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Saum Noursalehi, CEO of tZERO – Interview Series

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Saum Noursalehi, CEO of tZERO - Interview Series

Saum Noursalehi is the CEO of tZERO, a security token exchange which has the potential to disrupt the entire digital securities space. Previous, to this position Saum was President of Overstock.

Before becoming CEO of tZERO, you were President of Overstock, a leader in ecommerce and one of the first Fortune 500 companies to accept Bitcoin. When did you first hear about Bitcoin, and what was your initial impression of this technology?

I first heard about Bitcoin in 2013 at a dinner party, and was fascinated by the technology. I did not actually invest in bitcoin until 2014 when I started to learn more about it, which was after Overstock signed a deal with Coinbase to accept it as a payment option.

 

Could you let us know how you transitioned from being President of Overstock, to CEO of tZERO?

I worked at Overstock for nearly 14 years, holding a number of leadership positions in a variety of functions at the company, including technology, product development, R&D and marketing to name a few. Having studied Computer Science in college, I have always had an interest in technology, particularly artificial intelligence and blockchain technology. When the opportunity arose to become the CEO of tZERO, I could not pass it up. My time at Overstock provided me with a strong understanding of product development, leadership and what it takes to run a business, which cultivated my professional identity as a product-focused leader. As a senior leader at a publicly-traded company, I had deep exposure to capital markets and opportunities for transforming the current ecosystem. I believe that this experience and my interest in innovative technology allowed me to transition the blockchain-based capital markets space without too much difficulty.

 

Patrick Byrne recently offered his resignation as the CEO of Overstock. How will this impact both tZERO and its parent company Medici Ventures?

As I said in my recent letter to investors, I was sad to see Patrick go. He is the founder of these organizations, however, his resignation has not impacted tZERO and Medici Ventures’ day-to-day operations or the execution of our roadmaps. Jonathan Johnson, who continues to be the Chairman of tZERO’s board and President of Medici Ventures, assumed the role of Interim CEO of Overstock. Jonathan is a great leader and a champion for blockchain and its potential as a contributor to evolution in a number of ecosystems, particularly its application to the capital markets through tZERO. Jonathan and the Overstock/Medici boards are committed to tZERO and our long-term success.

 

In July the OSTKO digital preferred dividend was announced. Can you explain the rationale behind this and how it will help to onboard new clients to tZERO?

In July, Overstock announced its intention to issue a dividend to its shareholders in the form of new shares of Digital Voting Series A-1 Preferred Stock, OSTKO. A number of OSTKO shares currently trade exclusively on the PRO Securities ATS, operated by a wholly-owned subsidiary of tZERO, and Overstock expects the new dividend shares to likewise trade on PRO Securities ATS. The dividend will be payable at a ratio of 1:10, meaning that one share of Series A-1 will be issued for every ten shares of common stock, Series A-1 or Voting Series B Preferred Stock held by all holders of such shares as of the record date.

This dividend has the potential to introduce tens of thousands of Overstock shareholders to the PRO Securities ATS. In addition, it has brought interest from many broker-dealers that would like to trade such securities, which in turn will introduce all of their clients to our platform. One of our key priorities is to introduce more investors to the platform, and this should serve as a catalyst for enhancing liquidity. The dividend is currently in the process of SEC registration and Overstock is working actively with the regulatory authorities.

 

Ravencoin was the third cryptocurrency added to the tZERO app. Why Ravencoin?

Ravencoin is one of the fastest growing cryptocurrencies. Additionally, Ravencoin is philosophically aligned with tZERO in making it easy to digitize assets and make them freely tradable. Ravencoin technology allows for straightforward issuance and on-chain transfer of any digital asset, including security tokens, making support for RVN cryptocurrency a natural fit for tZERO’s Crypto app.

 

Adding security tokens such as BCAP and SPiCE on tZERO would speed up adoption of the entire digital securities ecosystem. Is there an expected date for when more tokens will be added to tZERO?

PRO Securities is currently conducting due diligence on security tokens that utilize Securitize’s DS protocol, and we are excited about this potential to offer new assets, which will in turn attract new investors. We are aiming to have additional tokens trading by the end of the year.

 

You’re aiming to launch the first regulated National Security Token Exchange with Box Digital Markets sometime in 2020. Can you share with us some details regarding this partnership, and how it benefits tZERO?

We continue to work with our partners at BOX Digital Markets (BOX) on launching the first regulated national security token exchange through our joint venture, the Boston Security Token Exchange (BSTX), in 2020. With BOX’s experience in building and operating a sophisticated securities exchange and tZERO’s industry leading blockchain technology, we have brought together our organizations’ combined expertise to fundamentally improve the marketplace for digital securities. We continue to make progress and work together to establish a technical and regulatory structure that will be in place ahead of the launch of the exchange.

 

Where do you foresee digital securities being in five to ten years, and tZERO’s role in this?

Within five to ten years, I expect capital markets to evolve into a blockchain-based ecosystem where not only equities and fixed income on Wall Street will be tokenized, but also other non-traditional assets, such as real-estate, film, art, sports teams, athletes or anything of value. Blockchain technology has great potential to increase transparency, reduce friction costs, enhance regulatory compliance and reform the role of traditional market participants. The average retail investor will have access to the types of assets that were previously reserved for just the wealthy or connected. I see tZERO spearheading the effort of providing a platform for the next generation of asset trading.

 

Is there anything else that you would like to share about tZERO or Medici Ventures?

Medici Ventures is committed to advancing companies focused on blockchain technology, and tZERO is the crown jewel of Medici Ventures’s global keiretsu of companies. At tZERO, we continue to work toward our vision of creating a robust ecosystem powered by blockchain technology for investors to have venues to buy and sell digital assets (the PRO Securities ATS, tZERO’s Crypto App and, once established, BSTX), integrating the technology to tokenize assets (tZERO’s tokenization protocol technology) and establishing direct relationships with customers (subject to our wholly-owned subsidiary becoming approved as a retail broker-dealer).

Thank you for this great interview.

Anyone who wishes to learn more can visit tZERO or our tZERO business listing. You can also follow Saum Noursalehi on Twitter.

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Antoine Tardif is the CEO of BlockVentures.com, and has invested in over 50 blockchain projects. He is also the founder of Bitcoinlightning.com a news website focusing on the lightning network, and a founding partner of Securities.io

Exchanges

DX.Exchange Goes Bankrupt – CX Technologies Ltd

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DX.Exchange Goes Bankrupt - CX Technologies Ltd
The Estonia-registered crypto exchange, DX.Exchange announced that the company had begun bankruptcy proceedings. The news was somewhat expected after the company closed its doors just a few weeks earlier due to a petition filed against the firm by employees awaiting payroll. Company officials say they have no money left in their bank accounts. Now, a slew of workers and business affiliates await court proceedings.

Bankruptcy Petition

The official bankruptcy petition filed on Oct. 24 alleged that the DX.Exchange owed 78 former employees payroll for the months of September and October. These employees included a variety of workers from CX Technologies Ltd., the company behind DX.Exchange. The petition sought to have the exchange dissolved by an Israeli court.

Unpaid Suppliers

Additionally, a host of suppliers have taken suit against the company. These suits run the gambit from unpaid bills to the alleged fraud. The well-known cybersecurity firm, White Hat Ltd is one of the company’s claiming losses due to DX.Exchange actions. Another lawsuit lists Bee2See Dotan B.S. Solutions. This is the firm that handled DX.Exchange targeted marketing. Even the company supplying the servers never got paid – Malam Team.

Writing on the Wall – DX.Exchange

Employees and suppliers knew to take action earlier in the month after the firm closed its doors unexpectedly. At the time, DX.Exchange owner Pinhas Patarkazishvili cited the rising costs and dwindled profits the exchange had left. He told employees that he was searching for a merger or acquisition and if that he was unsuccessful, the company would permanently cease operations.

DX.Exchange

The much-hyped DX.Exchange promised to deliver an efficient trading experience on the blockchain. The company planned to trade all types of cryptocurrency including security tokens. According to the company’s documents, the exchange had agreements to list some big-name tokenized securities such as Tesla and Apple stock.
DX.Exchange
DX.Exchange

Security Tokens on the DX.Exchange

When questioned about the security token aspect of the exchange specifically in a recent interview, DX. Exchange CEO, Daniel Skowronski explained that the company applied for an MTF (multilateral trading facility) exchange license under a different entity but never completed the requirements prior to filing for bankruptcy.

Shady Dealings

Interestingly, this story goes much deeper. Apparently, it was reported that Limor Patarkazishvili (DX.Exchange owner’s wife) was the sole owner of another firm that was raided by the FBI in 2018. The company, SpotOption, allegedly was a major player in a large international binary options scam. When investigators delved deeper, they discovered that both companies shared staff.
At first, the DX.Exchange denied any involvement in SpotOption. Eventually, it came to light that Limor Patarkazishvili was the main shareholder in the firm. She owed 99 percent of the shares. This discovery only fueled speculation that the couple wanted to skip out on their past-due payments.

Will Employees and Affiliates Get Paid?

Skowronski publicly claimed that his company is not in “an exit scam.” Unfortunately, this was right before the company closed its doors. For now, the holidays could be bumpy for employees of the DX.Exchange as they attempt to cope with the financial losses.
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Exchanges

VNX Exchange Launches, Calling Luxembourg Home

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Platform Launch

While there are many hurdles yet to be cleared on the way to the mainstream adoption of digital securities, there is one that remains obvious. This would be a lack of marketplace solutions within the sector.

Marketplace solutions are vital, as they are what will provide industry participants with the promised, and anticipated, liquidity often associated with tokenized assets.

Looking to fill this void in the sector is VNX exchange. The Luxembourg based company has just announced the launch of their digital assets issuance platform, which will work to facilitate the tokenization and sale of assets.  VNX indicates that the potential for a secondary market launch will be evaluated in time.

In an event held to mark the launch of the platform, the company even drew praise from the Luxembourg Minister of Finance, Pierre Gramegna. He stated,

“VNX is one of the success stories of Luxembourg House of Financial Technology, the LHoFT”

A Place to call Home

For those that follow the digital securities sector, a geographical trend may have been noted. With forward thinking regulations, and industry clarity, Luxembourg has begun to establish themselves as a nation open to blockchain based endeavours. This has resulted in more than just VNX calling the European nation home. The following companies are just a couple of examples of this.

Competitors

While the VNX launch is a positive development for the sector, they are not the first to the table, and will not be the last. The following companies stand to be a two of the major competitors in the same space in which VNX is looking to carve out a place.

Hot Start

Wasting no time in the launch of their services, VNX is providing investors with access to an STO straight out of the gate.

This event will see Korean based, Streami, issue €3 million worth of digital securities. The company itself is solution provider within the world of blockchain through services ranging from a cryptocurrency exchange, to custody, and fiat gateways.

The event garnered commentary from representatives of each, VNX and Streami.

Alexander Tkachenko, CEO of VNX Exchange, stated,

“Streami offering demonstrates the real use case of asset backed tokens to finance VC investments.”

Junhaeng Lee, CEO of Streami, stated,

“I strongly believe in the development of the assets-backed digital financial instruments. VNX offering shows how fundraising for VC industry may evolve and by extension implications to the financial industry. I am very excited and proud that Streami is the first offering presented at VNX platform.”

To learn more about the structuring of these digital securities, make sure to peruse the Streami investor deck HERE.

VNX Exchange

While first conceived in 2017, VNX exchange was founded in 2018. The company operates within Luxembourg, and hopes to transform FinTech through their platform.

CEO, Alexander Tkachenko, currently oversees company operations.

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Exchanges

Tokai Tokyo Financial Holdings to Bring Digital Securities to Japan

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Japanese Expansion

After spending months developing within the confines of the MAS FinTech Sandbox, digital exchange, ‘iSTOX’, looks to take its first large step forward – towards Japan.

It was recently

announced that Japan based, Tokai Tokyo Financial Holdings, has acquired a minority share of ICHX Tech (iSTOX ‘mother-company’).

This move represents a first for iSTOX, as the company looks to eventually offer their services to investors worldwide.

Investment Details

iSTOX has had a successful year, as they have been on the receiving end of various investments over this time. The first major example would be the globally renowned, Singapore Exchange (SGX), followed by a series of companies in the following months.

SGX Invests in iSTOX to Develop Security Token Platform

iSTOX Exchange Completes Series A Funding

This latest investment, which totals $4.58M, equates to a 4.58% share in ICHX Tech. By acquiring the position, it is expected that digital securities, hosted on the iSTOX platform, will now be available to Japanese investors; this being possible through the brokerage capabilities of Tokai Tokyo Financial Holdings.

MAS FinTech SandBox

One of the reasons behind the success experienced thus far by iSTOX, can be owed to the fact that they are one of a very select group to be admitted into the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) FinTech Sandbox.

This program allows for companies to trial new technologies and products, within a structured environment, allowing for continued public/client protective measures.

MAS FinTech Sandbox Welcomes Capital Markets Platform ‘iSTOX’

iSTOX

iSTOX is a subsidiary of Singapore based, ICHX Tech, which was founded in 2017. The company is fervently working to develop, and attain, adoption for their digital securities exchange. This platform, which is currently operative and accessible by accredited investors, is expected to make a full launch in Q4 of 2019.

CEO, Danny Toe, currently oversees company operations.

The team at iSTOX recently announced new growth, as they welcomed a new CCO – Oi Yee Choo. The following article takes a closer look Oi Yee Choo and what she brings to the table.

UBS Managing Director Oi Yee Choo Becomes iSTOX CCO

Tokai Tokyo

Operating out of Tokyo, Japan, Tokai Tokyo Financial Holdings is an investment firm, which was founded in 1929. The company is able to offer its clientele a variety of services, pertinent to securities, such as brokerage, distribution, and more.

Company operations are currently overseen by CEO, Tateaki Ishida.

In Other News

Singapore has rapidly established themselves as a leader within digital securities. With clear regulation, and forward thinking, companies have been able to effectively establish themselves within the Asian nation. The following articles are a few examples, highlighting industry moves which involve Singapore.

1X Launches as First Licenced Private Securities Exchange in Singapore

Propine Accepted into MAS FinTech Sandbox

Singapore Halts STO for Regulatory Breach

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