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What is tokenization and how are banks using its design principles?

Published on

February 1, 2023
Read Time:7 Minute, 38 Second

Tokenization is the method of turning one thing of tangible or intangible worth into digital tokens. Tangible belongings similar to actual property, shares or artwork will be tokenized. Equally, intangible belongings similar to voting rights and loyalty factors can be tokenized. We see Avios for example of tokenized loyalty factors from the normal bank card trade.

Nevertheless, when tokens are created on a blockchain, they add a degree of transparency that earlier iterations of tokens haven't been in a position to match. There are a number of banks experimenting with tokenization. Nevertheless, earlier than we dive into the banking use circumstances, it will be useful to know the qualitative advantages that tokenization brings to monetary companies.

When massive monetary establishments enter the crypto area, they pay specific consideration to points similar to custody and anti-money laundering analytics and compliance. Now, with the dramatic collapse of FTX, the important thing qualitative advantages of tokenization are as soon as once more within the highlight.


Actual property is without doubt one of the most illiquid asset lessons. When a property is price just a few million {dollars}, shopping for and promoting the property can take time. Now think about a $1 million dwelling being tokenized, with every token representing possession of property. When these tokens are made accessible for buy in the marketplace, 100 patrons can every make investments $10,000 to amass possession of the property.

This, after all, will increase the benefit with which illiquid belongings will be offered, as fractional possession is feasible with tokenized belongings. Fintech corporations like Yielders are already implementing fractional property possession with out utilizing blockchain expertise. Illiquid asset lessons similar to non-public fairness and enterprise capital may profit from tokenization.

When an illiquid asset similar to actual property or artwork is tokenized, all the asset class advantages from the liquidity created. It additionally permits for a wholesome secondary market and creates extra knowledge for higher valuation of those belongings. Platforms like Reinno and Realt supply international buyers entry to tokenized actual property.

As a property proprietor, this opens up the opportunity of promoting solely a part of the property through tokens as a substitute of all the property. From an investor perspective, somebody in Brazil can put money into actual property in Manhattan with $1,000.

For instance, Realt presents buyers tokenized actual property. Whereas the properties listed on their platform vary in worth from a number of hundred thousand {dollars} to some million {dollars}, they're tokenized and every token will be valued at lower than $50. This makes it extraordinarily inexpensive for buyers in most locations around the globe.

Equally, fractional possession of non-fungible tokens (NFT) shall be launched for the dearer NFT and artwork collections. Because of a liquid secondary marketplace for an illiquid asset, pricing additionally turns into simpler resulting from clear provide and demand dynamics.

Liquidity Threat Administration

Along with these benefits, liquidity danger administration in monetary companies corporations may profit from tokenization. This benefit is made a lot clearer by the collapse of FTX and the way tokenization might have helped there.

The FTX collapse had a number of underlying points, not the least of which stemmed from the enterprise mannequin of utilizing the risky FTX token (FTT) as collateral. Nevertheless, if checks and balances had been clear to clients, remedial motion might have been taken in a well timed method.

Present: Festivals within the Metaversum: How Web3 tasks make tradition digital

At no level of their journey has FTX offered transparency as to how a lot money they needed to service their liabilities. Consequently, FTX managed to reallocate consumer funds (liabilities) to their investments (illiquid belongings). Asset and legal responsibility tokenization would have revealed a liquidity hole in real-time and warned the market of the upcoming disaster.

After the collapse of FTX, there was a hasty try and show reserves from a number of centralized crypto exchanges. Nevertheless, proof of reserves solely exhibits that an organization has some belongings to service its money owed.

An equally essential ability is proof of liabilities. If an organization can transparently exhibit that it has $1 billion in reserves/belongings, however its liabilities, which could possibly be $10 billion, are usually not seen to everybody, its solvency is in query.

The problem in creating transparency round liabilities is that corporations usually capitalize by borrowing in fiat currencies. Since these devices are usually not tokenized, real-time solvency can't be confirmed. Due to this fact, with the intention to keep away from an FTX-like incident sooner or later, exchanges should present proof of belongings and liabilities.

One of many key qualitative facets of tokenization to emerge from the FTX saga is “proof of solvency”. The transparency that tokenization brings may assist assess an organization's solvency in actual time. If each belongings and liabilities of a financial institution will be tokenized, on-chain evaluation can be utilized to know whether or not the corporate has sufficient belongings to service its liabilities.


Asset tokenization makes them extra accessible to retail buyers. Within the instance above, a $10,000 investor might personal an curiosity in 1,000,000 greenback property in a primary location and profit from an appreciation in worth. With out tokenization, they would not be capable to get publicity to massive belongings that supply good returns.

That is very true for top web price people who need entry to merchandise solely accessible to non-public banking purchasers. Prior to now, merchandise with engaging yield profiles have been solely provided to institutional buyers. Even rich and skilled buyers would have problem accessing these belongings.


As monetary companies companies and banks tokenize their asset base, the moment finality that blockchain presents will help them see the place they stand with their capital well being in actual time. Settlements that used to take two days, denoted as (T+2), can now be instantaneous. This supplies each operational and capital efficiencies.

Organizations can assess their precise degree of capitalization and make fast and worthwhile selections on deploy their capital. In occasions of market disaster, the identical potential will help handle capital and scale back danger.

With all these supposed advantages, what are banks and monetary companies corporations experimenting with tokenization?

JPM coin

JPM Coin is JPMorgan's model of a US greenback stablecoin. JPM Coin is at the moment within the prototype section and is being tried and examined for cash transfers at JPMorgan's institutional purchasers. JPM Coin will be started in different currencies, the greenback prototype ought to show profitable.

As described by the financial institution, establishments taking part on this train usually comply with a three-step transaction course of.

  1. Establishments open a deposit account with JPMorgan and deposit USD into it. You'll obtain a corresponding quantity of JPM Cash.
  2. Establishments could switch JPM Cash to different establishments which are purchasers of JPMorgan worldwide. This may solely be a foreign money transaction or a securities transaction paid in JPM Cash.
  3. The recipient establishment can redeem JPM Cash for USD.

Regulators are but to approve JPM Coin. Solely after receiving full regulatory approval can it's launched for retail.

The Depository Belief and Clearing Company (DTCC)

DTCC is a US-based group that acts as a centralized clearing and settlement group for varied asset lessons.

Within the fourth quarter of 2021, the DTCC announced a platform to streamline the issuance, switch and administration of personal market securities by tokenization. Apart from implementing the platform, additionally they present widespread market infrastructure and requirements for personal market investments.

As mentioned within the qualitative facets of tokenization, asset lessons like non-public fairness and enterprise capital will be fairly illiquid and inaccessible. Consequently, the secondary marketplace for non-public securities remains to be nascent.

Tokenizing these securities and offering market requirements might assist enhance liquidity inside these asset lessons and in addition contribute to settlement efficiencies. The DTCC began with the Ethereum blockchain, however the platform will be blockchain-agnostic. It plans to supply each private and non-private blockchain assist relying on market demand.


ADDX is a Singapore-based blockchain startup that's at the moment pioneering the tokenization of securities within the non-public market, through which each accredited and institutional buyers can take part.

Present: How secure are stablecoins within the contagion of the FTX crypto market?

Belongings embrace enterprise capital funds, private debt funds, actual property funds, ESG bonds and extra. Entry to such institutional funding autos has traditionally been restricted to a choose few. Fractional possession by tokenization will enable accredited buyers with a web price of S$2 million (US$1.47 million) to take part in these belongings.

The top of the banks?

Some declare that digital belongings and Web3 will spell the tip of banking, however anticipating such monetary establishments to be relegated to the previous is unrealistic. However whereas banks are more likely to stay robust, banking as we all know it at the moment is more likely to change for the higher.

There are a number of parts of banking that would see operational and enterprise mannequin modifications over the following few a long time, largely impressed by digital belongings and their underlying design ideas.

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Azeez Mustafa
Azeez began his FinTech career path in 2008 after growing interest and intrigue about market wizards and how they managed to become victorious on the battlefield of the financial world. After a decade of learning, reading and training the ins and outs of the industry, he’s now a sought after trading professional, technical/currency analyst and funds manager – as well as an author.
Last Updated : February 1, 2023
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