In March, the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) announced that the launch of CHESS, its blockchain stock settlement solution, would likely be delayed from its planned April 2023 rollout. Today the ASX confirmed that the launch will be in late 2024 at the earliest. It also said that Accenture would provide an independent review of the new CHESS application.
The delay is because ASX and technology partner Digital Asset identified further work needed for ASX’s scalability and resilience requirements. The project uses Digital Asset’s smart contract language DAML for its workflow. Work on the solution started in 2016 with multiple delays, although market participants have demanded some extensions.
The Accenture review is at the behest of new CEO Helen Lofthouse, who succeeded Dominic Stevens on Monday. EY has already been engaged for ongoing assurance reviews at the insistence of the ASIC regulator. The consultant gave the project a clean bill of health in March.
On the one hand, the choice of Accenture seems logical given its extensive blockchain and capital markets experience. However, it is also an investor in Digital Asset, the technology partner in the project. While its stake is likely insufficiently significant to sway its opinion, it has an existing Digital Asset relationship. And the stated purpose of the review is an independent set of eyes. On the other hand, the two parties need to work together for the review.
Accenture will start its work this month, and the project is expected to last twelve weeks.
Access to the next iteration of the integrated test environment (ITE2) for external parties has been postponed until after the review.
“There has been significant progress with CHESS replacement. But it is important that we take time for a careful, independent review of the work done to date and the work still to do,” said new CEO Helen Lofthouse.
“I know our customers will be as disappointed as I am with the uncertainty about the timeline for completion.”