Cornelius Wilson invented the time stamp, and his company, the Automatic Time Stamp Company of Boston, Massachusetts, produced it in 1880. Wilson’s time stamp recorded the time, day, month, year, type of transaction, company name, and some user-specific identifying characters. This machine was initially used in commercial or industrial settings like stores or factories. Since then, times stamps have become critical in the financial services environment, and ANSI X9.95-2022: Trusted Time Stamp Management And Security specifies those security requirements.
What Is a Time Stamp?
Time stamps are a digital record, sequence of characters, or encoded information, that identifies the time and date-of a certain event. The term ‘timestamp’ derives from rubber stamps used in offices to stamp and record the current date, and they occasionally would time (in ink on paper documents) when those documents were received. Examples of a rubber stamp as a type of timestamp include a postmark on a letter or the “in” and “out” times on a time card. In modern times, when an event is timestamped (i.e., entered into a log file), it means a computer records the time and date of an event, or sometimes a sequence of events.
Here are some examples of timestamps:
- Tue 04-19-2019 3:00
- 2015-08-30 T 10:23 UTC
- Sat Jul 12 06:13:33 2020
- (1969-07-21 T 02:56 UTC) – Neil Armstrong’s first footstep on the Moon
- 08:16, 17 February 2022 (UTC)
- Thurs 01-01-2009 6:00.
- 2005-10-30 T 10:45 UTC.
- 2007-11-09 T 11:20 UTC.
- Fri Jul 05 08:04:49 2021.
- 1256953732 (Unix time, equivalent to 2009-10-31T01:48:52Z)
- 11:36, 12 December 2016 (UTC)
What Is ANSI X9.95-2022?
ANSI X9.95-2022 specifies security requirements for the effective use of time stamps in a financial services environment. This American National Standard provides guidelines for the secure management of the time stamp token across its life cycle, comprised of the generation, transmission and storage, validation, and renewal processes.
The requirements in ANSI X9.95-2022 identify the means to securely distribute time from a national source down to the application level, the secure management of a Time Stamp Authority (TSA), and usage of time stamp technology. The purpose of this standard is to promote interoperability of TSA and time stamp tokens (TST) for providing data integrity, where data has not been altered or destroyed, that is verifiable to a time stamp.
Why Is Time Stamping Useful in Finance?
Time stamping in financial services allows banks, stock exchanges, investment firms, and fintech companies to keep records of events that take place in a particular moment. Time stamping helps validate actions like exchanges, transactions, and high-frequency trading in financial services. High-frequency traders and brokers need microsecond speeds that are consistent throughout their automatic trading platforms.
Inaccurate time stamping could result in cancelled transactions that are expensive to finance firms. To mitigate this risk, global financial regulations, such as Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II) in Europe and the Consolidation Audit Trail (CAT) in the USA, have sought to ensure server clocks synchronization is accurate to within 100 microseconds of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Resilient, traceable, consistent, and accurate clock synchronization allows for definitive direction on how to device solutions and address problems that are occurred in that specific time-period. Time stamping is also becoming more important as society moves toward cloud-based networks.
ANSI X9.95-2022: Trusted Time Stamp Management And Security is available on the ANSI Webstore.