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The Promise of Blockchain Technology for Global Securities and Derivatives Markets: The New Financial Ecosystem and the ‘Holy Grail’ of Systemic Risk Containment

December/2019, European Business Organization Law Review, (2019) 20: 81

BLOCKCHAIN

Weaknesses in investor control over their investments and in warehousing systemic risk in modern Financial Market Infrastructure (FMI) are the result of a combination of market failures and of structural flaws deeply ingrained in modern financial markets. Yet the utility of complex FMI comprising long custodial chains and large global Central Counterparties (CCPs) for the operation of modern markets is not seriously disputed. The change in the technology paradigm with the introduction of DLT systems for securities and derivatives FMI can increase investor control, the efficiency of risk management and, to some extent, augment the distribution of systemic risk. It can thus create a more diverse and resilient financial ecosystem. This cross-disciplinary paper identifies a multitude of reasons that favour a paradigm shift in FMI technology. It also sketches a comprehensive blockchain-based framework for the development of permission-based platforms for derivatives clearing and settlement and the handling of liquidity shortages within DLT systems. Arguably, the impact of technological change should lead to a reduction of industry rents for the benefit of end investors and of the end users of finance (entrepreneurs and businesses) enhancing market welfare. Therefore, the use of blockchain technology in FMI can transform the structure and future direction of the financial services industry as a whole.