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Korea’s Hanwha invests $5m in blockchain capital markets firm iSTOX

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Yesterday, blockchain capital markets platform iSTOX announced a $5 million investment from South Korea’s Hanwha Asset Management. Currently operating in the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) FinTech Regulatory Sandbox, iSTOX is expected to go live in the coming months. 

Developed and operated by ICHX Tech, Singapore-based ISTOX is building a platform for the issuance, custody and trading of digitized securities. The firm is backed by the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and state-owned Temasek’s investment arm Heliconia Capital. Back in November 2019, the company’s secondary market went live, and it completed its first issuance of a blockchain-based security.

Soon after, the Singapore unit of Japan-based Tokai Tokyo Financial Holdings invested $5 million in the company. Last year, the firm’s Series A round also included Thai investment bank Kiatnakin Phatra Financial Group. With the investment from Hanwha, the company now has shareholders in Singapore, Thailand, Japan and South Korea.

“As iSTOX continues to grow, our relationships with partners like Hanwha are allowing us to build a powerful foundation to develop iSTOX into a pioneering service that addresses the evolving needs of 21st century investors,” said Danny Toe, Founder and CEO of Singapore-based ICHX Tech.

Japan’s Hanwha Asset Management is a unit of Hanwha Life and is the largest shareholder of Hanwha Investment & Securities. It had $80.20 billion in assets under management at the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, iSTOX has established partnerships with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, law firm Allen & Overy, SAC Capital and RHT Capital. iSTOX previously said it was looking for more collaborations in Asia. 

The iSTOX platform leverages smart contracts and blockchain to streamline the issuance and trading of digital securities and connects investors and issuers directly. This significantly reduces the time and cost of managing digital securities while providing more investment options. 

The digital asset space is thriving, and many big names are exploring the new investment class. Another startup, Securitize, has also attracted investment from big-name players, especially Japan. Its backers include MUFG, Nomura and SBI Holdings.

In Singapore, digital asset bank Sygnum was licensed by MAS to provide asset management services. The firm has partnerships with Switzerland’s Swisscom and securities giant Deutsche Börse. 

Swiss stock exchange owner SIX launched a prototype of its SIX Digital Exchange (SDX). Last month, Sygnum and SIX invested in tokenization firm daura in which Swisscom and Deutsche Börse also have investments. 

Meanwhile, Boerse Stuttgart and Japan’s SBI Group are collaborating to develop a blockchain-based digital asset ecosystem in Europe and Asia. 

In Thailand, the Stock Exchange of Thailand is building a blockchain-based digital asset platform, which is expected to go live this year.