HSBC will transfer $20 billion of assets to a custody blockchain platform and digitize the bank’s paper records of private placements, marking a major vote of confidence by a global bank in distributed-ledger technology.
The platform, known as Digital Vault, will allow investors real-time access to their records at a time when investment in the private-asset markets is predicted to grow significantly. The bank’s shift to Digital Vault will take place by March 2020.
Private placements are tailor-made transactions whose records have not moved from paper to electronic format because of the lack of standardization. HSBC currently holds up to $50 billion worth of these assets. However, the bank has not disclosed what savings, if any, it hopes to generate from the deployment. Despite HSBC’s decision, critics argue that blockchain technology remains unproven and restricted to niche applications.
But in a press release, Stephen Bayly, chief information officer of HSBC Securities Services, said, “Private assets are prime candidates for digitization and we see this platform as a key step on the journey as the model evolves.”