Can securities be settled on a blockchain and, if so, what are the gains relative to existing settlement systems? We consider a blockchain that ensures delivery versus payment by linking transfers of assets with payments and operates using a proof-of-work protocol. The main benefit of a blockchain is faster and more flexible settlement, whereas the challenge is to avoid settlement fails when participants fork the chain to get rid of trading losses.
A blockchain is a digital ledger that keeps track of a record of ownership without the need for a designated party to update and enforce changes to the record. The updating of the ledger is done directly by the users of the blockchain and is traditionally governed by a proof-of-work (PoW) protocol.
We study the trading dynamics in an asset market where the quality of assets is private information of the owner and finding a counterparty takes time. When trading of a financial asset ceases in equilibrium as a response to an adverse shock to asset quality, a large player can resurrect the market by buying up lemons which involves assuming financial losses.