Citigroup, one of the world’s largest banks, has unveiled Citi Token Services, a blockchain platform for institutional clients to make cross-border payments, manage liquidity, and automate trade finance.
Citi Token Services uses blockchain technology to convert clients’ deposits into digital tokens that can be used for instant cross-border payments 24/7. The platform also provides smart contracts that can be used to automate trade finance transactions, such as letters of credit and bills of lading.
Citigroup says that the crypto-related services will help institutional clients reduce costs, improve efficiency, and mitigate risk. The platform is currently in pilot testing with a select group of clients. It is expected to be launched more broadly in early 2024.
Blockchain Platform for Institutional Clients
Citi Token Services is a proprietary blockchain platform for institutional clients seeking cross-border payment solutions, enhanced liquidity management, and automated trade finance capabilities. Following successful testing through two pilot programs, this innovative service is set to integrate tokenized deposits and smart contracts into Citigroup’s global network.
Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS), a branch with banking licenses spanning over 90 countries, recently completed two pilot initiatives. In collaboration with Maersk, a prominent Danish shipping company, and an undisclosed canal authority, the first pilot facilitated instant payments to service providers via smart contracts. This streamlined the transaction process, reducing processing times from days to minutes and effectively replacing traditional bank guarantees and letters of credit.
The second pilot program allowed clients to transfer liquidity seamlessly between different Citi branches, operating around the clock. This approach mitigated common obstacles related to cut-off times and service gaps, as Ryan Rugg, the Global Head of Digital Assets at TTS, explained.
Deposit Tokens and RLN Technology
The Regulated Liability Network (RLN) technology, introduced in November 2022, saw Citigroup participating in a proof-of-concept effort led by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which concluded in July. RLN infrastructure brings together assets and liabilities on a unified ledger, enabling atomic settlement—a unique feature among the various “unified ledger” proposals that have emerged recently. The Citi Token Services leverage deposit tokens, representing tokenized commercial bank money, to power this transformative blockchain-based platform.
Potential of Deposit Tokens
JPMorgan is said to be actively investigating the potential of deposit tokens. This technology originated from Project Guardian, initiated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore in May 2022, with JPMorgan being one of the participants in this pioneering initiative.
Citi Token Services is set to revolutionize institutional payments and liquidity management with its blockchain platform. Citigroup’s innovative approach, utilizing deposit tokens and smart contracts, aims to reduce costs, enhance efficiency, and mitigate risk for its institutional clients. The successful pilot programs and the adoption of RLN technology showcase the bank’s commitment to staying at the forefront of blockchain-based financial solutions, with a broader launch expected in early 2024. This initiative aligns with the industry’s exploration of deposit tokens, exemplified by JPMorgan’s active investigation into similar technology.