June 17, 2020 / 2:03 PM / 22 days ago

Nomura and partners launch digital asset custodian Komainu

NEW YORK, June 17 (Reuters) - Japanese bank Nomura Holdings Inc and cryptocurrency partners Ledger and CoinShares launched Komainu, a custodian to safeguard digital assets for financial institutions, on Wednesday.

The joint venture, announced in 2018, is regulated by the Jersey Financial Services Commission, the companies said in a statement. It will be led by CoinShares Co-Founder and Chief Executive Jean-Marie Mognetti.

"We have been trialing the platform with a limited number of clients for four to five months and are now launching to new clients," Mognetti said in an interview.

Komainu's debut comes as more established financial firms explore offering custody and other services for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, and other digital assets.

Several large financial institutions, including Nomura, are hoping that traditional assets such as bonds or stocks can be digitized and issued using blockchain technology to cut costs and simplify some processes.

The dearth of back-office services by major financial service providers has long prevented a wider adoption of digital assets.

"We have been very focused on the evolution of the digital asset ecosystem," Jezri Mohideen, global chief digital officer for wholesale at Nomura, said in an interview. "For us it was critical that we solve the custody issue."

Investment manager Fidelity and exchange conglomerate Intercontinental Exchange Inc also offer custody for digital assets.

Komainu can integrate with the technology systems of financial institutions, the partners said. It will only accept clients and tokens that have passed anti-money laundering and provenance checks.

Komainu's executive team includes Kenton Farmer as head of operations. He has worked at Credit Suisse Group Ag and Hermes Fund Managers.

Andrew Morfill, former global head of cyber defense at Banco Santander, will be chief information security officer. Susan Patterson, a former regulator, will serve as head of regulatory affairs. She has previously worked at Credit Suisse, Brevan Howard and UBS. (Reporting by Anna Irrera)

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