The Growing World of Security Token Protocols
Security tokens are one of the fastest growing sectors in the cryptomarket. These tokens allow companies to remain government compliant and utilize blockchain technology to enable more secure business transactions. As the security token market expands, more security token protocols become available to the public.
The Right Token for the Job
Security tokens contain regulatory protocol directly within their coding. This self-contained script is perfect for use in tokenization scenarios. When a token represents ownership rights to a piece of property, revenue sharing, security or other regulated item, security tokens are the only option.
Security token adoption increased significantly in the last few months. Currently, Security tokens make up around 6.54 percent of the total crypto market according to a recent study provided by Hashgard. Service tokens account for the largest percentage of the market at 49.05 percent, followed by utility tokens (25.3%), and hybrid tokens (12.47%). Another report published by ICORating showed that STO growth climbed 1.66 percent during Q3 2018. At the same time, utility token issuance decreased by 10 percent.
Security token protocols come in a lot of different styles nowadays and depending on the functionality of the security token in question, certain protocols are better suited to handle the tasks. Consequently, this need for function-specific security tokens ushered in a wave of new security token protocols.
Polymath’s ST-20 protocol was one of the first security token standards to enter the market. The token features integrated KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-MoneyLaundering) mechanisms. Polymath users can issue customized security tokens directly through the platform using the simplistic interface. What makes the ST-20 unique is that the token is issued on Polymaths custom built blockchain.
The token is hugely popular as Polymath is one of the largest security token launch platforms available to the public. The company was the first firm to launch a global security token conference. As an early entry to the security token race, Polymath wanted to take all the regulatory shortcomings of the ERC-20 protocol and give companies a more secure alternative. The firm succeeded in creating a widely used security token standard.
SFT (Secured Financial Transaction Protocol)
The SFT protocol entered the market on November 28, 2018. This security token protocol uses Solidity. Solidity is a programming language used by Ethereum developers. SFT tokens live on the Ethereum blockchain.
This protocol features many of the robust and modular features found in the popular ERC-20 protocol such as easy smart contract programming.SFT tokens enable the tokenization of debt and equity-based securities.
German-based Hyperlink Capital entered the market on July 1, 2018. The development team created the SFT protocol for their digital securities platform which is intended to expand adoption of blockchain-based capital markets. The company has a history of activity in the blockchain space. Recently, Hyperlink Capital’s focus is on tokenized securities.
News of the ERC-1450 protocol entered the market in November 2018 via a medium post by StartEngineFounder Howard Marks. This protocol was developed for creating digital stock certificates. The company behind the protocol, StartEngine Secure, seeks to offer entrepreneurs democratized access to funding.
StartEngine Secure entered the blockchain sector in2012 shortly after the signing into law of the Jumpstart Our Business StartupsAct which was an effort to provide access to more capital for startups. The platform features full transparency and a registered transfer agent updates ownership details in accordance with securities laws. The data is published via the Ethereum blockchain.
CAT-20 / CAT – 721
The CAT-20 and CAT-721 protocols are the world’s first multi-ledger security tokens. These tokens can be transferred across blockchains including Ethereum, Ripple, EoS, GoChain, and Stellar. Tokens issued on CAT-20 and CAT-721 protocols support Securrency‘s full suite of token issuance tools.
Washington-based Securrency entered the market in2015. The Securrency platform features an automated source of funds verification system and an easy to learn user interface. Additionally, the company behind the protocol, Securrency, employs a Service and Rules engine which maintains compliance across secondary market trading.
The DS protocol is an open-source development infrastructure designed around the needs of the security token industry. TheDS Protocol is open-source and designed to support third-party applications. Tokens issued on this protocol reside on the Ethereum blockchain.
Securitize issued the DS Protocol on Jun 5th, 2018 via a press release. DS includes integrated compliance and registry services. Also, token holders receive regular updates about relevant events via their tokens. The DSProtocol focuses on creating more liquidity within the security token arena.
The R-token standard entered the market on February 6th, 2018. R-tokens are ERC-20 tokens with built-in regulatory smart contracts. The regulatory services of these tokens configure to meet the needs of the issuer. The R-token standard features integrated KYC, AML, and taxation services.
Harbor developed the R-token protocol for use within their popular token issuance platform. In April 2018 Harbor successfully raised $28 million to further development into their tokenized securities platform.
The SRC20 protocol allows users to tokenize any item. The protocol is a cryptographic standard with integrated governance. Users can tokenize securities, buildings, farms, businesses, hedge funds, and even ownership in development projects. The flexibility of the SRC20 token is its strong point.
SRC20 operates on the SWARM platform. The SWARM platform incentivizes users for their positive contributions. The platform learns from your fundraising campaigns and uses the data to facilitate a more user-friendly experience every time you start a new campaign.
The tZERO protocol integrates the benefits of blockchain technology into the existing market systems. ThetZERO platform will one day facilitate both the issuances and easy trading of security tokens. The developers seek to create the first national securities exchange specifically designed for security tokens.
tZERO is the direct result of a strategic partnership with BOX Digital Markets. Earlier in the year tZERO filed an SEC form D. Form D is required by companies that seek to issue securities. IF the form is approved, tZERO would be the first SEC regulated security token issuance/trading platform in the cryptospace.
More Security Token Protocols on the Horizon
The Security token sector is just heating up and you can expect many more entries into the market as the year wraps up. Companies want the benefits of blockchain technology and security tokens provide these features without worry. It will be interesting to see how each of these protocols fair in the coming months as the market’s competition increases.
Calibra – A Product of Facebook, Built on Two Tokens
This week, after months of speculation and anticipation, the world of cryptocurrencies and blockchain were finally greeted with Facebook’s upcoming project. This project is being overseen by a subsidiary of Facebook, known as Calibra.
While the official launch won’t occur for several more months, details of the project have been released, including a thorough whitepaper.
Calibra will provide its clients with a digital wallet. This wallet will allow for users of Calibra, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp, to easily send and receive tokens between one another. These tokens, known as Libra, are intended to function similarly to a stablecoin, and are ‘pegged’ to the various FIAT currencies, through use of currency pool known as the ‘Libra Asset Reserve’.
Among various factors, many believe the anticipation for this release has helped aid in the market recovery being experienced over the past months. While there has been a generally positive reaction to the project thus far, it time will tell if we see a major sell-off, post announcement.
Reactions to the whitepaper release have been positive for a variety of reasons, with one being noted above all – awareness.
While it may seem odd to those involved with crypto and blockchain, the majority of the population has minimal knowledge on the industry. Facebook has a massive, global reach, and with their entrance, an enormous amount of people will gain exposure to what crypto is, and what it can offer.
Beyond simply raising awareness, there are those that have viewed this news in a negative light. Facebook has already been guilty of poor security practices, along with gathering obscene amounts of data on the public. Do we really want a corporation with such a reputation now gaining intimate knowledge on our finances as well? While there are those that prioritize privacy, the simple convenience of the offering will trump privacy for many.
While much of the information divulged in their whitepaper release is unsurprising, many were not expecting the release of TWO tokens.
The tokens to be released include not only the aforementioned ‘Libra’, but a second which will act as a security token. This will be known as the Libra Investment Token. This token will be distributed to early investors, with the proceeds of its sale being used to generate the Libra Asset Reserve (the asset pool used to ‘back-up’ the frontline Libra tokens).
Investors in the Libra Investment Token will be part of the Libra Association Council. Each will receive equity share in the reserve, providing them with dividends garnered from the interest generated on the reserve, along with certain voting rights. For full details on the benefits and responsibilities of being a council member, check out the Libra Council Principles page, HERE.
While the backing of Facebook may be enough to make Calibra a success, they will not need to do it on their own. Based on the promise of the platform, Facebook has managed to get the backing of over 25 various companies. These companies include, but are not limited to, the following.
Each of these companies is a founding member of the Libra Association Council. With a minimum $10 million contribution each, this means that the reserve pool is well on its way towards generating a beginning target of $1 billion.
While the public may be willing to accept this new offering with open arms, governments are more hesitant to do so. Simply put, governing bodies needs assurances on how the data and assets in use will be used.
This has already been made evident as the Senate Banking Committee of the United States has scheduled a hearing for July 16th. The purpose of this hearing is to discuss the Calibra project, and the potential concerns which may arise through its use.
On an interesting note, Calibra has not filed with the Reserve Bank of India, for the usage and dispersion of Libra within the country. With India representing the most populous nation in the world, this is a large market set to be left untapped. While these are early days, previous stances taken by Indian authorities should prove difficult to surmount. Despite this, the global presence of Facebook should still prove enough to lift Libra to great heights.
While Facebook is a huge, global influencer, they are not the only company of this stature. Along with Facebook, there have been rumblings in recent months that competitors such as Amazon and Alibaba will be releasing their own offerings.
This, however, has recently been shut down, as these competitors have indicated that there are no immediate plans for diving in to the industry. The speculation has garnered a response from the Vice President of Amazon, Patrick Gaulthier. At a recent conference, he commented on Calibra, stating,
“It’s fresh, it’s speculative; at Amazon, we don’t really deal with the speculative, in the now…At Amazon, we deal with data a lot, so I’ll be happy to have that conversation two or three years from now.”
Overall, the Calibra project exudes more positive than negative. While Facebook stands to gain even more user data, they are providing the world with a means to efficiently transfer value. Beyond the convenience of use, this has the potential to positively impact millions of unbanked individuals around the world – giving access to a better way of life along the way. This has been a goal of Bitcoin since the beginning, and whether this is achieved through Libra, or through Bitcoin, it has come one step closer to being reality.
Word on the Streets
With the potential that this project holds, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it has caught the attention of many. Here are a variety of quotes from noteworthy individuals, expressing their thoughts on Calibra.
Jonathan DeCarteret, CEO of INDX, stated,
“Facebook’s LIBRA coin will most probably reshape the payment industry and quite possibly the de-dollarization of the world economy.”
Markus Feber, Member of German Parliament, stated,
“If Facebook will expose its two billion users to the risks of virtual currencies, this would be a good reason for the European Commission to start work on a proper regulatory framework governing the rules of virtual currencies”
Anthony Pompliano, Cofounder of Morgan Creek Digital, stated,
“Imagine a world where Facebook’s digital wallet, Calibra, didn’t just custody financial assets, but also allowed you to store and permission your data. One Wallet. Every asset you own. Low probability of happening, but high potential impact. Wilder things have happened.”
Andreas Antonopoulos, Bitcoin Advocate, stated,
“While Facebook’s Libra doesn’t compete against any open, public, permissionless, borderless, neutral, censorship-resistant blockchains, it *will* compete against both retail banks and central banks. This is going to be fun to watch.”
Blockpass to Offer Onboarding Services to Polymath Clients
Polymath has recognized a need for providing its clients with access to regulatory compliant investor onboarding services. Seeking a provider, they have now announced an alliance with Blockpass.
This alliance will see Blockpass provide token issuer’s access to a growing pool of pre-verified investors. In doing so, potential issuers can rest easy, knowing that their offerings only provided to appropriate investors. This means that these pre-verified investors have already undergone KYC and AML measures, ensuring they are accredited.
The goal of this move is simple – lower barriers of entry to the issuance of digital securities. By providing access to services rendered by Blockpass, potential token issuers can remove one more thing off of their lengthy token-issuance checklist. Blockpass grants access to its services through AP, making the process even easier and more attractive.
Upon making their announcement, the CEO of each, Blockpass and Polymath, took the time to comment. The following is what each had to say on the matter.
Adam Vaziri, CEO at Blockpass, stated,
“This partnership is the latest step we have taken to streamline the painstaking and cumbersome process of onboarding investors. There are many synergies between Polymath’s proposition and our own, in that we are both striving to create simplified and compliant solutions.”
Kevin North, CEO at Polymath, stated,
“We are very excited to announce our collaboration with Blockpass…This represents our continued efforts to provide Polymath issuers with access to best-in-class KYC solutions like Blockpass.”
Blockpass is a Hong Kong, China, based company, which was founded in 2017. Above all, Blockpass works to provide the digital securities sector with solutions tackling regulations and compliance.
To date, Blockpass has already experienced minor adoption, as they have seen their services integrated with Infinito Wallet – bringing support for digital securities in the process.
Company operations are overseen by CEO, Adam Vaziri.
Polymath is a Toronto, Canada, based company, which was founded in 2017. The company has established themselves as an industry leader through a variety of offered services. These platform services include specialized protocols, allowing for the issuance of customizable digital securities.
Polymath recently caught the attention of industry participants, as they announced the on-going development of a blockchain purpose built for digital securities. This blockchain is known as ‘PolyMesh’.
Company operations are overseen by CEO, Kevin North.
In Other News
Pre-verification of investors has become an increasingly popular option among industry participants. This is made evident through various established partnerships, beyond the one discussed here today. Here are a few examples of companies aligning their interests over the past few months.
Boston Security Token Exchange (BTSX) Seeks SEC Rule Change
Development of the highly anticipated Boston Security Token Exchange (BSTX) continues as one of the partners behind this innovative concept, Box Exchange, filed for a rule change from the SEC this month. The 400-page filing seeks a change that allows BTSX to offer tokenized equities in the form of security tokens. If successful, BTSX would gain valuable positioning in the ever-expanding security token sector.
Boston Security Token Exchange Details
The BTSX exchange focuses on reducing the entry barrier for businesses seeking public funding. Respectively, the platform utilizes the Ethereum blockchain. This is a smart strategy because ERC protocol standards are the most popular type of security token issued. According to the BOX’s rule change request, the BTSX platform includes full automation via integrated smart contract protocols. Officially, the platform functions as a price time execution system for trading security tokens.
One Token to Rule Them All
Interestingly, the platform will not feature a multitude of security tokens from different providers. Instead, all trades occur in BSTX tokens. This strategy provides users with a couple of important benefits. For one, Users see a 20% reduction in listing costs. Additionally, this strategy allows BTSX to concentrated liquidity on a single trading center. Also, hosting and launching new projects is more cost-effective in this way.
The BTSX token standard takes many attributes from the ERC-884 security token standard. Notably, BTSX tokens remain compliant throughout the token’s lifecycle. Interestingly, all trades must still clear through an “Approved Settlement Provider and the BSTX Participants.”
The Boston Security Token Exchange – BSTX
The BSTX platform is made possible through a strategic partnership between the BOX Exchange and Overstock’s crypto project, tZERO. Both firms are major players in the cryptomarket. Consequently, analysts predict BTSX will share in these firms’ growing influence. The BOX Exchange first raised eyebrows across the crypto space when it announced a partnership with tZERO on May 18th, 2018. The partnership gave both firms equal ownership and representation in BTSX.
Discussing the partnership, BOX CEO, Lisa Fall described why tZERO’s proven development track record was critical towards the success of the project. Fall also took a moment to touch on BOX’s past successes in the transparent equity options marketplace. She pointed out that, together, both companies can succeed where others failed.
No Reg A+
The filing pointed out some key restrictions the platform includes. For example, BTSX will not participate in any Reg A+ funding. Reg A+ funding has some additional flexibility that companies enjoy. For example, companies can “test the waters” before committing to their crowdfunding campaign when utilizing a Reg A+ strategy.
Importantly, the SEC has not approved any Reg A+ security token platforms to date. BTSX is well aware of this fact and decided it was in their best interests to avoid the delays associated with attempting to get licensing for this type of public offering.
Now, BOX and tZERO look to combine forces to become a dominant player in the security token sector. Definitely, these firms have the experience and network to accomplish their goals in the coming months. Now, the ball is in the SEC’s court.
- Calibra – A Product of Facebook, Built on Two Tokens June 20, 2019
- Blockpass to Offer Onboarding Services to Polymath Clients June 19, 2019
- Boston Security Token Exchange (BTSX) Seeks SEC Rule Change June 18, 2019
- BnkToTheFuture to Utilize Altcoin.io for Security Token Exchange June 17, 2019
- Top 5 Security Tokens to Invest In – Opinion June 17, 2019