Hirander Misra is the Chairman and CEO of GMEX Group (GMEX), offering innovative solutions for the creation & operation of electronic exchanges and post trade infrastructure in securities, FX, derivatives, commodities, crypto & digital assets.
Can you start by sharing what GMEX Group is?
GMEX Group (“GMEX”) is a global provider of innovative multi-asset exchange trading and post trade business solutions and technology ecosystems. As a market infrastructure vendor, we focus on technology and interconnectivity. Our solutions address the end to end regulatory and contract environment needs for issuance, trading, clearing and settlement of securities across exchanges, across all asset classes including traditional, alternative and digital assets, digital currencies as well as hybrid digital securitisation of traditional assets including derivatives.
GMEX’s focus is on digitally transforming global financial markets, enabling participants to launch new solutions, expand current operations and scale to meet market demands. We carry this out using two proven engagement mechanisms to enable our clients to use technology to achieve their commercial goals:
- Market Advancement Programme (MAP), which delivers multi-asset Exchange and Post-trade enablement with an optimal combination of traditional and digital market infrastructure technology and services
- Partnership-driven Approach, we do not just sell technology, rather we use a combination of FinTech, business and investment solutions empowering partnerships and ventures.
What sparked your interest initially in launching GMEX?
When we started out in 2012, the existing market infrastructure vendors were very much of the customer-supplier mindset, providing legacy technology at inflated prices without taking into account the real business and operational needs, including any commercial constraints which may exist. This was our opportunity to differentiate ourselves!
We provide business expertise, the latest technology, connectivity & operational expertise delivered through an aligned partnership driven approach for exchanges, trading venues, clearing houses, depositories, registries and warehouse receipt platforms. In many cases this also allows us to align interests by taking equity in the ventures we are working with, as and where such opportunities make sense.
In 2016 we were able to capitalise on the opportunities that blockchain presented, initially on provenance of commodities and subsequently within capital markets. We were surprised at how most projects just harnessed the technology in the same way that traditional technology was being used and thought, what is the point? That spurred us on to look at ways in which the technology could be leveraged to revolutionise and democratise the way capital markets and marketplaces for other asset classes operated.
Can you tell us about GMEX Investments, and what type of investments are made?
The investment focus for GMEX is early stage equity and token strategic investment in market infrastructure and related FinTech companies, which are synergistic with what GMEX does in terms of servicing and product capabilities. In addition, we also venture build our own initiatives.
Given the interesting pre Series-A FinTech opportunities we are coming across, we have also launched Digital Investment Fund PCC (“DIF”) in the Seychelles, which is the is the world’s first fully regulated tokenised hybrid fund. We have an interest in companies, which have genuine intellectual property in the blockchain and artificial Intelligence (“AI”) space within financial services, combined with early client traction.
Can you elaborate on the digital exchange trading and post trade technology offered by GMEX Technologies?
GMEX offers the first truly hybrid exchange and post trade ecosystem, Fusion, bridging the gap between traditional and digital assets underpinned by regulatory frameworks. This is quite analogous to interconnected telecommunications networks. We ensure our solutions are aligned with the business objectives of our clients and partners. GMEX Fusion is a hybrid centralised & blockchain distributed ledger technology suite and middleware, which is deployed and trusted by multiple international regulated financial institutions around the globe. The suite includes:
- ForumPortal, a tokenisation, registration and issuance platform;
- Forum Trader, a secondary trading front-end and order management system;
- ForumMatch, a high-performance exchange trading platform with integral matching engine;
- ForumDetect, a market surveillance system;
- ForumIndex, an index calculation and dissemination system;
- ForumCustody, a digital custody platform for clearing and settlement;
- ForumWallet, a wallet management platform, which can also interface with third party wallets;
- ForumCCP, a clearing platform facilitating credit checking, position keep and margining;
- ForumCSD, a central securities depository and registry platform facilitating settlement;
- ForumPay, a simple and secure platform for making international payments, money transfer, withdrawals and deposits across multiple financial instruments.
Why are cryptocurrency exchanges attracted to using GMEX?
Cryptocurrency and digital assets exchanges are attracted to using GMEX because they appreciate we have genuine proven solutions and a practical understanding of digital assets as opposed to the hype and vapourware that some are touting out in the market.
They like the fact that the technology stack is designed for the needs and quirks of cryptocurrency and digital asset markets, which can include 24 hour trading, 18 decimal places due to fractional ownership, high volume requirements and the need to offer tokenisation and digital custody services beyond just exchange solutions.
Importantly, as markets in this space become increasingly regulated, GMEX is able to support our clients with our regulatory and business expertise in operating markets across the globe, which is highly valued.
How scalable is GMEX technology?
Cryptocurrency and other types of digital asset exchanges are facing a very serious challenge with the increasing volumes of orders they need to cope with. Investors and speculators expect their orders to be executed within a few milliseconds especially in hectic market conditions i.e. when volumes are at their highest peak. Any slowness in order execution will cause loss of confidence and order flows to switch to other venues. Exchanges must ensure their technology can stay ahead of the fierce competition. Recent volatile cryptocurrency market conditions were a performance wake-up call for cryptocurrency exchanges.
Our technology stack is modular and component based and is designed to flexibly support multiple assets and numerous private and public blockchains. It also has the ability to easily interconnect many nodes, whether they are running our technology or are third party platforms. Our low-latency and high-throughput exchange solutions combined with high availability ensure successful operation in critical market infrastructure environments. Superior performance is also achieved by way of a low hardware footprint. We also include appropriate open source components to remove third party licence fees. The technology stack scales through use of virtualisation and cloud services, as an alternative to local deployment, where there is a need for a turnkey Software-as-a-Service (“SaaS”) model to be offered as an option.
You are also Chairman of the SECDEX, the Seychelles based Securities, Commodities and Derivatives Exchange. Could you tell us about the SECDEX and why it matters?
The SECDEX Group business consists of a regulated:
- Central counterparty clearing house (CCP);
- Central securities depository with registry;
- Digital marketplace; and
- Digital custodian.
SECDEX is unique as it is the first fully-regulated, multi-asset, hybrid market infrastructure ecosystem combining the benefits of a digital exchange with those of a traditional exchange to deliver seamless trading, clearing and settlement. It is based on the strengths of GMEX Group as a founding shareholder combined with the professional services of Digital Partners Network (DPN) as a co-founding shareholder. DPN services include specialist legal, finance, compliance, corporate structuring, finance, strategic consulting, technology-enabled digital transformation and potential investment through a digital fund.
This is game changing, as until now there have been too many intermediaries for these different services, and they have not been offered cost-effectively under a single umbrella. This means that in addition to the listing of traditional securities and derivatives, Security Token Offerings (STOs) can be undertaken in a regulated, trusted environment with issuance, full professional services support for the tokenisation process covering legal and valuations in addition to capital raising, with listing and secondary trading on the SECDEX Exchange.
It was also recently announced that the SECDEX group has welcomed a new addition to their ranks – SECDEX Digital Custodian (SDC). Could you tell us about this digital custodian solution?
SECDEX Digital Custodian Limited (SDC) is a regulated digital custodian offering cold storage and custodial services for cryptocurrencies, security tokens and other digital assets. SDC caters to retail, high net worth (HNW) and institutional users including exchanges, marketplaces, brokers, banks, payment service providers and traditional custodians.
SDC services include:
- Safeguarding of digital assets
- Transaction recording and reporting for its users
- Automated transfers, balance confirmations and account related requests
- Escrow services
- A multi-signature authorisation protocol to ensure that no single party is able to initiate and complete a transaction within its custody. Furthermore, under its technological platform operated by the venue, each key is held with segregated accounts.
SDC, in a short space of time, has already attracted USD 544,718,948 of assets which it has tokenised with immutability and transparency on the Ethereum blockchain.
One of your other projects is promoting Blockchain solutions to drive financial inclusion across Africa. Could you share some of your views regarding this?
There are an estimated 700 million unbanked farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and every country has its own structures and complexities. At the heart of the problem is the lack of price transparency for farmers for their produce. Better prices would mean improved income, allowing them to better afford seeds, pesticides, fertilisers and even opening up credit.
FinComEco, the financial and commodities ecosystem, links agriculture to the latest financial technology down to the individual smallholder farmer level and beyond from origination to destination. This is achieved via a model which is adaptable to local requirements with an underlying ecosystem of technology, finance, exchanges, logistics, sourcing and supply chain infrastructure. Its aims are to:
- Facilitate financial inclusion with social impact for smallholder farmers;
- Bank the unbanked through facilitation of finance;
- Facilitate cheaper inputs and access to warehouses; and
- Provide commercial farmers better access to markets.
Is there anything else that you would like to share regarding either GMEX or SECDEX?
GMEX has collected feedback about digital asset deployments from securities exchanges who are
- Conscious of the importance to offer digital assets for trading
- Concerned by new technology investments
- Uneasy with the Blockchain/DLT technology due to a few scandals and scams
- Reluctant because of unknown legal and administrative implications
GMEX, DPN and SECDEX have responded by combining their strengths in a single value proposition with a multitude of technology, regulatory and services options to enhance the knowledge and associated business opportunities available to traditional securities exchanges.
With a growing number of jurisdictions recognising security token equivalence to traditional securities, it is now evident that exchange operators should embrace the transition to digital or, more appropriately, a hybrid integrated approach. Traditional exchanges, whether incumbent or challenger, are now acting under similar regulatory frameworks and are on the same level playing field with regard to digital assets. Early movers are taking advantage of this new territory. However, given the pace of change and anticipated exponential growth of the digital economy, firms should see this as a catalyst to re-engineer their objectives, processes, and strategies rather than just replace like for like. It is vital to act now to leverage this opportunity and to be part of the paradigm shift into this new era of digital exchanges and post trade, which ultimately can benefit investors, SMEs and the wider capital markets.
Thank you for the great interview answers. Readers who wish to learn more should visit:
GMEX Group (GMEX), offering innovative solutions for the creation & operation of electronic exchanges and post trade infrastructure in securities, FX, derivatives, commodities, crypto & digital tokenised assets.
SECDEX, the Seychelles based Securities, Commodities and Derivatives Exchange, which is a full ecosystem for digital and traditional assets enabled by blockchain technology.
Evolving Trends in Token Powered Networks: Part 2
by Mara Schmiedt, Global Strategy and Business Development Lead, ConsenSys Codefi
This is a two part article. Part 1 can be found here.
- The emergence of delegate work entities present a critical development to drive broader end-user adoption and participation, simultaneously posing new challenges to decentralization and token distribution in the evolving chapter of on-chain governance
- Token distribution strategies, as a result of the above, have seen a proportional increase in use-focused distribution mechanisms including proof of use and interactive airdrops
Trend 3: The New Kids on the Block
THE EVOLVING ROLE OF VCS AND DELEGATE WORK ENTITIES
With the rise of Proof-of-Stake, on-chain governance and other protocol-native work functions, networks require active user groups that have both the expertise and/or technical resources required to provide network-specific services and infrastructure. At the same time, these productive crypto-assets present new value accrual opportunities for entities with crypto-native business models that play an active role in network participation and adoption.
On one hand, traditional venture models are increasingly evolving into crypto-native hybrids. Capital providers with long-term holding strategies such as Multicoin Capital and ConsenSys Labs recognize the opportunity to create additional alpha by supporting networks in their portfolio through the provision of infrastructure and performance of crypto-native operations. These entities are uniquely positioned to support teams that are building decentralized protocols to bootstrap and jumpstart network effects.
Well designed agreements and incentives can ensure that all token holders involved in early stage project funding in the protocol’s development lifecycle can be valuable supporters that earn rewards from their own and ongoing participation and contribution to the network.
On the other hand, there has been a proliferation of another stakeholder group – so called ‘delegate work entities’ (see article by Ben Sparango). Delegate work entities are network stakeholders elected by a token holder to perform network-native work functions, such as staking and voting, on their behalf.
The premise of earning rewards on productive crypto-assets in exchange for contributions to the network is an attractive one, yet not all token holders necessarily have the time, desire, or technical ability to perform the required tasks themselves. This is where delegate work entities come in. Today, delegate work entities including non-custodial (Staked, Stakefish) and custodial (e.g. Binance, Coinbase, Anchorage) providers are largely focused on providing staking services to both institutional and retail clients. I believe custodians, exchanges, funds and independent delegate work entities will play a critical role in driving broader institutional and retail adoption of productive crypto-assets.
Source: PoS Bakerz, 2020
Recent developments such as Katalyst, Kyber’s 2020 protocol upgrade, reveal the increasing relevance delegate work entities will play in the governance realm either as direct actors in the voting process or by offering proxy voting functions on a token holder’s behalf.
I expect to see further growth and diversification in delegate work entities and other service providers as the Proof-of-Stake landscape continues to expand and believe these entities will continue to play a critical role in driving broader adoption and maturation of the industry. A research study conducted by ConsenSys in March revealed that across almost 300 active token holders 41.4% would like to participate in on-chain governance directly while 28.2% would like to delegate their vote to a representative.
Source: ConsenSys Codefi
It is important to note, however, that delegate work entities, particularly custodians, exchanges and funds with large and accruing token allocations, could result in centralization risks particularly as Proof-of-Stake systems increasingly co-evolve into on-chain governance.
Trend 4: Evolving Token Distribution Strategies
THE FUTURE OF USE-FOCUSED TOKEN DISTRIBUTIONS
As network participation data indicates, having a broad distribution is not enough and it is critical that distribution aligns incentives amongst all network stakeholders. Healthy networks have a representative and actively engaged network of stakeholders.
How have the aforementioned trends manifested themselves as design considerations in more recent token distribution models?
There has been a proportional increase in public token distribution mechanisms focused on targeting actively contributing users.
Source: Smith & Crown, 2019
These have come in the form of both interactive airdrops, such as Livepeer or Edgeware, as well as different implementations of proof-of-use enabled token distributions such as NuCypher, Solana and SKALE that are focused on distributing tokens to actual users.
I believe that designing distribution models that factor in self-selected productive efforts beyond capital contributions in a sale or (pseudo)-random selection in a passive airdrop is essential to:
- Maximize regulatory compliance by ensuring that a token is being used for its intended purpose on the network, rather than a speculative holding.
- Filter for participants most likely to participate in the network to disincentive short-term speculation, price volatility and dumping.
- Effectively bootstrap the network at launch, whilst enabling early adopters to familiarize themselves with the network and earn token-based rewards for their efforts.
With the technical maturation of token-powered networks, particularly in the context of rising Proof-of-Stake adoption, the industry is leaving its adolescent, wild west years behind as it enters the chapter of ‘actual’ use and utility.
The chapter of use also creates a new window of opportunity for stakeholders with crypto-native business models, including VCs and delegate work entities, that play a critical role in the adoption and maturation of productive crypto-assets and the decentralized networks they are a part of.
While there is still a lack of formal regulatory guidance on the blueprint for compliant token launches, I believe the emerging discourse, setting of industry best-practices and increasing focus on use-focused token distributions are steps in the right direction.
Natural Selection: Could Stablecoins Eat Into The Crypto Market?
Despite the financial uncertainty posed by 2020, the tumultuous year has represented something of a prosperous one for the stablecoin market. Since the beginning of the year, the cryptocurrencies that have their values pegged to existing assets like gold or the US Dollar have seen a heavy flow of funding as more traders look to buy into stable assets as a way of keeping their money from depreciating.
While stablecoins have become a useful store of finance that promises stronger protection against the disruption threatened by COVID-19 and subsequent recessions, there’s reasonable evidence to suggest that the currencies are actively evolving beyond their role as a trading asset and are increasingly being looked upon as a means of transferring value.
Over the coming years, we’re likely to see a range of central banks and large corporations start to tap into the stablecoin landscape, with global behemoths like Facebook already signalling their intent with the shelved Libra Project. With large scale investment into stablecoins looking like an inevitability, what will this mean for the crypto world’s smaller, un-tethered assets, like Ripple?
The Rise and Rise of Stablecoins
As Bitcoin made its famous rally towards the end of 2017, more and more cryptocurrency exchanges started to make the switch from fiat currency-to-Bitcoin trading pairs to Tether-to-Bitcoin – thus enabling crypto-only exchanges to build on market share gains.
The late 2017 boom opened the door for more stablecoins to enter the market, with countless projects surfacing in a bid to emulate Tether’s purpose and success.
As the arrival of COVID-19 caused widespread financial uncertainty, the market capitalization of stablecoins swelled up collectively to over $7bn in value in a matter of three months – with almost $6bn comprised of Tether investments.
Since the spring time, the rise of DeFi protocols have caused stablecoin markets to swell up by as much as $100 million each day – leaving the industry’s market cap more-than doubling in size since the start of the year.
Furthermore, more emerging trends surrounding the acceptance of stablecoin projects among banks have led to a greater level of acceptance among investors. The Liechtenstein-based Bank Frick recently announced that it would be supporting USD Coin – allowing customers to send, receive and store the stablecoin using their bank accounts.
The meteoric rise of the stablecoin market, coupled with ever-increasing levels of interest in blockchain technology from both banking institutions and big businesses alike means that stablecoins are set to emerge as the cryptocurrency market’s primary form of banking coin. But what will this development mean for coins like Ripple and investors who look to switch their holdings in Bitcoin to Litecoin, for instance, in order to leverage fast transactions?
Eating Into The Crypto Market
Payments using the coin were set to be swift and free of hefty processing fees that some early crypto assets commanded. The focus of the coin was set on interbank payments, but its early success caused Ripple to expand into a leading crypto payments network around the world.
At the height of its popularity, Ripple was easily accessible on leading crypto exchanges that allowed easy access to digital finance that could be easily traded.
However, Ripple also unwittingly formed the blueprint on how to build a successful stablecoin.
The implementation of stablecoins that are pegged to various assets designed to hold their value amid economic downturns while operating on an easy transactional framework with limited processing fees has placed numerous stablecoins in direct competition with Ripple.
With the arrival of other corporate-backed stablecoins like the JPM Coin and the Utility Settlement Coin Project, it’s clear that the old guard of XRP faces a significant battle to avoid being drowned out by the market’s new upstarts.
The financial might of corporate stablecoins means that Ripple’s swift payment systems may soon be bettered via new transactional developments.
However, there may be some hope for Ripple due to the coin’s longevity in a rapidly expanding market. Ripple has helped to onboard over 300 customers during its lifespan, and possesses a greater level of crypto experience compared to its competitors.
It’s clear that stablecoins are here for the foreseeable future, and even hold the potential to overhaul national fiat currencies in mainstream usage. With market caps inflating exponentially, the old guard of un-tethered cryptocurrencies may be at risk of losing out as more adopters look to find practicality and consistent prices within crypto assets.
For Ripple, the notion of competing to recapture its place as the industry’s preferred coin for transactions seems too whimsical given the financial might of these new players introducing stablecoins into the market place.
Instead, what was once looked upon as one of the world’s most promising cryptocurrencies will have to tap into its experience to adapt away from its swift transactional roots. The cryptocurrency market is based on natural selection, where only the most innovative survive. In this unforgiving climate, many of the pragmatic cryptocurrencies of yesterday will be required to explore new blockchain developments elsewhere to maintain their relevance to adopters.
Wave Financial Makes First 1000 Barrel Purchase for ‘Kentucky Whisky 2020 Digital Fund’
Tokenization is beginning to attract increased attention from investors with this past week bringing multiple examples of important markers being met. First, INX met its minimum threshold for token distribution, with $7.5M USD raised. Second, Wave Financial completed its first purchase of bourbon/whiskey for tokenization through its Kentucky Whisky 2020 Digital Fund.
Whisky – A Different Approach
What is intriguing about these events is the underlying assets. To date, the vast majority of tokenization efforts have surrounded real estate. In this instance, however, the underlying assets are a trading platform and Kentucky Bourbon/Whisky.
Although investors have taken an interest in alternative assets such as wine and art for decades, the fund by Wave Financial represents one of the first efforts to tokenize an asset such as bourbon/whisky.
“For investors to gain exposure to real assets that have impressive investment fundamentals such as whiskey is very difficult, but now it is possible via our fund. Following the launch in March we are delighted to have completed our first tranche time sensitive capital raise and purchased 1,000 barrels of physical premium Kentucky bourbon whiskey on behalf of our investors” – Benjamin Tsai, President and Managing Partner of Wave Financial
Other examples of niche tokenization efforts include:
CurioInvest – Fractional investing in rare automobiles
TheArtToken – Fractional investing in fine art
Although reaching this first marker is an important moment for Wave Financial, it is just the first on a long road. With Wave Financial expecting to tokenize between 10,000-20,000 bottles, this current crop of 1000 only represents 5-10% of its goal.
“With our unique access to Wilderness Trail’s whiskey production capacity for this year remaining open, we are in a great position to continue the capital raise for the fund.” – David Seimer, CEO of Wave Financial
If Wave Financial is able to reach its end goal, this would represent the tokenization of an entire years-worth of bourbon/whisky from manufacturing partner, Wilderness Trail Distillery.
A Full Set of Macallan Whisky
For those wondering if Bourbon/Whisky can indeed represent a good investment, look no further than Macallan.
Matthew Robson, 28, was the recipient of one bottle of Macallan single malt scotch whisky on his birthday, for 18 consecutive years. He recently made the decision to sell this collection, which was left untouched over time. This decision resulted in a sale, bringing in $56,000 USD.
While not an example of tokenization, the appreciation in the Macallan Whisky collection is exactly what investors are after. Providing the whisky is properly cared for, it is a product that will not deteriorate over time, and is only produced in limited runs. Furthermore, there will always be a consumer demand – simply put, people like to drink. For each of these reasons, Wave’s Kentucky Whisky 2020 Digital Fund may just go on to prove quite successful for investors thinking outside of the box.
Speaking with Benjamin
When the Kentucky Whisky 2020 Digital Fund was first announced, we were fortunate to have completed an exclusive interview with one of its fund managers – Benjamin Tsai.
As the President and Managing Partner of Wave Financial, Benjamin Tsai was able to provide unique insights into the fund, Wave Financial, and the digital securities sector at large.
To learn more about each, make sure to peruse this discussion HERE.
Founded in 2018, Wave Financial is headquartered in Los Angeles, California. As a Registered Investment Advisor with the SEC, Wave Financial is able to offer investors opportunities such as the fund described here today. In addition, Wave Financial offers various consultation and treasury management services to its clients.
CEO, Dave Siemer, currently oversees company operations.