Tokenisation in the securities markets may have gone slower than was expected some years ago. Even so, at the large banks, the development keeps moving. A panel at the Optic conference on Wednesday took a look at the progress in the area, including an audience poll showing about 60 percent of the room’s respondents are underway or already done with projects.

“The effects of tokenisation are absolutely real. They are measurable and can be evidenced. But they don’t scale, at the moment,” said Thilo Derenbach, Clearstream’s Head of Business Development and Commercialisation in Digital Securities Services.

He was on stage in Brussels on Wednesday together with … 
Chris Jones, Digital Asset Technology and (acting) Global CIO for Securities Services, HSBC,
Thomas Dugauquier, Tokenised Assets Product Lead, Swift,
Mathew McDermott, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs, and,
as moderator, Kelesi Blundell, Partner with law firm Herbert Smith Freehills.

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Risk of regulatory patchwork

With a full hour slotted, the panel went into a range of factors, including the broad diversity of regulatory frameworks across the world.

“It will create duplicate costs if we go with the cookie cutter around the world,” Chris Jones pointed out. While each regulatory regime is different and a type of transfer may have to happen in a slightly different way (requiring a local custodian to plug in on the platform to support a transaction), he emphasised the need for the the technology and the operational processes themselves to be standardised.

The panellists called for regulators to get to action on their legislation if they haven’t already – and to collaborate in doing so.

“Focusing on Europe: if you look at the markets where the action is taking place, those are the ones where the regulation is comprehensive,” said Thilo Derenbach.

Could go pop

Many have pointed to the lack of an established means of payment on-chain, to support fully DLT-based delivery-versus-payment transactions of securities. Mathew McDermott pointed to the possibility of a quick take-off for tokenised securities once a wholesale central bank digital currency (CBDC) or other payment solution comes into place.

“It could happen faster than people think – once you get digital money,” he said, predicting that notable change could be observable already within the next one or two years.

The yearly Optic conference, in Brussels on 17–18 October 2023, is hosted by the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME). Optic stands for the “Operations, post trade, technology and innovation conference”. PostTrade 360° is there, with our coverage collected here.