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Realising the importance of growing global acceptance of cryptocurrency, a unit of Standard Chartered PLC aims to establish a cryptocurrency brokerage and exchange platform in Britain and Europe.

The bank said that the target of the platform will be institutional clients. It will be a joint venture between the bank’s innovation arm SC Ventures and BC Technology Group, which operates Hong Kong-licensed cryptocurrency exchange OSL.

The move from Asia, Africa and Middle East-focused StanChart is one of the strongest endorsements yet from a mainstream lender for cryptocurrencies, as global banks juggle clients’ interest in the digital coins with concerns about their risks.

BC Group Chief Information Officer Usman Ahmad will be CEO of the new company, and Nick Philpott of SC Ventures will be COO. The joint venture will be underpinned by BC Group’s leading OSL digital-asset technology and Standard Chartered’s global network and experience in brokerage and providing access to European markets.

The new platform of the bank will target the European market, connecting institutional traders with counterparties trading bitcoin, ether and other digital assets, the bank said.

The move marks a contrast with StanChart rival HSBC, whose chief executive told Reuters last month the bank has no plans to launch a trading desk for cryptocurrencies.

“We have a strong conviction that digital assets are here to stay and will be adopted by the institutional market as a highly relevant asset class,” said Alex Manson of SC Ventures. OSL was the first crypto exchange to be licensed by Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission.

BC Group’s OSL digital asset business CEO Wayne Trench said the company is thrilled to enter into this partnership to make secure and compliant digital asset trading more accessible to institutional investors in Europe.

“Standard Chartered and SC Ventures are known globally as leaders in fintech innovation and banking, and the partnership fits with our geographical expansion and growth strategy as it allows OSL to rapidly enter the European market with a leading partner,” said Wayne Trench.

The JV further cements Standard Chartered and BC Group as leaders in the development of global digital-asset infrastructure. In December 2020, SC Ventures announced a strategic partnership with Northern Trust to launch Zodia Custody[3], an institutional-grade custody solution for digital assets.

BC Group is the parent company of OSL, Asia’s leading digital asset platform, which in December 2020 was the first firm to receive a Type 1 (dealing in securities) and 7 (automated trading service), from the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). It is now the world’s first SFC-licensed, listed, digital asset wallet-insured, Big-4 audited digital asset trading platform for institutions and professional investors.

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