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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
A Look at the Silicon Valley Coin
The San Francisco-based venture capital firm, Andra Capital raised eyebrows across the market after announcing plans to host its Silicon Valley Coin (SVC) STO in the coming weeks. The funds raised via the STO will go towards the expansion of the company’s Open-Ended Technology Fund. The news demonstrates further security token usage in the US market, as well as, a desire to leverage blockchain technology to improve crowdfunding strategies.
The news officially broke on Jan. 22, 2020 via a company press release. In the release, Andra Capital described the purpose and concept of the Silicon Valley Coin. The firm cited the ability to provide investors higher returns and lower risks over a shorter investment period as one of the main focuses of the project.
Open-Ended Technology Fund
The Open-Ended Technology Fund is unique in many aspects. For one, the fund specifically targets companies in their hyper-growth phase. In this way, fund managers are able to combine a late-stage investment strategy with a perpetual VC structure that incorporates tradeable interests leveraged by the latest technology.
Additionally, Andra Capital incorporated world-class service providers into the equation as a way to ensure the success of their project. For example, Andra Capital decided to partner with the Tezos Foundation to make the concept a reality. As such, Andra Capital decided to utilize the Tezos Blockchain for the project.
Tezos was a smart fit for the project because the firm provides Andra Capital access to global investors. Additionally, Tezos utilizes institutional-grade security features. Features such as formal verification streamline the entire investor onboarding process.
Notably, Tezos utilizes a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm to secure its blockchain. This style of consensus is far more energy-efficient than traditional Proof-of-Work systems such as the one utilized by Bitcoin. Importantly, Tezos supports secure smart contracts and features a unique live upgrade process. This ability to do live upgrades is ideal for long-term, high-value applications.
For their part, TokenSoft will provide access to its proprietary tokenization technology. These tasks will include the integration of KYC and AML smart contract protocols. These compliance mechanisms help qualify retail investors. Also, TokenSoft will both issue SVC and host the SVC STO.
Speaking on the new partnerships, Sam Raman, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Andra Capital called his partners “best-in-class providers.” He touched on their past successes and how each firm can provide their unique expertise in digital securities to better the overall project.
Silicon Valley Coin (SVC)
The Silicon Valley Coin (SVC) is a regulatory compliant, asset-backed, and tradeable security token. Each token represents a unit of interest in the Andra Capital Open-Ended Fund. Investors receive dividends equal to the percentage of tokens they hold in the fund. SVC tokens cannot be traded or transferred without first meeting KYC and AML restrictions.
Silicon Valley Coin (SVC) – A New Token in the Field
Andra Capital definitely did their homework prior to the launch of this project. The firm managed to partner with some of the biggest names in the industry to bring their concept to life. It will be interesting to watch this STO launch considering the amount of positioning each partner holds in the market. For now, the security token sector just got a new VC fund.
3 More Executives Leave SDX Due to Discrepencies
The blockchain-based digital asset trading venue SDX continues to have a rough start to the new year. This week, another high-level executive announced their departure from the firm. The news brings the number of executives who left the company in January 2020 up to three. The news demonstrates a realignment and shuffling of SDX’s business plan. Also, it showcases the growing pains associated with these changes
According to company documentation, all of these executives departed from their full-time positions in January. The three individuals to leave are Alex Zinder, an architecture lead at SDX, Ivo Sauter, SDX’s head of clients and products, and Sven Roth, the firm’s chief digital officer. The later of the trio agreed to stay on as an external advisor to SDX.
In a recent interview, Sauter explained the motivation behind his decision to leave. He touched on a number of critical changes made throughout the firm. These changes included a shift from the platform’s original vision. He explained that at first, the platform was to utilize the banking sector as a bridge into the rest of the market.
However, this strategy quickly changed as SDX began to tailor its platform specifically, and solely for use by banks. Sauter described how these changes effected moral and fueled the growing dis-alignment between executives and owners. He explained that originally, the platform was to be much more inclusive. For example, SDX was to enable startups to provide services around its features.
Sauter also took a moment to touch on the negative effects this corporate culture had on the project. He explained that, in his opinion, a bit more separation needed to occur between SDX and its mother company, the Swiss stock exchange operator SIX Group. Apparently, these feelings of discourse only grew as the mother company took more and more influence on SDX’s day to day operations.
Additionally, Sauter explained how the big-company approach also inhibited the company’s ability to save. Large corporations require much more reporting. In turn, this reporting raises operating costs. Additionally, smaller firms have more liberty in terms of flexibility and risk management. In the end, the corporate approach made many of the executives feel as if they had been stifled.
Despite the discrepancies, Sauter stated that he had left on good terms. He went as far as to claim that he was at a point in his career that he had no desire to have his contract renewed. Consequently, SDX chose to not offer a renewal.
Challenges in the Market
As with any major corporate reshuffle, there are going to be individuals that no longer fall in line with the platform’s overall goals. Discussing these challenges, a SIX spokesman touched on the changes and what they mean to the project. They explained that whenever you have a concept built from scratch, there are going to be many ups-and-downs associated with the development. In the end, the firm acknowledged that these changes have begun to add up with the spokesperson stating that the firm has “spent quite a few Swiss francs” on the ordeal.
SDX Moving Forward
From the tone of SDX’s past employees, the company is undergoing some heavy internal changes. As such, there is no way to determine exactly how these personnel changes will affect the overall strategy the company has chosen to follow. One thing is for sure, SDX appears to have made a priority shift towards servicing the banking sector exclusively with its new platform.
SEC Charges Opporty for 2018 ICO
This week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) continued its ICO crackdown. This time, the firm levied charges against project Opporty Founder and Brooklyn-resident Sergii Grybniak. The firm alleges that Grybniak broke the law when his firm raised approximately $600,000 during its 2018 ICO.
News of the charges first broke via Jan. 21 press release. In the release, the SEC reveals the charges laid against Grybniak in detail. Importantly, the primary charge is participating in the unregistered sale of securities. Additionally, the SEC claims that Grybniak made false statements in order to encourage more investor participation.
These statements include a myriad of exaggerated and completely fake claims. In one instance, Opporty claimed that its 2018 ICO was “100% SEC-compliant.” Unfortunately, this claim proved to be the tip of the iceberg. Apparently, Opporty also claimed to have thousands of “verified providers” who were ready to work with the platform.
This claim became so overblown that in one piece of marketing material, Opporty suggested it had a business database that included around 17 million participants. In actuality, the firm had no partnerships. Unfortunately, these claims served one main purpose, to push more investment capital into the ICO.
Major Software Firm
As if the shower of lies put forth weren’t enough, Opporty also made some very specific partnership claims that proved to be bunk as well. According to the SEC, the firm lied about a partnership with a major software company. This lie was to help ease investor doubt about the ability of developers to deliver on their hefty platform promises.
SEC Steps In – Opporty
It doesn’t take much research to see why Opporty ended up in the SEC’s crosshairs. Now, the SEC seeks injunctions against all future digital offerings by the company. On top of the cease-and-desist, regulators require Opporty to return all the funds the company raised during its 2018 ICO. Also, the firm is to face a variety of civil penalties for its actions.
Opporty executives sold the concept to investors as a blockchain-based ecosystem for small businesses. The platform was to provide these small-to-medium sized companies with access to advanced blockchain systems. For example, businesses could list their services and lock in their clients via smart contracts.
United States Investors
Aside from the obvious scamming that took place, Opporty made another key error in its strategy. You see, unlike many similar ICOs, the offering did not explicitly exclude U.S. investors from participating. The 2018 ICO included investments from around 200 US citizens. In this way, the firm invited the SEC to monitor its actions throughout its entire crowdfunding campaign.
An Oppurty Lost
Given the long list of violations this firm now faces, it’s easy to imagine a scenario in which Opporty decides to close its doors. Already, numerous SEC-charged firms have taken similar measures prior to refunding clients’ funds. For now, Opporty has a long legal battle and hefty fines to deal with. You can expect to hear more from this case as the SEC pursues its charges against Grybniak.