Capital markets News

ex-BNY Mellon tokenization lead joins European Central Bank

benjamin duve bny mellon

Two weeks ago Benjamin Duve, BNY Mellon’s head of tokenization, announced he was departing the bank. Yesterday, he revealed that he joined the European Central Bank (ECB) as Lead Market Infrastructure Expert in the Market Infrastructure and Payments Directorate. He will help the ECB formulate its long term vision for the tokenization of money and assets. 

The role covers issuance, post trade, collateral and wholesale payments.

Before Duve’s two and a half years at BNY Mellon, he was with Commerzbank since the start of his career. Latterly he was head of digital assets and custody.

Europe has two major DLT and tokenization initiatives, the DLT Pilot Regime and the ECB’s initiative for wholesale DLT settlement.

The appointment timing is opportune given the Eurosystem is preparing to launch the first wave of the wholesale DLT settlement trials in Q2 this year, with the second wave in Q3. Applications are still open for the Q2 wave. 

Institutions will be able to trial DLT payments with real money for a limited timeframe, although transaction volume limits apply. Payment options will include a wholesale CBDC, a trigger solution, and Italy’s TIPS Hash link solution.

Unlike the ECB’s initiative, Duve didn’t believe the DLT Pilot Regime was appropriately structured for large institutions, although he was not the only one. Before the regulation’s enactment, the industry communicated that low volume limits and an uncertain regulatory outcome made large banks reluctant to participate. They prefer to work within current regulatory requirements with fewer restrictions. With Duve on board at the ECB, it should avoid similar issues.

BNY Mellon digital asset departures

Meanwhile, BNY Mellon has experienced a few high profile departures from its digital assets team. Last week Duve’s former boss, Roman Regelman, who is Global Head of Securities Services and Digital announced his plans to depart.

Within the digital assets team, Maxime De Guilllebon, was head of digital asset product for six months before jumping ship to Ripple. He spent most of his career at Standard Chartered, latterly at SC Ventures and then CEO of Zodia Custody.

In fairness, State Street has also lost some key people, including recent layoffs and the 2022 departure of Nadine Chakar, the Head of State Street Digital.