BNY Mellon CEO Robin Vince says “client demand” was the “tipping point” that ultimately led to the bank’s launch of institutional-focused crypto services last week.
BNY Mellon, America’s oldest bank, became the first large bank in the country to offer custody of institutional clients’ Ether (ETH) and Bitcoin (BTC) on Oct. 11.
In an Oct. 17 conference call following the release of its third quarter earnings, Vince pointed to a survey commissioned by the bank this year, which found that 91% of large institutional asset managers, asset owners and hedge funds were interested in investing in some type of tokenized asset within the next few years.
“About 40% of them already hold crypto in their portfolios. About 75% of them are actively investing or exploring investing in digital assets,” he said, adding:
“And so what we heard from our clients is they want institutional grade solutions in the space.”
The new custody service was launched last week, allowing select institutional clients to hold and transfer Bitcoin and Ether on the same platform they manage their stocks and bonds.
Vince said that the digital asset custody solution was not created “just for the purpose” of custody crypto and that the bank sees it “as the beginning of a much broader journey.”
During the call, Vince said he envisioned the tokenization of “all kinds of assets and currencies,” including traditional financial assets as well as assets that “haven’t been as easy to manage in the financial system,” commenting:
“Some of those things could be much better managed using tokens.”
Examples he mentioned included commodities, real estate, forests, and certificates relating to environmental, social and governance issues.
However, the BNY Mellon CEO said it could be years or even decades before the industry could see full adoption of tokenized assets.
“I’m not going to put an exact time scale on it […] But we thought that with a longer-term view this was an important space,” he said.
He also noted that they’re not spending a “ton” of money on the space, but will instead be investing in “smart” places in the ecosystem.
The bank, which has $43 trillion in assets under management as of 2022, had been playing with the idea of allowing clients to transfer and issue Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as early as February 2021 during the bull run for the asset class.