Stijn Vander Straeten, CEO, Crypto Finance Infrastructure Services: The rise of tokenisation and the need for crypto carbon indexing

The Block caught up with Stijn Vander Straeten, CEO of Crypto Finance Group’s infrastructure services subsidiary, to discuss milestones, tokenisation, and plans for the future ahead of the company’s appearance at Blockchain TechEx Global from 6-7 September.

The Zug, Switzerland-based company distinguishes itself from other businesses in the digital asset space through exclusively serving business-to-business (B2B) clients like banks, brokerage houses, and family offices.

With market organiser Deutsche Börse recently having acquired a majority stake in Crypto Finance, Vander Straeten believes this “backing and investment from one of Europe’s largest exchanges will enable the company to drive new products to the market.”

The past year has been one filled with important milestones for Crypto Finance, as Vander Straeten puts it:

“We received our security dealer licence from the Swiss market authority FINMA at the beginning of the year. Whilst it isn’t absolutely necessary for crypto asset trading, it will become increasingly important to us as the digital asset space evolves and we prepare to trade tokenised assets.”

He continues, “another big milestone this year was reaching CHF 1.2 billion (£950m) in assets under storage towards the end of the first quarter. We also onboarded new features, new tokens, and hit a new trading record for the group of CHF 3bn (£2.38bn) in the first quarter too.”

Looking ahead towards the coming year, Vander Straeten remarks that “one of our highest priorities is building up the German platform. We plan to set up a fully-licenced digital platform there as a hub from which to conquer European trading and custodies.”

But Crypto Finance’s plans extend beyond just Europe: “We cover trading around the clock in Asia already, however we want to have physical traders on the ground in Singapore.”

Internally, the company expects to “dive more into offering staking more widely” and also has “a couple of large clients working on tokenisation projects with us.” Overall, Vander Straeten expects to invest “tens of millions into the business to accelerate growth and bring new products to market.”

Speaking on tokenisation, Vander Straeten states that whilst it is “still underrated” he is noticing “more and more projects starting to come to us.”

Tokenisation can enhance operating models within the financial industry through improving efficiency, be that through back office or middle office models.

Discussing recent trends in the blockchain space, Vander Straeten considers concerns over cryptocurrencies carbon footprint the most obvious:

“We are seeing a number of clients come to us that are highly interested in crypto, but moreso in cryptos that use as much energy as Bitcoin, for example. What these institutions are calling for is a kind of ‘crypto index’ that is tied to parameters monitoring assets carbon footprint. This is becoming especially important on the marketing side of things and could be a big bust for the crypto industry.”

Heading into the Blockchain TechEx Global, Vander Straeten will be part of a panel discussion on whether 2021 was the most consequential year for cryptocurrencies thusfar. Joining him will be Mastercard VP Patrick O’Donnell and Fidelity Investments head of digital assets for Europe Christopher Tyrer.

For Vander Straeten, the big topic will be adoption: “We have reached a stage of adoption where there is no doubt that we cannot go back. As the Deutsche Börse investment with us shows, major financial institutions are seeing that they cannot neglect digital assets any longer. This is largely due to the maturing of the market and the development of professional infrastructure to support adoption.”

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