A Month Ago

In 2014, Mastercoin launched the first Initial Coin Offering (ICO).

It took nearly three years for this capital-raising mechanism to really take off, which subsequently created over 5,000 tokens raising over $22 Billion on a global basis.

As regulators turned their attention to ICOs, arguing that many of them ought to be treated as securities attention has Increasingly focused on the development of Security Tokens (STOs).

STOs are often asset-backed and are subject to security regulations in the jurisdictions in which they are launched and marketed. Making global offerings onerous and practically impossible.

STOs are usually backed/pegged/linked to an asset, examples include private or publicly traded shares, bonds, property (residential and commercial), commodities (gold diamonds), foreign exchange ($, Yen, Euro, £) and even exotic investments like wine, violins, art and other collectables.

STOs, being Digital Assets, mean that they can be listed on Digital Exchanges, which in turn enables them to be traded 24//7 as well as enabling enables smaller investors to buy and sell these assets.

Historically some of these assets, such as real estate and collectables, have proved to be illiquid, and the preserve of the wealthy and institutional investors. However, STOs ought to be able to widen the number of investors who can gain exposure to these previously illiquid assets in the future.

More recently we have seen organisations that want to raise capital by issuing tokens using one of the 300 digital exchanges to launch Initial Exchange Offerings (IEOs). These IEOs are very similar to an ICO, but by being listed on an exchange hopefully have greater liquidity.

Potentially they offer investors a degree of comfort because a third-party (the exchange they are to be listed on), has carried out a degree of due diligence. If the token meets all the tests - including that the company that is creating the it is not intending to use any capital raised to build its infrastructure, IT, or platform etc. it may be classed as an exchange or utility token, so outside of the regulations that capture STOs.

Some exchanges have decided to call their IEOs Direct Premium Offerings (DPOs), usually designed to offer investors access to a cryptocurrency at a discount to the market price. In traditional stock exchanges these are called “rights issues”.

More recently we’re seeing Token Curated Registries (TCR), which are designed to replace centralised lists, eg. a list of the top ten hotels or restaurants in a City. TCR is like an incentivised voting game that creates lists which are maintained by the people who use them. Users collectively vote (using tokens) to decide which submissions are valid, which should be included in the list, and where they will be ranked.All of the above typically use Blockchain technology as part of the process of bringing a company to a wider audience, apart from Direct offers, which simply look at raising capital (much like an Initial Placing Offer (IPO)) but do so without the costly underwriting fees of investment banks.

As Slack have announced they are to launch a Direct Offer, will Pinterest, Zoom, Uber or AirBnb also use Direct...

Capital Markets

2 Months Ago

San Francisco based Forte has just been given $100 million by Ripple to invest in Blockchain gaming companies.

Gaming is seen as an attractive sector that can use Blockchain and Digital Assets. It is a $140Billion industry and growing fast.

Chinese company Tencent have been active buyers of online gaming companies, so offers an exit to many emerging firms in the gaming sector according to UBS. China looks to be well positioned as it expects its gaming industry to grow to three times its current size by 2030. Tencent distributes some of the most played games in the industry and is the largest video game company in the world based on game sales. In 2018 over $1.3billion was invested into Blockchain projects from Venture capitalists. Considerably more than in 2017.

This trend is continuing according to Tim Bird, corporate partner at lawyers Field Fisher, who claims that “Blockchain is still one of the Top 5 sectors VCs are investing in at the beginning of 2019”.

Meanwhile, we are seeing Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and Security Token Offering (STOs) being used to help finance Blockchain powered businesses which, on the whole, are far better structured and thought through propositions compared to those seem a year ago.

Capital Markets
Digital Assets
Nivaura has secured $20m of fresh capital, with investors including The London Stock Exchange (LSE), Santander and the law firm Allen and Overy. LSE will also have one of their staff joining the Nivaura board.

Nivaura was the first company in the world in 2017 to issue a bond for a client using a Blockchain while in the UK FCA Sandbox and they claim that the time needed to issue bonds could be reduced by 60% by using Blockchain technology. They have recently been followed by BVVA in Spain who issued a bond using Blockchain technology to raise $160m.

If it proves to be so much cheaper to access the debt markets using Blockchains then bonds could become an option for SMEs to raise capital, which in turn could be competition for the Peer 2 Peer lenders...

Capital Markets