Global rules needed to spur blockchain trading of assets, report says


FILE PHOTO: Representations of cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Ethereum, DogeCoin, Ripple, Litecoin are placed on PC motherboard in this illustration taken, June 29, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

(Reuters) - Trading stocks and bonds on blockchains at scale will remain a dream unless a global standard for cross-border activity is established that allows assets to move seamlessly across blockchains, according to a report published on Thursday.

So-called tokenised assets - which represent the underlying assets - are exchanged on distributed ledger technology (DLT) that are also used for cryptocurrencies. Banks hope tokenised asset trading takes off as a way to make trading faster, cheaper and more transparent.

However, a lack of cohesive global regulation is keeping assets from moving smoothly across different blockchains. Industry executives at an event in Amsterdam this week said progress on tokenising assets was moving slowly, and take-up so far is limited.

Client and compliance requirements vary too widely across the globe for a single, fixed solution to meet everyone's needs, said Georgios Vlachos, co-founder of blockchain interoperability firm Axelar, which co-authored the report.

"At the current state of things, different regulatory jurisdictions are progressing at different pace and have different focus areas," Vlachos said.

The report on blockchain-based trading was written by the Axelar Foundation and digital assets risk assessment firm Metrika, with contributions from Citi, Deutsche Bank, Mastercard and Northern Trust.

Deutsche Bank said in the report that it was essential to have industry-accepted approaches for risk assessments needed to facilitate adoption.

However, "standards developed too prematurely can deprive the industry of better developed solutions or become irrelevant," said Boon Hiong Chan, Deutsche Bank's Asia Pacific head of Securities & Technology Advocacy.

Northern Trust expects that by 2030 the size of its digital assets market will grow to between 5% and 10% of the $13 trillion of assets it holds under custody.

Currently about $85.12 billion worth of assets including government securities, fiat-back stablecoins and commodities are tokenised, according to data from 21.co dashboard on Dune Analytics.

(Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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