More precisely, financiers are interested in the information system underlying bitcoins: the blockchain, a distributed ledger that everyone can access but which no single user controls. The record of every bitcoin transaction is preserved in the computers of the participants, and is updated with every new entry. This greatly reduces the risk of fraud and errors because the only way to tamper with the distributed ledger would be to seize control of most of the computers holding the blockchain in their memories.
Enthusiasts also argue that blockchain allows for the direct transfer of ownership of securities almost instantaneously. Encrypted, digital representations of share certificates could be inserted into minute bitcoin transactions, facilitating an immediate, verifiable transfer of shares from seller to buyer.
Nasdaq is trialling blockchain in its Private Market, a platform for trading shares in tightly held private companies. The hope is that blockchain will enable trades to be cleared in less than an hour, compared with the laborious process that requires three days for shares, and up to several weeks for more complex financial products.
Some see blockchain as the key to achieving the longstanding dream in the securities market of achieving real-time settlement. This would help reduce risks that counterparties will fail