"Flash Boys" heroes aiming to create new gold exchange using blockchain technology

Jessica Morris
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Gold bars are displayed at Shinhan Bank
The gold market is worth $5 trillion-a-year (Source: Getty)

The hero in financial journalist Michael Lewis' bombshell "Flash Boys" book, exchange IEX, is turning its watchful eye to the gold market which it wants to revolutionise with the help of blockchain technology.

IEX shot to fame as the private trading venue, also known as a dark pool, which challenged high frequency traders who it believed were rigging the $24 trillion (£18 trillion) US stock market in Lewis' book published in 2014.

Read more: Flash Boy firm Virtu set to launch new flotation bid to raise $314m

High frequency trading (HFT) uses computer algorithms to make vast numbers of big, ultra-fast trades. Critics say this gives them an unfair advantage, but others believe it improves liquidity and makes prices more accurate.

Now, IEX wants to do the same in the more than $5 trillion-a-year gold market with a new exchange being created by its spinoff TradeWind Markets, Reuters reported.

Matt Harris, a managing director at Bain Capital Ventures which has an investment in IEX, told Reuters that the group is planning a gold exchange using elements of blockchain technology to improve transparency.

Blockchain technology processes transactions for all members of a database almost in real-time. Crucially, it cannot be tampered with, because complex mathematical equations prevent it from being faked or manipulated.

Read more: Bank of England says high frequency trading helps markets

Harris said of the gold market: "It's too slow, it's opaque as to who owns what and when along the way, and there's lots of room for error that requires manual reconciliation.

"A system that was instantly self-reconciling and 100 per cent transparent would solve a lot of problems."

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