Avanti Financial expects to open its doors this October with a new bank-issued digital asset.
Led by Wyoming blockchain advocate Caitlin Long, the crypto-friendly bank announced Thursday its application was accepted by the Wyoming Division of Banking on July 15. Avanti will open in the fall because the regulator accelerated the timeline of its application process.
In the same announcement, Avanti revealed its plans to issue Avit, a programmable digital asset that can only be issued by banks and will be treated as a cash equivalent. With Blockstream as the bank’s technology partner, Long said in an interview that “one could presume that the Bitcoin blockchain will be involved,” but could not comment further.
If Avanti’s charter application is approved in October, the bank will be the only financial institution capable of issuing Avit. While Avit would not be pegged one-to-one to the U.S. dollar – because it’s a new digital asset, not a digital representation of a real-world asset – the currency would be 100% backed by a reserve of liquid traditional U.S. assets. (The bank requires this reserve for all the assets it custodies.)
Avanti claims Avit will not have the same delayed settlement and chargeback issues that traditional fiat payments face. Because an automated clearing house (ACH) transaction can be reversed several weeks after a payment has been made, exchanges and other asset service providers often hold traders’ cash for several days, Long said.
“There’s a lot of counterparty risk in OTC trading of digital assets,” Long said. “Everyone wants to settle second. What we’re doing is offering the ability for both sides to settle simultaneously.”
The bank also claims Avit will not have the legal, accounting or tax issues associated with stablecoins.
“No one knows the legal enforceability of digital assets in the U.S. because they fall through the cracks,” Long said. “The legal clarity of all stableicons is not there. Tax and accounting is also far from clear.”
Long argued that despite the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) letter clarifying that U.S. banks may provide crypto custody, the special purpose depository institution in Wyoming is still the most advanced framework for crypto custody in the U.S.
“The OCC and 49 other states do not yet have in place the comprehensive legal structure necessary for enabling digital asset custody without significant legal risk,” Long said in a press statement, adding:
“They also do not have a roadmap for courts to adjudicate disputes involving digital assets and do not provide the certainty in bankruptcy that Wyoming provides for digital asset custodians. Its prudential standards make Wyoming the only jurisdiction in the U.S. where digital asset custody in a bank can truly be executed in a safe and sound manner.”
The Wyoming Division of Banking did not return a request for comment by press time.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.