Laser Digital and WebN Group Unveil Libre Protocol
Laser Digital, the crypto arm of Nomura, Japan’s largest investment bank and brokerage group, has partnered with WebN Group to introduce Libre, an institutional Web3 protocol powered by Polygon technology.
WebN Group, backed by Laser Digital and Alan Howard (co-founder of Brevan Howard), operates as an incubation hub for fintech and Web3 innovators.
Asset Tokenization and Smart Contracts
Libre focuses on asset tokenization and smart contracts, with a goal of achieving regulatory-compliant issuance and management of alternative investments. The protocol is developed using the Polygon Chain Development Kit (CDK), enabling the creation of purpose-built, zero knowledge-powered Layer 2 blockchains on Ethereum.
Dr. Avtar Sehra, the founder of Libre, has extensive experience in real-world asset (RWA) tokenization since 2014, including founding the UK FCA-licensed tokenization platform Nivaura. The protocol extends its applications beyond primary issuance services, incorporating use cases such as collateralized lending and automated rebalancing of private investment portfolios.
Libre’s Anticipated Launch and Key Partnerships
Libre is expected to launch in Q1 2024, with investment management firms Brevan Howard and Hamilton Lane set to become the first issuers on the platform. The industry has expressed growing interest in utilizing blockchain technology to transform the distribution and accessibility of alternative asset funds.
In a press release, Dr. Sehra stated, “While our MVP objective is to increase AUM by launching the primary issuance service and driving distributor integrations, we are also working closely with our partners and clients on our 2024 product roadmap, which includes collateralized lending and automated portfolio rebalancing — building the future of wealth APIs.”
Polygon’s Role and Blockchain Technology in Asset Tokenization
Polygon’s co-founder Sandeep Nailwal emphasized the relevance of a dedicated network for real-world assets. He believes that Libre demonstrates the potential of blockchain technology to unlock new opportunities for global investors. Natalie Smith, Head of Strategy at Brevan Howard, highlighted the tokenization of funds as a means to offer investors a new way to access strategies, providing optionality and developing the platform to serve client needs.
Competition in the Tokenization Space
Libre is not the only project exploring fund tokenization. In November, JPMorgan’s Onyx collaborated with WisdomTree and Apollo, along with various blockchain technology providers, on a blockchain interoperability proof-of-concept for investment portfolio management. SC Ventures, the investment and innovation arm of Standard Chartered, entered the tokenization space by launching Libeara, its tokenization platform. The SGD Delta Fund, a tokenized Singapore-dollar government bond fund, recently received an AA rating from Moody’s after becoming the first fund to use Libeara.
The development of Libre is noteworthy as it marks the first time a financial institution-focused Layer 2 network is being built, with final settlement on the Ethereum blockchain.