ASX expects more delays to blockchain-based CHESS replacement go-live date

ASX is blaming its technology provider for the CHESS platform delay.

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has been building the world's first industrial-scale blockchain use case -- a new post-trade solution to replace its legacy Clearing House Electronic Subregister System (CHESS) platform, which has been running for more than 25 years.

The organisation had initially expected the system was going to be ready for industry-wide testing in July 2020, which would have resulted in the system being ready to go-live by April 2021.

However, the ASX revised the implementation timetable for replacing CHESS due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, it announced at the time, the CHESS platform would be ready by April 2022.

This date was then revised months later to April 2023. During the organisation's 2022 half-year results in February, ASX CEO Dominic Stevens confirmed the organisation was still on-track to achieve this.

On Monday, the ASX announced that the April 2023 go-live date, however, is likely to be delayed -- once again.

"ASX advised that there is a strong likelihood of delay to the go-live date," ASX group executive Tim Hogben wrote in a statement to shareholders.

This time the ASX is blaming Digital Asset, the firm building CHESS with the ASX, for the hold-up.  

According to the ASX, the next software release is not expected to be received, tested, and deployed into its Industry Test Environment 1 (ITE1) until July, rather than the end of April.

The next software release is expected to incorporate the next iteration of non-functional tuning of the application and code fixes, as well as a software candidate for providers to accredit against. Due to the software delay, ASX said the accreditation commencement schedule will vary with some commencing in July and others not until August.

Also on Monday, the ASX said onboarding customers to its dedicated ITE2 environment will now open on April 27, instead of April 18 in a "phased approached", starting with a dedicated onboarding period that includes certificate management set up.

"This approach incorporates learnings from ITE1 onboarding and testing -- which required focused attention and time -- and allows for the known complexity involved in safely updating, connecting and testing technology across multiple parties and jurisdictions," Hogben said.

The ASX added as a result of delays to onboarding customers, it expects migration dress rehearsals will not commence in October, as initially scheduled.

"We recognise the impact these changes will have on our customers' programming activities and apologise for the inconvenience. We will be actively working with all stakeholders to assess the flow-on impacts of these schedule changes to project milestones, industry testing, operational readiness, migration dress rehearsals and implementation [go-live]," Hogben said.

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