HSBC (HSBA.L) announced on Wednesday that it plans to launch a custody service in 2024 for storing blockchain-based assets excluding cryptocurrency. The service, which is a partnership with Swiss digital asset firm Metaco, will allow institutional clients to store tokens representing traditional financial assets as opposed to crypto or stablecoins.
Last week, the bank revealed it had made tokens representing physical gold held in its London Vault. Last year, HSBC also launched a digital asset platform, HSBC Orion, which allows financial institutions to issue blockchain-based versions of financial assets, also known as tokenised securities.
Zhu Kuang Lee, chief digital, data and innovation officer at HSBC, said, “We’re seeing increasing demand for custody and fund administration of digital assets from asset managers and asset owners, as this market continues to evolve.”
Blockchain is a digital ledger that records ownership of tokens. It has not seen widespread adoption yet, but proponents say it has the potential to make trading more efficient and transparent. So far, its main use-case has been cryptocurrencies, which remain a relatively small part of the global financial system. The value of all cryptocurrencies is around $1.4 trillion, down from a peak above $3 trillion in late 2021, according to CoinGecko data. HSBC didn’t give a figure for the size of the market for blockchain-based assets excluding cryptocurrencies.
Banks and other financial firms have invested billions of dollars into finding uses for blockchain. In 2019, HSBC announced a platform called Digital Vault, which allows investors to access digital records of securities bought on private markets.
Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft Editing by Sinead Cruise and Mark Potter, The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.