US Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation CEO Mike Bodson has poured cold water on some of the wilder hopes of distributed ledger technology cheerleaders, arguing that while DLT might represent the future, it is far from ready for primetime.
In a LinkedIn post, Bodson look back on the last two years of DLT development, arguing that claims about the technology's potential to make incumbent post-trade market infrastructure providers such as the DTCC "relics of the past" have proved incorrect.
"Things have changed quite a bit since then. For one, DTCC and many of our post-trade colleagues are now recognized as integral to developing, executing and managing distributed ledger solutions. The new entrants that wanted to eat our lunch are instead joining us at the table to collaborate on use cases. In addition, many in the industry are looking to these same trusted central authorities to create the governance and standards around future DLT applications," he writes.
Bodson says that there is now a more realistic expectation of DLT's capacity to achieve the scale and processing power needed for the kind of operations carried out by the DTCC, noting that the US has just moved to a shorter settlement cycle - using more traditional technology.
The DTCC is still exploring DLT, and is working to re-platform its Trade Information Warehouse for credit derivatives using the technology and the cloud, but, writes Bodson, while the financial markets have many issues "that doesn't mean all of them will be solved by distributed ledgers".
Most importantly, "the technology simply doesn't have the scale or capacity to match the robust processing engines that underpin the US capital markets today, which handle in excess of 50 million daily transactions and as many as 25,000 or more transactions per second during peak processing.
"In the future, any enterprise-ready distributed ledger solution for a mature, high-volume marketplace will need to achieve or surpass that processing power. Today's distributed ledgers simply can't come close to matching that scale or speed."
While Bodson may remain cautious, others are taking the DLT plunge. Earlier this month, the Australian Securities Exchange confirmed plans to replace its Chess post-trade settlement system with a new blockchain-based platform provided by Digital Asset.
Concludes Bodson: "We agree that DLT represents the future. It's the reason why we've been actively experimenting with the technology. But we also recognize that there will likely be many blockchain applications in use before it is ready to become the standard in a market as big as the US equities markets."
Separately, a DTCC survey of market participants shows that 15% consider fintech a significant source of financial stability risk. More than a third of respondents view cyber risk as the number one threat to the broader economy in 2018, with 78% ranking it as a top five risk.