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Juan Hernandez, Founder and CEO of OpenFinance Network – Interview Series

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Juan Hernandez, Founder and CEO of OpenFinance Network - Interview Series

Juan Hernandez is the Founder and CEO of the OpenFinance Network (“OFN”) and an experienced fintech entrepreneur.  The OFN launched in December 2018 as the first live, regulated security token trading platform in the United States.  OFN continues to lead the way in regulated security token trading.

 

RS: OpenFinance Network (“OFN”) is well known as the first platform that allows people to trade security tokens, but OFN is a lot more than simply security token trading. Can you explain some of the features available to users of the OFN?

JH: Aside from security tokens, we’re set up to trade all alternative assets such as real estate, private equity, venture capital funds, hedge funds, non-listed REITs and other limited partnerships. These “traditional” alternative assets are all great candidates for tokenization and it is within this area where we see significant growth potential going forward.

 

RS: OFN’s first competitor, TZERO, just recently launched.  Can you tell us what differentiates OFN from TZERO?

JH: OpenFinance ATS strives to create an open environment for trading. We are currently the only ATS that has listed multiple tokens from  securities offerings under valid SEC exemptions. Further, we have partnered with multiple platforms across the industry to ensure that our users have access to a wide variety of product offerings.

 

RS: What does the onboarding look like for an investor to get an Investor Passport and start trading security tokens?

JH: Onboarding requires 4 simple steps. First, we ask you to set up your MetaMask Account, which is a tool that allows you to manage your Ethereum wallet in your browser and is required to trade on the OFN platform. Next, we ask you to complete your investor passport which serves as a one-time verification process allowing you to invest based on your eligibility. Once you’ve been approved, all that’s left to do is fund your trading wallet and start trading!  We’ve created tutorial videos for setting up your MetaMask Account as well as setting up your Investor Passport.

 

RS: Obviously, individual investors interested in trading security tokens would want to use the OpenFinance platform, can you tell us who else OpenFinance appeals to and what value the platform gives them?

JH: Aside from investors, issuers also gain value from our platform by having a regulated, trusted forum where their investors can seek liquidity.

 

RS: Non-Accredited users can open accounts on OFN, what, if any, actions are these users limited to?

JH: All users on the platform, be they international or US-based, accredited or non-accredited, have different actions available to them on the platform. Our Investor Passport mechanism allows us to distinguish these different types of users and ensure that they are participating only in securities they are allowed to fully participate in. For example, certain securities, like Reg D, have a 12-month lock-up period, while others, like Reg A+ and Reg CF are unrestricted securities that non-accredited investors can participate in. Our Investor Passport handles all of the checking for these different regulations to provide a smooth, seamless experience for the user.

 

RS: For companies that wish to have their security token listed on the platform, what are the listing requirements?  

JH: Listing a digital security to trade on the OpenFinance Network ATS includes both technology and compliance reviews. From a technological perspective, companies must use one of our approved standards. Starting with the compliance checklist, issuers must submit all related documents regarding the offering and company details. After we have received the items, our team completes due diligence on the issuance to ensure all regulatory requirements were followed throughout the various steps in the process, such as KYC/AML and hard accreditation checks (for 506(c) exemptions). Upon approval, we can then enter into the listing agreement with the issuer.

 

RS: OFN is affiliated with an Alternative Trading System, and a broker-dealer.  Can you explain to the readers how this is beneficial to users of the OFN?

JH: We are affiliated with a broker-dealer (Sageworks Capital, LLC) and an Alternative Trading System (ATS) for alternative assets (including security tokens). Being affiliated with a registered entity means that we’re held to a higher standard with protecting our users when it comes to securities transactions. Not only are there certain requirements we have to adhere to with the regulators, but we are also have a broker-dealer of record on all trades that is subject to FINRA and SEC regulations.

 

RS: You recently partnered with Krypital Group, can you tell us a bit more about this partnership?

JH: We are excited to partner with Krypital Group as we continue to align ourselves with leaders in the blockchain consulting and advisory services. We look forward to working together to bring further adoption of compliant security token offerings for issuers worldwide.

 

RS: You have regularly stated that regulation is necessary for the maturation of the industry.  What regulation specifically would you like to see implemented, and why?  

JH: There is still a lot of debate around “security token vs. utility token” (see the Kin vs SEC situation) that needs to be clarified in order for more issuers and participants to be comfortable enough to step into this market.

 

RS: What token standards are currently accepted on the OFN, and do you have plans to incorporate additional standards?  

JH: We work with our partners on incorporating different token standards on the platform. For example, several of our partners have protocols that they have published which we are integrating with, including Securitize’s DS-20 protocol and Harbor’s R-Token protocol.

 

RS: Are there any exciting things in the pipeline that you can tell the readers about?

JH: We currently have three listed security tokens on the platform that are actively trading, including Blockchain Capital, and we expect to be listing many more security tokens in the coming weeks.

 

RS: Is there anything else you would like the readers to know about the OpenFinance Network?

JH: OpenFinance ATS is open to everyone. While alternative assets have traditionally been available to a small subset of qualified investors, we are making these opportunities available to everyone.  Our Investor Passport ensures that users are only trading based on their eligibility. As we continue to add more assets to the platform, the opportunities for all investors to participate in trading will increase.

 

For those who wish to learn more about the OFN you can visit the Open Finance Website

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