Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. is testing a new use of the technology that establishes Bitcoin, in a bid to transform the trading of shares in private companies.
The experiment follows a great number of financial-industry attempts into Bitcoin-related technology. If the effort is assumed successful, NASDAQ wants to use Blockchain technology in its stock market, one of the world’s largest, and potentially shake up systems that have facilitated the trading of financial assets for decades.
“Utilizing the blockchain is a natural digital evolution for managing physical securities,” said Nasdaq Chief Executive Robert Greifeld, adding that the technology holds the potential to “benefit not only our clients, but the broader global capital markets.”
NASDAQ is going to start its pilot project in Nasdaq Private Market, a growing marketplace launched in January 2014 to operate pre-IPO trading among private companies. According to the company, the platform has more than 75 private companies signed up, like music app Shazam and messaging service Tango.
As a rule, private companies deal with sales and transfers of shares with largely informal systems, including spreadsheets maintained by lawyers who verify transactions by hand. NASDAQ wants to replace that process with a system based on Bitcoin’s blockchain technology.
Nasdaq OMX Group’s experiment is the latest example of large financial companies exploring the use of Bitcoin.
However, Digital Asset Holdings, led by former J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. executive Blythe Masters, is developing a Blockchain-based system for settling transfers of securities and funds as well.
Furthermore, recently, the New York Stock Exchange unit of Intercontinental Exchange Inc. announced an investment in Coinbase; Goldman Sachs Group Inc. invested in bitcoin consumer- services company Circle Internet Financial; and big trading company DRW Holdings LLC said a subsidiary had “begun to experiment with cryptocurrency trading.”
Real-time settlement has been a goal of regulators and investors the same way since it would reduce the risk of counterparty failure and free up billions of dollars of capital that is sidelined during that wait period.
Last year Oliver Bussmann, Chief Investment Officer of Swiss bank UBS AG, shared his opinion that Blockchain was the biggest disrupting force in the financial sector, meaning its success could potentially have significant consequences for banks, trading houses etc. Besides, Swiss bank UBS AG has established a special blockchain lab to study uses of the technology.
Fredrik Voss, Deputy Head of Nasdaq Commodities, named NASDAQ as its new “blockchain technology evangelist” to lead efforts to increase use of the Bitcoin technology.