Fintech firm Zodia Markets has got cryptoasset registration from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and unveiled its crypto exchange and brokerage business.
London-based Zodia is backed by Standard Chartered and is targeting institutions in the UK and EU.
That banking support is a useful sign of approval, and the company reckons its registration marks the “first time” a crypto trading business backed by an international bank has been listed by the FCA on the UK’s Financial Services Register.
Zodia’s CEO, Usman Ahmad, tries an upbeat approach: “Whilst the digital asset markets have recently seen volatility and downward pressure, adoption continues unabated, with institutions entering the market at rapid pace.”
The official launch does coincide with difficult times for the crypto sector.
Last week, Blockchain.com said it is cutting 25% of its workforce. About 150 jobs will go. Some 44% of the affected employees are in Argentina, 26% in the US, 16% in the UK and the rest in other countries.
It is a fluid situation around the world, and eWeek UK recently discussed the crypto winter here. For example, US cryptocurrency broker Voyager Digital has filed for bankruptcy protection, blaming the move on “volatility and contagion” in the markets. Crypto lending platform Celsius has also filed for bankruptcy in the US. While Coinbase faces an SEC probe over its crypto listings, which saw its shares drop by 21%.
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The price of Bitcoin currently stands at £19,058, a fall of 32% over the last six months.
That said, Ahmad, whose experience includes HSBC and Merrill Lynch, talks about Zodia’s “experienced team of professionals from both digital asset and traditional finance backgrounds”.
It’s a fair comment. Zodia’s CCO worked at Standard Chartered, Revolut and the FCA; its CRO had roles at the Bank of England and HSBC; while the COO’s experience includes SC Ventures and Standard Chartered.
Zodia was established in June 2021 as a partnership between SC Ventures, the innovation, fintech investment and ventures arm of Standard Chartered, and BC Technology Group, an Asian digital asset company and parent of Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission-licensed digital asset platform OSL.
According to Zodia, its exchange platform allows clients to connect to a matching engine through FIX API connectivity, using the same standards as electronic trading for traditional equities, FX or fixed income.
Zodia’s brokerage provides a “bespoke institutional-level service” through its traders, operations staff and products, including an electronic intelligent request for quote capability.
In a cosy move, Zodia partners with third-party custodians, including Standard Chartered-backed Zodia Custody, to support its trading activities, providing “clearly segregated responsibilities”.
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