Spanish banking giant Santander says it has become the first institution to use a public blockchain to manage all aspects of a bond issue.
Revealed Thursday, the company not only used a token on ethereum to represent the $20 million debt issuance but settled it with another set of ERC-20 tokens representing cash held in a custody account.
To understand why that’s important, imagine asking someone a question on WhatsApp and waiting for them to mail a postcard with the answer. That’s what it’s like to issue securities on a blockchain while settling the cash side of the trade through the analog legacy system. But Santander, in this analogy, conducted both parts of the conversation digitally.
Previously, the World Bank issued a similar blockchain bond but used a private version of ethereum. French lender Societe Generale issued a bond earlier this year on the public ethereum network but said nothing about cash on-ledger.
Santander is claiming bragging rights since every part of its process is digitized, automated and on-chain, including having Santander Security Services custody the cryptographic keys for the tokenized security and tokenized cash.
However, like SocGen, Santander issued the blockchain bond to itself, meaning no outside investors were involved.
“It’s an evolutionary step,” John Whelan, head of digital investment banking at Santander’s corporate and investment bank, told CoinDesk. “There are no secondary markets yet, but we are on that path,”
Describing the project as a “real-money pilot,” Antonio Torío, head of funding at Santander, said the transaction was a plain-vanilla bond with a one-year maturity, four quarterly coupons and a standard rate of 1.98 percent.