Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) Applications in Payment, Clearing, and Settlement Systems
: A Study of Blockchain-Based Payment Barriers and Potential Solutions, and DLT Application in Central Bank Payment System Functions

  • Damaris Macharia

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Payment, clearing, and settlement systems are essential components of the financial markets and exert considerable influence on the overall economy. While there have been considerable technological advancements in payment systems, the conventional systems still depend on centralized architecture, with inherent limitations and risks. The emergence of Distributed ledger technology (DLT) is being regarded as a potential solution to transform payment and settlement processes and address certain challenges posed by the centralized architecture of traditional payment systems (Bank for International Settlements, 2017). While proof-of-concept projects have demonstrated the technical feasibility of DLT, significant barriers still hinder its adoption and implementation.

The overarching objective of this thesis is to contribute to the developing area of DLT application in payment, clearing and settlement systems, which is still in its initial stages of applications development and lacks a substantial body of scholarly literature and empirical research. This is achieved by identifying the socio-technical barriers to adoption and diffusion of blockchain-based payment systems and the solutions proposed to address them. Furthermore, the thesis examines and classifies various applications of DLT in central bank payment system functions, offering valuable insights into the motivations, DLT platforms used, and consensus algorithms for applicable use cases. To achieve these objectives, the methodology employed involved a systematic literature review (SLR) of academic literature on blockchain-based payment systems. Furthermore, we utilized a thematic analysis approach to examine data collected from various sources regarding the use of DLT applications in central bank payment system functions, such as central bank white papers, industry reports, and policy documents.

The study's findings on blockchain-based payment systems barriers and proposed solutions; challenge the prevailing emphasis on technological and regulatory barriers in the literature and industry discourse regarding the adoption and implementation of blockchain-based payment systems. It highlights the importance of considering the broader socio-technical context and identifying barriers across all five dimensions of the social technical framework, including technological, infrastructural, user practices/market, regulatory, and cultural dimensions.

Furthermore, the research identified seven DLT applications in central bank payment system functions. These are grouped into three overarching themes: central banks' operational responsibilities in payment and settlement systems, issuance of central bank digital money, and regulatory oversight/supervisory functions, along with other ancillary functions. Each of these applications has unique motivations or value proposition, which is the underlying reason for utilizing in that particular use case.
Date of Award28 Nov 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorArtur Semeyutin (Main Supervisor) & Said Kaawach (Co-Supervisor)

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