DTCC to rebuild credit default swaps processing platform with blockchain

NEW YORK, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Post-trade provider the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) will use blockchain technology this year to rebuild its platform that processes $11 trillion worth of credit default swaps, as Wall Street intensifies efforts to take advantage of the emerging technology.

IBM Corp and technology startups Axoni and R3 CEV have been selected to work on the project which is set to kick-off this month, DTCC said on Monday. It expects the new blockchain-enabled Trade Information Warehouse to go live in early 2018.

The project is one of the largest implementations of the nascent technology in mainstream financial markets to have been made public to date. Blockchain is a shared record of transactions maintained by a network of computers on the internet.

The project is being developed with input from market participants and infrastructure providers including Barclays Plc , Citigroup Inc, Credit Suisse Group AG, Deutsche Bank AG, JPMorgan Chase & Co, UBS Group AG, Wells Fargo & Co, IHS Markit Ltd and Intercontinental Exchange Inc, DTCC said.

Blockchain will reduce the costs and complexity of managing credit default swaps, which are essentially contracts that insure bond-holders against losses if the bond goes bad.

DTCC’s platform keeps track of the security throughout the lifecycle of the associated bond. Blockchain can simplify the process by automatically maintaining a shared electronic record of the security which is visible to all relevant parties.

The decision to implement the technology follows a test conducted by DTCC and banks in 2016 which proved some of the advantages of using blockchain, said Michael Bodson, president and chief executive officer of DTCC.

“The test showed that distributed ledger technology could handle all the various types of events processing needs for credit default swaps and it showed that it could be done at a lower cost point than what can be done with our existing infrastructure,” Bodson said.

The implementation comes after a year marked by a flurry of blockchain tests and ambitious announcements from financial institutions and technology companies, leading skeptics to question whether the technology underpinning cryptocurrency bitcoin was being overhyped.

“The project will prove to the industry that it (blockchain) is a powerful technology that can deliver benefits,” Bodson said.

DTCC is also working with New York-based startup Digital Asset Holdings on developing blockchain-based technology for the syndicated loans market. (Reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)