Just days after U.S. regulators gave banks an all clear to hold digital assets, Diginex has announced that it is launching EQUOS.io, the first U.S.-listed digital asset exchange targeting users in the U.S., U.K. and Switzerland.

Diginex says its new EQUOS.io platform will feature a fully functioning digital asset exchange, including some advanced trading tools such as cryptocurrency spot trading, and at a later date perpetual swaps, dated futures, options and other derivatives. Diginex also says it will be compatible with the company’s OTC trading desk and custody solutions. 

“Our industry analysis has allowed us to understand the friction points for institutions to trade digital assets and address many of those with new and improved solutions around portfolio management,” said Richard Byworth, Diginex’s CEO, in a statement. “I am truly excited by the impact that EQUOS.io will have on many aspects of how the industry operates today and how it will also expedite its future growth.” 

Diginex also announced it plans to list on the Nasdaq via 8i Enterprises, a Nasdaq-listed special purpose acquisition company.

“The planned listing on Nasdaq is further testament to our commitment to compliance, regulation and transparency, all of which are core principles of Diginex and are reflected in products such as EQUOS.io, which provides a fair and equitable platform for all participants,” Byworth said.

The growth of digital assets

The digital asset industry is growing as regulators warm up to the idea and begin greenlighting essential elements of its supply chain such as custody services. In Hong Kong, the Securities and Futures Commission, the city’s securities regulator, created a framework for the industry in late 2019. In response, a half-dozen custodian firms opened their doors. Then in early 2020, Hong Kong saw its first virtual asset managers setting up shop. 

Given Hong Kong’s pro-business, free-market environment, this might have been expected. Crypto and digital assets are a new asset class that investors clamor for, and Hong Kong’s mantra is not to get in the way of what the market wants. 

But what’s surprising is the “plot twist” of the U.S. being ready to give crypto and digital assets a full-throated embrace. U.S. regulators’ hostility to crypto is something that is already recognized by some policymakers, including Rep. Warren Davidson of Ohio, who sponsored the Token Taxonomy Act. He pushed the bill forward, he has said, because he believed that a hostile regulatory regime was causing capital flight

But how things have changed. This bill was written before the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency hired a former Coinbase lawyer to take over its top job. This was before the Commodities Futures Trading Commission announced it would craft a holistic and exhaustive digital assets framework by 2024. In fact, in this current timeline, there is a possibility that crypto-friendly faces would be at the top of all three of America’s financial regulators. If Jay Clayton vacates his post as SEC boss, “Crypto Mom” Commissioner Hester Peirce might get the nod to fill the role. CFTC Chair Heath P. Tarbert has been quoted as saying the U.S. needs more industry-friendly crypto rules; while OCC boss Brian P. Brooks already has a strong crypto background. 

What a great time to launch a digital assets exchange that targets the U.S.