Performance testing of distributed ledger technology

The last few years have seen huge investment into software that brings distributed ledger technology (DLT) to financial markets, but it remains unclear as to whether it will be fit for purpose. In particular, it remains to be demonstrated that DLT is capable of working in intensely demanding, high throughput environments, suitable for financial markets.

It is reasonable to be sceptical about performance in this space. Cryptocurrencies are famously slow, some functioning at less than ten transactions per second. Most other DLT implementations are not as significantly limited, but still can be slow due to inherent features of their design. Global consensus algorithms restrict the performance of some blockchain platforms; smart contract execution can also be a performance constraint. But it is worth recognizing that the public blockchains that suffer most from slowness are aiming to solve different problems to private, permissioned DLT solutions designed for financial services, and so the latter do not necessarily share their restrictions.

To know whether DLT can cope with the demanding environments of financial services, we need to determine the characteristics of those demands. What does it mean to be performant? And what does “transactions per second” (TPS) really mean?

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