(Bloomberg) -- Schroders Plc is seeking to hire a third-party custodian for cryptocurrencies, people with knowledge of the matter said, as the £738 billion ($916 billion) asset manager prepares an expansion into digital assets.
Zodia Custody Ltd., majority owned by Standard Chartered Plc, is among the companies that have been shortlisted by Schroders as potential suppliers, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified discussing a confidential process.
While Schroders doesn’t currently have any direct exposure to cryptocurrency, the London-based firm took a step into the sector in July last year when it bought a minority stake in digital-asset manager Forteus. Schroders said at the time that it planned to “give clients access to Forteus capabilities where appropriate.”
Blockchain technology “represents a new frontier of technological and financial innovation,” Schroders Chief Executive Officer Peter Harrison said in the deal announcement. In its latest annual report published in March, Schroders said it was seeking to add a board member with experience in areas including fintech and crypto to replace outgoing director Damon Buffini. It appointed Iain Mackay, presently chief financial officer of GSK Plc and a former CFO for HSBC Holdings Plc, a month later.
“Given the potentially transformative impact blockchain technology may have, we want to broaden our understanding of the infrastructure that may be required to support evolving digital asset classes,” a spokesperson for Schroders said in an email, without commenting on hiring a crypto custodian. Schroders is “always researching” a range of areas, she said.
A spokesperson for Zodia declined to comment.
Some of the world’s largest financial firms are pushing into digital assets just as US regulators crack down on companies native to the sector after years of compliance lapses, scams and other scandals. In the latest escalation, the Securities and Exchange Commission this week sued Binance, the dominant crypto exchange, its Chief Executive Officer Changpeng Zhao as well as rival platform Coinbase Global Inc.
Read more: SEC Sues Binance and CEO Zhao for Breaking Securities Rules
Nasdaq Inc., Fidelity and BNY Mellon operate or are building their own digital-asset custodians, while interdealer broker TP ICAP launched a crypto spot trading venue last month. Other large financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Societe Generale SA have focused on developing ways through which crypto’s underlying blockchain technology can be used to improve the issuance and storage of traditional assets like stocks, bonds and funds.
As much as $5 trillion worth of traditional financial assets — such as non-financial corporate and quasi-sovereign debt, securities financing and private equity — could be tokenized by 2030, Citigroup Inc. said in a recent research note.
Read more: Citi Sees $5 Trillion in Digital Forms of Money by 2030
--With assistance from Loukia Gyftopoulou.
(Updates to note that a new board member was appointed in the fourth paragraph.)
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