While crypto markets remain in a state of flux, as the world deals with the ongoing effects of COVID-19, there is one company trucking along, un-phased. Bakkt, the popular digital asset service provider, has announced the successful completion of their Series B.
This event saw the company bring in a total of $300 million from a variety of investors. This brings their total raised, to date, to nearly $500 million between each of their raises.
In the process of raising such a hefty sum, Bakkt saw the participation of a variety of companies in their Series B. The following is a list of companies which saw/see the promise of Bakkt, and decided to align their goals with the young outfit.
- CMT Digital
- Pantera Capital
- Goldfinch Partners
- Intercontinental Exchange (ICE)
- Boston Consulting Group
If these names ring a bell, this may be, in part, due to their participation in Bakkt’s initial Series A. With a second investment by multiple companies, it would appear that Bakkt has managed to make a good impression on all involved, as they have navigated a tumultuous market through their lifespan.
The Bakkt consumer app, which is scheduled to launch in the summer of 2020, is more than simply another wallet for holding digital assets. The app brings with it multiple features that allow it to stand apart from the pack, and entice mainstream adoption.
Bakkt has stated that the app will be based upon 4 main features which allow for its user to:
- Aggregate a variety of assets which range from crypto, to cash, loyalty points, and even in-game rewards
- Seamlessly convert each/any of these assets to Bitcoin, cash, and more
- Trade supported crypto assets securely within the app
- Payments through the app, or through use of a ‘Bakkt Card’.
For many, their wallets are full of loyalty cards; Cards which have unused loyalty points. Unsure of what to use those air miles on? Simply link them with the Bakkt App, and utilize them in any manner you see fit through the listed features above.
Essentially, what the Bakkt app does is maximize the efficiency and flexibility of loyalty programs and digital assets, while providing an outlet for their redemption and use.
Upon announcing today’s news, Bakkt CEO, Mike Blandina, took the time to share his excitement. The following statement touched on the scope of what the company has achieved in their 2 years since launch.
Mike Blandina states,
“I’m excited at our potential to unlock nearly $1 trillion of digital assets when the Bakkt app launches this summer. With the completion of our Series B financing and recent acquisition of Bridge2 Solutions, Bakkt is now a team of 350 employees and powers the loyalty redemption programs for 7 of the top 10 financial institutions and over 4,500 loyalty and incentive programs including two of the largest US airlines. We have the unique opportunity to leverage the technology, infrastructure and partners across our businesses to bring innovative new products to market and in doing so expand access to the global economy.”
CPO to CEO
Despite only launching 2 years ago, and widely being deemed a success thus far, Bakkt has already seen a change of guards atop the company. This change was the recent promotion of Mike Blandina from CPO to CEO.
It is important to note however, that the exit of Kelly Loeffler was not due to inadequacies in performance, but rather an opportunity that could not be passed up – a seat on the United States Senate.
This opportunity for Mike Blandina was not simply a stroke of luck. Upon his promotion, Bakkt mother company, ICE, noted his vast experience as a major boon.
ICE CEO, Jeffrey Sprecher, stated,
“As CEO, Mike will chart Bakkt’s strategic direction, payment products and markets, as well as overseeing the regulatory and financial performance of the company…His more than 25 years of experience in payments across product, engineering, strategy and operations will continue to serve us well.”
Beacon of Hope
When Bakkt first launched in 2018, it was during a dark time in the world of crypto/blockchain. The entire industry was in the midst of what became known as ‘crypto winter’. Their entrance into the sector was much heralded, and represented a beacon of hope for things to come in the months leading up to launch.
Fast forward to 2020, and Bakkt is once again providing a glimmer of hope for the future through their highly anticipated consumer app. This hope is perhaps needed more than ever, as uncertainty surrounds, not just crypto and blockchain endeavours, but the overall stock market; Uncertainty which appears poised to remain while markets deal with the global pandemic of COVID-19.
Major advancements by a major company, being made in the dark times of a suppressed market. Let’s hope that this summer’s release of the consumer app exceeds already high expectations.
Founded in 2018, Bakkt is a subsidiary of the Intercontinental Exchange, operating out of Atlanta, Georgia. Above all, the team at Bakkt are working to develop solutions surrounding digital assets. These solutions range from futures contracts, to the upcoming consumer app, and more.
CEO, Mike Blandina, currently oversees company operations.
In Other News
While the motive of each company is different, Bakkt shares their successful raise with various others to do the same in recent months. The following articles detail a few of these events, which saw promising companies bring in millions in investments, ranging from 5M to $200M.
Tokenise International Ltd Launches Tokenise Stock Exchange
Tokenise International Ltd
While some companies are content servicing a narrow range of the digital securities sector, there are a few players which have their eyes on something greater. Tokenise is one of these companies, with a stated goal of offering a comprehensive suite of services on a global scale.
Based out of Gibraltar, and licenced within Barbados, Tokenise International already maintains a global presence. The group is comprised of multiple branches,
- Licenced broker services
- Equity Crowdfunding
- Global security token exchange
What’s the Problem?
Arguably the biggest missing link in the world of digital securities, is a developed group of exchanges. To date, the sector is rife with competitors operating as issuance platforms and custodians, yet there remains a notable dearth of options for the actual buying/selling of digital securities.
Furthermore, multiple exchanges are restricted to offering their services within their own nation’s borders. Very few, if any, truly global solutions exist.
How Will They Solve It? – Tokenise Stock Exchange
By obtaining licensure as a broker, Tokenise.io is ready to be put to work. With this being the case, the Tokenise Stock Exchange has become the immediate focus of holding company, Tokenise International.
The Tokenise Stock Exchange, formerly known as DAXNET, has just seen its website go live. Here, investors can begin onboarding, gaining access to a variety of opportunities.
Tokenise Stock Exchange lists the following as a couple of the services they offer at this time.
- Issuance capabilities, facilitating the hosting both IPOs and STOs
- Secondary market support, providing a ‘home’ for established tokens, creating liquidity and accessibility as a result
Beyond supporting the issuance, and trading, of security tokens, Tokenise has imbued a great deal of flexibility into the types of security tokens supported. These tokens may be structured as/represent anything from equity, debt, dividends, fractional ownership, Funds, and more.
Martin Graham, Group Chairman, touched on why security tokens hold such promise, stating,
“Tokenisation of securities and other real-world assets will transform the accessibility and efficiency of capital markets. Removing inefficiencies, friction and barriers to participation will democratise the process of matching providers and consumers of risk capital. This, in turn, will increase the flow of funds and investment opportunities for market participants.”
While the company’s focus may be on Tokenise Stock Exchange, development still continues with Tokenise UK. With the state of the economy in 2020, many have noted that funding through traditional VC channels has greatly diminished. As a result, we have seen an increased interest in equity crowdfunding.
While time will tell if equity crowdfunding can sustain and convert this interest into actual participation, Tokenise intends on being ready. One example of events which can be expected on the platform is the current offering by KABN – an equity token offering looking to raise $8 million USD.
Behind the various products on offer, by Tokenise International, is an adept team. The core of this group is comprised of the following five individuals, with each boasting impressive resumes.
Michael Kessler – CEO & Founder
Martin Graham – Group Chairman
Simone Murray – Chief Financial Officer
Simon Kiero-Watson – Director of Markets
Hirander Misra – Group Director
With the onboarding of clients commencing, we reached out to Tokenise Stock Exchange to ask them, ‘What is next? What is the next marker on the Tokenise roadmap which companies and investors alike can look forward to?’
Michael Kessler, CEO & Founder of Tokenise Stock Exchange, took the time to elaborate on what they offer, and what we can look forward to. He stated,
“Tokenisation of securities and other real world-assets will transform the accessibility and efficiency of capital markets. By bringing new asset classes across multiple jurisdictions to a global community of investors will enable companies to raise capital more easily and enables greater liquidity to be generated where it was previously illiquid.
In terms of the next steps
- Enabling of full KYC & AML as well as categorisation of investors
- We are talking to a number of issuers who want to list on the platform and go through one of our corporate advisers
- We expect to have the first listings coming through over the coming weeks/months (partly dependant on Covid) that will allow people to list multiple asset classes to suit their requirements, these include:
- New asset classes
- Fractional ownership of physical assets
- Private equity Royalties
As well as traditional assets:
We are talking to over 20 new companies from securitising influencers and household names, medicinal CBD facilities, property assets, beverage producers, beauty products, fintech businesses etc. Ideally over the coming weeks we will have 3-4 new issuances ready to go through the listing process and join our exchange. We would love new issuers to contact us and for investors to register.”
While the market is nowhere near saturated, with regards to security token exchanges, there are a few currently active or in development. Each of the following holds the potential to be a competitor with what Tokenise has to offer.
Each of these exchanges vary slightly, in that MERJ serves a global client base, while OFN is restricted to the U.S., and Archax has yet to launch.
SEBA to Integrate Tokensoft Service Suite
Swiss bank, SEBA, has just announced the integration of service provider, Tokensoft. New to Europe, Tokensoft will see their capabilities leveraged by, what is considered, one of the more promising banks involved with blockchain.
With SEBA maintaining a presence in over 10 countries, this integration of services stands to have a widespread positive effect. Between their licensure, obtained through FINMA, a well-funded runway, tech integration, and a friendly government, SEBA seems well-poised to set themselves up as a leader in the digital securities sector.
That Didn’t Take Long
When we first addressed the expansion of Tokensoft in to Europe, we did not expect to be reporting on new partnerships less than one week later; yet here we are, and SEBA has announced the integration of Tokensoft services into their own offerings.
SEBA notes three main areas which they expect will benefit from this integration.
- Expansion of capabilities surrounding the creation of customized digital securities
- Mutual benefiting from financial market and technology expertise to broaden customer base
- Push the sector forward through ensuring interoperability with past and present FinTech
It’s All Part of the Plan
Much like Tokensoft, this move is all part of a plan by SEBA to develop, both, the digital securities sector and a foothold within it.
Something that will allow for SEBA to continue developing their services, and establishing partnerships such as the one discussed here today, is their past success during capital raises. In recent months, SEBA has indicated that they looked to build upon a, roughly, $100M Series A, with a $100M Series B.
Upon announcing this new alliance, representatives from each, SEBA and Tokensoft, took the time to comment.
Matthew Alexander, Head Asset Tokenization at SEBA, stated,
“We are convinced that this strategic partnership will enable us to provide our clients with enhanced tokenization technology and solutions to suit existing and emerging demands. As one of the leading security token issuance and asset servicing platforms, Tokensoft’s core competencies perfectly complement our existing asset tokenization capabilities. Our Asset Tokenization division offers enterprise grade solutions, with our Swiss banking license assuring the highest standards in security and stability.”
Mason Borda, CEO of Tokensoft, stated,
“Switzerland has been at the forefront of digital asset development – SEBA is globally one of the first banks with a focus on digital assets, which received a banking and securities dealer license from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA). We believe that such partnerships are the kind of careful, detailed groundwork that will lay the foundations for a robust Digital Asset Economy in the years to come.”
Founded in 2018, SEBA maintains headquarters in Zug, Switzerland. Above all, SEBA has shown belief in a future built upon digital securities. In addition to working towards making this belief a reality, the bank continues to provide various traditional financial services to their customers.
CEO, Guido Buehler, currently oversees company operations.
Founded in 2018, Tokensoft maintains headquarters in San Francisco, United States. The team at Tokensoft has developed a variety of solutions built to facilitate growth in the digital securities sector.
CEO, Mason Borda, currently oversees company operations.
Saudi Arabian Digital Securities Issuance Platform to be Developed by Securrency + Musharaka Capital
Working Together for Saudi Arabia
The goal of this partnerships is to develop a digital securities issuance platform, targeting, specifically, towards Saudi Arabia.
Upon announcing their partnership, representatives from each, Securrency and Mushraka, took the time to comment.
John Hensel, Chief Operating Officer of Securrency, stated,
“We are pleased and honored to be working with Musharaka Capital on this groundbreaking initiative. Saudi Arabia is the largest market in the region and, by combining Musharaka’s deep financial markets expertise and our cutting-edge technology, this venture will create new opportunities for capital formation and enhanced liquidity. Together with Musharaka’s strong leadership team, Securrency aims to stimulate the growth of businesses in Saudi Arabia and streamline foreign investment into the Kingdom.”
Ibrahim Al-Assaf, CEO of Musharaka Capital stated,
“This is surely a Fintech leap. Such projects were not feasible a few years ago due to the lack of consumer demand. However, as the economy shifts to digital trading and consumer trends develop, we are introducing developments that didn’t exist in the Saudi market. Our ability to be dynamic and adapt to consumer needs while having an agile and well-equipped team is essential to grow and succeed in our current business environment.”
Over the past year, there has been an increasing global presence surrounding digital securities. While the sector may have started out hot within North America, the concept behind tokenization quickly caught on, and spread to regions like Europe and Asia. Fast forward to today, and Europe has, arguably, made the most headway; As made evident through multiple countries developing clear regulations – resulting in companies shifting operations into these regions.
With that being said, it is both, positive and unsurprising, to see the sector making headway within the Middle East. While, technically, situated within multiple continents, the Middle East is most often viewed as its own region.
This expansion into new regions simply underscores the potential which digital securities hold, as countries around the world are working to establish partnerships and capabilities, to essentially ‘futureproof’ the way they operate.
Founded in 2013, Musharaka Capital maintains operations in Saudi Arabia. Above all, Musharaka Capital acts as an investment firm, with a focus on real-estate. Company services extend to include advisory services, portfolio management, custody, and more.
CEO, Ibrahim Al-Assaf, currently oversees company operations.
Founded in 2015, Securrency is headquartered in Washington, D.C. The team behind the company has developed a variety of offerings meant to service the digital securities sector. These services include the ‘Compliance Aware Token’, Securrency RegManager, Securrency InfinXchange, and more.
CEO, Dan Doney, currently oversees company operations.
In Other News
In our on-going interview series, we recently had the pleasure of speaking with Securrency CEO, Dan Doney. Through this conversation, we learn about Doney and his experiences with the FBI, NSA, DHS, and DIA, along with what makes Securrency special.