European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) Reports Problems in Merging Blockchain Tech into Existing Financial Markets

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The  European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has issued a report  stating Blockchain technology could help speed up the clearing and settlement of financial transactions, record ownership of assets and support regulatory reporting, among delivering other benefits… But it warned “technological issues” would need to be addressed for the potential of Blockchain in the market to be realised.

ESMA believes that the DLT will need to overcome a number of possible challenges and shortcomings before its benefits can be reaped. Some of these challenges are related to the technology itself. Others are mainly related to possible governance, privacy and regulatory issues. 

The capacity of the DLT to fit into the existing regulatory framework may limit its deployment. The key EU regulations likely to apply and how they would reflect in terms of requirements for the participants to the DLT network.

Legal issues, such as the legality and enforceability of the records kept on the DLT, also need to be carefully considered. Differences in securities and company laws across the EU may also interfere with a wide deployment of the DLT in securities markets in the EU. Supervising a DLT ‘network’ might be more complex than supervising central market infrastructures, in particular considering that the different nodes might be established in different jurisdictions and subject to different privacy, insolvency and other requirements.

It seems unlikely that the DLT would be deployed across all market segments and activities simultaneously. In a step-wise scenario, the DLT would need to interoperate with existing market infrastructures and the attendant systems, at least in the short to medium term. In addition, separate ledgers might be used for different asset types and these ledgers will need to interact with one another.

This raises a number of technical challenges. Not all market participants may choose to build interfaces to the new technology and existing market infrastructures might have no immediate benefit in starting interoperating with different ledgers. Also, many of the benefits of the DLT could be reduced, unless it is widely adopted by market participants and market infrastructures.

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Founder of Blockchain News and The Hackitarians Foundation, Richard Kastelein is an award winning publisher and editor, hackathon organiser and entrepreneur. He has written over 700 articles at Blockchain News, has a massive network in the Blockchain arena and is available as a speaker and consultant. (richard@the-blockchain.com) Kastelein has spoken (keynotes & panels) on technology at events in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Belfast, Berlin, Brussels, Brighton, Copenhagen, Cannes, Cologne, Curacao, Frankfurt, Gdansk, Hollywood, Hilversum, Geneva, Groningen, London, Las Vegas, Leipzig, Madrid, Melbourne, NYC, Oxford, Rio de Janeiro, Sheffield, San Francisco, San Jose, Sydney, Tallinn, Vienna, and Zurich. A Creative Technologist & Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Métis) his career began in the Native Press (Canadian Arctic) and he later spent a decade in the Caribbean media. Currently, he writes occasionally for Wired Insights, Guardian & Virgin and his articles have been translated into Dutch, Greek, Polish, German & French.