Future of Finance


Is tokenisation of securities markets the nemesis or the apotheosis of the CSD? (16 May 2022)

A Future of Finance Webinar in conjunction with The Africa and Middle East Depositories Association (AMEDA) and sponsors Percival Software, a leading provider of CSD systems, to explore the counter-intuitive idea that security tokens could transform central securities depositories (CSDs) into the principal agents of the transformation of the securities markets.

It is easy to portray the tokenisation of securities as a mortal threat to central securities depositories (CSDs). In principle, security tokens issued on to blockchain networks can dispense with all the core functions of a CSD in safeguarding the integrity of issues, maintaining a register of investors, settling transactions in central bank money, distributing entitlements and maintaining accounts for custodian banks acting on behalf of investors. That is why most of the discussion about the future of CSDs since the tokenisation of securities was first broached in 2018 has focused on the escape routes rather than the paths to the future. CSDs could appoint themselves operators or “governors” of the private, permissioned networks that looked likeliest to be adopted by incumbent financial institutions such as investment banks, custodian banks and asset managers. They could run the Know Your Client (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) and sanctions screening checks to filter the issuers and investors that aspired to belong to these networks. CSDs could offer their classic services to the new classes of asset-backed tokens that were expected to emerge from the real estate, fine art, fine wine and collectibles markets, by developing digital wallets and atomic settlement services. By these means, they could make even the Decentralised Finance (DeFi) markets safe for institutional money. Unsurprisingly, when confronted by such defensive tactics and a diverse range of options that were not strategically coherent. many CSDs seemed unable to act at all. Lately, a more positive outlook has become clearer. Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), by putting central bank money on to blockchain networks, appears to solve the biggest obstacle to settling security token transactions. Even the adventurous institutional investors, dabbling in crypto-currency and token investing for the first time, have made clear they prefer to do so in the company of regulated financial institutions and financial market infrastructures. At least some of the two dozen or so security token exchanges that have emerged incorporate a CSD function, partly because unreconstructed securities laws and regulation insist upon it, but mainly because institutional money feels more comfortable with it. Many CSDs are already part – and often the most profitable part – of stock exchange groups whose own core revenues are being undermined by the sharp decline in publicly listed companies and the concomitant rise in private equity ownership. Astute CSDs are already servicing, or developing services for, privately managed asset markets which have grown to massive size – US$9.8 trillion in assets under management in 2021, according to McKinsey – without developing a supportive market infrastructure. But the biggest opportunities for CSDs lie in fixed income (whose operational inefficiencies and illiquidity are the target of several well-resourced FinTechs backed by the major investment banks) and funds (where asset managers under margin pressure are showing strong interest in the cost-cutting potential of tokenised funds). In fact, it is increasingly evident that the proposed escape routes may turn out to be infrastructural necessities, without which the benefits of the security token markets cannot be realised. Far from portending the death of the CSD, tokenisation might turn out to be the technology that leads to the re-birth of the CSD as the operator of the vital national blockchain infrastructure on which token issuers, token investors and token service providers can deliver products and services without incurring substantial costs in reconfiguring their internal systems. Once entrenched in that role, CSDs will have the opportunity to become the vital nodes in the networks that span the security token as well as the securities markets and run across national borders as well as within them. At this webinar, Future of Finance joins forces with The Africa and Middle East Depositories Association (AMEDA) and sponsors Percival Software, a leading provider of CSD systems, to ask: Is tokenisation the nemesis or the apotheosis of the CSD?

The topics to be discussed will include:

  1. Will tokenisation of securities kill, maim or transform CSDs?
  2. Does the current size of securities token markets argue for a masterful period of inactivity?
  3. Has the idea of saving issuers and investors money by disintermediation died?
  4. Are the costs of post-trade intermediation so high that they warrant disintermediation?
  5. Which intermediaries are at greater risk of disintermediation than CSDs?
  6. Is competition now a bigger threat for CSDs than disintermediation?
  7. Are regulators supportive of tokenisation or hostile to it?
  8. What should CSDs do – and when should they do it?
  9. Are mergers and acquisitions a viable strategy for CSDs?
  10. How quickly might the securities token markets grow?
  11. Which asset classes will tokenisation affect first (and which last)?
  12. Is there still a role for CSDs as governors of blockchain networks?
  13. Why are token exchanges building digital CSDs?
  14. What protection does the under-performance of blockchain technology offer to CSDs?
  15. What do issuers and investors really want from tokenisation (and what do they not want)?


Vipin Mahabirsingh, Managing Director at Central Depository & Settlement Co. Ltd

Vipin Y.S Mahabirsingh holds a B.Tech (First Class, Hons.) degree in Electronic Engineering from the University of Mauritius, an M.Phil in Microelectronic Engineering and Semiconductor Physics from the University of Cambridge and an MBA (with distinction) from Edinburgh Business School, Heriot Watt University. He joined the Central Depository & Settlement Co. Ltd at its inception in 1996 as Systems Manager and was appointed General Manager in July 1997. He was then appointed as Managing Director in November 2005. In his capacity as Managing Director of CDS, he also provides consultancy services to African stock exchanges and central depositories. He was the systems vendor’s Project Director in the implementation of trading and depository systems at the Nairobi Stock Exchange (2004/2006), Bank of Ghana (2004), Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (2006), Botswana Stock Exchange (2008/2012), Lusaka Stock Exchange (2008) and Bolsa de Valores de Mocambique (2013). He supervised the implementation of an automated trading system at the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in 2015 and has spearheaded the replacement of the trading and depository systems at the Lusaka Stock Exchange which went live in December 2017. He is a member of the Technical Committee that has been set up by the African Stock Exchanges Association (ASEA) to drive the implementation of the African Exchanges Linkage Project (ALEP). He is also a member of the Ratings Committee of CARE Ratings Africa. Vipin has been appointed as member of the Product Advisory Committee (PAC) of the Digital Token Identifier Foundation (DTIF). DTIF’s mission is to provide the golden source reference data for the unique identification of digital tokens based on ISO’s new standard for digital assets, ISO 24165.



Chris Richardson, CEO at Percival Software

Chris is a qualified technologist with extensive experience in the domains of trading platforms, CSDs and share registration.

On leaving Manchester University after completion of his doctorate, Chris started his professional career at management consulting arm of Coopers & Lybrand where he cut his teeth on a wide variety of system projects for private and public sector clients.

It was at C&L that he was asked to build a solution to handle the firm’s share registration services to their clients. That first exposure to share registration proved to be a key factor in his development, as it was to become the seed for the Percival business that he founded on leaving the firm.

After the first set of G30 recommendations proposed in 1989 that all capital markets should set up a central securities depository with book entry accounting to record and settle transactions, Percival made the transition from share registration solutions by building their first CSD solution.

Since then, Chris has guided Percival’s work on each generation of their CSD solutions and has recently overseen the development of their first trading platform.


Andrea Tranquillini, Senior Post Trade Market Infrastructure Executive

Andrea Tranquillini is a Senior executive and former CEO of financial market infrastructures, including the most recent European experiment and DLT based, ID2S.  Andrea carries close to 30 years of international experience gained across Europe with JP Morgan, BP2S, Clearstream Banking/Deutsche Boerse, Capco, the London Stock Exchange Group, VP Group and Orange, specializing recently in start-ups. He is probably the only person having worked for 5 European CSDs (Clearstream, Monte Titoli, globeSettle, VP, ID2S)


Mark Smith, CEO and Co-Founder at Symbiont

Mark leads the organization’s business strategy, product development, technology vision, organizational performance, fundraising, and executive management team. Founded in 2013, Symbiont is the result of the merger of Bitcoin 2.0 project Counterparty.io and  MathMoney f(x), which Mark founded.

A respected CEO, Board Member, Founder, Innovation and Capital Markets visionary, Mark brings over two decades of global markets experience in financial services and technology. As a pioneer in the electronification of the markets and today a recognized champion for digital ledger technology, Mark spearheaded the development of Symbiont’s Assembly™, the first enterprise blockchain platform used today by organizations such as Vanguard and StateStreet. He is an advocate for blockchain technology as a tool to solve complex operational inefficiencies, deploying disruptive technologies within institutional and non-institutional customer segments, capital markets, and alternative investing, with an expertise in foreign exchange ecosystems.

Throughout his career, Mark founded four fintech companies that have gone from start-up phase to exit including The NexTrade ECN, MatchBook FX, Lava Trading, and Anderen Bank of Tampa Bay.  He is a Founding Board Member of the Association for Digital Asset Markets (ADAM) and on the Board of USA Swimming Centers for Excellence.


Vic Arulchandran, Co-Founder at Nivaura

Vic is a co-founder of Nivaura where he is currently focused on strategy and commercialization. Nivaura provides SaaS technology for dealers and market infrastructure to create, issue and manage traditional and tokenised securities in a configurable and scalable way. Nivaura facilitated the issuance of the first legally compliant tokenised bonds in 2016-2017.



Dominic Hobson, Co-Founder and Editorial Director at Future of Finance

Dominic Hobson has worked for himself for 30 years. He was one of the founders of Asset International, a transatlantic financial publishing, events and survey business, which was sold in 2009.

Since then, Dominic has contributed to the work of two data businesses covering financial markets, run a peer group network for hedge fund managers, and co-founded the Future of Finance, which hosts events on innovation in finance.

As one half of Hobson Cardew, Dominic also provides consultancy services to a number of financial services businesses and market infrastructures.


For further information please contact Wendy Gallagher on wendy.gallagher@futureoffinance.biz