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Liza Aizupiete, Managing Director of Fintelum – Interview Series

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Liza Aizupiete, Managing Director of Fintelum - Interview Series

Liza Aizupiete is the Managing Director at Fintelum, a European-based token launch (ICO and STO) platform.  Liza has extensive experience in traditional fund management, and is also an experienced blockchain entrepreneur, having successfully launched and raised capital (ICO) for Globitex where she was a Co-Founder and Managing Director.

 

RS: You’ve recently launched a company called Fintelum, can you tell us a bit more about what Fintelum does and what markets it serves.

LA:  Fintelum services can be summarised as follows:
– Primary token issuance
KYC/AML compliance
Smart contracts (utility and security tokens)
– Crypto funds co-custody
– Token transfer agency
– Corporate actions
– Secondary token OTC exchange desk

At Fintelum, we built a token launch platform to cater to token issuers in carrying out technically sound and compliant ICO/STO token sales. Fintelum is geared to provide services on the European soil for global clientele. The main services are compliance, crypto funds co-custody, and smart contracts. For security token industry, Fintelum serves as a token ownership transfer agent, ensuring secondary market by token OTC desk and provides ongoing blockchain-based corporate action services, such as voting, dividends and announcements.

 

RS: How does Fintelum differ from other token issuance companies?

LA: Fintelum’s unique selling points are:
– Integrated crypto multisig wallet services and funds co-custody
– Token transfer agency and OTC exchange desk
– Comprehensive on demand reporting

Fintelum was founded in 2018 and subsequently licensed by the Estonian FIU to provide services for crypto industry in compliance with EU AML laws. The main differentiators lie within the benefits Fintelum clients can have from a longtime team with experience in finance and building and running our own regulated cryptocurrency exchange.

For one, Fintelum features multi-currency cold/hot wallet management system with co-custodianship for added reliability. Issuers can be reassured that all technical, blockchain and compliance related work will be carried out with utmost care. For that we have built a comprehensive backoffice, where issuers can safely navigate and control their fundraise. From creating campaigns and programs to managing investor data and affiliates.

Another differentiator is our Ethereum based security token STO implementation and subsequent OTC desk. Fintelum is able to act as a token transfer agent, maintaining blockchain based capitalisation tables or shareholder registry for companies or other tokenised assets. We are creating unprecedented availability for eligible (whitelisted) peers to exchange both security and utility tokens.

For utility token, Fintelum differentiates with our systematic approach in KYC/AML compliance. There, after a successful fundraise, the issuers can rely on a comprehensive reporting system. All data collected and verified can be made available to banks and other financial institutions that would otherwise be unable to service a non-compliant enterprise. In fact we have several banks and payment service providers that can offer fiat services to Fintelum clients.

On the whole, Fintelum services pack-in some of the most crucial features to successfully launch a crypto fundraise. The issuers will still need to have their own local legal counsel and have a clear idea of their own marketing strategy, whereas Fintelum will do the rest. It is safe to say that Fintelum service package is the most comprehensive available on the market.

 

RS: You have extensive experience in fintech and funds, what reasons did you choose to start a token issuance company instead of some other type of crypto service or business?

LA: In short:
– Companies sought our know-how
– Understanding of the industry and technology
– Anticipation of the global change in the capital markets

After having successfully completed a EUR 10 million ICO fundraise, for our former company, several projects approached us to learn how crypto crowdfunding works. And as compliance and AML took precedence over anonymous crypto donations, we thought it natural to expand on our experience and institutional understanding how the capital markets will likely evolve. ICOs or utility tokens already made a historical mark on capital markets industry. Likewise, STOs or security tokens will continue reshaping capital markets and we are excited to precipitate this change with our new business.

 

RS: You previously did an ICO with your former company, Globitex, what did you learn from that ICO that can help token issuers on the Fintelum platform?

LA: Our advice:
– Find the right partners
– Work with professionals
– Grow your community

Our major takeaways from running an ICO was that it matters a lot at what stage your company is, what shareholders and partners you have and which service providers you choose for your fundraiser. You may have a wonderful idea, technically impeccable product. But you need professional service providers that will do everything else for your fundraise to actually happen.

We were very lucky with ours. We managed to raise EUR 10 million and closed our public sale in a matter of 24 hours. Not discounting the timing when we ran our campaign, it is also important to have a clear idea of whom you want to target as your investors and/or product users – your community. Because an ICO as well as STO campaign works inadvertently as a marketing campaign for your current or future product or service. And you need to invest the time and effort to reach out to your community, to show the world that your product exists and is worth investing in.

It is worth noting that STOs make more legal sense, but much less retail buzz. The times of raising hundreds of millions for a white paper ideas with no hard cap are definitely gone. But ICOs are not dead. I still anticipate some major utility tokens to be released this and next year. STOs on the other hand can work beautifully under crowdfunding law exceptions up to EUR 5-8 million, and above – according to the Prospectus Regulation (in July 2019 replacing the Directive) in Europe.

For the ICOs a fixed and guaranteed hard cap will add to the success and popularity of the fundraiser. With STOs, hard cap is replaced by clear legal rights and expectations.

 

RS: What types of companies do you think are best suited to launch an STO?

LA: In my view:
– Small or medium working businesses, ideally with revenue streams
– Global fund management companies with existing subscribers (investors)
– Real estate or financing projects with attractive interest rate offer
– Alternative energy projects with eco impact and good dividend prospect
– Gaming and sports with large retail following

Today, the potential buyer of an STO will need to overcome burdensome KYC/AML profiling process to be compliant with the sales of a security. And depending on the jurisdiction and the project offering, the pain levels may vary. But it is clear that investing in an STO or ICO today is much more complicated than just a year ago would have been, contributing towards a development of a utility token project. This is why the STO must be attractive enough an offer for the pain of investing. Indeed, for equity or debt tokens, an STO issuer needs to have a great proposition on the table to be able to attract investment.

 

RS: What types of companies would you personally like to see launch in the cryptocurrency space to help the industry as a whole reach wider adoption?

LA: I’d bet on:
– Sports and games
– Virtual reality
– Food

At Fintelum, we get disproportionally more enquires from real-estate related companies than from any other sectors. This is presently the case. And it may be due to the fact that real estate is a hard asset. Like commodities, precious metals, real estate is something people understand. Investing in complex equity schemes may require more sophistication and/or risk appetite. Whereas I would personally like to see utility tokens continue to persist. We have come across several great ideas. But the fear of the present downmarket poses resistance and unwillingness from the managers to delve into the process of launching a token.

The three categories, namely sports/games, VR and food industries are most appropriate for ICO type of fundraise, because of the loyal retail client base they all either have or have the potential of commanding. Finance as a sector has already been done, with caveats. It brought about institutional interests, and serious price volatility as a result. But, by tapping into the mass market though either of these industries, we may be able to sustain a steady and solid adoption rate.

 

RS: You’ve been a female entrepreneur in the cryptocurrency space for over three years, can you tell us about any benefits or challenges being female in a male-dominated field may have brought?

LA: I was born in Latvia and educated in Switzerland. According to Open Knowledge report by the World Bank, six economies—Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Sweden and topping-off with Latvia —score 100 in the Women, Business and the Law index, meaning they give women and men equal legal rights in the measured areas, whereas Switzerland scores just marginally below at 97.50. In fact Latvia has the highest proportion of female executives in the entire EU, according to the latest EuroStat survey.

This shows that generally women should not be experiencing any difference or special challenges in the developed world economies. And it is no different in the nascent crypto space. Although the industry is predominantly male, the rules are the same for both genders. Hence, I have not felt particular challenges being a female entrepreneur. Indeed, the only challenges are mostly self imposed. This is because, by some gender bias, females tend to be more critical, especially of themselves. So, if anything, the challenges are self inflicted and are completely unrelated to external factors.

 

RS: Can you describe briefly what you think the next two years looks like for ICOs and STOs.

LA: The coming years will be a slow recovery from the ICO exuberance that culminated in the years 2017-18. It will be a recovery and maturing of the cryptocurrency and crypto assets industry, where STO will have an important place, setting precedents across jurisdictions.

ICOs had reached unprecedented 10-fold returns on investment, raising in excess of USD 20 billion in funding, in the years combined. The crypto fundraising will continue, but it will happen in a more professional way; more law-abiding manner; hopefully, innovative at the same time.

It would be unfortunate, if the law makers decided that we don’t actually need innovation, and that the existing system is good enough as it is. My hope is that competition will increase, and the barriers of entry will not be disproportionally raised. So the new entrants and innovators can have a chance of their lifetime to actually make the word a better place.

 

RS: Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers?

LA: To inaugurate the launch of Fintelum services, I invite potential token issuers to take part in our Easter arrangement. From 21 March to 21 April 2019, Fintelum will wave half the onboarding fee to all eligible token issuers who come through during this time.

Contact Fintelum here to launch your compliant ICO or STO token sale.

In addition, to energetic self-starters, using the hashtag #TokeniseYourAssets in your social media will help land an internship and work opportunity with Fintelum.

Contact Fintelum at info@fintelum.com for more information.

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Rebecca has a keen attention to detail and is an investment analyst and entrepreneur. Some early investments include Spotify and Lyft.

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Matthew Le Merle, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Fifth Era and Keiretsu Capital – Interview Series

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Matthew Le Merle, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Fifth Era and Keiretsu Capital - Interview Series

Matthew Le Merle is co-founder and Managing Partner of Fifth Era and Keiretsu Capital – the most active early stage venture investors backing almost 200 companies a year. He is Chairman of Securitize (Europe) and CAH, Vice Chairman SFOX and an advisor at Warburg Pincus.

He is also the Co-Author of Blockchain Competitive Advantage, a book that we highly recommend for both entrepreneurs and investors in the space that is available at Amazon, Apple, and Smashwords in hard and paperback, ebook and audible.

 

You have been an early stage technology investor in Silicon Valley for decades including at Keiretsu and Band of Angels. Is this where you were first introduced to blockchain, and what initially excited you about the technology?

While both Alison Davis (my wife and business partner) and I have been early stage investors in Silicon Valley since the late 1990’s we had focused on Internet, digital content and Fintech investing. For me that included investing as Managing Partner at Keiretsu – the most active early stage investors in the US – and as a member of Band of Angels. We have made several dozen investments in that timeframe and have seen hundreds more made by the investors that we work most closely with.

However, it was Alison that first became excited by blockchain. She has been a public board company director for decades including currently at RBS, Fiserv, Collibra and Ooma. It was the former (RBS) where she chairs the Innovation and Technology committee of the board that led to her needing to understand Bitcoin in 2013. She went on her own voyage of discovery that eventually led to her joining Bart and Brad Stephens and Spencer Bogart at Blockchain Capital as their Advisory Board Chairman.

For my own part, I initially resisted the idea of blockchain. From the 1990’s onwards I had worked with companies like Cisco, eBay, Google, Microsoft, PayPal and others driving the Internet forward and I was reticent to climb on a bandwagon with people who were saying that blockchain would be bigger than the Internet. In time I came to appreciate that as we move the world forwards towards a fully digital future, we will need enabling technologies like blockchain to complete the journey. We have to solve the issues that the Internet currently has including security, identity, concentration, and the lack of native digital monies and assets.

By 2016 I was fully onboard. Better late than never as they say.

Today in addition to being an active investor in the space, I am Chairman of Securitize in Europe and Vice Chairman of SFOX. I would say that being close to the leading global solution for digital securities and the leading crypto prime dealer has given me insights that are greatly informing our Blockchain Coinvestors investment thesis.

 

In your book you mention that investors often “miss the forest for the trees”, could you share what you mean by this?

I don’t remember exactly where in ‘Blockchain Competitive Advantage’ we say that. However, investors tend to get very focused on the investments that they have and the ones that fill their mindspace. For most investors that means fixed income, public investments and some large cap real estate. But without exception those are relatively low returning asset classes. Over the last 25 years their annual net IRR has been around 3%, 9 to 10% and 8% respectively. Meanwhile, the driving forces of our time are the digitalization of our world and everything within it, as well as the life sciences revolution that is changing the very essence of life (for better or worse). This is why over the same 25 years the annual net IRR for venture capital has been 24% rising to an impressive 32% in the early stage of venture capital in the US.

We see most investors around the world putting most of their money in easily available, low returning, and relatively efficient asset classes. That is ironic, since we were all taught that only in inefficient markets can we hope for superior returns.

The superior returns of the last twenty years, and we believe of the next, will be derived from technology enabled companies that are driving the digital future and are capitalizing on new disruptive technologies such as AI, big data, the Internet of things, blockchain and so on.

We can’t understand why so many professional investors put most of their capital into low returning asset classes when they all intuitively know that the future will not be the same as the past.

 

You call this period of unprecedented innovation and disruption the Fifth Era. Could you elaborate on this?

Alison and I were very worried when we first heard the term the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” being used by many of the board directors and senior executives with whom we work and spend time. They seemed to think that the world’s innovators and most innovative companies were merely evolving the Industrial world forwards. Moving incrementally forward along the path that the world began some two hundred years ago when it discovered mass production, new energy sources, and the corporate model of organization with its focus on economies of scale and scope. As we talked with these friends we realized that this mindset was leading them down mental paths that were not helpful.

This is not an evolution of the past, or a new phase of the industrial revolution. Rather we are moving into an entirely new era of human existence in which the very conceptual underpinnings of the Industrial Era are being challenged and, in many cases, undermined.

We believe that if you accept this notion that the future is going to be fundamentally different from the Industrial era that we are passing out of, then you naturally take on a mindset that allows you to better see the shape of what is coming – the ‘wood for the trees’ if you will.

So, we named this new future the ‘Fifth Era’ in our book “Corporate Innovation in the Fifth Era“.

 

How can investors best capitalize on this Fifth Era that we are entering?

That is at one and the same time both very easy and very hard.

It is easy because all you have to do is change your allocations from a dominance of fixed income, public equities and large cap real estate towards a great allocation to private investments and especially early stage technology company investments. Just like the best investors have done years ago. For example, among endowments, everyone has heard of how Harvard, Stanford and Yale allocated more to early stage private investments twenty years or so ago, and have become the highest performing university investors of our time.

But most endowments globally do little of this investing even though they have heard the story for years. Why?

Because it is also hard. Much harder than creating combinations and permutations of publicly traded stocks and ETF’s. And much harder to access given that the big advisors, wealth managers, banks and so on only really have access to fixed income, public equities and large cap real estate. They make it easy to keep your capital in those asset classes. They tell a story that it is very hard to access the highest performing asset classes and that their performance is ‘fake’ or ‘illusory’. So, it in practice does become hard to step out and become a different type of investor. But primarily because you believe it is going to be hard and so in many cases don’t really try very hard to change how you invest – it is a mindset issue.

For those of us that have focused on creating the access for ourselves, we have done so. Whether angels, venture capitalists or investors in early stage venture funds, we have found a way to get capital into the hands of the most capable innovators and their companies.

But the easy path in investing is to focus on the access others will give to you, and that is always to the large, efficient asset classes which represent the past rather than the future.

 

In your book you detail current “barriers of adoption” for both DAPPs and blockchain projects. What do you feel are the current “barriers of adoption” for digital securities?

For the most part we believe that the world’s capital will continue to flow through the hands of the largest institutions who manage the capital on behalf of others (pension funds, endowments, insurers etc) and will be invested into products created by the world’s leading asset managers. And that these flows will continue to be highly regulated and will include traditional intermediaries, exchanges and so on.

While that may not be a popular view within the blockchain community, and we do agree that peer to peer, and direct access will become much more important in the future as well, we hold to the view that the bulk of the world’s assets will pass through traditional players.

So, the mass of digital security solutions have to be delivered in the context of the transformation of existing investment ecosystems. That is a significant challenge, not only because we have to deploy new technology solutions in order to create digital securities, but we also have to solve the issues of security, identity and trust and so on. Furthermore, we need to do this with existing players and within the context of existing regulatory structures. This is a very complex task of education, development and harmonization on a global scale. It is this task that the team at Securitize has taken on and we are very excited to be helping them in this regard.

While in the long tail it may be easier to bring point solutions of digital securities to specific groups of investors through new digital channels, we don’t think those represent the mass of adoption that will eventually come to the space. They are very important trailblazing evidence of what is possible, and we like to invest in those players too. At SFOX we are lucky to be working with the team that built the leading crypto prime dealer and it is amazing to see how they have not only combined the world’s exchanges and OTC brokers to create unprecedented liquidity in Bitcoin and other traded cryptomonies, but to also deliver the lowest prices and best trading edge to their clients. Once again, we can’t understand the inertia that leads to investors using solutions that are higher priced and less capable.

But the dog is the transformation of today’s investment marketplaces, while the tail is the creation of new disruptive investment marketplaces.

 

You and Alison are the Managing Partners of Blockchain Coinvestors which invests through investment vehicles into well-known blockchain companies, with an emphasis on early stage equity investing. Could you tell us a bit more about the size of this fund and the companies that it will invest in?

By law I can’t talk about the fund itself to an audience I don’t know, but I can share our investment strategies.

Simply put, we believe that the best practices of early stage investing continue to be true and will be the drivers of value creation in blockchain investing too. These are simple to say, but hard to execute. Invest early in the best teams alongside the best investors focused on the space. Get the broadest and most diversified coverage you can without diverging from this core strategy. Do it on a global scale. Make sure that the combined portfolio of companies that you are invested in has access to the capabilities, relationships, and other advantages that mark out the winners from the also ran. Then look for follow on investing opportunities as the emerging unicorns begin to surface.

For Blockchain Coinvestors this means that we are investors in the top 10 to 15 blockchain venture investors around the world including 1confirmation, 1kx, Blockchain Capital, Blockchain Ventures, BluFolio, Castle Island, DCG, Fabric, Future/Perfect, Ideo, Pantera and others. We have a combined portfolio now approaching 100 blockchain companies and are investors through this strategy in 9 of the 15 blockchain unicorns.

The access has taken us six years to build and we are very excited to be able to deploy capital in this way. We are always interested in talking to investors who want to learn more.

 

When looking at investment opportunities you like to forecast the state of the industry in ten years. Could you describe the future that you envision for digital securities ten years from now?

It is inconceivable to us that in the future there will be ANY paper based securities. Despite the fact that today more than half of the world’s assets are held on paper – most real estate, most funds, most private corporate investments, many fixed income investments and so on – that can’t be the future.

So, we are absolutely confident in asserting that in the future ALL securities will be digital.

Of course, the question is what is the path to that digital future and what will be the timing by asset class and by geography.

In the next ten years we believe that the world’s major financial centers will all have embraced digitalization across all asset classes and that the best issuers, investors, intermediaries and exchanges in those global financial centers will have made it a long way towards that future. The leading global financial centers have to be innovation leaders to remain in the lead and as we speak to the leadership in New York, London, Zurich, Tokyo, San Francisco, Chicago, Hong Kong and so on, we hear them saying exactly this back to us.

However, that does not mean that in ten years ALL securities will be digital. Just like you can still buy vinyl records, or classic cars, we are sure you will still be able to buy some paper from someone if you want to hold your capital in that format.

Though we are not sure why you would want to.

 

At Securities.io we often come across projects promising to tokenize everything from VC funds, to art and real estate. Which type of tokenization projects make the most sense to you, and have the most potential for real-world mass market adoption?

We think investors want quality assets that they know represent good investments from blue chip names that vouch for them, are prepared to ensure quality issuance, custody, trading and settlement etc. So, for us, quality matters in investments. So, it is less an issue of which asset class, and more an issue of whether the specific investment is a quality one.

The good news is that at Securitize and SFOX we are working with players that are keen to bring some of the world’s most attractive asset classes to a native digital format, and you should expect to see these types of offering later this year and in 2021.

 

Do you have any final words for investors in the space?

The main thoughts we would like to leave your readers with are:

– Investing in the future has got to be better than investing in the past

– The highest returns come from early stage technology investing. This is a fact, not simply an assertion

– You can have access if you want it. But it won’t come from traditional players who wish to keep your capital in easily accessible, efficient and low returning asset classes

– Finally, all the world’s asset will be digital in a digital world, and blockchain will be an important part of making that happen

To learn more about how Matthew views investing opportunities in the blockchain space we recommend reading Blockchain Competitive Advantage.

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Luka Gubo, CEO of Blocktrade – Interview Series

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Luka Gubo, CEO of Blocktrade - Interview Series

We sat down with Luka Gubo, CEO at Blocktrade, to find out how he combines his professional experience with technological developments to advance Blocktrade’s mission to transform the way small and medium-sized companies raise capital.  

 

Luka, you have a background in trading, investing, and risk management. How did you become the founder and CEO of Blocktrade?

I started my career just before the great financial crisis, as a high-frequency trader at a small proprietary trading firm, where we traded mostly futures and other derivatives. Our most important strategy was macroeconomic event trading, which means that we tried to enter the market a couple of milliseconds after the release of major macroeconomic data, such as GDP growth or employment numbers. Our servers were collocated with different exchanges so that our orders arrived at the order books as soon as possible. At some point, we were executing several billion US dollars worth of futures on CME per month.

After the great recession, large competitors with better access to these markets entered the picture, and trading became less profitable, so I started focusing on more long-term investing. I developed a couple of investment strategies based on theoretical and empirical models, one of which I implemented into a first fully quantitative fund in the region. I have always been at the intersection of trading and technology, so I quickly realised – especially after reading the Ethereum white paper – the potential of blockchains on primary and secondary capital markets. I wanted to contribute to this transformation and build on my experience to develop new processes and increase access and transparency of markets. In 2018, I set the vision for Blocktrade, and our goal is to use these latest technologies to improve the inner workings of capital markets, mainly in Europe.

 

Blocktrade is applying for the authorization to perform investment services in the European Economic Area as per Directive 2014/65/EU (MiFID II). What is this directive, and what does it mean for investors?

MiFID II stands for Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, which is part of the broader European capital markets regulatory framework. The directive regulates all activities related to exchanges and investment firms (or broker-dealers, as they are called in the US) that provide different investment services on the primary and secondary market. MiFID II has more than 30,000 pages, including its delegated regulations and regulatory and technical standards. But there is also other relevant legislation that regulates European capital markets, such as the Central Securities Depositories Regulation (CSDR), Prospectus Regulation, Market Abuse Regulation (MAR), Settlement Finality Directive, and Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AML/CTF Directive) and many others.

The goal of these regulations is to protect investors and ensure market stability and transparency while reducing risks and enable the efficient allocation of funds in the primary and secondary markets. Although this objective is admirable, one could say that EU capital market regulations are overly complex, and they harm investors and especially issuers trying to tap the markets for funding. Furthermore, disruption is hardly possible because of the large regulatory, operational, and capital requirements to enter the industry.

By applying for such a licence, we aim to make it much more convenient and less expensive for issuers to raise capital from investors. At the same time, we want to provide large and small investors with access to previously inaccessible asset classes. The technology allows us to reach that goal, while the license will provide us with the necessary trust from investors and other financial institutions.

 

In October 2019, you announced that Cryptix completed the acquisition of Blocktrade. Who is Cryptix, and what does this mean for the future of Blocktrade?

Cryptix is a Swiss-based full-service provider that focuses on disrupting the finance industry with a long-term focus on combining both worlds: regulated and decentralized finance. Being part of the Cryptix Group has many benefits for Blocktrade: Cryptix shares and even expands our vision, and, together, we connect the entire financial ecosystem. As a first step towards creating the people’s financial marketplace, Cryptix is applying for an EMI licence while Blocktrade is applying for a MiFID II licence.

With a plan to combine an entire financial marketplace in one app, Cryptix aims to offer a seamless experience for users, who will be able to access different financial services and products. Blocktrade will take care of the capital market part, both on the primary and secondary market side.

The future of Blocktrade is very bright. We have broadened our mission: We not only facilitate access to the primary market but, by offering fundraising, structuring, advisory, and placement services, we also help European entrepreneurs become more competitive in the global environment. Together with our technology for the secondary market – which we will operate as an investment firm when we get the authorization – we will be able to cover the full spectrum of capital market services, including safekeeping and custody, settlement, reporting, routing, and execution.

 

Blocktrade will be offering the listing of security tokens for trading. When do you expect this to happen?

Listing financial instruments on our multilateral trading facility (MTF) will be possible after the licence is granted by the regulator. We are not allowed to touch securities until then. I think 2020 will be an exciting year for existing issuers of security tokens but also for new STOs.

 

What will the listing requirements for security tokens be?

There are various requirements that include legal, governing, technical, and financial aspects. From the legal perspective, only a legal entity can issue securities, and their statues and articles of association have to allow the transferability of these securities and have clearly defined rights for the owners of the securities. Before the listing, the securities must be entered into a book-entry form with a CSD.

The governance-related requirements include that a company has clear company governance in place – preferably with independent board members – that facilitates the primary market. Furthermore, management and board members need to pass a fit-and-proper assessment, and management must be trained on the MTF’s rules on reporting, market abuse, insider trading, transparency, and governance. On the technical side, we aim to support as many security token protocols as possible since there is no industry standard. However, there might be a need to switch to a different protocol, potentially a permissioned DLT, to enable the streamlined, straight-through processing of executed trades. When it comes to financial requirements, it is important to be aware that the minimum size to be listed on the secondary market is currently EUR 1 million in market capitalisation. Although we plan to support large and small issuers, we need to adhere to this limit. However, the requirements might change once we see what the actual liquidity of these securities will be. Finally, while we prefer established business with growing revenues and profits, we do not exclude startups that have not yet reached profitability.

 

Do you have any security tokens lined up for the launch?

Our strong network includes several strong issuers of security tokens, and they are eager to provide liquidity to their shareholders.

 

What are some of Blocktrade’s institutional services for banks and other investment firms?

We will offer trading opportunities to a range of institutions – from brokers to fintech companies to (neo)banks and investment firms – and we create new revenue streams for them through white-label solutions. They will be able to execute their clients’ trades on the secondary market (for both cryptocurrencies and security tokens) and offer direct investments in STOs to their clients. Businesses that do not have their own platform to raise capital will be able to use our white-label solution, while unlicensed entities will be able to become tied-agents, which means they will be able to act as an STO investment platform and enable routing of clients’ orders to our MTF.

 

What are some of the features and tools that we can expect to see on the Blocktrade platform?

Our goal is to provide a marketplace where demand and supply for digital assets meet. A primary market where companies issue securities in which investors can invest directly is one of the essential features that we are building. Of course, we are also focused on finalising the development of the secondary market, where these securities will be traded. We will offer this new digital asset class with all the necessary tools for a professional trader, investor, or any financial institution. We are entirely API driven, which enables us to integrate with existing market infrastructures while allowing other platforms, apps, and algorithms to connect with us.

 

Is there anything else that you would like to share about Blocktrade?

Yes, there are always some good things to share. We are very thankful for Cryptix’s warm welcome and for the opportunity to work out of the new headquarters in Vaduz, Liechtenstein.

To learn more visit Blocktrade or our Blocktrade business listing page.

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Dan Doney, CEO of Securrency – Interview Series

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Dan Doney, CEO of Securrency - Interview Series

Dan Doney is the CEO of Securrency one of the leading token issuers in the digital securities space.

You have a very distinguished career having served in various roles with NSA, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). How did you transition from working with some of the most respected intelligence agencies in the world, to launching Securrency

I have been fortunate enough to work on some of the most advanced technology innovations with the best minds during my time at various intelligence agencies from the DIA to the FBI, providing the perfect springboard to launch Securrency. This gave me an insight into how fragmented the information transfer is between agencies and the inherent inefficiencies of centralized systems. My experience, combined with my passion for software development, and cybersecurity to artificial intelligence and dynamic asset pricing got me in front of some interesting individuals across real estate and finance who wanted to find technological solutions for widespread industry issues such as asset illiquidity. In search of a solution to these issues, I discovered blockchain technology and tokenization and recognized the huge impact it could have on financial services. Through the development of Securrency, it is our vision to transform the digital asset space using tokenization to deliver true market efficiencies.

 

You initially designed Securrency’s core identity server, credentialing (rules) engine, and interoperating rails in a hybrid architecture (linking on and off-chain functions). What made you choose this structure versus depending on a specific distributed ledger (blockchain) solution?

As Securrency’s market infrastructure technology is first and foremost designed to provide convenience and support to all market makers, it needed to encompass both legacy and blockchain functions to ensure the widespread participation and adoption of digital securities.  Frankly, most STOs are bridges to nowhere. Without a built-out, integrated, and interoperable marketplace in which digital assets can move about, there isn’t enough back-end liquidity to make the exercise worthwhile for most issuers. We hope that this infrastructure will be transformational in the long run, but the near-term objectives are more incremental in nature. It is important to keep this in mind so we can move past the hype and toward the mature, professional adoption of these technologies.

 

WisdomTree Investments together with Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) and other investors invested in Securrency, as they aim to integrate blockchain technology into the exchange-traded fund (ETF) ecosystem. Could you share with us how Securrency’s technology will be integrated into ETF exchanges?

WisdomTree is a high-profile, highly-credible asset manager, and, as a strategic investor in Securrency, provides an incredible opportunity to deploy its technology into the ETF ecosystem. The bottom line is the market needs recognizable products that already enjoy substantial liquidity, so ETFs are a logical and exciting use case for our technology. Most of the ETF-related digital securities activity has been focused on cryptocurrency ETFs, and WisdomTree has been active in this space in Europe. ETFs will not only attract the large, household-name exchanges, transfer agents, and investment services providers, but will also make it easier and safer for a much broader base of investors to participate in these digital investment products.

 

On January 7th, Securrency announced the successful completion of a Series A raise for $17.65 Million. What are the plans for the raised funds?

Securrency plans to use its Series A funding to advance its software and platform development, integrate with strategic partners and other customers and, build out its operational structure. Thanks to the ongoing support of our strategic partners; the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, Monex Group, Inc,. RRE Ventures, Strawberry Creek Ventures, and Panthera Capital Investments, we can achieve our strategic vision and mission.

 

Could you tell us more about the Securrency RegManager™?

The Securrency RegManager encompasses both our Rules Engine interface and the patent-pending Compliance Aware Token framework. Our Rules Engine is a plain-language abstraction layer that allows companies and their lawyers to not only rapidly create policies but to be able to readily audit those policies and update them instantaneously. This level of convenience is essential for widespread adoption. The RegManager interface is fundamentally about providing multi-jurisdictional compliance tools and unprecedented convenience to financial services providers and market participants.

 

I was also interested in learning more about the Securrency InfinXchange™ and the benefits it offers?

InfinXchange is Securrency’s biggest technology IP. It’s an API library and finance ontology which maps various financial services to a set of basic functions, e.g. capital formation, payments, exchange routing, transfers, corporate actions, asset pricing, and compliant value transfer across DLT and legacy networks. It’s a plug-in framework made to be integrated with third-party service providers.

 

2019 was a bit slower of a year than we would have liked to see for the emergence of security tokens, do you believe that 2020 will be different?

We expect to see an acceleration in the tokenization of publicly traded assets in 2020. This, along with financial service providers partnering with emerging security token firms to tokenize institutional-grade assets will be a major trend in 2020. Tokenization platforms built by big tech firms like Microsoft and Facebook are also likely to emerge in 2020, coupled with digital asset issuances from highly trusted investment firms and asset managers.

 

What are some of the projects that Securrency is currently working on?

Our primary objective is to facilitate high-quality, yield-bearing token issuances as we unlock the accessibility which fuels mass global adoption of distributed ledger technology in financial services – the dream of blockchain enthusiasts for over a decade. This requires working closely with regulators, market participants, and intuitive user interfaces.

Visit Securrency or our Securrency Business Listing to learn more.

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