A “network connectivity issue” involving a next-generation trading system from Nasdaq OMX Group took down the $1.2 trillion Australian Securities Exchange for four hours Thursday.

The Australian exchange, with one trading day left as a monopoly, said its ASX Trade platform went down just after 10:05 a.m. local time. Trading did not resume until 2 p.m.

The exchange halted trading “due to a network connectivity issue that prevented participants from interacting with the trading platform.” 

The ASX Trade platform, rolled out late last year, is “powered by” Nasdaq OMX’s Genium INET technology. The two firms billed the launch as “providing the fastest integrated equities and derivatives trading platform in the world.”

The Genium INET platform promises “high reliability” as well as speed and capacity improvements.

ASX said its technical team with its technology provider – Nasdaq OMX – to resolve the issue.

“We are working closely with ASX to resolve the issue and identify the root cause,’’ a Nasdaq spokesperson said.

ASX Trade went live on November 29. At the time, ASX also expanded its co-location facilities, where trading firms can put their servers close to its matching engines. The exchange also is in the process of opening a “new and enlarged data centre” by the end of this year.

On Monday, the ASX faces competition for the first time – from a rival that specializes in operating high-speed, all-electronic alternative marketplaces around the globe.

Chi-X Australia will commence operations on October 31 – Halloween. The “soft launch” will permit trading in eight securities. Later, trading will be permitted in all Standard& Poor’s ASX 200 component securities and ASX-listed ETFs.

Chi-X Australia’s chief executive said this kind of network-based outage would not occur with the systems it has put in place.

Peter Fowler, CEO of Chi-X Australia and a former ASX executive, told The Australian “we would be able to carry on trading” in such a circumstance.

Chi-X’s trading system is reached via smart order routers in brokers’ offices and has backup connections and redundancies that would have allowed it to “work around” the problem experienced by ASX.

The connectivity issue was not related to the introduction of competition next week, and will not affect ASX’s ability to provide the clearing, settlement and other services necessary to support the launch of Chi-X, the exchange operator said in a formal statement.

“Today ASX did not meet the high standards that we set for ourselves and that our customers expect,'' said Elmer Funke Kupper, ASX Managing Director and CEO, after what appeared to be the venue's worst outage in decades.

“ASX has a strong reputation for the quality and reliability of its systems, and this incident gave me a first-hand experience of the way our technical team resolves significant issues,'' he said, in the formal statement. "As the new Chief Executive of the company I am committed to the continued investment in our systems to ensure we deliver world-class products, latency and reliability.”

Funke Kupper was appointed chief executive on August 26.

At the time that the ASX rolled out ASX based on the Genium INET technology, ASX Group Executive for Technology Jeff Olsson said: "ASX Trade offers market participants a trading experience as fast and efficient as anywhere in the world.”

ASX, he said, was operating 100 times faster than at the end of 2008. The latency on taking orders was cut from 300 millionths of a second then, to 30 millionths.

Capacity was increased from 20,000 orders a second to 100,000.

The Australian market appeared to be buoyant, after the announcement of European leaders agreeing on a stepped-up plan to stem its debt crisis.

Nasdaq OMX Group derived $46 million from the sales of market technology and related services to exchanges around the world, in its most recent fiscal quarter.

Its technology supports the operations of more than 70 exchanges, clearing organizations and central securities depositories across more than 50 countries.

-- This article first appeared on Securities Technology Monitor.