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SGX and MAS Jointly Developed Settlement Platform

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SGX and MAS Jointly Developed Settlement Platform

DvP Platform Developed

In an effort to bring new levels of efficiency to finance, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and the Singapore Exchange (SGX), have turned to blockchain.  In a recent report released by the duo, they describe the process in which through the utilization of smart-contracts, they are able to shorten settlement periods on security transactions.  This is known as a Delivery versus Payment (DvP) platform.

Typically, when a transfer of ownership occurs for an asset represented by a security, this trade is followed by a settlement period.  This period typically ranges from 1-2 business days.  The MAS and SGX have shown that through the use of their developed platform, they are able to simultaneously complete the trade and settlement process for digital securities – essentially removing the 1-2 day wait typically seen.

Furthermore, they were able to demonstrate interoperability between various blockchain.  This flexibility, combined with the increase in efficiency and security offered through the process, is a perfect example of how blockchain can be implemented into finance.

The report was made available on November 11, 2018.  This comes roughly 2 months after the announcement of their collaboration on this project was made.

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)

The MAS is the central bank of Singapore.  Their role is to strive for economic growth within the country.  They achieve this through oversight of all financial institutions operations within their borders.

Commenting on the platform developed with the SGX was Chief Fintech Officer of the MAS, Sopnendu Mohanty.  He stated, “Blockchain technology and asset tokenisation are fuelling a new wave of innovation globally. This project has demonstrated the value of blockchain technology and the benefits it can bring to the financial industry in the short to medium term. The concept of asset tokenisation, as well as other learnings gleaned from this project, can potentially be applied to a broad spectrum of the economy, creating a whole new world of opportunities.”

Singapore Exchange (SGX)

The SGX came to fruition in 1999 when the Stock Exchange of Singapore, Securities Clearing and Computer Services, and the Singapore International Monetary Exchange combined into one entity.  In the time since this merger, the SGX has grown to offer services from trading, settlement, custody solutions, and more for the thousands of assets that they support.

Speaking on the newly developed DvP platform was the SGX Head of Technology, Tinku Gupta.  She stated, “We are delighted to drive this important industry effort to accelerate innovation in the marketplace. Based on the unique methodology SGX developed to enable real-world interoperability of platforms, as well as the simultaneous exchange of digital tokens and securities, we have applied for our first-ever technology patent.”

Outside Help

While this DvP platform is the result of the efforts of both the MAS and the SGX, they were not without help during the development process.  In their time creating this platform, the duo was assisted by three entities; These were Nasdaq, Anquan, and Deloitte.  Each of these companies lent their expertise to the project, as it has the potential to aid in a future of finance that is not hindered by borders.

Nasdaq Senior Vice President, Magnus Haglind spoke about their collaboration.  He commented, “In collaborating with SGX and MAS on this unique ecosystem of converging blockchains, we have demonstrated how to create interoperability between multiple networks to secure settlement between different assets – this is a major step in the application of blockchain to the capital markets.”

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Joshua Stoner is a multi-faceted working professional. He has a great interest in the revolutionary 'blockchain' technology. In addition to this, he is a licenced Paramedic in Nova Scotia, Canada. As such, he can provide emergency care/medicine to any situation necessitating it.

Token Solution Providers

Bakkt Marching Towards Summer Launch of Consumer App, While Closing $300M Series B

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$300 Million

While crypto markets remain in a state of flux, as the world deals with the ongoing effects of COVID-19, there is one company trucking along, un-phased.  Bakkt, the popular digital asset service provider, has announced the successful completion of their Series B.

This event saw the company bring in a total of $300 million from a variety of investors.  This brings their total raised, to date, to nearly $500 million between each of their raises.

Participants

In the process of raising such a hefty sum, Bakkt saw the participation of a variety of companies in their Series B.  The following is a list of companies which saw/see the promise of Bakkt, and decided to align their goals with the young outfit.

  • CMT Digital
  • Pantera Capital
  • Goldfinch Partners
  • M12
  • Intercontinental Exchange (ICE)
  • PayU
  • Boston Consulting Group

If these names ring a bell, this may be, in part, due to their participation in Bakkt’s initial Series A.  With a second investment by multiple companies, it would appear that Bakkt has managed to make a good impression on all involved, as they have navigated a tumultuous market through their lifespan.

Consumer App

The Bakkt consumer app, which is scheduled to launch in the summer of 2020, is more than simply another wallet for holding digital assets.  The app brings with it multiple features that allow it to stand apart from the pack, and entice mainstream adoption.

Bakkt has stated that the app will be based upon 4 main features which allow for its user to:

  1. Aggregate a variety of assets which range from crypto, to cash, loyalty points, and even in-game rewards
  2. Seamlessly convert each/any of these assets to Bitcoin, cash, and more
  3. Trade supported crypto assets securely within the app
  4. Payments through the app, or through use of a ‘Bakkt Card’.

For many, their wallets are full of loyalty cards; Cards which have unused loyalty points.  Unsure of what to use those air miles on? Simply link them with the Bakkt App, and utilize them in any manner you see fit through the listed features above.

Essentially, what the Bakkt app does is maximize the efficiency and flexibility of loyalty programs and digital assets, while providing an outlet for their redemption and use.

Commentary

Upon announcing today’s news, Bakkt CEO, Mike Blandina, took the time to share his excitement.  The following statement touched on the scope of what the company has achieved in their 2 years since launch.

Mike Blandina states,

I’m excited at our potential to unlock nearly $1 trillion of digital assets when the Bakkt app launches this summer. With the completion of our Series B financing and recent acquisition of Bridge2 Solutions, Bakkt is now a team of 350 employees and powers the loyalty redemption programs for 7 of the top 10 financial institutions and over 4,500 loyalty and incentive programs including two of the largest US airlines. We have the unique opportunity to leverage the technology, infrastructure and partners across our businesses to bring innovative new products to market and in doing so expand access to the global economy.”

CPO to CEO

Despite only launching 2 years ago, and widely being deemed a success thus far, Bakkt has already seen a change of guards atop the company.  This change was the recent promotion of Mike Blandina from CPO to CEO.

It is important to note however, that the exit of Kelly Loeffler was not due to inadequacies in performance, but rather an opportunity that could not be passed up – a seat on the United States Senate.

This opportunity for Mike Blandina was not simply a stroke of luck.  Upon his promotion, Bakkt mother company, ICE, noted his vast experience as a major boon.

ICE CEO, Jeffrey Sprecher, stated,

“As CEO, Mike will chart Bakkt’s strategic direction, payment products and markets, as well as overseeing the regulatory and financial performance of the company…His more than 25 years of experience in payments across product, engineering, strategy and operations will continue to serve us well.”

Beacon of Hope

When Bakkt first launched in 2018, it was during a dark time in the world of crypto/blockchain.  The entire industry was in the midst of what became known as ‘crypto winter’.  Their entrance into the sector was much heralded, and represented a beacon of hope for things to come in the months leading up to launch.

Fast forward to 2020, and Bakkt is once again providing a glimmer of hope for the future through their highly anticipated consumer app.  This hope is perhaps needed more than ever, as uncertainty surrounds, not just crypto and blockchain endeavours, but the overall stock market; Uncertainty which appears poised to remain while markets deal with the global pandemic of COVID-19.

Major advancements by a major company, being made in the dark times of a suppressed market.  Let’s hope that this summer’s release of the consumer app exceeds already high expectations.

Bakkt

Founded in 2018, Bakkt is a subsidiary of the Intercontinental Exchange, operating out of Atlanta, Georgia.  Above all, the team at Bakkt are working to develop solutions surrounding digital assets.  These solutions range from futures contracts, to the upcoming consumer app, and more.

CEO, Mike Blandina, currently oversees company operations.

In Other News

While the motive of each company is different, Bakkt shares their successful raise with various others to do the same in recent months.  The following articles detail a few of these events, which saw promising companies bring in millions in investments, ranging from 5M to $200M.

Horizon Globex Shakes Up the Team, While Hosting a Successful Series A

Securrency Pulls in $17.75M During Successful Series A

Ripple Attains $10 Billion Valuation after $200 Million Series C

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Exchanges

ECSE to Enter STO Pilot Program with Blockstation

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Pilot Program

Another securities exchange, the Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange (ECSE), has seen the merit behind digital securities, and signed a fresh letter of intent (LOI) with Blockstation.

This letter represents an upcoming pilot program, which will see Blockstation act as a service provider for the ECSE.

With Blockstation touting a comprehensive tokenization platform, this means offering a variety of capabilities.  It is anticipated that these will allow for the ECSE to support the trading of various assets, such as BTC, ETH, and, of course, STOs.

Caribbean Presence

At this point, it would appear as though the Caribbean has spoken, and made their choice of service provider clear – Blockstation

Each of the following are examples of pilot programs involving Blockstation that have either been completed, are off the ground, or are about to launch.

  1. Jamaica Stock Exchange
  2. Barbados Stock Exchange
  3. Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange

Features

With regards to the LOI, the ECSE has indicated that they intend to leverage the Blockstation platform, providing their clients with access, but not limited, to the following perks:

  • asset insurance
  • compliant KYC/AML measures
  • SLAP (a Blockstation solution which provides companies looking to host an STO with a streamlined process for creating a prospectus)

Commentary

Upon announcing this newly signed partnership, representatives from each, Blockstation and ECSE, took the time to comment.

Trevor Blake, Managing Director at the ECSE, stated,

“The ECSE is proud to take a leading role in increasing access to and participation in our securities market through digital assets…This pilot follows the pilot being undertaken by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) of a digital EC dollar (DXCD) that will be the world’s first central bank-backed digital currency, supporting the ECCB’s goal to remove financial frictions, promote financial stability, and expedite growth and development in the member countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).”

Matt Singh, VP of Sales at Blockstation, stated,

“It’s inspiring to see the vision of shared prosperity resonate so strongly in our conversations with the ECSE and financial regulators in the region…We look forward to advancing the ECSE’s goals of leveraging the blockchain to bring transparency, improved security and new economic opportunities to their citizens and global investors.”

Speaking with Marko

In our ongoing interview series, we were fortunate to have recently interviewed the President and CEO of Blockstation, Marko Hafez.  In this discussion, we learn more about what Blockstation has to offer, and how they found themselves helping exchanges like the JSE transform the way they operate.

Interview Series – Marko Hafez, President & CEO of Blockstation

Blockstation

Since being founded in 2015, Blockstation maintains headquarters in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Blockstation looks to service and establish the digital securities sector, through their comprehensive tokenization platform.

CEO, Marko Hafez, currently oversees company operations.

Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange

Acting as a subsidiary of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the ECSE maintains operations in the island nation of St. Kitts.

CEO, Trevor Blake, currently oversees company operations.

In Other News

For those that may recognize the ECSE mother company, ECCB, it may be due to recent news of their decision to create a central bank digital currency.  The ECCB fully intends to be first to market, globally, with their own digital variant of a central bank issued currency.

ECCB to Issue World’s First Blockchain-based Digital Currency

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Interviews

Adam Vaziri, CEO of Blockpass – Interview Series

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Adam Vaziri, CEO of Blockpass - Interview Series

Adam is the founder and CEO of Blockpass – a self sovereign identity application for regulated industries. Adam Vaziri’s background is as a blockchain lawyer and set up Diacle in 2013 to assist blockchain projects with compliance. He is a tireless blockchain entrepreneur and labelled a ‘bitcoin pioneer’ by Bitcoin Magazine.

Could you explain what Blockpass is and how the platform benefits investors?

Blockpass makes compliance for blockchain and other financial services easy and quick to adopt. It is the only KYC & AML verification SaaS that businesses can sign up to and in minutes conduct compliance checks on on-boarding customers. It is fully automated and hosted in the cloud, and requires no integration or setup cost. You can set up your account immediately and test the service for free. For investors and other individuals, Blockpass is a secure, user-centric gateway to financial services and other regulated offerings, allowing one click KYC submission.

 

You have a legal background; how did you transition from law to cryptocurrency?

I discovered bitcoin in 2012 and set up the first legal consultancy in London to specialise in bitcoin. My job was helping bitcoin companies get licenses and operate their business compliantly. A lot of the problems these startups were facing was how to comply but not spend too much on lawyers and consultants.

When I saw that compliance was expensive, I thought it was unfair that only large businesses could afford to comply. Smaller businesses are faced with a lot of compliance responsibilities and that just adds to their costs. It means to be a successful regulated business you have to be big. When regulations come in, we usually expect that businesses will find it too expensive to continue. So, they sell off or move. Anti-money laundering regulations for crypto businesses are coming into force for the whole industry this year. This will put a lot of crypto businesses out of business.

This is why we created Blockpass. Make it very easy and cheap to comply but have the best compliance in the market.

Most of the KYC vendors in the market lock in their clients for 2 or more-year contracts. We take that out. Blockpass is pay as you go. You only pay for what you use.

Integrating KYC into a business is a pain. Sometimes you have to integrate a vendor to check passports and a vendor to check sanctions list. It is complicated and time consuming. With Blockpass we are taking out that friction completely. A business just signs up on our website and generates a button which they send to their customers. That’s it. The business doesn’t have to think. They choose KYC Connect our full KYC package and they know that we will cover everything.

The kyc market checks users over and over again even though those users have already been checked. It is a complete waste of money. The way to fix that is give users a digital identity. That’s what we do. So, our 10k verified users don’t need to redo the verification process every time they sign up with a business. By not repeating this we can pass on the cost benefits to business by reducing the cost of verification.

Basically, compliance should be easy and cheap for businesses. That is our goal. Make it easy to follow the law. If you make it easy, then less businesses will make mistakes.

For users their experience of accessing regulated services is terrible at the moment. By giving users a digital identity, they can start to enjoy trying out new services without the headache of KYC. Just one click on the Blockpass app and they are verified.

As banks shut bank branches and every financial services provider is online you need an online identity too that you can reuse for all the services you want to access.

At Blockpass our community matters most. We give PASS tokens to all our new members as a ticket for them to join the ecosystem we are building. Once they are verified, they get benefits of being a member and accessing the services of our partners in one click. We want people who are hearing about crypto for the first time to come to us and create a digital identity and have a great experience of choice of different services they can access in one click and special offers from our partner businesses. When I first discovered bitcoin I had to do a lot of the work myself to understand who could be trusted and what to use. With Blockpass we want to make crypto easy for people, compliant and safe.

 

Once investors are verified, how often will they need to update their KYC documentation?

That depends on the merchant and jurisdiction. In the Blockpass console, the frequency of updates can be set by the merchant.

 

This was designed for the blockchain industry but could be used for many more applications, can you share what types of merchants would benefit from this application?

It could be used by any business that operates in a regulated industry, such as banking, stock trading, precious metals and gems trading, insurance and gambling.

 

Blockpass has the PASS utility tokens, what are these tokens for, and are they necessary to use the platform?

PASS tokens have KYC within the token. We created a token that needs the sender to be checked to send the token to someone else. Our tokens are how we register new members into the Blockpass ecosystem. We call this PASS Club. PASS Club members get access to content and special deals from our merchants such as free bitcoin brokerage fees, gold storage or a fee waiver for a bank account opening.

 

The PASS tokens also enable access to the PASS club. What is this club exactly?

We want to create a community of people in crypto that embrace crypto and have access to reliable information about vendors in the crypto space. PASS Club is about users also getting access to the best deals from the merchants we add to our marketplace. If they have a special offer, we want to give that to our PASS club members.

 

Could you tell us about the Blockpass Identity Lab and its collaboration with Edinburgh Napier University?

We founded the Blockpass Identity Lab in September 2018, which is led by renowned British computer scientist Professor Bill Buchanan.

 

You also offer PASS Verify which could benefit Dapp developers, what is this exactly?

PASS Verify is essentially a lower level of verification compared to our flagship product – KYC Connect. PASS Verify only provides Face Match and AML Monitoring services, while KYC Connect, in addition to Face Match and AML monitoring, also includes ID document authentication and Proof of Address verification. PASS Verify is also the gateway for users to become members of PASS Club, an exclusive e-commerce network for crypto enthusiasts powered by Blockpass and the PASS token.

To learn more visit Blockpass.

 

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