ASX’s CHESS system blockchain upgrade failure sparks blame game.

The New York-based company Digital Asset, which was responsible for the Australian Securities Exchange’s blockchain-based clearing system, has blamed the securities exchange for dropping their blockchain plans. Representatives of the ASX have responded, stating that the claims made by Digital Asset are misleading.

The ASX has been preparing to adopt blockchain technology for the last seven years, in partnership with the New York-based firm, with the aim of becoming the world’s first securities exchange to do so. However, on May 17th, the ASX announced that it would be abandoning the upgrade and likely looking at more conventional technology, which led to Digital Asset’s claims.

According to a recent report from The Australian, Eric Saraniecki, the co-founder of Digital Asset told the attendees of a June 8th parliamentary joint committee on corporations and finance that there were two main reasons why the blockchain upgrade resulted in failure.

First, Saraniecki alleged that ASX was unwilling to hand over important test data that would have allowed Digital Asset to better test the functionality of the new system. Second, Saraniecki said that despite the ASX talking publicly about a “big bang” method of replacing its nearly 30-year-old CHESS platform, it was simultaneously telling Digital Asset to preserve antiquated elements of the old system. This reportedly led to further discord between the two companies and the eventual failure of the upgrade’s implementation.

However, ASX’s Non-Executive Director David Curran defended the exchange, stating that the issue was a lack of communication from Digital Asset regarding their concerns. Curran said that if Digital Asset had concerns about the project, there were ways that they should have been raised and resolved. The ASX’s Managing Director and CEO Helen Lofthouse said that it wasn’t so much the “flexible requirements” causing challenges in the project, it was the pre-existing requirements of the system itself and the way that related to how settlements work in Australia.

While it has been widely reported that the ASX had taken blockchain tech off the table completely, ASX CIO Tim Whiteley told Australian tech publication ITNews that “no firm decision” had been made, and that the exchange was continuing to explore all options for the solution design.

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