A Year in Perspective
Just recently, industry giant, Circle, released a report titled ‘2018 – Crypto Retrospective’. In this report the company touches on everything from marketcap, to ICO funding, and emerging trends such as digital securities.
The purpose of this report is to give industry participants a feel for what has been, and where things are going in the industry at large.
Through their research, Circle found various clear directions in which the industry is trending. For instance, these trends indicated a rising popularity in both stablecoins, and digital securities.
This suits us just fine here at securities.io, as we believe that digital securities have the power to transform investing. While ICOs were wildly popular in 2017/18, they were simply a precursor, giving rise to the STO.
Circle attributes the shift in focus from ICOs towards STOs to increased scrutiny from regulatory bodies. Beyond regulatory oversight, they note various aspects of security tokens that have piqued the interest of accredited investors everywhere.
- Fractionalized ownership
- Global investor pool
- Ease of issuance
While digital securities have, by no means, been perfected yet, the allure of these aforementioned benefits is huge. As a result, various companies recognized this, resulting in infrastructure being developed at a rapid pace throughout 2018. These companies range from issuance platforms, secondary markets, and those that offer end-to-end solutions.
Circle closes out their report on a positive note. Here is what they had to say regarding the present and future state of blockchain:
On security tokens…
“While not many security tokens have been issued yet, 2018 was the year of building out the underlying infrastructure and we could see increased issuances in 2019.”
The industry as a whole…
“The market downturn has led to the revelation that this technology is still in its very early stages and that the economic growth of the crypto market in 2017 did not match the nascent underlying activity and adoption. But it’s important to recognize that the pullback was necessary, and that after the last year, the value proposition of Bitcoin and other crypto assets is stronger.
Over the next year, expect to see strides made in addressing scalability, security, and interoperability challenges, improvements in user experience, an increase in institutional interest as institutional-grade infrastructure goes live, greater regulatory clarity, and experimentation with the tokenization of new and existing, tangible and intangible assets”
To read the full report, make sure to visit HERE.
It is not surprising to find that Circle believes security tokens to be an emerging trend. This past October, Circle announced the acquisition of SeedInvest. By acquiring SeedInvest, Circle gained the ability to provide broker/dealer services to its clients – potentially setting itself up to offer security tokens in the future.
Upon acquiring SeedInvest, Allaire commented to Bloomberg, “The power of tokenization is that more and more types of assets can be represented in a liquid, tradeable form. It’s also very powerful because in theory it creates a way for smaller businesses and mid-size businesses to more directly raise capital. And I think part of the benefit is that you can make those assets available through global markets, over the internet, and make those available not just to accredited investors but also to mainstream investors and unaccredited investors. And that’s something I think SeedInvest really pioneered.”
Since their inception, Circle has managed to grow in to a powerhouse. Recognizing the potential of cryptocurrencies, Circle made waves last year with the $440 million purchase of Poloniex.
WeOwn Goes Live with Project Crowd ETO
European investors got some surprising news this week as the AI-driven freelance platform, Project Crowd announced it had chosen WeOwn to host the firm’s upcoming equity token offering (ETO). The ETO will be among one of the first regulated offerings to occur in Europe. The news demonstrates growing blockchain integration in the EU financial markets.
WeOwn is a Liechtenstein-based blockchain crowdfunding platform. The company offers businesses some significant advantages over traditional alternatives. For one, businesses can launch new campaigns in 4 – 10 weeks. Also, there are no settlement delays, so businesses receive the highest level of liquidity available.
News of the strategic partnership first emerged on October 15. Importantly, this crowdfunding campaign will be the first ETO launched in the region. Additionally, it’s the first registered ETO WeOwn launched since the company’s inception. Together, these factors make the entire campaign an important milestone.
WeOwn CEO and Co-Founder, Sascha Ragtschaa spoke on the advantages STOs have over traditional crowdfunding strategies. He pointed out the small number (25) of successful IPOs launched on the London Stock Exchange this year. These failures included some high-profile companies such as rideshare firms Uber and Lyft.
Ragtschaa explained that these failures scared investors. This fear helped drive the growing private crowdfunding sector. WeOwn gives companies a cost-efficient alternative to the status quo. Compared to hosting an IPO, an STO provides firms with an easier to initiate and more transparent process.
Project Crowd is a freelance platform that leverages a variety of new technology to streamline the entire hiring process. For one, Project Crowd employs advanced AI algorithms to better match service providers with businesses.
Additionally, blockchain technology enables the platform to better monitor and record the abilities, tasks, and the experience level of each freelancer. This information is then looped back into the AI to continue to refine the systems hiring capabilities.
The freelancing market exploded over the last five years with platforms such as Upwork raking in huge profits from connecting employers with trained professionals. One recent study highlighted the astounding growth the community endured over the last few years. According to the report, the number of freelancers doubled since 2014 globally.
Project Crowd Chose WeOwn
Discussing the decision to go with WeOwn, Project Crowd CEO, Kathrin Hauk explained the motivation behind the move. Notably, both firms share a desire to integrate blockchain tech into the capital markets. Hauk called Project Crowd STO a “historic moment” for the entire industry.
Project Crowd ETO
The Project Crowd ETO is open to qualified EU investors currently. According to the firm’s documentation, 1 million shares equal a 7.25% equity stake in the company. Notably, each share costs 1 Swiss Franc and there is a 200 Swiss Franc minimum (USD 201). Additionally, investors will receive dividends periodically. Lastly, token holders have no voting rights.
The Future is Today
The Project Crowd platform has its sights on the multi-billion dollar freelance sector. If successful, the firm could become a major player in the market in the coming year. For now, developers seek to expand the platform’s capabilities and network in the coming months.
Smartlands Set for Expansion into U.S. with New Agreement
This move was undertaken, as Smartlands looks to expand their operations into other nations. By partnering with IIP Securities, Smartlands is now able to reap the benefits of their existing broker/dealer licensure. This means that Smartlands can now support U.S. based investors on their popular platform.
The company indicates that this is just a first step into their U.S. expansion, as they look to soon establish offices stateside.
Expansion into the United States is a big move. Already expressing a desire to expand globally, the U.S. represents a major milestone for Smartlands.
Beyond the agreement with a U.S. based broker/dealer discussed here today, Smartlands is looking to fuel their expansion by raising funds. We recently covered their decision to host an equity sale through conventional means in the following article.
Upon announcing this development, multiple representatives from Smartlands took the time to comment. The following is what each had to say on the matter.
Ilia Obraztsov, CEO of Smartlands, stated,
“Initially, the talks with IIP Securities revolved around our Joint Venture program…but eventually we have broadened the scope of the discussion and are now examining several options far beyond the broker-dealer licence agreement. Allowing US citizens to purchase securities issued on Smartlands compliantly has always been an essential part of our roadmap for global development, and we’re happy that this stage of our plan is now complete.”
Yaroslava Tkalich, CMO of Smartlands, stated,
“The agreement with IIP Securities would allow Smartlands to meet one of the company’s main challenges of broadening and diversifying the current investor base…We have already created a proprietary solution for fractional ownership of the real economy assets for most jurisdictions around the world. Today, working with a FINRA-licenced broker-dealer, we’re in a position to provide US investors with a huge array of brand new opportunities.”
As Smartlands continues moving towards their goals, the company has recently repositioned a couple of its most prominent employees.
This move saw previous CEO, Arnoldas Nauseda, transition to ‘Chairman of the Board’. The change was undertaken, as Arnoldas looks to contribute more towards company expansion and business development.
With this move, Smartlands CTO, Ilia Obraztsov, assumed the vacant role of CEO. In doing so, he is now the lead in Smartlands day-to-day operations.
Speaking with Arnoldas
While he still resided as CEO of Smartlands, we had the priviledge of interviewing Arnoldas. In this exclusive interview, we discuss not only Smartlands, but tokenisation at large.
Operating out of London, England, Smartlands is a tokenisation platform which was founded in 2017. The company operates under the watch of the Financial Conduct Authority.
CEO, Ilia Obraztsov, currently oversees company operations.
Operating out of New York, IIP Securities is a brokerage firm, which was founded in 2011. The company is registered as such with, both, the SEC and FINRA.
In Other News
With Smartlands targeting global expansion, it should come as no surprise that we have covered a variety of their moves over the past few months, as they work towards this goal. The following articles discuss, not only their plans moving forward, but an on-going project of theirs.
TokenMarket Streamlining to Focus on Digital Securities
Today it was announced that PayRue has acquired a cryptocurrency exchange, developed by TokenMarket.
With PayRue already holding the appropriate licensing in Estonia to launch an exchange, it is expected that the service will go live sooner than later.
This move goes beyond simply taking control of a cryptocurrency exchange, however. The acquisition is part of a larger partnership which will see the pair of companies work to ensure future integration of services throughout their platforms. The companies state that this integration will benefit their client base, currently numbering over 200,000 and growing.
This acquisition caught our attention, specifically, due to the reasoning behind it. On the part of TokenMarket, this move was undertaken with the intent to focus their efforts more completely on the advancement of the digital securities sector.
Over the past few months, TokenMarket, has made it clear that this is where they believe the future lies, and are hitching themselves to the wagon. Whether undergoing their own STO, or working to develop services and obtain appropriate licensures, they are quickly setting themselves up to be a leader in the space.
Upon announcing the acquisition and re-focusing efforts discussed here today, representatives from each, PayRue and TokenMarket, took the time to comment. The following is what the CEO of each company had to say on the matter.
Mikael Olofsson, CEO of PayRue, stated,
“Working with TokenMarket on a cryptocurrency trading platform is an exciting development for PayRue. Some may see the exchange market as crowded, but our view is that regulated decentralised exchanges are the next evolution and very few companies are prepared for this. We believe that our users will benefit from the security and transparency that centralised exchanges are currently failing to deliver, as showcased with the continuous hacks and fake trading volume”
Ransu Salovaara, CEO at TokenMarket, stated,
“We are excited to work with PayRue as we believe there will be a monumental shift to regulated wallets and exchanges. This partnership allows us to put all our focus on token issuance and the tokenised securities market, which we expect will be a billion dollar business in the coming years.”
Speaking with Mikko
We recently had the pleasure of completing an exclusive interview with the Chief Technology Officer of TokenMarket – Mikko Ohtamaa. In this interview, Mikko, discusses, not only his own foray into blockchain, but the future of TokenMarket within the industry.
Founded in 2017, TokenMarket is a crowdfunding platform based out of Gibraltar. Their efforts are focused on the development of the digital securities sector, through the use of blockchain technologies. To date, TokenMarket has assisted various companies’ complete successful token sales. This includes Storj, Ethos, and more.
CEO, Ransu Salovaara, currently oversees company operations.
Operating out of London, England, PayRue is a tech company which offers services surrounding cryptocurrencies. This includes a mobile payment app, along with the acquired capabilities discussed here today.
CEO, Mikael Olofsson, currently oversees company operations.
In Other News
To date, we have detailed developments pertaining to TokenMarket on various occasions. The following articles elaborate on a few of their developments from the past year.