In Brief:

  • As the digital asset custodian business expands, Huobi, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume has entered the custodian business.
  • The digital asset custody business is in many ways similar to the custodian business for equities — a neutral third-party to hold the asset as the deal settles.
  • In Asia, most of the industry is clustered in Hong Kong given the territory’s favourable rules.

Seychelles-based crypto exchange Huobi has announced it was getting into the digital asset custody business.

Huobi is initially targeting accredited investors and institutions and will let investors subscribe to various token offerings from its listed partners, with an investment minimum of 10 BTC, and a changing ceiling depending on the user’s risk profile.

Ciara Sun, head of global markets at Huobi Group, said in an interview with CoinTelegraph, “2020 will be an especially exciting year for the institutional market as compliance and regulation matures. We are already seeing big Wall Street stalwarts like Tower Research, Renaissance Technologies, and some of the world's top hedge funds publicly announce their entry into the digital asset market.” 


“In the eyes of traditional institutions, crypto is in its infancy as an asset class but exchanges like ours aim to help provide the liquidity and market depth required for crypto to be a viable investment option,” she continued. 

The crypto custody business in Asia

Within Asia, the custody business is clustered in Hong Kong as the region’s Securities and Futures Commission created a framework for the industry in late 2019. From there, a half-dozen custodian firms opened their doors such as Aegis Custody, OSL and Hex Trust.  In early 2020, Hong Kong saw its first entries into the market with Virtual Asset Manager Arrano Capital setting up shop. 

“As a designated approved virtual asset manager, we’re able to have portfolios that invest up to 100 percent in virtual assets,” said Avaneesh Acquilla, CIO of Arrano Capital, in an interview with Decrypt media partner Forkast. “I think we’re seeing the market very quickly shift from being a retail sort of early adopter market to being one that’s driven by large flows from institutions.”

Although cryptocurrency trading in mainland China is illegal, possession of crypto is not. To service the industry, as limited as it is in China, the country is home to the sole firm: Cobo Custody.


This story was produced in collaboration with our friends at Forkast, a content platform focused on emerging technology at the intersection of business, economy, and politics, from Asia to the world.

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