Australian securities exchange (asx) recently announced its decision to axe almost 200 contractors who were working on incorporating blockchain technology into its chess clearing and settlement system. this seven-year-long project resulted in a pre-tax loss of $170 million for the company. the asx chess system has been operating for around 25 years and manages the settlement of share transactions and records shareholdings for its daily trading volume of $3.19 billion.
Project began in 2017 and had been delayed multiple times, with its completion most recently pushed back until late 2024. at its peak, the project had a total of 300 people working on it, with 75% of them being independent contractors. despite the decision to axe the contractors, asx has kept a minority of them to work on a formal review of the project or move to other roles at the company.
Independent audit by consultancy accenture revealed a myriad of issues impacting the project, including latency and technical constraints surrounding its api, as well as challenges relating to scalability, resiliency, and supportability. the blockchain revamp was intended to give both issuers and end investors greater control over, and enhanced confidence in, the exchange’s market activities, providing improved access to the register of holders for those issuing securities. despite the issues, an asx spokesperson said that the current chess infrastructure remains secure and stable.