Canada's TSX hires Bitcoin guru, studies currency's technology

A Bitcoin logo is displayed at the Bitcoin Center New York City in New York's financial district July 28, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange has hired a Bitcoin entrepreneur as its first chief digital officer as it explores the capabilities of blockchain, the technology behind the virtual currency, a senior executive at TSX parent TMX Group said on Thursday.

Anthony Di Iorio, who has founded several companies based on the technology, filled the role at Canada’s largest stock exchange in January, Jean Desgagne, chief executive of TMX’s Global Enterprise Services, said in an interview.

Stock exchanges are embracing blockchain, which allows Bitcoin users to conduct secure transactions without middlemen, as they seek to diversify and boost profit margins. When used to issue securities, the technology could potentially remove the need for clearing houses.

“Blockchain is a disruptive technology,” Desgagne said, noting that major changes could result from its potential adoption. “We’re focused on it, we’re going to learn.”

In January the Australian stock exchange said it had enlisted a blockchain startup to develop a new trade settlement system.

Nasdaq in the United States used the technology last year to issue securities to an unidentified private investor. Last month, Nasdaq said it was developing a blockchain-based shareholder voting system for its Estonian stock exchange.

Blockchain could make operations “better, faster, cheaper,” Desgagne said, but noted that, if adopted, the technology would be only one element in TMX’s digital operations.

Di Iorio and Desgagne declined to discuss details about potential blockchain projects at TSX.

Di Iorio is the founder of the Bitcoin Alliance of Canada and a co-founder of Ethereum, a blockchain-based computing platform.

Reporting by Ethan Lou; Editing by Euan Rocha and Richard Chang