July was a healthy month for the digital securities sector. We were greeted with, not only new STOs/DSOs, but the successful completion of others. Read on to learn about these developments, as well as gain insight into industry players through our exclusive interviews.
In an on-going effort to provide clients with as well rounded an experience as possible, the sector remains rife with partnership announcements. The following examples demonstrate the global reach of the sector as the companies call different continents home.
DigiMax & Entoro to Collaborate as Advisors on Digital Security Offering
Licensure / Regulations
While June brought us the announcement of Facebook;s Calibra project, July saw increased levels of scrutiny on the move. The following articles discuss whether Libra tokens will ever launch, and the overall impressions gained from a meeting on Capitol Hill.
While the SEC lost a key member of their team in Robert Cohen, various players in the digital securities sector onboarded talented individuals. Vertalo and tZERO led the way in this regard.
In Other News
Highlighting this month’s newsfeed were endeavours related to the real estate industry. It is widely viewed that real estate is the perfect asset, which can stand to benefit from an influx of technology such as blockchain, due to being low in liquidity. Various companies have made it their mission to tokenize real estate, resulting in some successes and some big announcements.
Luc Falempin, CEO of Tokeny, states, “We see real estate as one of the key asset classes that drives the adoption of tokenization. Tokenization brings the opportunity to a wider group of investors and in the long term will bring liquidity to an asset where it has been non-existent.”
Ed Tuohy, CEO of MERJ Exchange Limited
MERJ is a global financial exchange which is scheduled to launch digital assets and security token markets in the near future. CEO, Ed Tuohy, took the time to discuss with securities.io what MERJ is bringing to the table. Read More
Mikko Ohtamaa, Cofounder & CTO of TokenMarket
TokenMarket is a Gibraltar based crowdfunding platform, with a focus on blockchain based ventures. Cofounder and CTO, Mikko Ohtamaa, discussed his experience in the industry, and what TokenMarket has to offer clients. Read More
The Need for Interoperability in Security Token Protocols
Alice Henshaw penned an article for securities.io discussing industry needs moving forward – mainly the need for interoperability. With years of experience as a smart-contract engineer, working on projects such as Fluidity (AirSwap, DeFi), Alice has developed an intimiate knowledge of the hurdles faced by the digital securities sector. Read her thoughts on why interoperability is crucial.
“Until we have an agreement between protocols on how investor information is stored and updated both on-chain and off-chain, there will remain significant friction throughout the registration and investment processes for all parties involved.”
Around the Web
U.S Lawmakers Are Realizing They Can’t Ban Bitcoin – Forbes
In this article, Forbes details a high-profile hearing, featuring Circle’s CEO, Jeremy Allaire, speaking on the importance of blockchain in front of congress. During the course of this hearing, it became evident that lawmakers believe a ban on such technologies would be nearly impossible.
A Month in Review – May 2020
While operations are far from returning to the norm, May was the first month, since the onset of COVID-19, to really demonstrate a positive turn of events. Many nations have seen cases peak, or even decline, at this point.
While the threat of COVID-19 appears to be diminishing, due to huge efforts made around the world, the lessons learned from the pandemic are as fresh as ever. This was evident over the month of May, as many developments surrounding blockchain involved projects influenced by the pandemic. One such example is a recognition by governments that CBDCs are, indeed, something needed moving forward.
This edition of ‘The Digital’ highlights a few examples of this, along with a few industry developments seen throughout May.
Growth surrounding digital securities has long been stymied by a lack of regulatory clarity. This, however, is fast becoming an argument of the past. This month alone, we saw nations stretching from the Caribbean to Asia, doing their part to facilitate sector growth.
Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC)
With inefficiencies brought to light by COVID-19, nations around the globe are working to upgrade their operations, with the release of a CBDC. May saw multiple examples of this in, both, France and Austria.
Due to being a product of Facebook, the Libra project has, understandably, garnered the attention of a massive audience. While the road has been bumpy, on route to where they stand now, this has not prevented progress from being made on the project.
Where April saw multiple additions to the Libra Association, May brought the announcement of the project’s first CEO being appointed. In addition to this, Calibra underwent a re-branding, and is now known as ‘Novi’.
In The News
After waging a months-long battle against the SEC, Telegram made the decision to throw in the towel. In the process of doing so, Telegram CEO, Pavel Durov released a condemning perspective of the United States. Read Here
“…we, the people outside the US, can vote for our presidents and elect our parliaments, but we are still dependent on the United States when it comes to finance and technology (luckily not coffee). The US can use its control over the dollar and the global financial system to shut down any bank or bank account in the world. It can use its control over Apple and Google to remove apps from the App Store and Google Play.
So yes, it is true that other countries do not have full sovereignty over what to allow on their territory. Unfortunately, we – the 96% of the world’s population living elsewhere – are dependent on decision makers elected by the 4% living in the US.”– Pavel Durov, CEO of Telegram
After experiencing multiple shutdowns, due to COVID-19, it was made apparent to the DTCC that a change to their operations was needed. May saw this realization result in the DTCC announcing multiple programs, built to study the efficacy of blockchain, in settlement process. Read Here
“The private markets are ripe for increased levels of automation and lack much of the infrastructure that has supported the public markets for decades…Project Whitney presents an exciting opportunity to leverage emerging technologies and develop completely new solutions from the ground up.” – Jennifer Peve, Managing Director at the DTCC
Andrew Adcock, CEO of Crowd for Angels
In this exclusive interview, we discussed the benefits made possible through equity crowdfunding. Further to this, Andrew elaborated on what Crowd for Angels is doing to push the sector forward. Read More
Around the Web
Why Central Bank Digital Currencies are Good News for Blockchain Adoption – Forbes
As nations continue toying with the idea of a CBDC, Forbes touched on a future in which these assets stand to help the adoption of blockchain. While some believe CBDCs will eliminate a need for assets, such as Bitcoin, there are various reasons why they may just help it instead. Can such assets co-exist? Read More
A Month in Review – April 2020
As the world continues to make progress in the fight against COVID-19, the appeal of digital securities continues to grow. This is, in great part, due to a diminishment of VC activity being seen, resulting in an increased interest in alternative means of capital generation.
This edition of ‘The Digital’ highlights a few examples of this, along with a few illuminating interviews, completed throughout April.
One of the more commonly anticipated benefits associated with digital securities is the advent of secondary markets, due to the liquidity which they will, potentially, provide.
April ended as a mixed bag, with regards to secondary markets. While leading U.S. platform, OFN, struggles with their financials, Canadian based, TokenGX, was given the greenlight for their next endeavour.
Strategic Investments + Raising Capital
As consumer bases becoming increasingly educated, companies with a focus on social impact investing will see their appeal grow. EFFV has recognized this, and announced an upcoming STO, structured to fuel their growth in ‘green’ endeavours.
Along with this, April saw tZERO successfully land a $5 million investment. The company indicates plans to use this funding for the expansion of services within Asia.
One of the hottest forms of digital assets is, without a doubt, Stablecoins. These assets have garnered the attention of many, to the point that Facebook is developing their very own variant. This past month saw development, not only surrounding Libra, but insights provided from, both, politicians and researchers.
In The News
Playing in the ‘Tokenization Sandbox’ with Vertalo
With the digital securities sector being multiple years old, at this point, the time has come for companies to begin pushing for real adoption. Vertalo has recognized this, and recently announced multiple efforts to do just that. The most recent of which is the launch of, what they call, a ‘Tokenization Sandbox’.
Vertalo CEO, Dave Hendricks, spoke on the purpose of their Tokenization Sandbox, and why it is needed.
“The Vertalo Sandbox Program is an innovation that is designed to reduce obstacles to digital asset transformation and to empower market participants…In order to create confidence in the digital transformation programs, we need to move past expensive services for commodity transactions such as token issuance.” Read Here
Mr. Wonderful Aligns Efforts with Equity Crowdfunding Platform, ‘StartEngine‘
Determined to continue growing, and provide their clientele with unmatched opportunities, StartEngine was successful in attracting new talent to their team, this past month. Joining the team is none other than Kevin O’Leary, aka Mr. Wonderful.
Kevin O’Leary spoke on why he decided to make the jump into crowdfunding with StartEngine.
“With the coronavirus pandemic causing economic uncertainty, startups and small businesses are having an incredibly hard time accessing capital, so you’re going to see a material increase in interest in crowdfunding companies like StartEngine that are solving that problem…We’re going to look back on this period as the start of the rise of equity crowdfunding, and I think it’s an industry that StartEngine is going to win.” Read Here
Jim Dowd, Founder & Managing Director of North Capital Private Securities
In this exclusive interview, we discussed the recent launch of a new ATS, supporting a variety of assets, including digital securities. This development marks an important step forward, at a pivotal time, when investors are looking for such services. Read More
Nick Bhargava, Cofounder of GROUNDFLOOR
As the cofounder of real-estate focused crowdfunding platform, GROUNDFLOOR, Nick Bhargava has unique insights into the JOBs Act. In this discussion, we highlight industry needs, moving forward, as well as what GROUNDFLOOR has to offer. Read More
Benjamin Tsai, President & Managing Partner of Wave Financial
Between their upcoming ‘Kentucky Whiskey Fund’, and their investments in companies like Securitize and Vertalo, Wave Financial is clearly ‘all-in’ on digital securities. Peruse our discussion with Ben Tsai, as he elaborates on why this is. Read More
Around the Web
Instant Access: Easy, Secure and Compliant Peer-to-Peer Transactions of Digital Securities – Securitize
With many digital security focused exchanges still working to get off the ground, Securitize has developed, and launched, a new means of buying/selling these assets. This capability comes through the use of technologies such as ‘Atomic Swaps’, eliminating the need for third party facilitators. Read More
A Month in Review – March 2020
March has, unfortunately, been a dark month for the world. Nary an industry remains, that has not felt the effects of COVID-19. Despite this, there were select events over the past few weeks that brought positivity, as the world of digital securities and blockchain marches forward. This edition of ‘The Digital’ highlights a few of the interviews we’ve completed over the preceding weeks, in addition to a look at how COVID-19 has influenced the sector.
Partnerships + Upgrades
As an SEC regulated security token issuance platform, high hopes are held for TokenSoft. Led by a strong team, this Californian company caught our attention on multiple occasions in March. First, for their noteworthy partnership with ‘Hub Security’. Secondly, they managed to develop and launch an upgraded wallet, in an effort to provide users with an intuitive and flexible experience.
Strategic Investments + Raising Capital
While asset classes, such as real estate, have dominated capital generation events thus far in the digital securities sector, there are an increasing number of ’boutique’ offerings. March saw two examples of this, as new events surrounding Bourbon and eco-friendly chocolate took the stage.
From around the world, banks are recognizing that, not only are cryptocurrencies not going away, but that they hold real merit. March saw both, the Reserve Bank of India and The Bank of Canada, take varying stances towards them. While India’s central bank continues their fight to suppress the technology, Canada appears on the edge of potential adoption, through their own CBDC.
In The News
The COVID-19 Effect
As the global pandemic known as COVID-19 continues to play out, we took a look at a few of the ways the virus has affected blockchain and digital securities. From designating essential services, to reallocating mining resources, and the suspension of services – change is afoot.
Vertalo CEO, Dave Hendricks, didn’t mince words when commenting on the recent decision by the DTCC to suspend handling of paper-based certificates.
“It’s time for issuers and investors, especially with respect to private assets, to effect digital transformation and improve the resiliency and response time of securities transactions. Only fully digital transfer agents like Vertalo are capable of this sort of step-function improvement.” Read Here
‘The Runway Fund’ Looks to Provide Relief for Start-Ups Impacted by COVID-19
While difficult times often lead to innovation, and the advent of new technologies, there are many that suffer greatly. Young companies, not yet fully established, are particularly susceptible. Thankfully, there are those that have extended a helping hand, through the creation of a new relief fund.
“Whether you were about to close a funding round, or sign your first revenue deal, we know that COVID-19 has caused unanticipated disruptions and delays that may force you to take some tough decisions and maybe even to shut down.
Our goal is to help you through this tough time and to maximize your chances of survival.” Read Here
Paolo Ardoino, CTO of Bitfinex and Tether
With the volatility recently seen in basically every market, stablecoins have established themselves as more important than ever. We were fortunate to have completed this exclusive interview with Paolo Ardoino, CTO of Tether and Bitfinex. While competition for Tether has grown greatly in the past year, this stablecoin remains one of the world’s most popular. Their endurance as a popular choice, is no doubt due to constant innovation – such as the potential for future upgrades including the Lightning Network, and more. Read More
Adam Vaziri, CEO of Blockpass
KYC and AML are critical procedures, required to be completed by basically every reputable company. As such, there is a definite demand for services which facilitate the processes. Enter Blockpass – A company led by Adam Vaziri, set on specializing in Identity services. Read More
Marko Hafez, President and CEO of Blockstation
This promising Canadian startup has managed to establish various strategic relationships with regulated stock exchanges. In this exclusive conversation, we speak with Blockstation CEO, Marko Hafez, and learn more about his experience, and how Blockstation found themselves where they are today. Read More
HODL Your Hoopla Over SEC Changes for Exempt Offerings
The first, in a pair of contributions by Matthew Unger (Founder of iComply), examines his take on recent proposals put forth by the SEC. Should we be excited for potential changes to exempt offerings? Or are we getting ahead of ourselves? Read Here
Why EU Blacklisting the Cayman Islands Matters for the STO Industry
In a second contribution, Matthew Unger of iComply, took a closer looks at the recent treatment of Cayman Islands based companies by the EU. Is the treatment warranted? How can companies ensure their AML practices are up to snuff? Read Here
Around the Web
South Korea Passes One of the World’s First Comprehensive Cryptocurrency Laws – Techcrunch
While many nations remain undecided on their stance towards cryptocurrencies, South Korea continues to march to the beat of their own drum. March saw the tech-savvy nation pass new laws pertaining to these virtual assets, potentially providing other nations with a blueprint of feasible approaches. Read More