The State of Delaware just took a historic step toward ensuring that US stock exchanges will soon be violently disrupted by blockchain technology - possibly to the extent of being rendered obsolete. CoinDesk reports that lawmakers in the state’s general assembly passed a law that makes explicit the right to trade stocks on a blockchain. Details of the bill are still emerging. One source indicated that the bill passed with near unanimity, with a single vote against. The vote was widely considered to be the final obstacle to state adoption, following the passage of the bill in the Senate earlier this month. The measure, which was added to another bill in the form of an amendment, is expected to be signed in to law by Delaware Gov. John Carney by the end of the month, with the ruling going into effect on Aug. 1.
Developed under the close guidance of blockchain lawyer Marco Santori of Cooley LLP and Caitlin Long of blockchain startup Symbiont, the bill is expected to pave the way for potentially large-scale issuance of stock on a blockchain. By trading stock on a blockchain or similar distributed ledgers, users can cut out middlemen like the exchanges and ATSs that profit by facilitating trades, resulting in significantly faster settlement times. The bill was introduced last year by the previous governor, Jack Markell, following requests made by multiple companies for the legislation – which was already lenient to blockchain stocks – to make explicit the legality of such issuances, according to CoinDesk's sources.
“This is big for Delaware,” Symbiont's Long told CoinDesk, further explaining the potential benefits of the amendments:”
Chair of the corporate law section of the Delaware bar association, Matthew O'Toole, told CoinDesk he expects the state's governor, John Carney, to sign the bill into law by the end of July, with an effective date of 1st August.
In an email to CoinDesk, O'Toole said the vote "keeps Delaware at the forefront of corporate law and in the lead in terms of enabling the use of 'distributed ledger shares'." He added: "We look forward to helping Delaware corporations enjoy the benefits of this innovative new amalgamation of law and technology."
Blockchain-based trading systems are inching closer to becoming a reality. Two years ago, Nasdaq OMX Group said it would use blockchain technology to power trading in shares of privately held companies on its Nasdaq Private Market platform. The company said at the time that private-share trading was particularly ripe for disruption because of the heavy volume of paperwork involved in recording and settling the transactions. Assuming Carney signs the bill, like CoinDesk expects, the measure should pave the way for US companies – many of which are legally based in the state – to begin listing shares on blockchain-based distributed ledgers. One source told CD that the bill "keeps Delaware at the forefront of corporate law and in the lead in terms of enabling the use of 'distributed ledger shares'."