Sumitomo Mitsui Trust to set up digital asset custody firm

Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings, one of Japan’s largest financial institutions, is partnering with Tokyo-based crypto asset exchange Bitbank to create a company responsible for managing digital assets, media reports say.

The new company, named Japan Digital Asset Trust, would offer custody services for crypto assets including non-fungible tokens entrusted by institutional investors and corporations, the Nikkei newspaper and other media reported on May 23.

Sumitomo Mitsui Trust would own about 15 percent of the new firm while Bitbank would hold 85 percent. Sumitomo Mitsui Trust would also send directors to the joint venture that is due to start operating by the end of the year, the reports said.

The trust company will consider issuing stable coins, a blockchain-based currency whose price movements are linked to legal tender, in the Japanese yen, according to the reports.

The move by Sumitomo Mitsui Trust comes as Japanese financial institutions are taking steps to gain a foothold in crypto asset-related businesses. 

Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation is planning to issue ProgmaCoin, a digital currency that enables clearing and settlement for digital securities, in spring 2023. The bank plans to increase convenience by speeding up settlements in order to promote digital securities, which can buy and sell small amounts of real estate and other assets. 

In May, Nomura Holdings announced that it will launch a new company in the second half of this year to develop and provide services utilising crypto assets, stable coins and NFTs.