the relatively nascent state of the technology – particularly as applied to capital markets – FMIs are uncertain about the extent to which the technology will live up to its promise.”

Further, the survey highlights how market incumbents have largely favored group settings, naming the Hyperledger blockchain project and the Post-Trade Distributed Ledger Group in particular.

The WFE, founded in the early 1960s, includes more than 60 exchange services among its membership.

Industry progress detailed

Broader implications aside, the report goes on to offer details about the current status of R&D in the market infrastructure space as it relates to distributed ledgers.

For example, seven exchanges survey said that they have budgeted for work in this area, with an additional 13 indicating that they are likely to do the same.

The report also suggested that some survey participants envision a product-to-market timeline taking shape over the next three years.

“While the majority of respondents were not prepared to commit to a specific timeframe, 10 FMIs put their expected time to rollout at less than three years,” the report said.

However, the participants were reportedly quick to temper expectations about such rollouts.

As the report notes:

“This timeframe should not, however, be read as a blanket endorsement of the viability of DLT for the use cases under investigation. As mentioned above, FMIs are still evaluating the extent to which DLT technology will live up to its promise, and identified concerns about security, scalability, throughput capacity, and the ability to ensure data privacy.”

Gears and graphing paper image via Shutterstock

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