On July 15, 2019, the CEO of Overstock.com, Patrick Byrne issued a letter to shareholders. In the document, Byrne discusses the current state of Overstock’s blockchain ambitions and the company’s anticipated goals in the coming years. The document highlights the firm’s past achievements and explains how these actions correlate to Overstock’s bigger focus of pioneering the digital economy.
Byrne’s letter includes a brief overview of Overstock and its relationship to the blockchain technology sector. Notably, Overstock was the first major online retailer to accept cryptocurrency back in 2014. The letter also explains some of the motivations behind the decision, and how it spawned the development of Medici Ventures.
Medici Ventures Blockchain
Medici Ventures is an Overstock subsidiary that focuses on blockchain development. Overstock has spent a significant amount of capital developing the firm. Byrne takes a moment to acknowledge these investments, before explaining why he considered this the best course of actions.
Byrne cites the emergence of security tokens as the evolution of blockchain technology. He references several studies including – Billions to Trillion: Crypto Assets and the Inevitability of Digitization to highlight his point that tokenization of traditional financial assets is inevitable.
To support his conclusion, Byrne quotes some major industry bigwigs including the 2018 NASDAQ Chairman, Bob Greifeld. He quotes the Chairman as saying “100% of stocks and bonds can be tokenized, and in five years 100% of the stocks and bonds on Wall Street will be tokenized.”
Byrne explains that if Greifeld is correct, the tokenized economy will equal close to $500 trillion in the coming years. Additionally, exchanges that handle and offer tokenized securities will experience a huge surge in value. Byrne goes as far as to predict these exchanges value to reach around $1 trillion in the coming years.
At this point in the letter, Byrne takes a moment to reiterate that these are predictions and that nobody knows for sure exactly how long, or if ever, tokenization of the traditional markets will occur in full. After the brief disclaimer, the advantageous CEO takes a moment to discuss Overstock’s past accomplishments.
Overstock Leads the Pack
In April 2015, Overstock filed a self-registration on form s-3 with the SEC to register digital assets via blockchain. The company was among the first to do so. In December 2015, the SEC approved Overstock’s request to register security tokens.
In December 2016, Overstock issued the first SEC-registered digital security OSTKO. OSTKO was the first Blockchain-based Series-A preferred stock issued in the world. OSTKO began trading on the licensed exchange PRO Securities ATS.
Currently, OSTKO is only available to accredited investors with legacy accounts on the PRO Securities ATSD system. To be considered an accredited investor, you must show proof of $1 million in assets. Of course, most average investors lack this much capital. Therefore, many investors are unable to participate in trading these tokens in their current status.
In August 2019, resales will commence under rule 144. This means unaccredited investors will be able to participate in the market for the first time. Overstock plans to extend this strategy to other tokenized assets. In particular, the firm seeks to open the doors to global investments of the tZERO token. tZERO is Overstock’s native security token.
Byrne expressed his pleasure with the ability to allow more investor participation. Also, he touted deals with other registered digital asset exchanges including the Boston Security Token Exchange (BSTX). Notably, BSTX was the first regulated national security exchange in the US.
Byrne took a moment to explain Overstock’s competitive advantages in the sector. He cited the previously mentioned accomplishments. He also touched on the firm’s previous work with the SEC, and the fact that the tZERO token is SEC-registered.
Byrne explained the huge work and financial investments made to date, and why he considers these moves to be critical in the company’s efforts to position itself as a leader in the digital economy. Additionally, he cited protection from fraud and the ability to leverage efforts as the main reasons why security token ownership will expand.
Overstock has Grand Plans
tZERO, Medici Ventures, and the entire Overstock blockchain movement is impressive, and there is still much more planned for the near future. Byrne explained how these technologies are not only important to consumers but also revolutionary to governments.
The CEO explained how many countries lack the ability to incorporate traditional monitoring and enforcement methods utilized by developed countries. The infrastructure costs are just too high. Overstock plans to reduce these costs through the use of blockchain systems.
As an example of these grandiose plans, Byrne cited the firm’s agreement with Zambia. Here, Overstock plans to provide blockchain services to the nation, including land governance. Byrne takes a moment to describe why land governance is at the core of a society’s structure, and why a blockchain-based system is inevitable. The program goes under the name MLG, and it’s a real game-changer
Crypto Central Banking
Byrne’s blockchain ambitions don’t stop there. The firm has already begun development on a cryptocurrency central banking system. The crypto central bank is called Bitt. Bitt already has a partnership with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank in Barbados. The firm also utilizes engineers from the Utah-based Medici team.
Overstock wants to provide more transparency and regulatory capabilities to countries suffering from poor money management, or economic collapse. In the paper, he cites many failed Middle Eastern countries, as well as Venezuela, as examples of governments unable to protect their currency from rapid inflation.
The Perfect Storm
Overstock wants to combine all of these platforms together, MLG, tZERO, and Bitt, to form a stack. This stack would allow governments to issue currencies, monitor monetary activity, and enforce regulations more effectively. The systems would reduce the costs associated with these tasks significantly.
Byrne Has Much More to Come
After laying out his company’s extraordinary plans, Byrne took a moment to discuss some other platforms that are in the works. Without naming the platform, he discussed the possibility of a peer-to-peer lending app in the future. Peer-to-peer lending apps are now more popular than ever. Blockchain technology makes these technologies more efficient and safer than previous versions.
Overstock is Aiming for the Stars
Byrne ends the letter with a brief discussion on the competition his firm currently faces in both the blockchain and retail market sectors. He explains that Overstock has a significant lead in these areas and that the company should be able to improve it’s positioning further in the coming months.
CoinList Founder Andy Bromberg Discusses Security Token Trends
The security token sector continues to be a hot button issue amongst the crypto community. This month, CoinList founder Andy Bromberg took some time to discuss the importance of these tokens, and how the coming months might play out. Unexpectedly, Bromberg had mixed feelings on the market’s trajectory.
In a recent interview, Bromberg pointed out some of the major issues facing the security token sector. He believes that the lack of clear regulations is the main factor deterring large scale adoption. Businesses are still unsure of what to think of this new crowdfunding strategy. The lack of transparency from regulators leaves many potential blockchain investors with unanswered questions.
Recognizing the need for more clarity in the space, the SEC issued multiple statements this year. These posts are an attempt by the SEC to help business owners understand the classifications of each type of token, and what regulations it falls under. Most recently, the SEC released a full guidance that covers each token class in detail.
STO Regulations Evolve
When STOs first emerged, many businesses saw these tokens as a cheaper and quicker alternative to traditional securities. At that time, the market lacked any regulatory structure. Businesses were able to issue tokens at will.
Nowadays this is no longer the case. The SEC recently stepped into the space in a major way. As a result, numerous businesses faced backlash for issuing securities illegally. Consequently, the STO market slowed until recently.
It Takes Time
When asked about the markets adoption rate, Bromberg was quick to let people know there is still a lot of time before STOs make it to the mainstream. The savvy crypto advocate noted that it could be years still until STOs gain enough traction to become a major crowdfunding strategy.
CoinList entered the market in 2017 with the goal of providing financial services to next-gen tech firms. The company has headquarters in New York and offices in San Francisco. Notably, the firm has fewer than 50 employees according to Crunchbase.
CoinList offers clients advisory services regarding blockchain-based investment strategies. As the President of CoinList, Bromberg is uniquely positioned to understand the sector’s demands. His company hears the concerns of both investors and service providers. Discussing the issues, Bromberg described how there is little incentive for companies to make the shift to the crypto ecosystem at this time.
Bromberg feels that in order for companies to have confidence in these new systems, there needs to be a clear legal framework that doesn’t detract from the advantages of blockchain technology. Basically, legislators need to fully understand the advantages of blockchain technology in order to structure regulations that enable the tech to function at peak performance levels.
CoinList STOs – A Bumpy Road Ahead
The overall tone of Bromberg is one of a man who fully understands the complicated scenarios that play out in the cryptospace. His ability to point out these shortcomings is sure to help CoinList remain a dominant player in the future.
Polymath Partners with QRC Group- Eyes Asian Markets
Asian companies looking to host an STO in the future just got a powerful alley. The token issuance platform Polymath announced a strategic partnership with one of Asia’s most successful STO consulting firms – the QRC Group. The partnership strengthens Polymath’s presence in the region. Also, it provides future STOs with the added guidance needed to make their crowdfunding campaigns a success.
News of the strategic partnership first broke via a Polymath blog post. In the post, the firm discusses Polymath’s goal to make token issuance as easy as possible. Notably, providing companies access to valuable third-parties is an integral part of Polymath’s all-inclusive strategy.
The QRC Group has an excellent reputation as an established STO advisory in the Asian marketplace. This Hong Kong-based firm provides companies with a plethora of STO-related services such as turnkey issuance. Additionally, QRC provides end-to-end solutions for STOs, including access to regulated secondary market trading.
Speaking on the developments, the CEO of the QRC Group, Shoga Ishida described the partnership as an “important milestone” for his firm. Ishida pointed out Polymath’s ideal position in the market. He then explained how QRC plans to help businesses seeking more guidance. According to the post, QRC will offer consultation in:
- Token issuance
- Technical infrastructure
Currently, QRC hosts a variety of blockchain-related programs. These run the full scope of the sector ranging from production and investment services, all the way to identity verification platforms. Additionally, the company has a native multi-currency STO wallet capable of storing over a thousand different tokens in the works.
Notably, QRC continues to push for international STO standards for the Asian and Southeast Asian markets. Asia plays a huge role in the crypto market. QRC believes that standards are needed in order for the STO market to reach its full potential in the region. Importantly, businesses need this regulatory framework in place before considering STOs to be an attractive alternative to the status quo.
The QRC Group currently works with multiple universities including Taiwan Tech and the University of Malaya. These programs study the effects of blockchain technology, and how it relates to the digitization of the global markets.
Polymath on QRC Group Services
Polymath’s Head of Tokenization, Graeme Moore also took a moment to describe why the QRC Group was the perfect addition to the Polymath ecosystem. He explained why connecting high-quality service providers with valuable business resources, is critical for the developing STO space.
Polymath continues to expand its network. The firm made headlines numerous times this year including in June when it partnered with Ethereum co-founder, Charles Hoskinson on the Polymesh project. Polymesh is a separate blockchain designed specifically for compliant tokens.
Polymath – STO Pioneers
Polymath’s expanding network is just one example of how STO providers plan to bridge the knowledge gap between businesses interested in hosting STOs, and providers of these services. The addition of the QRC Group provides the network with a host of valuable resources. You can expect to see these services play a major role in Polymath’s future token issuances.
BaFin Approves Germany based STO Platform by Black Manta Capital
In a process that took roughly 9 months, Luxembourg based, Black Manta Capital, was awarded licensure to operate an STO platform within Germany. This licensure was provided by regulatory body, BaFin.
This development moves the company one step toward their self-described mission of setting “a global standard for Security Token Offerings (STO).”
In their release, the company hinted towards a launch date, stating,
“The operative start of the investment platform with the first Token Offerings is planned for early Q4/2019.”
The approval received allows for Black Manta Capital to offer clients services surrounding security token offerings. Black Manta Capital has indicated that they intend for this platform to function as a comprehensive offering – meaning that they will provide clients all the necessary services from start to finish, through the tokenization process.
The act of tokenization involves selling, creating, and distributing digital securities which represent ownership of a variety of assets. These assets may range from cars, to art, to equity within a company, and anything in between. As these digital assets are securities, their creation and distribution is only possible when adhering to laws enforced by typical regulatory bodies, such as BaFin.
The STO platform to be offered by Black Manta Capital is expected to face stiff competition, as Europe is quickly becoming a hot bed for companies with similar ambitions. The following are a few of those expected to fit this role.
Upon making their announcement, Managing Partner of Black Manta Capital, Christian Platzer, took the time to comment. The following is what he had to say on the matter.
“Tokenization in the core financial field of securities will – for sure – bring paradigmatic change to the global financial markets.” – “While Black Manta Capital Partners want to be ‘boutique’ in its beginnings and run ‘handpicked’ STOs only, our strategy is global from day one: the first step is to link Europe and Asia on one blockchain-based investment platform. Therefore we look already today into Singapore.”
Black Manta Capital
Black Manta Capital is a young company which specializes in tokenization services. Operating out of Luxembourg since 2018, the company has plans for eventual expansion across various continents.
Managing Partners, Christian Platzer and Alexander Rapatz, currently oversee company operations.
BaFin is a leading financial supervising authority across Europe. With over 2,600 employees, this regulatory body oversees a variety of industries ranging from finance, to banking, insurance, and more.
The organization has been operational since being founded in 2002.
In Other News
Today’s announcement is not the first time that BaFin has provided licencing to outfits partaking in the digital securities sector. The following articles demonstrate a pair of other companies that have also been successful in this respect.