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HKEX launches Synapse to promote Stock Connect flows

The exchange debuts its blockchain-based platform to help investors keep pace with China’s settlement rules.



Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing has announced the launch of HKEX Synapse, a new settlement acceleration platform for its Stock Connect program. 

Using DAML smart contracts, HKEX Synapse will standardize and streamline the post-trade workflows of Northbound Stock Connect, maximizing efficiencies for market participants in a transparent, secure and reliable manner. Asset managers, brokers, global custodians, local custodians, and clearing participants will all benefit from the improved connectivity and enhanced capacity to handle the growing volume of trades flowing through Stock Connect.

HKEX is partnering with The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation to link HKEX Synapse to DTCC’s Institutional Trade Processing (ITP) services. With this integration, global investors and HKEX participants will be able to take advantage of the benefits of central matching of cross-border transactions on the Synapse platform, automating the trade confirmation and settlement notification process. Digital Asset has been selected as the vendor to develop HKEX Synapse.

HKEX Synapse will help institutional investors participating in Northbound Stock Connect to better manage their post-trade operations across different time zones, in particular with regard to adhering to the Mainland securities market’s T+0 settlement cycle.

“Synapse is our latest Stock Connect innovation and will be of major benefit to global investors when they trade through Northbound Stock Connect,” said Charles Li, HKEX chief executive.

Since its launch, institutional investors’ interest and participation in Northbound Stock Connect has grown significantly, especially following the inclusion of China’s A-shares in major global indexes. Stock Connect’s Northbound average daily turnover in the first three quarters this year has more than doubled from the same period of 2019, to a record Rmb90 billion. 

Mainland China’s tight settlement cycle has created the need for a more efficient settlement infrastructure, and HKEX Synapse will address this, helping investors to manage their portfolios and their risks.

“HKEX Synapse solves a major business problem for capital markets that legacy message-based approaches have not been able to address,” said Yuval Rooz, CEO & co-founder of Digital Asset. “Synapse uses DAML smart contracts to automate, update and synchronize information across the market in real time – ensuring errors can be caught, exceptions can be handled and that HKEX Northbound Stock Connect can continue to grow at the pace the market demands.”

DAML is a type of programming language used to build smart contracts. A smart contract is a computer program or a transaction protocol which is intended to automatically execute, control or document relevant events and actions.

By deploying DAML smart contracts, HKEX Synapse will be able to simultaneously create settlement instructions and provide status updates to all parties along the settlement chain, facilitating concurrent processing and greatly improving transparency for market participants. HKEX Synapse is an optional platform, and is expected to begin testing in 2021 with a group of pilot users, ahead of production deployment targeted for Q1 2022.

Upon launch, HKEX Synapse will extend Northbound Stock Connect’s global reach via DTCC’s ITP services, currently used by more than 6,000 clients across 52 markets globally, further realizing the potential of Stock Connect for China’s A-share market.

“Our ITP services are utilized by thousands of clients around the world, and we look forward to extending the benefits of our offerings to users of the Synapse platform,” said Mike Bodson, president and CEO at DTCC.

HKEX launched the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect program in 2014, further expanded with the launch of Shenzhen Connect in 2016, and the launch of Bond Connect in 2017.

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