Citi will invest $1.5bn in a “virtual asset” platform that will offer customers a more direct way to invest in their own digital assets, according to a report from Reuters.
The news comes as the bank prepares to expand its operations beyond the US into emerging markets and China as part of a plan to grow its portfolio of US-listed and private-sector assets.
Reuters reported on Monday that the bank is aiming to invest more than $2 billion in a platform that allows investors to invest directly in digital assets from its existing US-based financial services businesses, and then buy them directly from the platform through a new product.
The report said the platform will offer a way to access digital assets with minimal transaction fees, making it an attractive option for those who want to invest money in digital currency but don’t want to go through a traditional bank.
Citi has been working with US-led digital asset platform Chain, which recently launched its own platform.
Chain aims to offer a simple and secure way to store and trade digital assets in exchange for digital currency.
Chain has a small and growing following in emerging markets.
In the US, it offers virtual currency trading as a tool to offer investors the flexibility to invest their money and get paid in bitcoin and other digital currencies.
The platform also offers investment products including shares, bonds, and currency-linked mutual funds.
Reuters said Citi was working on the platform with a partner from the US.
The report did not specify which partner, but the move is believed to be part of the bank’s efforts to expand into the emerging markets as part and in conjunction with the Digital Currency Group, a group of financial technology companies, led by Citigroup.
The announcement comes amid an ongoing crackdown on bitcoin and digital currency in China, where authorities have been cracking down on money laundering.
China’s anti-money laundering law also requires the central bank to monitor cryptocurrency transactions, and many experts believe it will be a major impediment to the development of digital currencies in the country.
In a statement on Monday, Citi said it would also expand its presence in China by investing $500m in digital asset investment firms.
The bank is also expanding its presence globally, the company said.
The move comes as Citi aims to expand operations beyond its US-linked financial services operations into emerging countries and China.
The investment comes as China’s digital currency market is growing at a faster rate than the rest of the world, according a report by Credit Suisse last month.