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DTCC信用衍生品交易区块链试验再获新进展

美国存托及结算机构(DTCC)负责美国大部分证券的结算业务。目前该机构表示,旗下的旗舰区块链项目试验阶段即将完成。

在专访中DTCC表示,这个刚刚完成测试的早期区块链版本能够支持每天11万亿美元的信用衍生品交易。这意味着,这家清算中心在区块链发展方面取得了重大进展。

今年1月,DTCC的这个区块链项目首次公开亮相,旨在升级DTCC的中心化OTC衍生品贸易信息仓库(TIW)的底层基础设施,将衍生品交易的清算时间从数周(在某些情况下)缩短到近乎实时。为了实现这个目标,DTCC与科技巨头IBM、企业区块链联盟R3和风险投资公司支持的区块链创业公司Axoni建立了合作关系。

如今,随着基础设施基本完成,项目合作各方正在将注意力转向测试阶段,并且准备以一种兼容的方式对TIW数据进行迁移。

以太坊的副作用

DTCC首席技术负责人Palatnick还首次公开透露,Axoni的AxCore协议最初来源于以太坊公有区块链,DTCC的系统使用了相同的Solidity智能合约语言来创建应用。

然而,AxCore已经被修改,并且添加了一种模块化共识机制,可以对服务进行定制以满足DTCC的具体需求,以及向监管机构和其他交易对手方提交实时报告。

不同于以太坊,DTCC的AxCore实施并没有使用一种代币。不过Axoin和Palatnick都确认这个系统仍旧由另外一种形式提供动力,这意味着会有一种平行的方式在以太坊区块链上支付交易手续费。

尽管以太坊在开发这些企业级实施方面是使用最广泛的区块链协议,不过DTCC表示这其中还是出现了一些难题或者说并发症。

其一,以太坊的业务逻辑并不如DTCC所需要的那么复杂——主要是在于Solidity在识别小数方面存在难度,而这对该项目来说是必要的。

在早期,为解决这一问题,DTCC认为大部分实际业务流程的工作流需要在“链下”进行,大幅度降低区块链在存储结算数据方面的角色。通过这种方式,Palatnick表示“我们不会在智能合同语言中做很多业务逻辑”。

但是,经过数月构建之后,开发者发现通过链下执行这个工作流他们实际上正在引入更多的复杂性。

向前发展

这项幕后工作计划在2018年第一季度正式上线,前提是一切按照计划进行。但是在此之前,还需要进行额外的测试和一系列整合(包括TIW本身和外部机构)。

目前,DTCC正在与监管机构合作促使Axoni的内置报告数据库与监管机构的需要保持一致。据Palatnick所说,这些报告必须与现有的一样好,同时还能够在一种延续的基础上用作智能合约功能性的结果。

此外Palatnick还表示,DTCC正在与R3及其由100多家全球金融机构组成的网络合作向标准制定机构学习如何创建“围绕着分布式账本上的数据是什么样子”的标准。

这个项目正式推出之后,Axoin打算开源其Axcore协议。

The company that today settles the lion's share of U.S. securities is moving its flagship blockchain project out of the testing phase.

Revealed in an exclusive interview with CoinDesk, the DTCC reports that it has completed an early version of a blockchain that could one day support the trade of $11 trillion-worth of credit derivatives. The milestone signifies a major development for the financial infrastructure provider, one that also marks a continuation of the largest effort yet to adapt an existing financial infrastructure to a blockchain.

First revealed in January, the goal of the project was to upgrade the infrastructure underpinning the DTCC's centralized Trade Information Warehouse (TIW) for over-the-counter derivatives, reducing the time it takes to clear derivatives trades from weeks (in some cases) to nearly instantaneously. To do that, the DTCC partnered with computing giant IBM, enterprise blockchain consortium R3 and venture-backed blockchain startup Axoni.

Now, with such a large-scale implementation complete, the partners are are turning their attention to testing it, and preparing it for migration of the TIW data in a compliant way.

Ahead of a scheduled launch the DTCC's chief technology architect Rob Palatnick sought to frame any obstacles ahead as a sign of progress.

He told CoinDesk:

"The exciting thing is that there's continued comfort in the progress of the overall application and environment. There are always challenges, but we call it the 'noise of progress'."

Side effects of ethereum

For the first time publicly, Palatnick also revealed that Axo's AxCore protocol was originally derived from the public ethereum blockchain, and that the DTCC's system uses the same Solidity smart contract language that powers its applications.

However, AxCore has been modified to include a modular consensus mechanism that lets it tailor services to the specific needs of the DTCC, as well as submit real-time reports to both regulators and other counterparties.

"This is a huge improvement in situational awareness for individual firms, regulators and the industry as a whole," an Axoni representative said.

And, unlike ethereum, the DTCC implementation of AxCore does not include a token – though both Axoni and Palatnick confirmed the system is still powered by a form of "gas," implying a parallel to the way transaction fees are paid on the ethereum blockchain.

While ethereum is the most-widely used blockchain protocol for developing these enterprise-grade implementations, the DTCC said complications still arose.

For one, ethereum's business logic is not as sophisticated as DTCC required – primarily in that Solidity has difficulty recognizing decimals, which was deemed necessary for the project.

Palatnick said:

"There's lots of exceptions with everything, there's lots of nuances, and that meant things like the capabilities of the technology and the capabilities of using the smart contract language of ethereum needed to address business functionality."

Early on, to address that, the DTCC thought much of the actual business processes workflow would need to be conducted "off-chain," largely reducing the role of the blockchain itself to storing settled data. In this way, "we wouldn't do a lot of the business logic in the smart contract language itself," Palatnick said.

But after several months of building, the developers discovered they were actually introducing more complexity by conducting this workflow off-chain than they were removing by using a blockchain in the first place.

"We ended up backtracking and moving a lot more of the business logic on-chain," Palatnick said, noting that figuring out what information needs to go on-chain and what processes must happen off-chain was a challenge.

Moving forward

This behind-the-scenes work is scheduled to go live in the first quarter of 2018, if all goes to plan.

But before then, additional tests and a series of integrations – both with the TIW itself and external parties – need to be executed.

Currently, the DTCC is working with regulators to align Axoni's built-in reporting database with regulatory requirements. According to Palatnick, the reports have to be as good as existing ones, but will be available on a continual basis as a result of the smart contract functionality.

Additionally, the DTCC is working with R3 and its network of over 100 global financial institution members to learn from standards-making bodies how to create "standards around what data should look like on a distributed ledger," he said.

Following the launch, Axoni intends to open-source the Axcore protocol.


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