State Street Bank Launches Cryptocurrency Division

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State Street, the U.S. custody bank that oversees about $40 trillion in assets, has launched a cryptocurrency division.

The new unit, State Street Digital, will be led by executive vice president Nadine Chakar, who will report to Lou Maiuri, the bank’s chief operating officer, State Street said in a press release.

State Street said it is expanding its digital reach to include crypto, central bank digital currency, blockchain and tokenization. The bank will upgrade its existing GlobalLink platform into a multi-asset digital trading system.

Related: Anchorage to Offer Ethereum-Backed Loans Through BankProv

In April, CoinDesk reported that State Street was working on a new bank-grade trading platform for digital assets set to go live midyear through a partnership between the bank’s Currenex trading technology and London-based Pure Digital, which makes infrastructure for foreign-exchange trading plaforms. 

But at that time, State Street representatives played down any possibilities the bank might be using the platform to trade crypto itself.

That seems to have changed.

“Digital assets are quickly becoming integrated into the existing framework of financial services, and it is critical we have the tools in place to provide our clients with solutions for both their traditional investment needs as well as their increased digital needs,” State Street CEO Ron O’Hanley said in the press release.

Related: UK’s Starling Bank to Lift Ban Blocking Payments to Crypto Exchanges in 3 Weeks

State Street has been edging closer to crypto of late. In April, the bank was appointed as the administrator of a planned bitcoin-backed exchange-traded note (ETN) initiated by Iconic Funds BTC ETN GmbH, a unit of Iconic Funds GmbH, a holding company that manages crypto investments.

Just prior to that, State Street was appointed as the fund administrator and transfer agent of the VanEck Bitcoin Trust, an exchange-traded fund whose launch depends on whether the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approves crypto ETFs.

A source in the crypto custody market said State Street is playing catch-up.

“When BNY Mellon entered the crypto custody space, that pretty much forced State Street to get involved,” the source said.

In February, BNY Mellon announced it is starting a digital custody unit later this year.

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