Global banks continue to expand their cryptocurrency-related capabilities, with the British multinational bank Standard Chartered raising new funding for its crypto platform Zodia.
Standard Chartered-backed crypto custody subsidiary Zodia Custody has raised $36 million in a new series A funding round, Bloomberg reported on April 27.
Japanese financial conglomerate SBI Holdings has led the fundraise, becoming Zodia’s second-largest shareholder, Zodia Custody CEO Julian Sawyer reportedly said.
Prior to the funding round, London-headquartered Zodia was backed exclusively by Standard Chartered and Northern Trust, with Standard Chartered owning a 90% stake in the firm. It still remains the majority shareholder following the fundraise, according to Sawyer.
Zodia CEO emphasized that it’s typical of Standard Chartered’s ventures strategy to raise external funding after a subsidiary grows to a certain level, stating:
“It is part of our strategy to be bank-backed, and all the good things that that brings,” he said. “That doesn’t mean there has to be a single bank.”
With new funding, Standard Chartered’s Zodia plans to increase the amount of supported cryptocurrencies, including staked Ether (ETH).
The firm will also tunnel the newly raised funds for geographic expansion beyond its present markets in Europe and Asia. The firm is particularly interested in opportunities in the Middle East but is planning to stay away from the United States due to regulatory uncertainty.
Sawyer noted that there’s a massive lack of clarity regarding what cryptocurrencies should be considered securities in the United States. “We hope the U.S. creates that clarity, but at the moment, it’s fair to say that it’s difficult to see what that will be in the next 12 to 18 months,” the CEO added.
The news comes soon after Zodia expanded its business in Japan through a joint venture with SBI Holdings in February 2023. Just like the global Zodia division, its Japanese spinoff targets only institutional investors. The joint venture is owned 51% by SBI’s crypto outfit SBI Digital Asset Holdings and 49% by Zodia Custody.
One of the biggest banks in the United Kingdom, Standard Chartered originally announced plans to provide institutional custody for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) back in 2020. Launched in 2021, Zodia has survived the crypto bear market of 2022 and major industry collapses like FTX and Celsius.