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A Look at Europe’s Security Token Legislation

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Liechtenstein via TripSavvy

Europe continues to see more counties taking a pro-crypto stance. Countries such as the UK, Switzerland, and Malta, have already made huge strides towards furthering their respective positions in the market. While there are many contributing factors behind these moves, the introduction of security tokens has played a huge roll in these countries decision.

Security tokens allow for the digitization of traditional investments. This method is called tokenization. Tokenized assets are considered more stable than traditional cryptocurrencies by most countries. Currently, security tokens fall under the EU’s MiFIDII regulations.

MiFID II

The EU instituted MiFID II regulations on January 3, 2018. This legislative framework provides investors with added protections. Additionally, MiFID II regulations improve the functionality and efficiency of the market. The legislation is a follow up to the original MiFID (Markets in Financial Directive) regulations which have been in operation since November 2007.

Liechtenstein

The sixth smallest country in the world, Liechtenstein continues to develop their blockchain sector at an impressive rate. Despite being only 62 square miles in total, this tiny country ranks among the highest in terms of GDP per capita. In October 2018, the country released a public draft titled the “National Blockchain Act.”

The document highlighted the counties desire to further their blockchain aspirations. The move was quickly followed by an announcement by the country’s Union Bank AG. Here, the bank described their intention to be the first regulated bank issuing a security token. The bank looks to create a token for interbank activities such as transferring large amounts of funds internationally.

Germany

Germany does not consider cryptocurrencies as financial instruments. In September 2018, the country determined that Bitcoin traders don’t need any licensing and that trading cryptocurrency should remain legal. This was a major ruling in favor of crypto investors. This ruling meant that crypto investors did not need to adhere to Germany’s securities regulations.

Berlin via City Break

Berlin via City Break

In December 2018, Germany’s second largest stock exchange announced plans to launch a crypto token exchange. The Boerse Stuttgart Group partnered with the local Fintech firm SolarisBank to make the project a reality. The exchange’s release date is Q3 2019. According to developers, a variety of cryptocurrencies including utility, security, and exchange tokens will be hosted.

Switzerland

Switzerland has long been a financial epicenter in Europe. Swiss officials are keen on extending their financial influence into the blockchain sector. The country recently opened a blockchain business sector dubbed the Crypto Valley. Here, blockchain startups receive reduced taxes and other benefits provided by the Swiss government.

Aside from financial benefits, Swiss-based blockchain firms benefit greatly from the country’s clear cut blockchain regulations. The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) breaks tokens into four distinct categories. These categories include asset, payment, utility, and hybrid tokens.

Estonia

Estonia was among the first EU members to legalize crypto activities. The country already approved over 900 crypto licenses since changing regulations last year. Those licensed include a variety of crypto businesses such as exchanges, startups,  and blockchain tech firms. Around 400 of the licenses issued belonged to crypto wallet providers according to recent reports.

Estonia managed to go from the poorest country in the EU to a thriving economy through a combination of factors. Tax incentives, a friendly business environment, and easy licensing procedures all contributed to the country’s rise in the blockchain sector. Today, Estonia is one of the most STO friendly countries in the world.

Malta

Malta continues to be a driving crypto force in the region. This country took the crypto reigns through a combination of factors. Malta was the first country in the world to provide a solid regulatory framework for crypto investors and ICOs. The government is pro-active in recruiting new startups to their market.

Today, Malta is one of the best locations in the world to launch your STO. The country already is home to numerous large crypto platforms. The worlds largest crypto exchange by volume, Binance, partnered with the Maltese Stock Exchange (MSX) in September of last year. The two plan to build a new security token exchange within the country in the coming months.

UK

The UK currently does not have crypto regulations in place. The country continues to research the cryptomarket with regulators claiming that it could be years before proper regulatory guidelines can be developed. In March 2018, the countries Crypto assets Taskforce issued a report in which cryptocurrencies were listed in three distinct classes. These classes include security tokens, utility tokens, and exchange tokens.

Currently, the UK crypto debate continues. The British Business Federation Authority (BBFA) released a report in which they detailed how bad regulations would hinder growth in the sector much more than “no regulations at all.” As it stands today, the UK has a strong blockchain community with analysts predicting future growth in this sector.

France

France took a much different approach regarding cryptocurrency firms. The Authorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) released ICO guidelines last year. The new regulations require all ICOs to provide full transparency regarding their offerings. Companies must define their tokens use prior to approval. This demand is required so that officials can determine what type of token the company plans to issue.

France’s stance on ICOs is mimicked by a plethora of other countries around the globe. By making all ICOs operate in full disclosure, the country managed to simultaneously welcome STOs while reducing the number of ICOs in operation. STOs provide a much safer way for investors to participate in blockchain fundraising raising campaigns.

EU Security Tokens are On the Rise

Now that you have a better understanding of the cryptocurrency regulations currently under development in Europe, it’s easy to see why countries like Malta have invested so much into their blockchain sector.

As the global economy continues along the path of digitization, there is much to be gained for the country able to become the epicenter of this technological revolution. Hopefully, more countries around the globe will realize the importance of these developments and how they affect the future of global economics in major ways. For now, the race is on to see which European country is able to take the lead in the blockchain economy.

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David Hamilton is a full-time journalist and a long-time bitcoinist. He specializes in writing articles on the blockchain. His articles have been published in multiple bitcoin publications including Bitcoinlightning.com

Security Token News

Calibra – A Product of Facebook, Built on Two Tokens

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Calibra - A Product of Facebook, Built on Two Tokens

Calibra

This week, after months of speculation and anticipation, the world of cryptocurrencies and blockchain were finally greeted with Facebook’s upcoming project.  This project is being overseen by a subsidiary of Facebook, known as Calibra.

While the official launch won’t occur for several more months, details of the project have been released, including a thorough whitepaper.

Calibra will provide its clients with a digital wallet. This wallet will allow for users of Calibra, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp, to easily send and receive tokens between one another. These tokens, known as Libra, are intended to function similarly to a stablecoin, and are ‘pegged’ to the various FIAT currencies, through use of currency pool known as the ‘Libra Asset Reserve’.

Anticipation

Among various factors, many believe the anticipation for this release has helped aid in the market recovery being experienced over the past months. While there has been a generally positive reaction to the project thus far, it time will tell if we see a major sell-off, post announcement.

Response

Reactions to the whitepaper release have been positive for a variety of reasons, with one being noted above all – awareness.

While it may seem odd to those involved with crypto and blockchain, the majority of the population has minimal knowledge on the industry. Facebook has a massive, global reach, and with their entrance, an enormous amount of people will gain exposure to what crypto is, and what it can offer.

Beyond simply raising awareness, there are those that have viewed this news in a negative light. Facebook has already been guilty of poor security practices, along with gathering obscene amounts of data on the public. Do we really want a corporation with such a reputation now gaining intimate knowledge on our finances as well? While there are those that prioritize privacy, the simple convenience of the offering will trump privacy for many.

Surprise Details

While much of the information divulged in their whitepaper release is unsurprising, many were not expecting the release of TWO tokens.

The tokens to be released include not only the aforementioned ‘Libra’, but a second which will act as a security token. This will be known as the Libra Investment Token. This token will be distributed to early investors, with the proceeds of its sale being used to generate the Libra Asset Reserve (the asset pool used to ‘back-up’ the frontline Libra tokens).

Investors in the Libra Investment Token will be part of the Libra Association Council. Each will receive equity share in the reserve, providing them with dividends garnered from the interest generated on the reserve, along with certain voting rights. For full details on the benefits and responsibilities of being a council member, check out the Libra Council Principles page, HERE.

Backing

While the backing of Facebook may be enough to make Calibra a success, they will not need to do it on their own. Based on the promise of the platform, Facebook has managed to get the backing of over 25 various companies. These companies include, but are not limited to, the following.

  • Spotify
  • Ebay
  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • PayPal
  • Coinbase
  • Uber

Each of these companies is a founding member of the Libra Association Council. With a minimum $10 million contribution each, this means that the reserve pool is well on its way towards generating a beginning target of $1 billion.

Worry

While the public may be willing to accept this new offering with open arms, governments are more hesitant to do so. Simply put, governing bodies needs assurances on how the data and assets in use will be used.

This has already been made evident as the Senate Banking Committee of the United States has scheduled a hearing for July 16th. The purpose of this hearing is to discuss the Calibra project, and the potential concerns which may arise through its use.

Indian Presence

On an interesting note, Calibra has not filed with the Reserve Bank of India, for the usage and dispersion of Libra within the country. With India representing the most populous nation in the world, this is a large market set to be left untapped. While these are early days, previous stances taken by Indian authorities should prove difficult to surmount. Despite this, the global presence of Facebook should still prove enough to lift Libra to great heights.

Industry Reaction

While Facebook is a huge, global influencer, they are not the only company of this stature. Along with Facebook, there have been rumblings in recent months that competitors such as Amazon and Alibaba will be releasing their own offerings.

This, however, has recently been shut down, as these competitors have indicated that there are no immediate plans for diving in to the industry. The speculation has garnered a response from the Vice President of Amazon, Patrick Gaulthier. At a recent conference, he commented on Calibra, stating,

“It’s fresh, it’s speculative; at Amazon, we don’t really deal with the speculative, in the now…At Amazon, we deal with data a lot, so I’ll be happy to have that conversation two or three years from now.”

Impression

Overall, the Calibra project exudes more positive than negative. While Facebook stands to gain even more user data, they are providing the world with a means to efficiently transfer value. Beyond the convenience of use, this has the potential to positively impact millions of unbanked individuals around the world – giving access to a better way of life along the way. This has been a goal of Bitcoin since the beginning, and whether this is achieved through Libra, or through Bitcoin, it has come one step closer to being reality.

Word on the Streets

With the potential that this project holds, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it has caught the attention of many. Here are a variety of quotes from noteworthy individuals, expressing their thoughts on Calibra.

Jonathan DeCarteret, CEO of INDX, stated,

“Facebook’s LIBRA coin will most probably reshape the payment industry and quite possibly the de-dollarization of the world economy.”

Markus Feber, Member of German Parliament, stated,

“If Facebook will expose its two billion users to the risks of virtual currencies, this would be a good reason for the European Commission to start work on a proper regulatory framework governing the rules of virtual currencies”

Anthony Pompliano, Cofounder of Morgan Creek Digital, stated,

“Imagine a world where Facebook’s digital wallet, Calibra, didn’t just custody financial assets, but also allowed you to store and permission your data. One Wallet. Every asset you own. Low probability of happening, but high potential impact. Wilder things have happened.”

Andreas Antonopoulos, Bitcoin Advocate, stated,

“While Facebook’s Libra doesn’t compete against any open, public, permissionless, borderless, neutral, censorship-resistant blockchains, it *will* compete against both retail banks and central banks. This is going to be fun to watch.”

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Blockpass to Offer Onboarding Services to Polymath Clients

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Blockpass to Offer Onboarding Services to Polymath Clients

Strategic Collaboration

Polymath has recognized a need for providing its clients with access to regulatory compliant investor onboarding services. Seeking a provider, they have now announced an alliance with Blockpass.

This alliance will see Blockpass provide token issuer’s access to a growing pool of pre-verified investors. In doing so, potential issuers can rest easy, knowing that their offerings only provided to appropriate investors. This means that these pre-verified investors have already undergone KYC and AML measures, ensuring they are accredited.

The goal of this move is simple – lower barriers of entry to the issuance of digital securities. By providing access to services rendered by Blockpass, potential token issuers can remove one more thing off of their lengthy token-issuance checklist. Blockpass grants access to its services through AP, making the process even easier and more attractive.

Commentary

Upon making their announcement, the CEO of each, Blockpass and Polymath, took the time to comment. The following is what each had to say on the matter.

Adam Vaziri, CEO at Blockpass, stated,

“This partnership is the latest step we have taken to streamline the painstaking and cumbersome process of onboarding investors. There are many synergies between Polymath’s proposition and our own, in that we are both striving to create simplified and compliant solutions.”

Kevin North, CEO at Polymath, stated,

“We are very excited to announce our collaboration with Blockpass…This represents our continued efforts to provide Polymath issuers with access to best-in-class KYC solutions like Blockpass.”

Blockpass

Blockpass is a Hong Kong, China, based company, which was founded in 2017. Above all, Blockpass works to provide the digital securities sector with solutions tackling regulations and compliance.

To date, Blockpass has already experienced minor adoption, as they have seen their services integrated with Infinito Wallet – bringing support for digital securities in the process.

Company operations are overseen by CEO, Adam Vaziri.

Polymath

Polymath is a Toronto, Canada, based company, which was founded in 2017. The company has established themselves as an industry leader through a variety of offered services. These platform services include specialized protocols, allowing for the issuance of customizable digital securities.

Polymath recently caught the attention of industry participants, as they announced the on-going development of a blockchain purpose built for digital securities. This blockchain is known as ‘PolyMesh’.

Company operations are overseen by CEO, Kevin North.

In Other News

Pre-verification of investors has become an increasingly popular option among industry participants. This is made evident through various established partnerships, beyond the one discussed here today. Here are a few examples of companies aligning their interests over the past few months.

Entoro to Act as Placement Agent in Upcoming Leonovus ‘Galaxa’ STO

Zapaygo STO to Benefit from Vertalo and DealBox Services

Ben Franklin Gives Access to ‘Go Philly Fund’ with the Help of Securitize

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Boston Security Token Exchange (BTSX) Seeks SEC Rule Change

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Boston Security Token Exchange (BTSX) Seeks SEC Rule Change

Development of the highly anticipated Boston Security Token Exchange (BSTX) continues as one of the partners behind this innovative concept, Box Exchange, filed for a rule change from the SEC this month. The 400-page filing seeks a change that allows BTSX to offer tokenized equities in the form of security tokens. If successful, BTSX would gain valuable positioning in the ever-expanding security token sector.

Boston Security Token Exchange Details

The BTSX exchange focuses on reducing the entry barrier for businesses seeking public funding. Respectively, the platform utilizes the Ethereum blockchain. This is a smart strategy because ERC protocol standards are the most popular type of security token issued. According to the BOX’s rule change request, the BTSX platform includes full automation via integrated smart contract protocols. Officially, the platform functions as a price time execution system for trading security tokens.

One Token to Rule Them All

Interestingly, the platform will not feature a multitude of security tokens from different providers. Instead, all trades occur in BSTX tokens. This strategy provides users with a couple of important benefits. For one, Users see a 20% reduction in listing costs. Additionally, this strategy allows BTSX to concentrated liquidity on a single trading center. Also, hosting and launching new projects is more cost-effective in this way.

BOX Technologies via Homepage

BOX Technologies via Homepage

BSTX Token

The BTSX token standard takes many attributes from the ERC-884 security token standard. Notably, BTSX tokens remain compliant throughout the token’s lifecycle. Interestingly, all trades must still clear through an “Approved Settlement Provider and the BSTX Participants.”

The Boston Security Token Exchange – BSTX

The BSTX platform is made possible through a strategic partnership between the BOX Exchange and Overstock’s crypto project, tZERO. Both firms are major players in the cryptomarket. Consequently, analysts predict BTSX will share in these firms’ growing influence. The BOX Exchange first raised eyebrows across the crypto space when it announced a partnership with tZERO on May 18th, 2018. The partnership gave both firms equal ownership and representation in BTSX.

Discussing the partnership, BOX CEO, Lisa Fall described why tZERO’s proven development track record was critical towards the success of the project. Fall also took a moment to touch on BOX’s past successes in the transparent equity options marketplace. She pointed out that, together, both companies can succeed where others failed.

No Reg A+

The filing pointed out some key restrictions the platform includes. For example, BTSX will not participate in any Reg A+ funding. Reg A+ funding has some additional flexibility that companies enjoy. For example, companies can “test the waters” before committing to their crowdfunding campaign when utilizing a Reg A+ strategy.

Importantly, the SEC has not approved any Reg A+ security token platforms to date.  BTSX is well aware of this fact and decided it was in their best interests to avoid the delays associated with attempting to get licensing for this type of public offering.

It’s Time

Now, BOX and tZERO look to combine forces to become a dominant player in the security token sector. Definitely, these firms have the experience and network to accomplish their goals in the coming months. Now, the ball is in the SEC’s court.

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