This week, the Security Token Group released its yearly comprehensive study – The Security Token Market Secondary Trading Analysis: 2019. The study provides direct insight into the current state of security token adoption. Additionally, it sheds some light on the major hindrances encountered by investors looking to participate in the secondary market.
The study produced some interesting data. For one, the stats revealed a lack of progress on multiple fronts concerning security token adoption. The report highlighted areas of concern ranging from a lack of understanding surrounding the new technology, all the way to postponements due to regulatory approval. Perhaps the most glaring piece of data the report confirmed is a surprising lack of global investor demand for these regulated tokens.
Security Token Market Secondary Trading Analysis: 2019
As part of the Security Token Group’s comprehensive approach towards the market, researchers chose to evaluate all international jurisdictions. In this manner, the report is able to reflect a global metric of the market’s performance over 2019. This approach provided much-needed insight into the overall health and performance of the secondary markets internationally.
2019 STO Secondary Trading Market Overview
As one of the first reports published regarding 2019’s security token secondary market progress, readers are privy to a huge amount of previously unknown data. For example, the report indicates that the secondary security token market peaked in January at $229,501,221.25. Interestingly, this peak is the direct result of tZERO‘s TZROP preferred equity token trading.
Notably, by the end of the year, the secondary market experienced a 67% decline with December’s market cap at only $76,062,199.46. Currently, the total volume for the secondary markets is around $2,410,607.94. This volume breaks down into a monthly average of $214,682.90 or broken down even further, a daily average of $7,156.10.
Despite a flourishing STO market, 2019 only saw three security token exchanges go live. Interestingly, all three exchanges meet US jurisdictional compliance requirements. This data proves the growing desire of blockchain firms to enter the US markets. The three exchanges that went public in 2019 are tZERO, OpenFinance Network, and Uniswap Exchange.
The tZERO exchange entered service in January 2019. At that time, tZERO only hosted one security token, the TZROP preferred equity token. Despite the lack of variety the platform provided, tZERO maintained the highest market cap all year. As such, tZERO represented a remarkable 58% of the entire secondary market cap. Consequently, TZROP is the largest token in the industry to be traded over 2019. In addition to the most activity, TZROP also receives the title for being the most consistently traded security token on secondary markets regarding daily volume.
The OpenFinance Network opened its doors before tZERO in the fourth quarter of 2018. Unlike the competition, OpenFinance managed to provide investors with a selection of security tokens to trade. As of December, the exchange trades five live security tokens: Blockchain Capital, Lottery.com, SPiCE VC, 22x Fund, and Protos Asset Management.
Uniswap opened later in the year. Uniquely, this exchange focused on real estate-backed security tokens. The exchange hosted three RealT tokenized properties in Detroit, Michigan. Since Uniswap primarily trades real estate tokens, the exchange provides investors with a host of new and unique investment opportunities. Importantly, analysts see tokenized real estate as having unprecedented upside potential.
Security Token Market Secondary Trading Analysis – 2019
The report also shed some light on the pace at which these tokens gained popularity. Notably, the start of 2019 was strong. Importantly, there were five live security tokens trading in Q1. Despite the strong start, most of these tokens did not see daily trading. In fact, the report revealed the vast majority of security tokens only experienced a few trades per month.
Security Token Market Secondary Trading Analysis Reveals Two Truths
After reviewing all the data presented, the Security Token Market Secondary Trading Analysis proved two important points regarding security token activity on the secondary markets. One, it showed that security token infrastructure is beginning to permeate across traditional markets. This adoption is evident as many of the world’s largest institutions decided to trial blockchain tech as an alternative to the current business systems surrounding transactions and settlements.
This decision makes sense when you consider the improved efficiency and reduced costs a company gains from the integration. As examples of major institutions seeking to enter the security token sector, the report lists Santander Bank’s latest blockchain venture. Also, the tokenization of a $700B asset management firm by Franklin Templeton and Deutsche Boerse settling digital securities trades on-chain are listed.
The second, and perhaps most important takeaway from this report is that most retail investors (crypto and traditional) don’t have much interest in the current batch of security tokens on secondary markets. This lack of interests translated into the lackluster performance of most of the security tokens examined.
This dismal investor participation can be attributed to a number of causes. Analysts pointed to regulatory roadblocks, investor fatigue, and low expected returns as some of the main reasons behind the lack of participation. In turn, this disinterest translates into trading platforms struggling to provide much-needed liquidity to the sector.
Future Looks bright
While the Security Token Market Secondary Trading Analysis proved that there is much work to be done in the space, it also demonstrated that the market is developing slowly. Notably, the report showed that there are over 60 security token exchanges slated for launch in 2020. These exchanges span the globe including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Liechtenstein, Estonia, Netherlands, Switzerland, Gibraltar, Malta, Seychelles, Belarus, British Virgin Islands, Singapore, China, Philippines, Antigua, Jamaica, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Mauritius, United Arab Emirates, and Greenland.
Security Token Market Secondary Trading Analysis – A View into the Future
You really have to hand it to the Security Token Group. This team managed to put together a treasure trove of valuable information that is sure to help guide investors and organizations moving forward. For now, those interested in a geographic breakdown of these statistics can find the info here.
Lawsuits Goes After Some of the Largest Names in Crypto
In what appears to be a broad swipe at the crypto sector this week, multiple lawsuits filed with the Southern District of New York claim wrongdoing against a myriad of blockchain-based firms. The class-action lawsuits allege wrongdoing on the part of crypto heavyweights such as Binance, Block.one, BitMEX, KayDex, BProtocol, Status and TRON Foundation, just to name a few.
According to court documents, the latest suit lists three plaintiffs – Chase Williams, Alexander Clifford, and Eric Lee. Interestingly, Roche Freedman is the firm heading the lawsuit. You may recognize the name from their recent lawsuits against Bitfinex and Tether. Additionally, they led the cases against Craig Wright and Bitfinex in the past.
Crypto Lawsuits – Details
The new lawsuit lists eleven companies in violation of regulations. These companies span the entire crypto sector. Tokens such as ELF, CVC, TRX, TOMO, SNT, and others are listed for their use of IEO and ICO models in the past. The suit claims these tokens are unregistered securities. As such, the token made agreements with exchanges in violation of Section 5 of the Exchange Act.
The violations also extend to the named exchanges. The lawsuit lists KuCoin, Block.one, Quantstamp, Civic, and Binance as exchanges who sold unregistered tokens. Plaintiffs argue that these exchanges didn’t possess the required broker-dealer license in the U.S. Importantly, the plaintiffs believe that the SEC clarified in the past that the listed tokens are securities.
The suit also lists several crypto stars specifically. For example, Changpeng Zhao (CEO Binance), Vinny Lingham (CEO Civic), Justin Sun (TRON), Brendan Blumer (Block.one) and Dan Larimer (EOS) are all named in the suit.
The allegations are not trivial, For example, the trio argues that tokens such as TRX deceived investors about their purpose and level of decentralization. The suit claims that the centralization was “not apparent at that time.” It was only after the passage of time that investors gained the necessary insight to determine this. The suit states that there was a clear delay before the “issuer’s intent, the process of management, and success in allowing decentralization to arise” become apparent. In this way, the allegations state investors were “misled into believing that TRX was something other than security when it was a security.”
Taking on the Crypto Industry
This case appears to be an attack on some of the most important firms, exchanges, tokens, and people in the crypto sector. The large scope of allegations and the global nature of the case will cause delays along the way. Consequently, it could be a while before this trial makes its way to the courtroom.
Lawsuits for the Stars
It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the plaintiffs win this case. They would need to establish numerous precedents during the trial. These new rulings could stifle innovation in the US blockchain sector for years to come. As such, you can expect to see a measured response to this lawsuit in the coming weeks.
STOMarket Adds Mt Pelerin – MPS Token
This week, the research and analytics firm, the STOMarket announced the addition of the first international security token to its tracker. Importantly, researches chose the Swiss tokenization platform, Mt Pelerin Group as the project to receive this honor. Now, potential, and current MPS token investors can monitor market developments easier than ever before.
Currently, the STOMarket hosts the largest repository of live security token data available globally. The firm has held on to this title since it first entered the market in 2018. Importantly, the group was the first data aggregator in the digital securities industry. As such, STOMarket researchers gathered primary offering data for over 300 STOs to date.
Mt Pelerin Group SA Tokenized Shares
The decision to list MPS tokens makes sense for a number of reasons. Primarily, the Mt Pelerin Group SA is one of the first tokenized shares to provide direct and full ownership to token holders. This strategy differs greatly from companies that utilize tokens simply as a form of tethered ownership rights. In this instance, the token is the actual share.
As part of the strategy, the Mt Pelerin Group tokenized its 2018 cap table. Interestingly, 5% of these tokenized shares were sold at a public offering. Importantly, no US investors were permitted to participate in the event. Notably, the group chose to make MPS tokens ERC-20 compliant.
Currently, Ethereum host the largest number of security tokens in the market. As such, ERC-20 compliant tokens enjoy added interoperability when compared to other protocols in the space. This interoperability comes in the form of more wallets, Dapps, and platform options. Already, the MPS token trades on the Uniswap Decentralized Exchange.
Mt Pelerin Joins the Ranks – STOMarket
Discussing the important milestone, Arnaud Salomon, CEO of Mt Pelerin stated that his team was “thrilled” to see the MPS token listed on stomarket.com. He described how this decision places his project in line with other “industry trailblazers.” Lastly, he described how the addition allows investors and analysts to monitor this unique token’s growth.
Not surprisingly, the STOMarket continues to expand its role in the market. For example, in 2019, the firm launched support for secondary trading transactions. Immediately, investors gained access to important data on the six largest security tokens in the market. Since then, the group has added multiple tokens. Today, the firm is building advanced support for hourly security token pricing, trading volume, and market cap updates internationally.
As part of the STOMarket’s early response strategy, the company works closely with security token issuance platforms and exchanges. Notably, the firm has data partnerships with MERJ, BlockStation, Tokenise, just to name a few. Discussing the important role the company plays, Marko M. Hafez, Co-Founder and CEO of Blockstation explained how researchers took the “initiative to centralize and publicize STO and Tokenized IPO listing.”
STO Data Access
Providing the STO market with live trading data continues to be a critical role in the space. Thankfully, the STOMarket makes it easy for anyone to monitor and share data on developments in the industry. You can expect to see these researchers play a more pivotal role in the market as STO adoption continues to expand in the coming months.
FINMA Releases Annual Report – List Security Tokens and DLT
This week, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) published its annual report for 2019. Interestingly, the report highlights developments surrounding security token offerings (STO) and distributed ledger technology (DLT). The news falls in line with efforts by Swiss regulators to further develop the country’s blockchain sector.
Discussing the results of the report, FINMA officials pointed out that there continues to be “challenging questions” the group encounters. Specifically, regulators face questions regarding the trade, custody, and settlement of different token types. Additionally, FINMA continues to receive questions about possible licensing requirements pertaining to the central securities depository pursuant to Art. 61 of the Financial Market Infrastructure Act (FMIA).
Importantly, FINMA regulators believe that tokenized securities need to be met with an updated regulatory framework. Specifically, regulators would like to create a new licensing category for institutions looking to trade, settle and custody securities under a single entity. These concerns are echoed by US regulators who also face tough questions regarding streamlining the securities settlement process for tokenized assets.
Stablecoins Are in the Spotlight
Also, the FINMA report gives special attention to the emerging market of stablecoins. Stablecoins are tokenized assets that are pinned to real-world assets such as gold, or in most instances, fiat currencies. Stablecoins have been in the spotlight lately as a myriad of major non-governmental concepts have come to light. Specifically, Switzerland is home to Libra, Facebook’s stablecoin project. As such, regulators seek to control, but not stifle these efforts.
FINMA also included data on initial coin offerings (ICO) for the year. Importantly, there were 1185 individual ICOs that took place last year within the group’s jurisdiction. Of these ICOs, the group started investigations into approximately 60. Out of the 60 investigations, 30 resulted in enforcement actions. Surprisingly, these numbers are a decrease over 2018. In 2018, 42 investigations concluded in enforcement actions.
Specifically, FINMA identified a breach of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) in around 10 ICOs. Another 8 cases narrowly missed prosecution but did make it to FINMA’s warning list. Ultimately, FINMA brought enforcement proceedings against three firms in 2019.
Interestingly, this year’s report highlights a focus on the secondary-markets regarding digital assets. The group continues to explore structuring for the trading and custody of these tokens. As such, regulations continue to develop surrounding the operation of trading venues and other security token associated support activities.
FINMA continues to play a pivotal role in security token adoption in the EU. Currently, the group oversees over 29,200 financial services firms and products. These products include a diverse range of blockchain-based applications. Additionally, FINMA has been actively collaborating with the Swiss Federal Council to develop a framework for blockchain tech through amendments to the current federal laws.
FINMA – A Step Ahead
FINMA’s forward-looking stance and flexibility in regards to the STO sector has allowed Switzerland to remain a financial hub for blockchain activity within the EU. Given the overall tone of Swiss regulators, it’s apparent that this group seeks to increase blockchain integration to new levels. As such, you can expect to see Switzerland retain its title as a global financial powerhouse for years to come.