HSBC building

HSBC CEO backs tokenization, shuns ‘crypto’

HSBC (NASDAQ: HSBC) plans to expand its tokenized products in Hong Kong, with CEO Noel Quinn recently stating that he’s “very comfortable with tokenization.”

HSBC has been on the frontline in the emergence of Hong Kong as the global tokenization hub. The bank, the largest in the city-state, launched tokenized gold for retail customers last month. It has also been a key partner in the city’s $750 million digital green bond and wholesale CBDC.

During a media roundtable on the sidelines of the HSBC Global Investment Summit, Quinn pledged to continue investing in tokenization.

“Tokenisation is a more efficient trading mechanism and provides liquidity to that asset,” he stated.

Quinn noted that tokenization is more efficient and cost-effective “than the old-fashioned way of trading.” As such, HSBC will continue to invest in the field.

“We continue to invest in our tokenisation product line-up. I think tokenisation of gold and bond issues are good [examples]. I’m very comfortable with the concept of tokenisation,” he added. 

However, for Quinn, the benefit of tokenization depends on the underlying asset. He emphasized that while blockchain can underpin any token, the bank will only deal with tokens whose asset has real-world value and shun ‘crypto.’

“In theory, you can tokenise anything. The key criteria for me is, is there substance behind the token? Has it got predictability? Does it exist?”

Quinn’s recent comments back previous statements by HSBC management supporting the continued investment in tokenization. During the bank’s summit last week, Global Head of digital assets strategy John O’Neill revealed that customers are increasingly inquiring about digital assets. He pledged to continue exploring other applications beyond tokenized gold.

“That liquidity story we really feel we can bring on globally, and Hong Kong is the start with that development. We think, in 2024, these kinds of assets will be as liquid as conventional assets,” he stated during a panel discussion at the event.

Tokenization continues to dominate mainstream blockchain use cases. A recent report by London-based GlobalData projected blockchain revenues to surge to $290 billion by the decade’s end, with tokenization expected to dominate.

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