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MAS in DeFi landmark trade

File photo of the logo of the Monetary Authority of Singapore at its building in Singapore
Photo: Reuters

DBS, JPMorgan and Japan’s SBI combined to launch a groundbreaking decentralized finance trade stewarded by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. It was a great deal of work, but to what end?


“This was very, very hard. As simple as it sounds, this was probably the most work we’ve ever done for a single transaction at Onyx at JPMorgan.”

Umar Farooq, who leads the Onyx blockchain and innovation division of JPMorgan, is talking about a landmark DeFi (decentralized finance) deal announced in Singapore on November 2.

The transaction, conducted by DBS, JPMorgan and Japan’s SBI Digital Asset Holdings under the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Project Guardian initiative, delivered a live cross-currency transaction with tokenized yen and Singapore dollar deposits.

It also simulated an exercise buying and selling tokenized Singaporean and Japanese government bonds.

The importance of this transaction is that it attempts to bridge two apparently disparate worlds: DeFi, a digital world where parties deal directly with one another without multiple intermediaries; and traditional mainstream finance, given the shorthand TradFi.

“The DeFi world has always used crypto assets, whereas in the TradFi world we deal with government securities and cash: these are not digital assets,” says Han Kwee Juan, managing director and group head of strategy and planning at DBS. “What we have done is take those TradFi assets, tokenized them, and made them into their equivalent as digital assets.”

The tokenized assets take a bearer form, meaning whoever holds it is the owner of it.


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Asia editor Euromoney
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Chris Wright is Asia editor. He covers the Asia Pacific region and is based in Singapore. He has previously been Middle East editor of Euromoney, editor of Asiamoney, investment editor of the Australian Financial Review and a correspondent on emerging markets and sovereign wealth for numerous publications worldwide. He has also written two books.