Tokenizing Incubator Start-Ups
Acting as an innovation hub for local start-ups, iHub is at the forefront of technology. With this in mind, they turned to Raise. Specializing in blockchain, Raise is developing a platform allowing for companies to issue digital securities.
The partnership was recently announced in Dubai by iHub & Raise at the Africa Investment Conference. Here, they offered platform demonstrations and spoke of the difficulties they are addressing.
One of the tallest hurdles for start-ups to clear is that of funding. It is often hard to come by, and very restrictive in nature. By forming a partnership with Raise, iHub will be able to open doors to greater levels of funding for companies within their incubator. This is possible, as the tokenization of securities allows for accredited investors from around the globe to take part in investments they wouldn’t have the chance to otherwise.
This is only possible due to the shift being seen in the industry throughout the last year. During this time we have seen companies turn from ICOs towards the STO. In doing so, the tokens offered are known as security tokens. These tokens no longer simply represent service time, but actual shares. By representing fractionalized ownership of an asset, these tokens must adhere to securities regulations, and the associated KYC & AML checks along the way. All in all, both investors and issuers have greater access to financial opportunities, in addition to greater security due to the enforced regulations.
Based out of Kenya, iHub is an incubator for start-ups within the tech sector. They were founded in 2010. In the time since, they have helped grow over 300 companies in a variety of industries.
Speaking on the partnership with Raise was iHub’s Managing Director, Nekesa Were. She stated, “iHub is committed to making it easier for our community of start-ups and entrepreneurs to raise the capital they need to grow their business…The Raise platform promises to radically transform how businesses raise money and we hope this will lead the way for more start-ups in our community to follow suit.”
Based out of Nairobi, Raise is a blockchain based platform. They allow for the creation and management of digital securities. They were founded in 2017, with the goal of providing financial flexibility and opportunity to anyone, everywhere.
Founder and venture lawyer, Marvin Coleby, commented on the partnership with iHub. He stated, “Raise aims to make it easier to digitally manage and trade corporate assets by providing a compliant way to securitise assets using blockchain technologies. We’re excited to partner with iHub to create their security tokens and look forward to the future of creating more accessible and liquid private markets for investors with the use of blockchain-based digital securities in frontier markets.”
Not Being Left Behind
Much of the reported advancement seen within the blockchain industry stems from Europe, Asia, and North America. This industry is, however, very much a world affair. Africa has not turned a blind eye to the potential impact the technology holds. With companies like these developing solutions such as the one described, African nations will benefit from next-gen finance solutions.
U.S. Federal Reserve to Collaborate with MIT in Development of CBDC (Digital Dollar)
The U.S. Federal Reserve has just divulged new information on its stance towards CBDCs.
For the past year, numerous nations around the world have announced their intentions to research, and eventually launch a central bank digital currency (CBDC). The reasons are varied, but usually boil down to a few key factors, which include the ability to:
Increase efficiency – Reduced costs with quick settlement times
Be more transparent – Ledger based transaction histories
If these reasons weren’t enough justification for looking into the use of a CBDC, COVID struck, and highlighted a serious deficiency associated with current FIAT.
Fiat Spreads Germs – China and the U.S. each had instances in which legal tender was taken out of circulation, requiring decontamination.
Before we go any further, everyone should understand what a CBDC is on a basic level. As its name would imply, a CBDC is a digital currency which has been issued by the central bank of any given nation. In the United States, a future CBDC is commonly referred to as a ‘Digital Dollar’.
These digital currencies are essentially a blockchain based variant of current currencies, such as the dollar. By utilizing blockchain, and existing as a virtual asset, CBDCs are more easily controlled, monitored, and transacted.
To learn more about what makes a CBDC tick, we recently took a closer look at their inner workings, HERE.
Years in the Making
With the increased attention being afforded to CBDCs, Governor Lael Brainard, of the Federal Reserve, took the time to address their development in a recent speech.
“We have been conducting in-house experiments for the last few years, through means that include the Board’s Technology Lab, which has been building and testing a range of distributed ledger platforms to understand their potential opportunity and risk.”
While the Fed may have kept quiet over the past few years on its plans for a digital dollar, it is promising to hear that they have been busy behind the scenes. Many have feared that the Fed will fall behind other nations in the development of such a product. Governor Brainard allayed these fears, stating,
“Given the dollar’s important role, it is essential that the Federal Reserve remain on the frontier of research and policy development regarding central bank digital currencies…Like other central banks, we are continuing to assess the opportunities and challenges of, as well as the use cases for, a digital currency, as a complement to cash and other payments options.”
Why Develop a CBDC?
Now that we know development is underway, and has been for some time, what is the Feds reasoning behind this?
Although many are aware of the potential benefits afforded by CBDCs, Governor Brainard touched on a few reasons in particular, which have steered the Feds actions. These include:
COVID 19 – It has been well publicized throughout the pandemic, that millions of U.S. citizens experienced significant delays in receiving their stimulus cheques. The Fed has kept a close watch on spending habits, and based on what it sees, this is clearly money that is needed, but is not being doled out in an efficient manner. Governor Brainard underscored this point, stating, “The COVID-19 crisis is a dramatic reminder of the importance of a resilient and trusted payments infrastructure that is accessible to all Americans”
Bitcoin and Libra – Since its launch in 2009, Bitcoin has been a divisive asset. Some view it as the currency of the future, others as a replacement for gold, and even those that still believe it will crash spectacularly. Regardless of Bitcoin’s fate, the ideologies that drive it, and the capabilities it has demonstrated have captivated many. Beyond simply catching one’s attention, Bitcoin has provided a potential blueprint for what a future currency should look like. Countries no longer need to fear solely other nations leapfrogging their status, but a potential shift in power towards autonomous and decentralized protocols like Bitcoin. Governor Brainard specifically noted issues and questions surrounding the rise of digital currencies, stating, “The introduction of Bitcoin and the subsequent emergence of stablecoins with potentially global reach, such as Facebook’s Libra, have raised fundamental questions about legal and regulatory safeguards, financial stability, and the role of currency in society. This prospect has intensified calls for CBDCs to maintain the sovereign currency as the anchor of the nation’s payment systems.”
China – Despite many countries each developing CBDCs, the only country which was specifically named in Governor Brainard’s speech was China – however brief. It was noted that “China has moved ahead rapidly on its version of a CBDC.” As China continues to grow, and develop into an even greater world-superpower, it is imperative that the United States maintains pace with such technological progress, if it is to maintain its grip on the top spot.
In addition to elaborating on past and current efforts surrounding CBDCs, the Fed also announced a new collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
“…the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston is collaborating with researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a multiyear effort to build a hypothetical digital currency oriented for central bank use. This research project is intended to support the Board’s broader efforts in assessing the safety and efficiency of central bank digital currency systems. The project focuses solely on developing an understanding of the capacities and limitations of the relevant technologies, rather than serving as a prototype for a Federal Reserve issued digital currency or addressing the wide-ranging policy issues associated with its potential issuance.”
MIT has long been associated with blockchain based endeavours, and is ideally equipped for a collaboration such as this. In fact, this multi-year research effort will be spearheaded by MIT’s ‘digital currency initiative’ – a program structured to develop both, an understanding of, and practical uses cases for blockchain.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
MIT is a world-renowned research university, based in Boston, Massachusetts. The university was originally founded in 1861, and continues to this day with a focus of fields such as science and technology.
Operations at MIT are currently overseen by President, L. Rafael Reef.
The Federal Reserve
The Federal Reserve of ‘Fed’, is the central bank of the United States. While the roles and responsibilities of the Fed are vast, they are all structured around ensuring/facilitating a healthy economy.
Operations are overseen by the Board of Governors, with Governor Brainard currently serving as Chair.
Digital Securities About to Go Mainstream with Germany’s New Draft Law
Digitization has led to significant changes in many areas, not the least in money and financial markets.
The financial markets and its participants are at a point where they cannot ignore technological developments bound to disrupt the industry. Recently, there has been a rush towards developing and implementing blockchain-based protocols to power financial products. The digitization wave is hitting the financial system and regulators are paying attention.
More specifically, Germany is moving forward with its plan to modernize its securities law with the introduction of provisions catering to blockchain-based assets.
New Draft on Legal Framework for Tokenized Securities
The German Finance Ministry published a statement wherein the institution will be working on a draft law with the primary goal of creating a legal framework for digital securities, including the issuance of tokenized assets.
The plan is to create legally secure regulatory frameworks and supervisory structures to protect and improve the integrity, transparency, and functionality of the financial markets.
The implementation of the proposed plan will see blockchain assets issued by German firms fall under the same regulatory provisions as the country’s stock market.
The intent from Germany’s institutions is clear: embrace and leverage blockchain technology.
Germany is the most influential actor in the European Union and naturally, it wants to play a significant role in the new paradigm of digital securities and the blooming decentralized finance sector.
A legal framework would enable new technologies to be used on a large scale. Already at the start of 2020, Germany had allowed local banks to sell cryptocurrencies to their customers. With huge steps forward, German legislators aim to increase the attractiveness of their financial sector allowing companies to issue and manage digital assets.
The milestone of the draft law is the change in paper document requirement for investment instruments like government bonds and stocks. The updated law would create a framework expanding this requirement to cover digital signatures for tokenized assets.
The draft is based off of existing frameworks in other countries that have already made progress in the regulatory space. As such, the proposal is to replace the currently mandatory physical security certificate for bearer bonds with an entry in a securities register.
According to the draft for electronic bonds, the security certificate document is to be replaced by an entry in a securities register. Naturally, a securities register can be kept in a digital format either privately and centralized or distributed with cryptography-based technologies like DLT or decentralized blockchains.
This makes it clear that the new electronic securities law considers assets issued via both public and private blockchains. This change could make regulated security token offerings (STOs) as the preferred method of issuing securities within the country.
Local companies looking to offer tokenized assets would still have to fulfill existing capital requirement laws.
Opportunities for Regulated Security Token Offerings on Public Blockchains
The legislator hints that the issuance of digital securities is not restricted to private systems. Instead, it would also be possible to be done on public blockchains. This would create the potential for securities, according to German law, to be issued on Ethereum, currently the most popular platform to issue digital assets on.
Even more importantly – if the regulations are established, the procedure would be eligible for digitizing stocks or investment funds.
In the press release expanding on the regulatory decision, the Finance Ministry’s statement reads:
“This proposed regulation also creates regulatory clarity: The Federal Financial Supervisory Authority will monitor issuance and the maintenance of decentralized registers as new financial services under the eWpG , the KWG and the central securities depository regulation.”
The monitoring of securities registers will be undergone by the German Federal Agency for Financial Market Supervision (BaFin). According to the draft, BaFin will grant licenses to companies looking to issue or convert traditional stocks into digital assets.
The newly drafted law is not specifically targeted towards blockchain-based assets, but it poses further development opportunities for the adoption of the novel technology in Germany.
As the press release states, the drafted proposal law is part of the government’s long-term pro-blockchain strategy.
After approving the sale of cryptocurrencies, 40 banks had reportedly applied for crypto custody licenses by February 2020. Earlier this year, BaFin also officially classified cryptocurrencies as financial instruments, following regulatory recommendations from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Germany is taking big leaps to enable the adoption of blockchain technology in the country. Boerse Stuttgart, the country’s second-largest stock exchange is also active in the crypto market with a Bitcoin exchange-traded product (ETP) being launched earlier in the year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
- U.S. Federal Reserve to Collaborate with MIT in Development of CBDC (Digital Dollar)
- Digital Securities About to Go Mainstream with Germany’s New Draft Law
- Forex Market Majors Stabilize on Mixed US Retail Data
- What is Tether? A Look at the World’s Most Popular Stablecoin
- Big Money Finds Bitcoin in 2020 – Hedge Funds, Service Providers, Intelligence Firms, and High Profile Investors