AAX Builds World-Class Cryptocurrency Exchange on AWS


By building its AAX platform on AWS, Atom International Technology has ensured security by design and achieved latency targets below 500 microseconds. AAX is a trading platform bringing institutional-grade performance to retail investors and providing access to digital assets such as cryptocurrency for institutional investors. The platform uses Amazon GuardDuty for intelligent threat monitoring, AWS KMS for securing blockchain keys, and Amazon RDS for automating management of open source databases


We are impressed by the level of security advice that is available to us from AWS on how to best deploy our systems on the AWS Cloud.”

Atom International Technology,
Michael Wong, Chief Operating Officer

Open Trading for Digital Assets

As the market for cryptocurrencies develops, many institutional investors are seeking secure ways to get involved. Atom Asset Exchange (AAX), which was developed as an open trading platform for digital assets was the first digital asset exchange using Millennium Exchange™ matching engine technology from LSEG Technology. It was also the first time that LSEG Technology had deployed its trading solution in the cloud. AAX’s mission is twofold: to bring institutional-grade practices to retail trading and to make crypto assets available to institutional investors.

“AAX aims to bring the integrity, performance, and security of traditional markets to both retail and institutional users. We hope to put our users at ease with the knowledge and confidence that they can trade in crypto markets on a safe and trusted platform,” explains Michael Wong, chief operating officer. “LSEG Technology’s matching engine deployed at AAX has been proven by usage in more than 40 traditional finance markets and exchanges.”

Top Choice for Fintech

When Atom was setting up AAX, it found that Amazon Web Services (AWS) was a natural choice for the development portion of the platform because most of the team had AWS experience. AWS account teams provided references from other financial services organizations using the AWS Cloud, and AAX’s leadership was impressed by the spectrum of financial services firms presented at a local AWS conference—from international banks to other crypto currency exchanges.

For backend services, including the matching engine, AAX ultimately chose AWS for agility. Crypto markets are rapidly changing, with new regulations and emerging markets surfacing monthly. “We decided to use AWS for production to have the flexibility to launch new services quickly and choose which geographies to operate out of,” Wong says. “AWS also gives us the ability to scale, so if we need to add computation power to increase volume and performance, we can do that within minutes.” AAX currently runs out of 2 of AWS’s 22 Regions, with an eye to future expansion; its architecture is set up to handle a twentyfold spike in anticipated trading volume each day.

Security by Design

Security is a core design point of AAX. Engineers use Amazon GuardDuty for intelligent threat detection and are working with AWS Enterprise Support on how best to implement AWS Identity and Access Management (AWS IAM) to bolster platform gateways. AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS) has proven especially relevant for cryptocurrency and blockchain use cases. “We are impressed by the level of security advice that is available to us from AWS on how to best deploy our systems on the AWS Cloud. We are dedicated to adopting the best available security solutions to protect our users,” Wong shares.

To obtain international clients and trade across borders, AAX must be compliant with standards such as ISO 27001, in which AWS is already certified. “It is really valuable to us that AWS has these types of certifications, where there is functionality built in that also supports regulatory compliance such as GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation],” Wong says.

Most of the platform’s development work is done using a mix of proprietary tools and open source technology such as Kafka and Java. When setting up AAX, the team used AWS SDK for Java to provide Java application program interfaces for AWS services and leveraged Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) and Amazon ElastiCache to handle a huge volume of transactions in real time.


Institutional-Grade Performance

The AAX development team has recorded latencies as low as 90 microseconds, with an average of under 500 microseconds. According to Wong, AAX is believed to be the fastest among cryptocurrency exchanges and the platform is capable of servicing tens of thousands of transactions per second at a sustained rate. Management has set high performance targets since the platform’s inception.

And, because AAX uses multiple Amazon Virtual Private Clouds (Amazon VPCs), its architecture can scale horizontally as demand grows. “We’ve benefited from AWS technology as we’ve been able to spread some of our workloads across Availability Zones. In the event of a failure, we can continue to run the service seamlessly,” Wong says.

Commercial Support to Optimize Spend

By consulting with AWS experts, AAX has conducted continual AWS Well-Architected reviews to ensure its platform is built using industry best practices. This has helped the company maintain its target development pace to achieve AAX’s launch in 2019. It has also benefited from a costing structure that starts low and grows only as the operation expands. “We worked with our AWS account team to review our development road map from day one. We also made careful plans that looked at how we could effectively predict where our highest costs would be and what sort of time frames would be realistic, and we managed all of that collectively,” Wong shares.

AAX started with just five people and a few virtual machines but has expanded to more than 70 staff in a year and a half. As it’s grown, the company has added development and testing environments, user acceptance testing, and its production environment in the ramp-up to launch. “AWS has provided us with not only platform flexibility but also commercial support, with their teams helping to evaluate and optimize our costs along the way,” Wong adds.

Launched in November 2019, AAX continues to experience a growing amount of trading activity from retail users, with several institutional investors also expressing interest in the platform. With its impressive performance figures, AAX is certain to shake up markets as the next-generation cryptocurrency exchange.

About Atom Asset Exchange (AAX)

Atom International Technology, a global fintech based in Hong Kong, built AAX—the world’s first cryptocurrency exchange powered by LSEG Technology. AAX is an institutional-grade trading platform that brings the security and integrity of a first-tier matching engine to retail investors while opening the cryptocurrency market to institutional investors.

Benefits of AWS

  • Agility to add features and make changes within minutes
  • Complies with ISO27001, GDPR regulations, and secure trading framework
  • Scales to accommodate a 20-fold increase in anticipated daily trading
  • Controls costs to increase only as the company grows
  • Ensures timelines are met and architecture is built using best practices

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AWS Services Used

Amazon GuardDuty

Amazon GuardDuty is a threat detection service that continuously monitors for malicious activity and unauthorized behavior to protect your AWS accounts and workloads. With the cloud, the collection and aggregation of account and network activities is simplified, but it can be time consuming for security teams to continuously analyze event log data for potential threats.

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AWS Key Management Service

AWS Key Management Service (KMS) makes it easy for you to create and manage cryptographic keys and control their use across a wide range of AWS services and in your applications. AWS KMS is integrated with AWS CloudTrail to provide you with logs of all key usage to help meet your regulatory and compliance needs.

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Amazon Relational Database Service

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud. It provides cost-efficient and resizable capacity while automating time-consuming administration tasks such as hardware provisioning, database setup, patching and backups.

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Amazon ElastiCache

Amazon ElastiCache allows you to seamlessly set up, run, and scale popular open-Source compatible in-memory data stores in the cloud. Build data-intensive apps or boost the performance of your existing databases by retrieving data from high throughput and low latency in-memory data stores.

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