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FINANCIAL SERVICES, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong
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How FDT is modernising the trust scene

FDT is behind Asia’s first ​Rapid Settlement and Clearing Network (RSCN).

When it comes to the finance industry, all eyes are on the fintech scene even before the pandemic prompts players to keep up with the heightened demand. However, the same cannot be said for the trust industry. Filling this gap is Hong Kong-based startup First Digital Trust (FDT), riding on the bulk of opportunities fintechs are currently enjoying.

“A lot of fintech companies are very good at technology but have little experience in running financial institutions—you have to comply with international standards, tax regulation, especially if you’re servicing cross-border clients and moving money across borders,” FDT’s COO Gunnar Jaerv told Hong Kong Business. “Trust has always been an old-fashioned concept, hence the name—we’re modernising and digitising these functions. We’re going through a new revolution with virtual banks and open banking, and doing the same in the trust space.”

FDT is the digital asset custody arm of Hong Kong-based financial company Legacy Trust. It is a fiduciary taking on a B2B approach in holding businesses’ assets, which also enables global and cross-border asset settlements.

FDT has built up its platform to launch Asia’s first ​Rapid Settlement and Clearing Network (RSCN)​, which will allow the startup to manage digital assets under their custodianship safely and efficiently. Currently, RSCN is currently in use by some of their clients and a public launch is yet to come.

Jaerv shared that their main projects focus on APIs and technology solutions. They’re also looking to expand their licensing in different jurisdictions, positioning the startup as a global company.

FDT recently nabbed a $23.25m (US$3m) seed funding from Taiwanese VC firm Nogle last March. In the next 18 months, they will conduct another funding round when their products are more mature, Jaerv said.

“Custodians are important to ensure trust in holding the underlying assets backing tokens. In Hong Kong, trust companies such as First Digital Trust can already play a key role to facilitate this trend, being set-up as a public trust company holding a Trust and Company Service Provider (TCSP) license from Companies Registry, allowing the custody of various asset classes to ensure the trust required for this industry to mature,” said Jonathan Leong, co-founder and chairman of Nogle.

Caption: Vincent Chok, CEO of FDT

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