ASX Accused of Trying to Crush Rival Blockchain Trading System

Wednesday 4 May 2020, 4:15 PM AEST - 4 weeks ago Passion Images /

The CEO of fintech firm iSignthis has accused the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) of abusing its market-leader position by trying to delay the launch of ClearPay, a blockchain-based trading system on the rival National Stock Exchange of Australia (NSX).

A joint venture between iSignthis and the NSX, ClearPay uses distributed ledger technology (DLT) to facilitate same-day settlements and up-to-date accounting between trading participants, the share registry, and the exchange. Although it was only publicly unveiled in February, the CEO of both iSignthis and NSX, John Karantzis, said the news was leaked beforehand and claimed the news led to ASX suspending trading in ISX shares on October 2.

Karantzis told CoinDesk that the ASX has held a "public inquisition" into ClearPay and how it would compete with its settlement service, Austraclear, as well as its own in-the-works DLT-based trading system.

"To be perfectly honest, [the ASX is] doing a pretty good job trying to crush us at the moment," he said.

ASX has been working on a DLT-based replacement for its ageing clearing system for nearly five years. Although it had originally been scheduled for April 2021, the exchange said in late March it would delay the launch date over the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus. At the time, Karantzis said ClearPay was on track to launch sometime in early 2021.

For its part, ASX said it suspended iSignthis shares – which had risen tenfold over the course of 2019 – so it could conduct a review after a market research group raised concerns about the company's disclosures, governance and shareholder structure.

In December 2019, iSignthis began legal proceedings against the exchange, claiming the suspension was unlawful. Then, this April, it requested an injunction that would block the ASX fro ...

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