Plans

IBM Quietly Enters Crypto Custody Market With Tech Designed for Banks

IBM is coming to the crypto custody space.

Later this month, Shuttle Holdings, a New York investment firm, will launch the beta version of a custody solution for digital assets built on IBM’s private cloud and encryption technologies. The companies won’t be storing cryptocurrencies and tokens themselves, but offering tools for others to do so.

Potential users include banks, brokers, custodians, funds, family offices and high net worth investors who want to do self-custody, as well as exchanges, Brad Chun, Shuttle’s chief investment officer, told CoinDesk.

“We have a list of selected clients that we are launching limited service with this month,” Chun said. The service is “not open to the public yet and there is a wait list to get into our beta.” 

IBM showcased the solution at its “Think 2019” conference last month in San Francisco, where Nataraj Nagaratnam, the tech giant’s CTO and director of cloud security, called storage of crypto a prime use case for Big Blue’s cloud. 

“What better example than taking a financial technology that is changing the world. Look at digital assets; how do you secure the data? … [This is] top of mind for a lot of people in the financial industry,” Nagaratnam said, before welcoming Chun onstage.

When contacted by CoinDesk, IBM referred most questions to Chun. But Rohit Badlaney, director of IBM’s “Z As a Service” cloud solution, talked up IBM’s involvement in the forthcoming Digital Asset Custody Service (DACS).

“For DACS, the on-premise pervasive encryption capabilities offered by IBM LinuxONE was a key differentiator in choosing IBM as the most secure platform for their offering,” Bedlaney told CoinDesk through a spokeswoman.

Slide from Brad Chun’s presentation at IBM’s Think conference in February

The move suggests IBM is wading deeper into the digital asset space, after developing the Hyperledger Fabric private blockchain for enterprises and more recently getting involved with cryptocurrency through its work with the Stellar Foundation.

While crypto custody was once the preserve of wallet providers and crypto exchanges, the promise of institutional investment entering the digital assets space has prompted a race to come up with safe, industrial-grade solutions that are also familiar in terms of usage to these large players.