Cryptographic Combinatorial Securities Exchanges

  • Christopher Thorpe
  • David C. Parkes
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5628)


We present a useful new mechanism that facilitates the atomic exchange of many large baskets of securities in a combinatorial exchange. Cryptography prevents information about the securities in the baskets from being exploited, enhancing trust. Our exchange offers institutions who wish to trade large positions a new alternative to existing methods of block trading: they can reduce transaction costs by taking advantage of other institutions’ available liquidity, while third party liquidity providers guarantee execution—preserving their desired portfolio composition at all times. In our exchange, institutions submit encrypted orders which are crossed, leaving a “remainder”. The exchange proves facts about the portfolio risk of this remainder to third party liquidity providers without revealing the securities in the remainder, the knowledge of which could also be exploited. The third parties learn either (depending on the setting) the portfolio risk parameters of the remainder itself, or how their own portfolio risk would change if they were to incorporate the remainder into a portfolio they submit. In one setting, these third parties submit bids on the commission, and the winner supplies necessary liquidity for the entire exchange to clear. This guaranteed clearing, coupled with external price discovery from the primary markets for the securities, sidesteps difficult combinatorial optimization problems. This latter method of proving how taking on the remainder would change risk parameters of one’s own portfolio, without revealing the remainder’s contents or its own risk parameters, is a useful protocol of independent interest.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Thorpe
    • 1
  • David C. Parkes
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Engineering and Applied SciencesHarvard University 

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