The long-awaited, new-generation trading technology on the ASX collapsed on debut on Monday, stopping one of the most important local market rallies of this virus-blighted year dead in its tracks. Yesterday, delays in the separate, older CHESS clearing system had regulator ASIC checking to see if the ASX was meeting the obligations of its licence. None of this bodes well for the replacement of CHESS with a sophisticated blockchain-based system, which has already been delayed until 2023.
When trading was called off on Monday, the market was up 9.2 per cent for November, getting closer to its all-time high of last February, and as the MSCI regional share index reached a record too. Alice Barbery of Universal Store, whose initial public offering was meant to take place on the day, philosophically noted that in 2020 homes were lost to fires and lives to COVID-19: “It will bounce back tomorrow and life will go on.” And stockmarket technology, like other big platforms, is not foolproof. The Tokyo and Euronext exchanges were forced to shut down last month by tech glitches. And in August a hacking attack closed the New Zealand exchange for four days.
But the ASX suffered embarrassing shutdowns in 2011 and 2016. Monday’s halt followed the failure of its newsfeed and website in past weeks. This is core for a premium business that is supposed to be about reliability and transparency. The ASX and ASIC between them are meant to provide a stable trading environment. They must ensure it.