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Fireblocks and Fintech Major FIS Bring DeFi to Capital Markets

Eva Marie UZCATEGUI

Don't miss CoinDesk's Consensus 2022, the must-attend crypto & blockchain festival experience of the year in Austin, TX this June 9-12.

Crypto custody firm Fireblocks has teamed up with FIS, the Fortune 500 technology provider to banks and capital markets firms.

The partnership, announced Wednesday, will enable FIS’s 6,400 clients to access large crypto trading venues, liquidity providers, lending desks and decentralized finance (DeFi) applications. Those clients include a buy-side assortment of asset managers and hedge funds, as well as banks and brokers.

“This is going to be a great opportunity to empower FIS’s clients to access all the weird and wonderful things of digital assets,” said Fireblocks Head of Corporate Strategy Adam Levine in an interview. “Whether that’s holding a variety of cryptocurrencies, making payments on stablecoins, accessing lending and borrowing platforms, or accessing permissioned DeFi, which is appropriate for the regulated institutions that we’re talking about.”

(On the stablecoin front, the news comes a day after BlackRock invested in Circle and said that it was “exploring capital market applications for USDC.”)

It’s another signal to the market that institutions are edging closer to crypto – even its more esoteric realms – provided the right sort of know-your-customer (KYC) handholding is made available to them. Fireblocks’ close involvement with Aave Arc is a good example of this approach.

“FIS clients would absolutely have the opportunity to participate on Aave Arc; obviously, they will have to go through the KYC-related whitelisting process, which we don’t anticipate being a challenge,” said Levine. “That’s a great live example and there’s more to come.”

Institutional DeFi

Many of the big banks are exploring structured products in the form of crypto derivatives, if not directly exposing themselves to the asset class. This is another area where a fintech provider like FIS that’s been in the market for over 30 years can be instrumental, said John Avery, FIS head of product for digital assets.

“There are investors who will seek out synthetic exposure as their only means of access to crypto and digital asset investing. But for the market makers and the brokers, they will need access to the underlying physical assets,” Avery said in an interview, adding:

“The appetite of traditional clients to control their own wallet technology and get exposure to different types of these assets will grow over time, either for their own portfolios or to support their structured products or derivatives businesses on top.”

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