Hong Kong Firm to Launch Crypto Custody Services to Meet Institutional Investor Demand

Omar Faridi
  • Hong Kong and Singapore-licensed Fusang Investment Office will soon offer crypto custodial services.
  • Fusang Investment CEO Henry Chong stated that “the way we keep digital assets secure is of paramount importance.”

Fusang Investment Office, an asset management firm serving private Asian family businesses, will reportedly launch cryptocurrency custodial services for in Hong Kong. The service will be called Fusang Vault, and it’s expected to be introduced in Q4 2018.

Fusang Investment CEO Henry Chong stated that partnering with an independent third party specializing in the crypto sector was required in order to offer the crypto-custody services, as it will need to hold and periodically audit clients’ digital assets.

The University of Oxford graduate noted that his company was planning on providing insurance services for its customers’ crypto assets. Speaking to the South China Morning Post, Chong said:

Digital assets are akin to bearer bonds, whereby whoever that is holding the security is presumed to be the owner and there is no registration of ownership information of the security. Hence, the way we keep digital asset secured is of paramount importance.

Henry Chong

Meanwhile, Jolyon Ellwood-Russell, partner at law firm Simmons & Simmons, said that crypto-custody services were not yet regulated. This means that if a user’s crypto funds are lost or stolen, then they will have to rely on only the terms and conditions of their custodian services contract.

He also stated that there were several issues not addressed in the custodial services contract:

For example, in what capacity are the custodians holding the assets? Are they holding them as a bailment, that is, a trust, so the assets are outside the estate of the custodian on an insolvency. Just having segregated accounts does not automatically mean that on an insolvency the investors assets will be protected or recoverable from a receiver or liquidator.”

Jolyon Ellwood-Russell

Institutional Investor Demand

Despite Jolyon’s skepticism regarding custodial services for digital assets, several crypto companies already offer them. Notably, institutional investors have been “waiting on the sidelines” when it comes to cryptos, partly because of a lack of custodial services.

San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase recently launched custodial services for cryptocurrencies in an attempt to tackle the problem. The company revealed their new service helps safeguard their clients’ assets by requiring multiple signers for all transactions.

The exchange’s crypto custody services also help customers keep their digital funds safe by setting withdrawal limits and providing audit trails. As recently covered, billionaire investor Mike Novogratz believes a “herd of institutional investors” is starting to move into crypto.

CNBC’s Brian Kelly Explains the ‘Huge Difference’ Between Libra and Bitcoin

On Tuesday (June 18), the day that Facebook unveiled Libra, its new global cryptocurrency,  CNBC's Brian Kelly, who is also the founder and CEO of crypto hedge fund BKCM LLC, explained the "huge difference" between Libra, which he thinks of as digital fiat, and Bitcoin, which he thinks of as digital gold, and said that this was the reason that he does not consider Libra to be a real cryptocurrency.

In a segment titled "Facebook Goes Full Crypto" on CNBC's "Fast Money" show, the host, Melissa Lee, asked Kelly to explain why he does consider Facebook's Libra to be a real cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin or Litecoin).

Kelly started his "crypto class" with a super simple explanation of how Libra works from the point of view of a user:

  • You exchange some of your local fiat currency (say, dollars) for Libra tokens
  • You can then pay for goods/services using your Libra tokens
  • Whenever you want, you can convert some/all of your Libra tokens back to fiat currency

This all sounds fine, but Kelly says that one unspoken truth here is that as a user you need to trust the Libra Association to do everything behind-the-scenes correctly and honestly. In contrast, he says, a real cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, is trustless. As Satoshi Nakamoto explained in the Bitcoin white paper (which is titled: "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System"), Bitcoin is "an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party."

According to Kelly, the main difference between Libra and Bitcoin is that Libra is trying to be essentially digital fiat (although he used the term "digital dollar" because he was addressing mainly a U.S. audience) and so it has all the "characteristics" of traditional fiat currencies, whereas Bitcoin is "digital gold" (and it is "probably a lot better than gold") and unlike Libra does not need a trusted third party, and to him "trustlessness" is what makes crypto "revolutionary". He said that this is why we can say that Libra "keeps the existing system" while Bitcoin "does away with it."

Kelly went on to say that Libra is not substantially different from systems such as PayPal or Venmo; it's the "next iteration of them". 

Meanwhile, David Marcus, who is the Co-Creator of the Libra currency and the Head of the Calibra project (a custodial wallet for Libra) at Facebook, thinks that it is wrong to compare Libra and Bitcoin since they do not belong to the same category:

One of the people who replied to Marcus' tweet was Dr. Saifedean Ammous, an economics professor and the author the book "The Bitcoin Standard":

 

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