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Digital Securities

CurioInvest – Fractional Fine Automobile Investing

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CurioInvest - Fractional Fine Automobile Investing

Who is CurioInvest?

CurioInvest is a young company, operating out of Zug ‘Crypto Valley’, Switzerland.

The team behind the project is comprised of car and blockchain enthusiasts, which have set out to combine their passions. Above all, they state that their mission is to enable,

“…everyone to invest in and profit from collectable cars. By using a crowdfunded, community-based investment model, CurioInvest will open up the collectable car market to millions of new investors.”

What is the Problem?

Vehicles are much more than simply a means of transportation. They are pieces of art, which speak to the person driving them. Values are driven by rarity, quality, functionality, beauty, and more – each creating differing levels of market demand.

Unfortunately, the upper echelons of the collectible car sector is typically out of reach for most. This is due to a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, the following:

Expense

Truly collectible cars are not a small investment. Good examples will range anywhere from six to eight digit values.

Select sales straight from the factory

It is commonplace for manufacturers, such as Ferrari, to essentially interview individuals before selling them a vehicle. Even if you can afford the product, these limited edition vehicles only find their way in to the hands of a select few.

On-going maintenance

You do not buy an exotic car, and simply tuck it away in a garage while it increases in value. Sitting idle is not good for mechanical devices, and they require constant care and upkeep. When dealing with exotic cars that are very unique in nature, this task becomes even harder, as specialized skillsets are needed to care for each vehicle.

 

For those that do not find these hurdles as an issue, the asset class represents a highly lucrative one. CurioInvest indicates that for over a decade, collectible cars have outperformed gold, S&P500, etc.

How will CurioInvest Solve it?

In their attempt to build on their passions, the team at CurioInvest has developed a platform facilitating access to the asset class for a broader range of investors.

To achieve this, CurioInvest will strategically invest in exotic vehicles which are anticipated to grow in value. They intend to solve all of the discussed issues which plague such assets through the use of blockchain technologies.

More specifically, the team at CurioInvest will be hosting an STO, which will give accredited investors the opportunity to purchase security tokens. These tokens can be used to invest, through fractionalized ownership, of a curated collection of vehicles. The tokens impart their holders with rights to a proportionate share of profits, when vehicles from the collection are sold for a profit – no less than 120% of purchase price.

By using this tactic, CurioInvest opens the possibility of investing in such assets to an entire new group of investors that could not previously afford to do so. Furthermore, the use of a security token should allow for investors to experience increased liquidity, through the ability to enter and exit positions on secondary markets.

 

Commentary?

We reached out to CurioInvest for further comment on the nature of their plans.  CEO, Fernando Verboonen, took the time to share the following insights.

Q: Other projects such as ‘TheArtToken’ have set out to democratize investing in traditionally expensive assets such as fine art. What about exotic cars make them an ideal asset for tokenization?

A: Classic & hyper cars are the perfect wedge: big audience, scarce supply, willingness to pay, emotional asset. Furthermore of the 10 asset classes Knight Luxury Investment Index (KFLII), classic cars performance in terms of price over the past decade has been staggering. CurioInvest.com brings an additional degree of independence by tokenizing assets individually. This means you now to get pick which asset to acquire – this was simply not economically feasible in the past and it’s a great example of how STOs may well disrupt the status quo.

Q: What factors come into play when deciding on an appropriate vehicle to purchase for investment? Rarity? Vintage or New? Past growth? Current Market trends?

A: Provenance and state of the asset are extraordinary relevance. However, latest market trends and overall social media sentiment play an increasing role. Ultimately, an investment in a collectable automobile touches the passion on an individual’s own experiences – making of collecting an exciting experience.

Q: Can you speak on the structuring of the upcoming security token? Do holders have voting rights? Will they be available on any exchanges which support digital securities? Are these ERC-20 based tokens?

A: Whats most fascinating about our product is that it was design with the holder in mind, hence the structure may evolve as we get further feedback from our customers. From the very beginning we pursued a non-voting right that would enable management to remain agile when exiting the asset. This means as well as the sale triggers are laydown beforehand in a transparent manner. As of today the tokens are ERC20 and as far as we know are the world’s first tokens that back a collectable car and come together with an ISIN

The Team

Boasting professional resumes which include years of experience in exotic car investing, and FinTech, the following two find themselves at the helm of CurioInvest.   Under their watch, CurioInvest has as good a chance of succeeding as possible.

Fernando Verboonen – Chief Executive Officer

Valerie Halter – COO

In Other News?

As indicated above, there have been other companies which have taken similar pathways. ‘TheArtToken’ is an example of this, as those behind the project hope to use blockchain as a means of bringing access and liquidity to an asset that traditional has lacked both of these qualities.

TheArtToken : Preserving Wealth on the Blockchain – With ART

Interview Series – Oliver T. Roehl, Art Strategist and Purchaser

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Joshua Stoner is a multi-faceted working professional. He has a great interest in the revolutionary 'blockchain' technology. In addition to this, he is a licenced Paramedic in Nova Scotia, Canada. As such, he can provide emergency care/medicine to any situation necessitating it.

Digital Securities

What is Tether? A Look at the World’s Most Popular Stablecoin

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What is Tether? A Look at the World’s Most Popular Stablecoin

Tether (USDT) is the world’s most popular stablecoin. As such, it serves multiple purposes in the market making it a core cryptocurrency in many investor strategies. While it may be impossible to envision a crypto market without Tether, this hasn’t always been the case. The Tether project overcame much controversy to make it to the top spot.

Nowadays, Tether helps to provide liquidity and a hedge against market volatility. It’s able to accomplish this task because it is what’s known as a Stablecoin. Stablecoins are blockchain instruments that have their value pegged to outside commodities.

Advantages of Stablecoins Like Tether

The advantages these coins bring to the market are undeniable. For one, their stability helps curtail the volatility of cryptocurrencies as a whole. Investors depend on stablecoins as a way to escape bearish markets without converting funds back into fiat currencies.

In most stablecoin scenarios, the token will have its value pegged to a fiat currency. In the case of Tether, USDT shares its value with the US dollar. In essence, 1 USDT is worth $1. Additionally, anyone can choose to redeem their 1$ of fiat currency through Tether Unlimited at any time.

Tether Supply Graph - Bitcoin News

Tether Supply Graph – Bitcoin News

Interestingly, Tether helped to spawn a new class of stablecoins. Today, there are multiple fiat stable coins. Additionally, there are stable coins pegged to nearly every major commodity. There are coins pegged to the value of gold, diamonds, and even oil.

History of Tether

The history of Tether begins with the Realcoin project. Realcoin entered the market via its whitepaper in July 2014. The whitepaper caused a huge stir amongst the community for several reasons. Aside from its revolutionary technical aspects, the paper’s publishers are some of the most reputable names in the market. Specifically, Tethers whitepaper lists co-founders Brock Pierce, Reeve Collins, and Craig Sellars.

Interestingly, the Realcoin name didn’t last very long. In November 2014, the Santa Monica based startup decided it was time to dawn a new title – Tether. Notably, Tether entered the market with a three-pronged approach.

The platform introduced three stablecoins as part of its entry strategy. The first coin was USTether. This token featured a 1:1 peg with the US dollar. The second coin pegged its value to Euros, and the last coin focused on the Japanese Yen, the latter being known as YenTether.

First Exchange Listing

Bitfinex became the first exchange to introduce Tether into its platform in January 2015. Instantly, stablecoins became a success. The exchange saw huge user activity regarding this token. Consequently, Bitfinex became the leading exchange in terms of Tether trading.

Bitfinex Connection

It wasn’t long before researchers began to question Tether’s solvency. It was the first stablecoin in the market, and its unprecedented rise to success was not without concern. These concerns led researchers to delve deep into the Tether Bitfinex connect.

In 2017, a group of independent researchers from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released the Paradise Papers. This document confirmed some of the worst fears of those in the market at the time. The documents showed that both Tether and Bitfinex shared the same management and corporate structure.

Researchers discovered that both entities listed the same Chief Executive, chief financial officer, chief strategy officer, and general counsel in their corporate documentation. The founder of Tether, a graduate of Yale University, Philip Potter, also handled the major operations of Bitfinex.

The report went on to detail how the two companies were really more like one conglomerate. The documents demonstrated how the majority of Tether accounts entered the market on the Bitfinex platform. Furthermore, these researchers went as far as to label Tether the driving force behind the 2017 crypto break out year.

Bull Run

Those that credited the inflow of USDT into the market as one of the key factors behind the 2017 bull run began to make their voices heard. Another research paper published the following year titled ‘Is Bitcoin Really Un-Tethered?’ takes an in-depth look at the effects of Tether within the crypto sector.

The researchers behind this paper, John M. Griffin and Amin Shams are well-known academics from the University of Texas. Their research concluded that Bitfinex and Tether worked together to artificially bump Bitcoin prices. The two allege that Bitfinex supplied the market with Tether in a bid to create an influx of liquidity.

These USDTs would then flow into a myriad of cryptocurrencies. However, when the value of these smaller coins would decline, most investors bought back into Bitcoin. It’s these actions, that researchers claim fueled Bitcoin’s epic $20,000 bull run.

Tether Issuance Graph - Tetherreport

Tether Issuance Graph – Tetherreport

To make matters worst, the researchers were not alone in their assumptions. The creator of Litecoin, Charlie Lee made a Nov 30 Twitter post were he appeals to the market to exercise caution. Specifically, Lee posted:

“There’s a fear going on that the recent price rise was helped by the printing of USDT (Tether) that is not backed by USD in a bank account.”

Questions Arise

As the negative press began to mount for Tether, they began to catch the attention of regulators. On December 6 of the same year, the U.S Commodity Futures Trading Commission sent multiple subpoenas to both Bitfinex and Tether. In the subpoenas, the New York Attorney General alleged that Tether illegal allocated funds to cover up to $850 million in losses.

Banks Join

This negative press eventually led the firm’s banking partnerships to exit. In the latter part of 2017, the platforms lost the US Bank and Wells Fargo as banking partners. While this was a major blow to operations at the time, it wasn’t long before Tether found friendlier banking relationships in pro-crypto countries such as Taiwan.

How Does Tether Work?

It sounds easy pegging a cryptocurrency to the price of a real-world asset. However, the task is notoriously difficult for many reasons. To accomplish this task, Hong-Kong based Tether Limited originally claimed that for every ASDT issued, the firm held an equivalent amount of dollars kept in reserve.

As USDT issuance got into the billions, these claims came under heavy scrutiny. In March 2019, the company changed the backing of USDT to include loans to affiliate companies. Despite the change, Tether remains the top stablecoin in the world.

Omni

USDT is unique in that it functions on the Omni blockchain protocol. Omni is a versatile platform that is most famously known for its Bitcoin anchoring capabilities. Currently, Omni provides this service to multiple firms.

In its earliest days, every Omni transaction featured a dual recording strategy that would place the entry on both the OMNI system and record it in a Bitcoin transaction sharing the same transaction hash.

Omni Today

Today, Omni assets feature pegs on multiple blockchains. Notably, there is an Omni layer of Litecoin. More recently, developers introduced additional ERC-20 variants of the tokens. All of these variations help to further secure Tether and demonstrate its adaptability in the market.

Why Tether is Important

Tether is one of the most dominant cryptocurrencies in the market. It provides investors with additional flexibility as it serves as a dollar replacement on many popular exchanges. Here are just some of the reasons Tether continues to see adoption:

Exit strategy

Market volatility is a major concern in the crypto sector. When the bears start to take over the market, investors only have a few options to consider. They can sell their holding and convert them back into fiat. This process is time-consuming and involves the most fees possible. Or they can ride the bear market out and take the losses. Tether adds a third option to the equation. Convert to Tether and avoid the fees and volatility.

Reduce friction

Since Tether is another blockchain asset, converting from Bitcoin or any cryptocurrency into Tether is as easy as exchanging Bitcoin for Ethereum. This conversion introduced a frictionless way for investors to avoid volatility and remain in the cryptomarket

Remittance

As with most cryptocurrencies, Tether has the ability to revolutionize international transaction systems. USDT can be sent anywhere globally without the need to convert funds or pay extra transference fees. The point is that Tether is as easy to send as Bitcoin globally.

Accounting

Another major advantage of using Tether as a means of payment is accountability. Since its inception of Bitcoin, there has been confusion surrounding its use as payment in terms of accounting. Businesses that pay for goods or services with crypto are often left to estimate the value of their payment against the US dollar. Stablecoins eliminate this concern because they always equal their fiat counterparts.

Transit Cryptocurrency

Importantly, Tether facilitates the transfer of real cash into digital cash. This is a major task in some regions of the world. Remember in some locations it’s a difficult task to convert crypto into fiat currency. In some countries the practice is illegal. For all of these regions, Tether is a smart alternative.

Acceptance

Along the same line of thought, Tether provides exchanges with increased liquidity. This token allows exchanges to forgo dealing directly with fiat currency. In this way, exchanges can reduce the amount of KYC and AML regulations their platform must meet.

Tether is Here to Stay

After so many successful years in the market, no one can argue the important role Tether holds. Nowadays, there is no shortage of stablecoins in the sector. However, Tether was the original stablecoin that started this revolution. For that, Tether deserves a nod of appreciation.

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Digital Securities

FinTech ‘Unicorn’ Revolut Shows Positive Growth in 2019 Annual Fiscal Report

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revolut

Revolut, a tech ‘unicorn,’ and one of the more promising FinTech platforms on the market today, has recently released its annual fiscal report.  The annual fiscal report touches on the various accomplishments, setbacks, and financial markers surrounding the company’s operations throughout the 2019 fiscal year.

By the Numbers

Revolut has various developments to share, and the numbers seem to be trending in a positive direction.

The following is one key metric provided, which demonstrates the direction that its decisions have resulted in – active users.

  • 2018 : 3.5M
  • 2019 : 10M
  • 2020 : 13.5M and counting

As its user base increases, so do its cash holdings on the users’ behalf, with this total jumping from £903M in 2018 to roughly £2,281M in 2019.

Furthermore, Revolut notes a substantial increase in 2019 revenue vs. 2018 (£162.7M vs £58.2).  Of course, larger operations also result in great operational costs.  Revolut witnessed a substantial jump in revenue as well as a tripling of operational costs over the same time frame, jumping to £107.4M in 2019 from £34.01M in 2018.

While expansion into new markets may be fuelling this jump in revenue, expansion has been made possible in the first place by a series of successful capital raises.  Revolut successfully raised £580M in investments in the first half of 2020 alone, and we expect to see additional funds raised.

Service Expansion

Undoubtedly, various platform features implemented over the course of 2019 are also responsible for a portion of Revolut’s growth.  A few examples of these include:

  • Support for Apple Pay
  • Commission free trading of U.S. listed stocks
  • Expansion to Singapore, Australia*, United States*, Japan*

*launched in beta

Looking Forward

Despite not turning a profit, 2019 was an overall positive year for Revolut, considering its ongoing desire for global growth.  Looking forward, the company has already established a game plan to ensure profits are one day realized.  The following is an excerpt from the fiscal report, touching on what these plans entail.

  • Future investment in the technology infrastructure and development of the core product offering to Revolut customers,
  • Continue to operationalize Revolut Bank UAB and the roll-out across other European markets,
  • Obtain further regulatory authorizations required to expand our product offering across jurisdictions,
  • Develop existing operations in international jurisdictions including North America and Asia Pacific whilst continuing to expand our operations across the UK and EEA,
  • Further investment in the customer support, risk and compliance infrastructure

Canadian Expansion

Whether looking at the revenue or losses sustained in 2019, each can be largely attributed to a desire for global expansion.  Revolut has established a strong foothold in both the United Kingdom and Europe and has plans for expansion.

One example is the company’s anticipated entrance into Canada.  Although Revolut has not provided an anticipated launch date for Canadian services, interested users can currently join a waitlist for early access.

When this entrance inevitably occurs, Revolut can expect strong competition from various other FinTech outfits establishing themselves in Canada.  We recently touched on an example of this, as Canadian based, WealthSimple, launched a new crypto trading service.

As each of these companies develop and launch new services, the companies simultaneously become more comprehensive, and closely linked as competitors.  Whether looking for investment capabilities, savings accounts, crypto trading, pre-paid debit cards, etc. – Revolut and its competitors have you covered.

Looking beyond these two, and the increasing list of FinTech companies following suit, it would not be surprising to find truth in rumours that PayPal will soon join the fray.

Revolut

Founded in 2015, Revolut is a FinTech company, with operations based out of London, England.  In the time since launch, Revolut has developed a suite of services surrounding digital banking.  Adoption of these services has allowed the Revolut team to expand, totaling over 2000 employees, to date.

CEO, Nikolay Storonsky, currently oversees company operations.

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Regulation

Traditional Banks Ramp Up Custodial Services for Digital Assets

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Traditional Banks Ramp Up Custodial Services for Digital Assets

In recent weeks, we have seen an increase in the adoption of blockchain services, among traditional banks.  First, U.S. based banks were given the green light to custody cryptocurrencies by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).  Now, we learn that one of the largest banks in South Korea, KB Kookmin Bank, is already working to develop similar services.

Who’s Involved?

With regard to South Korea, the plan is for KB Kookmin Bank to begin offering custodial services for digital assets.  This is a group effort involving the following companies,

This collaboration is particularly noteworthy, as KB Kookmin Bank is not just any old bank.  They are currently the largest bank in South Korea.  Moves made by a bank of this stature are followed closely by many.  Although KB Kookmin Bank and its partners may be first to the table, expect to see others take a seat in the near future.

Future Asset Expansion

While initial services will centre on the custody of cryptocurrencies, it is believed that this support will eventually grow, encompassing various types of digital assets.  More specifically, it is expected that in time, these custodial services will support digital securities.

In commentary released by Hashed, this expansion of supported assets was touched upon.  Hashed states that through this collaboration, participants anticipate, “…that the digital asset industry will not only involve cryptocurrencies, but also other traditional assets such as real estate, artwork, and other reified rights that will be issued and traded on blockchain platforms.”

Although cryptocurrencies stand to benefit first, the development of such custodial services has the potential to transform and usher forth new growth among the digital securities sector.

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

In the weeks preceding the news surrounding KB Kookmin Bank and its forthcoming custodial service, we saw the OCC release of an interpretive letter on the subject.

In this letter, the OCC breaks down, not only what digital assets are, but how banks can support the growing use.  The OCC summarized its stance, stating,

“The OCC recognizes that, as the financial markets become increasingly technological, there will likely be increasing need for banks and other service providers to leverage new technology and innovative ways to provide traditional services on behalf of customers. By providing such services, banks can continue to fulfill the financial intermediation function they have historically played in providing payment, loan and deposit services.”

It continued,

“…we conclude a national bank may provide these cryptocurrency custody services on behalf of customers, including by holding the unique cryptographic keys associated with cryptocurrency.  This letter also reaffirms the OCC’s position that national banks may provide permissible banking services to any lawful business they choose, including cryptocurrency businesses, so long as they effectively manage the risks and comply with applicable law.”

Bank Adoption

Which came first, the chicken? Or the egg?  This old saying could easily be applied to the current world of blockchain.  Are these traditional banks jumping on board the train due to the recent resurgence being seen in the sector?  Or is the sector surging due to banks jumping on board.  Regardless of the answer, signs of blockchain adoption within traditional industries is a definite positive.

Hopefully, this swing in sentiment among banks continues to gain momentum, as banks have not always viewed digital assets in a positive light.  Only months ago, we were reporting on difficulties being faced by German companies, as they were refused services by traditional banks.

KB Kookmin Bank

Founded in 2000, KB Kookmin Bank maintains operations in Seoul, South Korea.  Since launch, KB Kookmin Bank has grown to employ over 25,000, while providing customers on a global scale with access to commercial banking services.

CEO, Hur Yin, currently oversees company operations.

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)

The OCC is a U.S. based regulatory body, tasked with supervising national banks.  This supervision is undertaken with the goal of ensuring fair and transparent financial services to all customers.

Acting Comptroller, Brian P. Brooks, currently oversees operations at the OCC.

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