Asset Management Firm Northern Trust to Start Crypto Custody Business

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Chicago-based asset management firm Northern Trust Corp. is looking to begin a custody service for digital assets such as cryptocurrencies.

Northern Trust Corp., a leading global asset management firm with $954 billion in total assets under management, is planning to start a custody service for digital assets, Bloomberg reported July 31.

The company’s head of corporate and institutional business Pete Cherecwich told Bloomberg that the company has started developing a strategy to secure custody-held digital assets such as cryptocurrencies. He said the firm aims to offer a product similar to existing custodial services while charging lower fees:

“The fees right now the custodians are charging are pretty high, not the same fees that we get — ultimately, I believe unsustainable, because it needs to be an efficient model.”

Chicago-based Northern Trust Corp. currently provides accounting services to several funds that invest part of their assets in crypto futures. The firm will not launch a custody product for digital assets for at least another 12 months, according to Cherecwich.

This spring, Northern Trust launched a blockchain-powered product in partnership with ‘Big Four’ auditing giant PwC, which provides audit firms with instant access to a secure “golden copy” of private equity lifecycle events. This will reportedly improve the efficiency of the auditing process by making underlying transactions more transparent to audit firms.

Early in July, crypto exchange and wallet provider Coinbase announced the launch of its digital assets custodian solution for institutional investors. Their custody offering will be secured through an SEC-compliant and FINRA-member independent broker-dealer, Electronic Transaction Clearing. At the time of the announcement, Coinbase had already been storing $20 billion worth of clients’ crypto over six years.