This is part III in a series on distributed ledger technology in capital markets. Part I looks at startup-driven projects and part II focuses on corporates making moves in the space.

DLT capital markets initiatives rely on blockchain networks like Ethereum and Corda to function. We look at which types of networks are attracting startups and corporates and why. This research was done in partnership with Blockdata.

As blockchain tech gains commercial traction, a growing number of companies want to use it to reimagine the capital markets infrastructure that powers the trade of stocks, bonds, and other securities.

There are a variety of distributed ledger tech (DLT) networks already in use by fast-moving startups and incumbents looking to shake up capital markets. These systems use blockchain-based platforms like Bitcoin and Ethereum to store, distribute, and exchange value — providing crucial infrastructure for a DLT-driven capital markets economy.

Below, we break down which DLT networks are most popular among corporates (including enterprises like financial institutions and tech incumbents) and projects (blockchain initiatives managed by small companies like startups).

The chart above shows the core blockchain tech being used by projects and corporates working on DLT applications for capital markets. The “Other” category represents any blockchain tech being used by 3 or fewer projects/corporates. 


Projects are turning to publicly accessible networks like Ethereum and Bitcoin

Ethereum and Bitcoin are the most popular networks for startup-run projects — for instance, among the capital markets blockchain initiatives that use Ethereum, roughly 80% are projects.

These networks are “permissionless,” which means that anyone can participate. There are several reasons why projects may tend to choose permissionless networks.

First, there are numerous services already being offered on these public networks, including many focused on security, which projects may benefit from.

Second, many public networks offer large communities — equipped with established digital currencies like bitcoin — that projects may hope to tap into to speed up growth.

Many corporates prefer permissioned DLT networks

Corda and Hyperledger Fabric are the most popular DLT infrastructure providers among corporates.

Other infrastructure projects that have gained traction with corporates include Digital Asset’s DAML (which allows corporates to deploy on various networks) and Axoni’s AxCore, which is specifically intended for capital markets.

These networks are “permissioned,” which means they have a gatekeeper that can either allow or deny participation in the network. Corporates tend toward permissioned networks because their DLT services are being built for use cases that require high levels of privacy — such as facilitating financial transactions between a closed group.

Use cases ultimately drive the choice of DLT network

Not all startups have chosen permissionless networks for their services. For instance, a significant proportion of capital markets initiatives using Corda (a permissioned network) are being built by startup-managed projects.

The choice of DLT network is highly dependent on the industry and use case being targeted. If a project wants to integrate seamlessly with a corporate network, for example, it may use a permissioned network in order to adhere to the requisite privacy protocols and infrastructure.

This rationale also applies to corporate DLT initiatives. For example, Banco Santander used Ethereum’s permissionless network to issue and redeem a $20M bond in 2019.


The DLT networks presented below are used by at least 4 corporates or projects to build capital markets infrastructure services. Each DLT network is listed alongside the organization that manages it. The table is ordered alphabetically by network name.

This report was created with data from CB Insights’ emerging technology insights platform, which offers clarity into emerging tech and new business strategies through tools like: