Swift Signs Agreement With 7 CSDs to Explore Blockchain for Post-Trade

Swift has signed a memorandum of agreement with seven central securities depositories to look into how blockchain can be used for post-trade processes, such as proxy voting.

Revealed today, the agreement is with U.S.-based Nasdaq Market Technology, Russia-based National Settlement Depository, Switzerland-based SIX Securities Services, South Africa-based Strate, as well as the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, Argentina’s Caja de Valores, and Chile’s Depósito Central de Valores.

Dubbed the CSD Working Group of DLT (distributed ledger technology), the financial infrastructure providers have agreed to explore how DLT could save money and bring new efficiencies to post-trade processes. Proxy voting specifically has been an area of interest for CSDs experimenting with blockchain technology.

Swift’s head of standards Stephen Lindsay didn’t give specific details about the working group’s efforts, but instead, told CoinDesk the agreement was more exploratory in nature.

“It’s a complex area, and there are regional variations in the way that it works, so one thing is to bring the CSDs around the world [together] to actually focus in on the commonalities,” he said, adding:

“It’s not something where we’ve seen a lot of cooperation in the past, because different markets do things differently. But this is a chance to do something even more different.”

Informally founded last year, the CSD Working Group on DLT formalized its requirements, adding the use of Swift’s ISO 20022 messaging standard in November.

“The CSD Working Group on DLT is tackling a key challenge related to emerging technologies, which is a clear lack of standards,” said Thomas Zeeb, CEO of SIX Securities Services and Chairman of the International Securities Services Association (ISSA), which recently endorsed the working group effort, in a statement. “As the industry evolves, DLT-specific standards such as [Swift’s] ISO 20022, will provide a great foundation, in terms of both existing business content and approach.”

Echoing that, Lindsay told CoinDesk Swift signing the agreement had to do with making sure DLT technology plays nicely with “existing post-trade processes, some of which are not broken.”