Ex-Bankers Offer First Hot Wallet for Institutional-Grade Crypto Finance

Trustology, the digital asset custody provider built by former bankers from UBS, BNY Mellon and Bank of America, has released a custodial wallet designed to brave the gamut of decentralized finance (DeFi).

The first version of the wallet, a suite of technologies called TrustVault, looked like a straightforward crypto wallet phone app, but behind the scenes, the user’s private keys were held within clusters of hardware security modules (HSMs) operated by Trustology with verification processes distributed among secure data centers. The new version works in the browser and is compatible with MetaMask.

To entice institutions to begin using decentralized exchanges, minting stablecoins via MakerDAO or lending and borrowing crypto through Compound Finance, TrustVault now bridges the browser with various decentralized apps on ethereum. It is a reaction to the plethora of cryptocurrencies available and the changing ways in which people want to access them.

“With blockchain you can come up with a new asset class with different life cycle events, different servicing actions, within hours by creating new smart contracts,” said Alex Batlin, CEO and founder of Trustology.

Earlier this year, Trustology began working with insurance broker Aon, as did custody providers Anchorage and Vo1t. “I don’t believe there is anything else on the market that is custodial and DeFi-capable,” he said.

(TrustVault screenshot)

Batlin believes that when you have hundreds of smart contracts with their own method calls connecting transactions to a blockchain, it becomes a scalability problem. Web browser plug-in tools like MetaMask allow users to sign transactions with a key inside their browser without having to deal with multiple user interfaces. But having these keys in the browser is not secure, Batlin said adding:

“A lot of people have been looking for support for DeFi apps, but they have not been able to transact large values because it’s too dangerous; the keys are in the browser and can easily be hacked.”

Rather than signing with a key inside the browser when the MetaMask extension pops up, the Trustology API switches to a TrustVault plug-in which handles the transaction and the user’s signature is returned to MetaMask to submit to the blockchain.

“It’s a seamless user experience. You get all the utility of accessing the hundreds of dapps out there; lending, exchanging, creating derivatives,” said Batlin, “but with all the safeguarding of the keys, KYC, AML, multi-sig as well on accounts.”

Enterprise blockchain proofs-of-concept are another interesting class of use cases, said Batlin. If Santander is issuing a bond on ethereum, for instance, typically prototyping teams will use MetaMask as part of the workflow, going to a web page to purchase the bond and sign transactions.

“Once the [proof-of-concept] part is done they have to think about how to do it in a secure way,” said Batlin, adding:

“That’s when everything falls apart. They now need to think about a wallet, how to store keys, how to do custody – and it’s bloody hard work.”

Vault door image via Shutterstock

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