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Real-World Asset Tokenisation: Transforming Global Trade, a new study released today by Standard Chartered and Synpulse, estimates that the demand for tokenised assets could soar to $30.1 trillion by 2034, with trade finance assets poised to rank among the top three tokenised assets worldwide, accounting for 16% of the total.

Global trade is expected to reach $32.6 trillion by 2030. This forecast, along with increasing digital transformation within the industry and the distinctive characteristics of trade finance assets, positions this sector as a prime candidate for token creation. At present, tokenised assets primarily include traditional assets such as US treasuries and money market funds. Yet, the sector is still developing, with the total value of tokenised assets (excluding stablecoins) currently around $5 billion as of early 2024.

Despite its potential as a means to diversify risk, trade finance assets are currently underutilised due to a lack of familiarity, inconsistent pricing, and operational challenges. Tokenisation could overcome these hurdles while also decreasing information asymmetry and enhancing transparency for investors.

Tokens, or digital representations of real or traditional assets on a distributed ledger, promote operational efficiency and automation. The most significant advantages are the facilitation of access to new asset classes and the enhancement of financial market infrastructure, paving the way for innovative uses in decentralised finance (DeFi) and new business models.

Furthermore, tokenisation in trade finance is recognised as a means to address the growing $2.5 trillion trade finance gap globally. It enhances market access, boosts the resilience and liquidity of supply chains, and expands the reach to suppliers deeper within supply chains.

“We see the next three years as a critical junction for tokenisation, with trade finance assets coming to the fore as a new asset class,” said Kai Fehr, Global Head of Trade, Standard Chartered. “To unlock this trillion-dollar opportunity, industry-wide collaboration among all stakeholders, from investors and financial institutions to governments and regulators is critical.

“Banks need to increasingly take on the role of bridging the existing traditional financial markets with a newer and more open token-enabled market infrastructure. As one of the top five Trade  Finance Banks globally, and with our involvement in industry initiatives such as Project Guardian and Project Dynamo, Standard Chartered aims to be a driving force in the tokenisation of real-world assets, and unlocking its potential to narrow the global trade finance gap and play our part in powering the real economy.”

Yves Roesti, Managing Partner & CEO, Synpulse Group, said, “At Synpulse, we believe real-world asset tokenisation is not just a trend, but a transformative force poised to reshape global trade finance. By leveraging tokenisation’s inherent efficiencies and transparency, we can unlock a future where the “missing middle” gains access to vital capital, investors benefit from a diversified asset class, and the global trade economy thrives. Synpulse remains committed to being at the forefront of this revolution, partnering with industry players to develop the infrastructure and strategies that will unlock the promise of tokenised real-world assets.”