Standard Chartered’s crypto arm receives Irish license

abdelaziz Fathi

Zodia Markets, the digital asset arm of Standard Chartered, has secured registration as a Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) from Ireland’s central bank, marking a foothold in the EU’s crypto landscape.

Standard Chartered

This fresh nod grants Zodia the authority to extend over-the-counter (OTC) crypto trading and exchange services specifically to institutional clientele, as stated in their press release.

The company had previously received similar permissions in the United Kingdom last year and in Abu Dhabi just last month. With the recent registration in Ireland, Zodia Markets now possesses a licensed entity within the European Union as the bloc gears up for the full-fledged roll-out of its Markets in Cryptoassets Regulation (MiCA). Once MiCA takes effect by the end of 2024, entities licensed in any member state will, in essence, find it more seamless to operate across the entire bloc.

Ireland has become an attractive choice for cryptocurrency companies looking to establish a presence, possibly due to its favorable tax environment. Most recently, Coinbase chose the country as its operational and regulatory hub in Europe as part of its expansion plans.

From Dublin, Coinbase will be able to build and launch products and services for the European customer base. Additionally, the exchange operator can build strategic relationships with the global banks, particularly as the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit is still weighing on the ecosystem.

Ireland’s allure as the go-to hub for crypto operations in Europe is only intensifying, with Ripple and a slew of other crypto players also on the hunt for licenses in the country, eyeing expansive EU maneuvers.

Michael Walsh, CEO of Zodia Markets Ireland and Head of Distribution, said: “VASP registration is an exciting development for Zodia Markets, and we’re delighted to be part of the burgeoning Irish digital assets ecosystem. The registration will act as a launchpad for the business to enter the EU, a market where we see significant opportunity and demand for our offering, and it paves the way for future MiCA authorisation when the regulations are implemented. We believe our VASP registration is further testament to the highest standards of compliance, security and risk procedures that run throughout the business, and which make us a trusted partner for our clients.”

While there’s a growing trend among traditional banks to embrace digital assets, Standard Chartered’s approach is more nuanced. In the wake of failed systems like Signature Bank’s Signet and the Silvergate Settlement Network, the bank may be eyeing the creation of crypto settlement mechanisms. Such a move would offer improved settlement efficiency and cost management for the institution.

SC’s custodial services, aimed at institutional clientele, will operate under the umbrella of Zodia Custody. CEO Bill Winters highlighted the balanced approach of the UAE in terms of digital asset adoption and financial regulation, making it an opportune launchpad for the bank’s crypto custody endeavors.

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