“Instead of having the financial economy we see today with a lot of intermediaries, local custodians and global banks, this could all be replaced by a peer-to-peer community. It’s a massive revolution that probably will happen to our financial industry.”

Nasdaq’s Johan Toll became a blockchain expert almost by accident. In April of 2014 he sent an article about blockchain from a Swedish technology magazine around to his business unit, saying, “I think this is something interesting we should start looking into.” A couple of weeks later someone from sales called him and said he had a client who was interested in blockchain, and Toll had to get up to speed fast. He is now in charge of blockchain business development for Nasdaq.

He said blockchain solves the problem of double spending. It would be great if we could share money the way we share photos on the Internet, but when you share something that way you send a copy and keep a copy. With blockchain, the money would be removed from your account and sent directly into someone else’s, but, as with the Internet, it is done without any central counterparty.

Toll and Nasdaq see blockchain as having the potential to completely “change Wall Street,” offering a new way of doing business that cuts out the intermediaries completely. It could also streamline 30-year-old processes that are still being used today, especially on the post-trade side, in the issuance and settlement of securities, Toll said.

Nasdaq already launched its first blockchain application in 2015, and this year is planning to release a couple of new solutions. The company has always “liked to be the innovator,” and Toll says blockchain is the next biggest innovation disrupting the industry.

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