Tag Archives: fintech

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ETF View: What’s Next: Telecom-Media Merge Into XLC

Extra! Extra! XLC is the new ETF that ties telecom and media constituents into one exchange-traded fund! For those with a view towards latest and greatest ETF products, eyes and ears are on the Communications Services Select SPDR Fund (NYSEARCA: XLC) — “it tracks the Communication Services Select Sector Index and “seeks to provide precise exposure to companies from the media, retailing, and software & services industries in the U.S.”

etc-xlcWow. That’s a bucket full of precision when considering the constituents of XLC include among others, Facebook (NYSE:FB), Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL), Activision (NASDAQ: ATVI), Verizon (NYSE: VZ), Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) The good news is that ETF maestro Andrew McCormond, Managing Director ETF Solutions for WallachBeth Capital distills the appeal of XLC, the latest innovative exchange-traded fund and one that might be the FANG-style ETF for portfolio managers who have yet to find a one-stop product that meets their portfolio allocation needs.

New ETF merges tech and media from CNBC.

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor via cmo@marketsmuse.com.

If you’re on a path to raise capital for a new hedge fund, a fintech initiative or a blockchain-startup, the first step is packaging your pitch and presenting the opportunity within a properly-prepared Prospectus. The go-to firm to assist you? Prospectus.com LLC. Straightforward, Smart and Bespoke Services.

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Boston Options Exchange to Launch Securities Token Mart

Securities Token Offering to Displace Initial Token Offering Fad; BOX in JV with digital broker-dealer tZero to Create Securities Token Exchange platform

(Redistributed with permission from BrokerDealer.com; story from Traders Magazine)-Well, Matilda, the Boston Options Exchange (BOX) is plotting to create the first regulated exchange to list and traffic in securities tokens as a means to legitimatize crypto-centric assets via a just-announced joint venture with Patrick Byrne’s digital-themed broker-dealer tZero. For those who haven’t gotten the memo, Securities Token Offerings aka STOs are the next generation approach to the now de-fangled initial coin offering (ICO) construct–which have been lambasted by securities regulators in nearly every corner of the globe.

Now that crypto cool kids are finally getting the memo: “These are Securities!” ,  the proposed first fully regulated Securities Token Exchange is coming to the US-via the Boston Options Exchange.

tZERO, the digital-themed broker-dealer created by Patrick Byrne and BOX Digital Markets LLC (BOX Digital)-a subsidiary of Boston Options Exchange, announced it has formed a joint venture to launch the industry’s first regulated security token exchange.

Lisa Fall, BOX Digital Exchange
Lisa Fall, Box Digital

On May 18, 2018, the two companies entered into a letter of intent to form an exchange to list and publicly trade security tokens for companies that issue, or convert existing stock to, security tokens. The proposed joint venture would be equally owned by tZERO and BOX Digital, with each having equal representation on the Board of Directors, together with one mutually agreed upon independent director. Lisa Fall, who currently serves as CEO of BOX Digital and as president of BOX Options Exchange LLC, would be the CEO of the joint venture.

“tZERO has proven to be a pioneer in the development and practical use of blockchain technologies for capital markets for a number of years,” said Ms. Fall. “tZERO’s track record and accomplishments in this innovative area, coupled with BOX’s expertise in operating a highly efficient and transparent equity options marketplace, made partnering together an easy decision and we look forward to building a world-class platform for listing and trading security tokens.”

tZERO plans to contribute cash and license tZERO’s blockchain technology for operation of the security token market. BOX Digital will contribute expertise and personnel toward obtaining regulatory approval and operation of the security token market. Approval of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will be sought following execution of definitive documentation. Creation of the joint venture is subject to definitive documentation and customary conditions.

“Our partnership with BOX Digital Markets is a significant milestone that will create the first SEC-regulated exchange designed to efficiently trade crypto securities. Lisa Fall’s leadership, reputation and deep experience in the regulated securities exchange industry will be a major asset in achieving this objective,” said Saum Noursalehi, newly appointed CEO of tZERO. “Together, we will continue to work with the SEC as we develop a first-of-its-kind platform that will integrate blockchain capital markets into the current U.S. National Market System.”

According to electronic trading market veteran Jay Berkman, an Advisory Board member of fintech merchant bank SenaHill Partners and COO of investor documentation firm Prospectus.com LLC, “Now that pragmatic securities industry thought-leaders have figured out how to package crypto assets within the construct of a security so as to conform to the US regulatory regime, nobody can dispute the fact the genie is out of the bottle .  Added Berkman, “Securities Token Offerings (“STOs”) is a much more palatable approach, making way for a new mantra, “ICOs are dead, long live STOs”, until of course, another shoe drops.”

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor via cmo@marketsmuse.com.

For the full story from John D’Antona Jr. of Traders Magazine, click here

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Crypto Cool Kids Getting The Joke-Aim at Bank Licensing

What’s Next? CryptoCurrency Bank License; Crypto Cool Kids New Goal: Stay Inside Regulatory Goal Posts

Coinbase Inc. and another cryptocurrency firm talked to U.S. regulators about the possibility of obtaining banking licenses, a move that would allow the startups to broaden the types of products they offer.

Coinbase, which operates the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, met with officials at the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in early 2018, according to a person familiar with the matter. Meanwhile, ivyKoin, a payments startup, in recent weeks sat down with officials at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., this person said. IvyKoin President Gary Fan confirmed the meeting.

The discussions included other topics, such as the firm’s business models, this person said. The companies might not seek a bank charter, which would significantly ramp up regulatory scrutiny. Whether they do so will depend on whether they decide the benefits of becoming a bank outweigh the costs.

A federal banking charter would let the firms swap a hodgepodge of state regulators for one primary federal one. The companies would also gain the option of directly offering customers federally insured bank accounts and other services, rather than partnering with existing banks.

A Coinbase spokeswoman declined to comment on the meeting. She said the firm is “committed to working closely with state and federal regulators to ensure we are properly licensed for the products and services we offer.” An OCC spokesman declined to comment.

IvyKoin pitches itself as a payments platform for government-issued currencies and cryptocurrencies that uses “know your customer” technology to detect money laundering. In the near term, ivyKoin is working with banks rather than trying to become one, but it asked regulators about a banking license to understand what might be necessary if it decided to apply, Mr. Fan said.

At the meeting, they “talked about our business model, what we hope to accomplish, next steps for us, key risks and how we can help banks manage that,” he said. “Our experience was really positive and [regulators] actually encouraged the discussion.”

Evan Fisher prospectus.com
Evan Fisher, Prospectus.com

“The past 18 months has seen an explosion of interest in ICOs, too many of which are unconstrained and outside the goal posts of what makes sense,” said Prospectus.com’s Evan Fisher, a former sell side investment banking veteran now consulting fintech firms on ICO best practices. “And, having the proper documentation in place for both investors and regulators is the most important part of any successful fund raise.”

Fisher is experienced in helping startups frame their value proposition properly and stresses founders need to ensure that when regulators do start to take a closer look at ICOs and cryptocurrencies, that all the necessary documentation is on file and easily obtainable.

Keep reading via WSJ

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Goldman Sachs Goes Crypto; Opens Bitcoin Trade Desk

Goldman Sachs, the venerable investment bank and trading house, has been called lots of things, including “Squid.” But nobody on Wall Street can dispute the fact that $GS is uniquely innovative and perhaps, a firm that can smell the trail of money better than its peers and explains why Goldman is opening a bitcoin trade desk. While JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has repeatedly said bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are at worst, the foundation to a Ponzi scheme, and at best, a passing fad, Goldman’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein has a different, more open-minded view. As evidenced by last week’s announcement, Goldman is opening a digital asset trade desk to accommodate a growing spectrum of hedge funds, endowments and foundations that already own digital assets or intend to deploy funds to the alt currency asset class. The new digital asset desk will be led by a fellow named Justin Schmidt, an MIT quant jock who previously worked at several quantitative investment management firms, including a hedge fund connected to The Schoenfeld Group.

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Jason Schmidt, Goldman Sachs Crypto Trader

As reported by NYT reporter Nathan Popper, “…While Goldman will not initially be buying and selling actual Bitcoins, a team at the bank is looking at going in that direction if it can get regulatory approval and figure out how to deal with the additional risks associated with holding the virtual currency….Rana Yared, one of the Goldman executives overseeing the creation of the trading operation, said the bank was clear-eyed about what it was getting itself into…”

Ms. Yared said the bank had received inquiries from hedge funds, as well as endowments and foundations that received virtual currency donations from newly minted Bitcoin millionaires and didn’t know how to handle them. The ultimate decision to begin trading Bitcoin contracts went through Goldman’s board of directors.

Whether your company is a fintech startup planning a private placement offering, a crypto concern with a custom token offering that is seeking to raise capital from qualified or accredited investors via an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), a Securities Token Offering (STO)or if you are fast growth firm setting the stage for an initial public offering (IPO), a properly prepared offering prospectus or offering memorandum is required by your investors and industry regulators that govern securities offerings. Issuers seeking expert, yet affordable investor document solutions rely on experts at Prospectus.com.

Goldman has already been doing more than most banks in the area, clearing trades for customers who want to buy and sell Bitcoin futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange.

In the next few weeks — the exact start date has not been set — Goldman will begin using its own money to trade Bitcoin futures contracts on behalf of clients. It will also create its own, more flexible version of a future, known as a non-deliverable forward, which it will offer to clients.

To read the full NYT story, click here.

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor via cmo@marketsmuse.com.

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Memo to Asset Managers : Get on the Blockchain Bus or Get Run Over

Asset Management Industry is Notorious for Waste: Its About Blockchain, You Blockheads. NOT Bitcoin,

Blockchain Dapps Can Mitigate Risk of “Death By Drop Copy”

Any asset manager in today’s world who has more than $500 of AUM does not need to be fluent in the language of fintech, blocktech or be able to explain ‘the internet of things’ to understand the benefits of embracing blockchain dapps and the power of distributed ledger technologies. Any asset management firm that claims to be operating in the world of institutional fund management does need to get on the blockchain bus–or risk getting run over by it.

(courtesy of Prospectus.com LLC) As part of ongoing series “Its About Blockchain, Blockhead, Not Bitcoin!”, FT reporter Attracta Mooney hit the yellow zone of the target in a recent column profiling the how, where and why investment industry asset managers in UK, Ireland, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Australia could enjoy nearly $3billion in annual savings were they to embrace blockchain’s distributed ledger powered processes. After all, the new ‘internet of things’ blockchain value proposition for securities industry purposes is specifically designed to deliver at very least, greater efficiency in work flow, greater trust in the information being shared, enhanced transparency among trade processing constituents and more effective use of human capital resources.

Where? Let’s focus on the back office, the central place where administration of transaction reporting, accounting, trade processing and related legacy “drop copy” tasks take place. How? Distributed Ledger dapps leveraging the blockchain ecosystem are intended to mitigate duplicitous human interactions within the context of transaction affirmation, transaction processing, transaction reporting and transaction documentation.

If the above is confusing to you, or if you have not yet interrogated any of the thousands of simple-to-understand primers and tutorials on this topic (including the growing assortment of content pieces published in the news section of Prospectus.com) then you should

  • schedule a call with a fellow named George Chrisafis, who oversees fintech merchant bank SenaHill Partners’ Emerging Tech and Infrastructure Advisor Group. George is an IT industry grey beard with 30 years of domain expertise and his CV includes senior roles at the world’s biggest banks. When it comes to distributed ledger—as well as AI applications being developed for the securities industry, George is a reliable source of insight.
  • bring a high school or college-aged family member to your office and have them deliver a 5 minute dissertation on the topic of blockchain and distributed ledger, and to limit the cryptocurrency explanation to 1 minute. For some, the topic is confusing, but this is confusing, there is no shortage of simple primers and tutorials that frame the value proposition of distributed ledger.

Why Asset Managers Should Embrace Blockchain applications Barring above steps to independently confirm the thesis put forward in the FT article (excerpt and link below), let’s jump straight to the topic that best defines the purpose of asset managers: MONEY. Now let’s delve into the real cost and real expenses associated with their role(s) from both a human capital perspective and IT angle. [The information cost (research) and marketing expense components can be addressed in a different opinion piece}.

From a human capital expense perspective, transaction reporting tasks are notorious for their duplicative and redundant steps spread across various internal departments; many back-office professionals lament the high risk of Death by Drop Copy, simply because much of their time is spent drop-copying one file from one software application into an unconnected software application that performs a different task. From an IT perspective, let’s opine that most investment management firms are spending considerable sums each year on software licenses, software maintenance, and software administration. Succinctly, blockchain applications can save tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to an established asset management firm—in turn enabling a firm to deploy those cost savings to revenue producing initiatives and recalibrating how internal human capital resources are better utilized.

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor  or email: cmo@marketsmuse.com.

 

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BlockTech Bid Repeats via Bloomberg: Its About Blockchain, NOT Bitcoin

(MarketsMuse fintech and blocktech curators extend our thanks to Prospectus.com LLC for the following contribution)-Bloomberg Intelligence reporter Jonathan Tyce wins the Valentine’s Day Award for Very Good Framing courtesy of his latest piece “Blockchain is Coming Everywhere, Ready or Not” –one of a series of articles by Tyce that puts the blockchain value proposition into proper perspective. Without suggesting there is any IP underlying the thesis advanced by Tyce,  the opening sentence speaks volumes to those who are crypto challenged and have the misinformed view that blockchain = bitcoin=all kinds of bad things, including but not limited to ‘investment bubble”, Ponzi scheme, “pump and dump” ICOs where the Issuer is now hiding in the ‘dark web’ or sun-tanning in Belize, and lastly, ‘one of the things that lets people create crazy currency that isn’t even fungible’. Bid repeats: Its all about the blockchain, blockhead. Not bitcoin. Welcome to BlockTech.

Without intending to invite the BloombergLP copyright cops to castigate this blog for infringement violations, this blog has posted a series of original articles themed with the same title of this post. With that disclaimer, we’ve responsibly stayed within the goal posts and merely excerpted select portions of Tyce’s piece to advance smart thinking and give credit where due…

The applications of blockchain technology will spread in 2018 far beyond bitcoin and, perhaps more surprisingly, way beyond financial services. Significant disruption and new business opportunities are on the menu. Four of the most-critical benefits from distributed-ledger technology can be encapsulated within trust, transparency, cost and speed. Where will the disruption occur?

Blockchain is now a familiar term to many, though in most cases, its meaning will be inextricably linked to bitcoin after a 10-fold price surge in 2017 valued the cryptocurrency at more than $180 billion.

This is only one strand of the story for Europe and globally. The applications of blockchain technology will spread in 2018 far beyond bitcoin and, perhaps more surprisingly, way beyond financial services.

For starters, huge improvements in efficiency and transaction speeds, cost savings and enhanced security are on the menu, with significant disruption and new business opportunities likely to follow.

Distributed-ledger technology

Putting the semantics to bed early, blockchain is the name designated to a string or chain of transaction records (blocks), cryptographically signed with “hashes,” or digital signatures. Though undoubtedly the most high-profile application of blockchain, the bitcoin network is just one example of how cryptocurrencies and other transactions can use this technology.

Blockchain is effectively the means to create tamper-proof records of data and transactions — whether that is a money transfer, vote cast, medical record or change of property ownership. It is just one of a variety of decentralized database technologies that exist across multiple locations. These are known as distributed ledgers, and it is within these so-called DLT technologies that great opportunity exists.

To continue reading, please visit Prospectus.com LLC blog

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor  or email: cmo@marketsmuse.com.

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What’s Next? Blockchain Feasibility Study Services

The following is courtesy of a blog post published at Prospectus.com, the global consulting firm specializing in investor offering document preparation, feasibility studies and consultative guidance to tech entrepreneurs and others seeking to raise capital. As discovered by MarketsMuse fintech curators, the firm has opened a blockchain feasibility study practice area for crypto cool kids..,

Blockchain Feasibility Study For Cool Kids and Grey-beards Like Me. I might be a ‘grey-beard’ straight from the cast of Mad Men, but I’ve been to plenty of tech rodeos in my time and I’ve come up with an idea that is so brilliant, it has already been nominated for the LinkedIn 2018 Global What’s Next? Award for Best Fintech, Martech, Medtech, Insuretech or BlockTech Idea, Ever!” Very smart folks within the bitcoin and blockchain ecosystem who have heard about it have said, “Wow! I wish I thought of that! You could make Billions from it!” And of course, my great technology idea not only solves a problem by making it easier to do a whole bunch of things, it has a blockchain back-drop that leverages distributed ledger technology and naturally, there is a utility token component that comports with the established crypto community’s definition of ‘store-of-value” and it can be expressed in the form of a new bitcoin, or an Ethereum energized alt currency and it can nest on Ripple. Do you know how many ICOs are raising tens of millions and in some cases, hundreds of millions of dollars?! This is a no brainer and we’ll be listed on all of the bitcoin exchanges in a few months.

My idea is going to change the way discrete networks connect, how groups of people and nodes interact within specific industry workplace settings, and it will change the way in which people live.

You’re either going to hear the above pitch or you’re thinking of making it. But without a blockchain feasibility study in hand, the conversation will be short.

If you didn’t get the memo titled “ICO Traded Ahead,” the nascent stage, yet multi-billion-dollar ICO marketplace is being viewed as fast track path for pre-revenue startups to raise capital without having the burden of adhering to accredited investor guidelines for private placement offerings and aims to accomplish the same outcome as a traditional Initial Public Offering.  It is has also become a virtual pump and dump arcade.

Oren-Raphael
Oren Raphael, Tech Entrepreneur

According to Oren Raphael, the 30-something former international banker turned-tech entrepreneur, “the ICO marketplace has already become a virtual #shithole of penny-stock populated, half-baked ideas riding the wave of euphoria courtesy of the birth of blockchain.” Raphael (click image to right for his linkedin profile) is the founder and chief technology architect of RAADAAR, an IP rich, location proximity software firm that has developed a “real world” mobile device app that provides the crucial last few feet of connectivity between consumers and a merchant’s cash register and is already being rolled out by independent gas station / convenience store operators in Southern California.

The Series A round for RAADAAR was completed one year ago, and after meeting the original deliverable milestones well ahead of schedule, Raphael set out to do a Series B round with proceeds earmarked towards product launch. When reaching out to the investor offering document firm Prospectus.com to prepare a Reg D Offering Prospectus, Evan Fisher, a senior member of Prospectus.com who has framed crypto token value propositions for several startups in the past few months had a ‘aha moment’ in the initial consultation. He recommended that Raphael should want to have a blockchain feasibility study for his existing product, not just a typical business plan that would be mapped as an exhibit to the Offering Prospectus. According to Raphael, “It was as if Fisher hit me with a lightening bolt when we were discussing the business plan I thought I wanted his people to write for me.” Two weeks later, Raphael, working with Prospectus.com team, produced a plan that has already fallen into the hands of a discrete universe of investment groups focused on blockchain opportunities, two of which have put a 10x multiple on his initial enterprise value. A classic example of what happens if you perform an objective blockchain feasibility study so as to fully curate out opportunities that lever distributed ledger technologies.

To continue reading, please visit Prospectus.com

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor  or email: cmo@marketsmuse.com.

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SEC Chair Jay Clayton Axe: Greater Corporate Bond Market Transparency

Corporate Bond Market Transparency 4.0 MarketsMuse fixed income fintech curators, who have been on the beat for better than 8 years, were keen to cover this week’s inaugrual meeting of FIMSAC.  e-Bond trading system founders, fixed income fund managers and fintech aficionados who have long lamented the limited degree of US corporate bond market transparency and less-than-likeable liquidity when trading corporate bonds in the secondary market and who ‘get the joke’ insofar as the benefits of embracing electronic trading platforms for corporate bonds might have a new advocate: SEC Chair Jay Clayton. At least that’s the way it appears based on comments Clayton made on Thursday while speaking to members of the Fixed Income Market Structure Advisory Committee (FIMSAC) during the group’s first meeting in Washington DC.

Whether Clayton does a typical White House walk-back after financial industry lobbyists turn up the heat in effort to preserve their legacy role controlling order flow and pricing remains to be seen. Because Clayton’s axe is less focused on institutional participants versus retail investors when stating “Main Street investors want liquidity; it is a sign of stability and resiliency..” he may not understand how the corporate bond works or the process by which individual investors become holders of corporate debt within their portfolios. If that’s the case, he’s perhaps perfectly suited to be a member of the present White House administration.

The importance of fixed income markets is “difficult to overstate,” Clayton said, noting the value of outstanding corporate bonds rose 76 percent between 2006 and 2016, compared to equity market cap growth of 40 percent.

“Individual investors are key participants in these markets, both directly and indirectly through pension funds and other pooled vehicles,” Clayton said, adding that he intends for the commission to continue focusing on these investors.

Courtesy of Law360 coverage: “Concerns regarding liquidity, or the ease with which buyers and sellers can match up in a given market, have been raised by bond market investors in recent years as big banks that serve as bond dealers and market makers, acting on new regulations imposed in the wake of the 2009 financial crisis, have reduced their balance sheets to cut costs and rein in risk.

The banks have shrunk their balance sheets by scaling back on the large bond positions they once held and used for creating markets for bond investors.

Some bond market participants have said the smaller balance sheets have led to reduced liquidity because it’s now harder to match buyers and sellers. That’s raised concerns that investors could lose lots of money should they need to quickly sell a large block of bonds into a market with few buyers.

Companies seeking to raise capital via private placement of debt instruments and in need of offering prospectus document preparation services turn to investor document specialists at global consultancy Prospectus.com

The wider concern is that if liquidity is already fragile it could essentially freeze during a time of financial stress when lots of investors choose to sell their bonds. When that happens, as it did in 2007, a domino effect kicks in which, given the size and reach of global bond markets, poses a threat to the world’s economy.

Committee member Gilbert Garcia, managing partner of Houston-based bond manager Garcia Hamilton & Associates, said he trades daily and has firsthand knowledge of a lack of liquidity during normal trading conditions, especially for large blocks of bonds.

“What we need to do is be ready for the next crisis,” Garcia told other members of the committee.

Scott Krohn, Verizon Communications Inc.’s treasurer and also a committee member, raised a concern that yields on Verizon’s highly liquid bonds could be vulnerable to extreme volatility during periods of financial stress as investors flee riskier securities in favor of safer ones, such as Verizon’s corporate debt.

To read the full article from Law360, click here

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Bitcoin Barista of the Day Award: BnkToTheFuture

When it comes to corporate monikers, MarketsMuse fintech curators are big fans of catchy names and have made it a New Year’s resolution to compile and share a weekly list of firms that earn special recognition within the burgeoning world of blockchain, bitcoin and crypto handles. And, the winner for the first week of 2018 is”BnkToTheFuture.” No, its not a futuristic bank run by Doc Brown and no, Marty McFly is not the crypto credit lending officer. Its a current generation “cool kids only investment bank” that appears to be based in Hong Kong and staffed by the now ubiquitous-to-the-industry line-up of slick looking folks from UK, HK and of course, Eastern Europe. Arguably, the management team can be considered blockchain industry pioneers given this firm was formed way back in 2011.

Our thanks for guidance to this “Global FinTech, Bitcoin and blockchain online investment platform” goes to TradersMag Senior Editor John D’Antona  who pushed this release to us, which is chock full of  mentions of ‘crypto industry celebrities’ who recently joined the firm’s advisory board. Our compliance desk loved the “About BnkToTheFuture” section of their press release; it conforms beautifully with global financial industry best practice protocols: “The platform is in line with international financial regulations and over $200m has been invested in deals listed on its platform.”  Below is an excerpt of the news story:

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Simon Dixon, CEO BankToTheFuture

BnkToTheFuture today announced its token sale advisory board, with executives from Civic, Smith + Crown, Abra, BitAngels, and more signing on to help BnkToTheFuture launch a tokenized secondary market and due diligence platform for equity tokens. BnkToTheFuture’s online investment platform already brings vetted deals to qualifying investors and has invested in many of the most valuable companies in the sector, and will now incorporate its BFT cryptocurrency token to reward due diligence, deal flow analysis and investor relations on prospective and current deals.

“Investors in today’s burgeoning ICO landscape are seeking more professionalism, accountability, and compliance, while equity investors are seeking greater liquidity and trading,” said Civic CEO and BnkToTheFuture Identity/KYC Advisor Vinny Lingham. “BnkToTheFuture provides this gap in service, and I’m excited to see this project grow through its next phase.”   The company’s press release includes: “The platform is in line with international financial regulations and over $200m has been invested in deals listed on its platform including BitFinex, BitStamp, Kraken, ShapeShift and over 100 others.”

Joining BnkToTheFuture’s advisory board alongside Lingham are Jonathan Smith, Civic Co-Founder and CTO; Bill Barhydt, CEO of Abra; Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar, CEO and Co-Founder of Rootstock (RSK), Michael Terpin, CEO of Transform Group, Founder of CoinAgenda, and Co-Founder of BitAngels; Sunny Ray, President of Unocoin; David Johnston, Chairman of Factom and Co-Founder of BitAngels; Li Huo, Director at Huobi; Adam Vaziri, Blockchain lawyer and Director at Diacol; Brian Lio, CEO at Smith + Crown; Matt Chwierut, Researcher at Smith + Crown; Tony Simonovsky, CEO of InsightCryp.to; and David Drake, Chairman at LDJ Capital. BnkToTheFuture will continue to list new advisors here.

Whether your company is a fintech startup that is planning a private placement offering, a crypto concern with a custom token offering that is seeking to raise capital from qualified or accredited investors via a Initial Coin Offering (ICO), or if you are fast growth firm setting the stage for an initial public offering (IPO), a properly prepared offering prospectus or offering memorandum is required by your investors and industry regulators that govern securities offerings. Issuers seeking affordable investor document solutions rely on experts at Prospectus.com.

“While building BnkToTheFuture’s advisory board for our upcoming token launch, we sought leaders in the blockchain industry and those who have been consistently involved advocating for Bitcoin from very early on to help guide our efforts to further develop a transparent platform compliant with regulatory requirements,” said Simon Dixon, CEO of BnkToTheFuture. “We’re confident that our advisory team of experts will be instrumental in this process.”

Already popular as an online investment platform with 45,000 qualifying investors and over $200 million invested in rounds listed on its platform including companies like Kraken, BitFinex, BitStamp, ShapeShift and others, BnkToTheFuture will incorporate blockchain technology to allow for the trading of equity tokens and will issue its own token, BFT, to support deal flow analysis, due diligence and investor relations on the platform. BFT will be available in a public token sale in February 2018.

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor via cmo@marketsmuse.com.

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Crypto Hedge Funds: Greenwich Crowd Buying Into Bitcoin Trading

Crypto Hedge Funds Get Their Greenwich On. If the MarketsMuse curators have avoided bidding on and publishing tick-by-tick coverage of “crypto mania” and bitcoin bubblelicious bytes akin to our media industry brethren, its only because we were arguably a pioneer when, starting in 2014, we first started framing the bitcoin and distributed ledger evolution under the label fintech. OK, one of our editors was conflicted–having purchased a few bitcoins back when paying $100 for the cryptocurrency caused laughter from peers with CT license plates on their Teslas. What a difference a day makes (ok, lets call it a few hundred days).

Every famous hedge fund wonk, from Steven Schonfeld to “Stevie” Cohen, and tens of dozens of others have either carved out a crypto trading strategy or are planning to do so. After all, volatility is every trader’s elixir and now that CME, CBOE, NASDAQ and as of Dec 20 announcement, NYSE ARCA have all blessed bitcoin, the opportunity to trade crypto derivatives on a regulated exchange is impossible to resist for the ‘hedgies.” Even Thomas Peterffy, the hard-charging Republican and multi-billionaire founder of Interactive Brokers, has walked back on his earlier position in which he said he would not allow IB customers to trade bitcoin products; now they can when they post the required margin. Hey, Thomas’s membership fees at Mar-a-Lago are going up and if bitcoin trading can create a new commission silo for the “Professional’s Gateway to the World’s Markets”, it makes sense to get in on the action. (Breaking News: NYSE ARCA TO LIST 2 BITCOIN ETFS).

As reported by WSJ’s Dec 20 column, “Big Hedge Funds Want In On Bitcoin”-— Already, there are around 20 funds, managing a total of roughly $2 billion in assets, that solely or predominantly trade cryptocurrencies, as tracked by an index compiled by Chicago-based data group HFR. The asset total highlights how it has largely been smaller funds that have traded bitcoin, though HFR President Kenneth Heinz says the number of funds could double in size in the first quarter of 2018.

OK $2b is “Peanutsville” when it comes to the trillion dollar  hedge fund industry which deploys capital across multiple asset classes and strategies.  But, according to the WSJ story, as well as off-line conversations with HF titans,  lots of folks who might have been allergic to peanuts are now looking to put on spreads with LEAP style maturity dates.

Lest one  forget, a whole bunch of smarty pants types in VC land dismissed two twins by the name of Winklevoss for claiming to have been the brains behind Facebook. Even their lawyers laughed at them when they insisted on taking then private shares in FB instead of $50m in cash when Mark Zuckerberg offered to settle the ‘misunderstanding.’ The shares soon became worth $300m and the twins then parlayed some of that into buying up 1% of the bitcoin market. The Winklevoss boys were laughed at again when they were the first to file for a bitcoin-based exchange-traded fund (ETF).  As their initial $10m stake in bitcoin blossomed into $1 Billion (on paper), those twins also created what is viewed as the most robust electronic exchange in the bitcoin ecosystem and is arguably worth as much as $1b also–just because someone would likely pay that much to take over the system.

Evan Fisher of Prospectus LLC, a global consulting firm that provides hedge fund set up guidance, business plan writing services, preparation of investor offering documents and more recently, whitepaper writing and ICO offering documents, sums it up by saying, “The calculus for hedge fund players allocating risk to this new asset class is pretty simple, if their peers are diving in, they need to.”

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SEC Aims to Rein In and Reign Over Initial Coin Offerings – Duck Test 3.0

Initial Coin Offerings [Finally] Get SEC Attention; The Duck Test 3.0.

For those who believe the US SEC is slow to react when reining in and/or reigning over new-fangled investment products, the evidence indicates you are accurate. After all, recent history regarding sub-prime debt sold to unwary investors, Madoff-style investment management scams, payment-for-order schemes advanced by exchanges, and high-octane exchange-traded notes unsuitable for retail investors are just a few of the topics that made it out of the gate and far into the fields before investor advocates rang the alarm bells at the front door of the US Securities & Exchange Commission.

There have been more than 160 of these ICOs this year, which have collectively raised more than $3 billion, according to data from research firm Coindesk. Before this year, ICOs had raised a total of about $300 million going back to 2014.

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SEC Chair Jay Clayton Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

In defense of the bureaucrats based in Washington, their job description is arguably less a function of evaluating investor-suitable products and Wall Street selling practices as opposed to their primary role of chasing the horse after its out of the barn. After all, the folks who offer SEC staff with new investment product insight and regulatory recommendations (and tickets to concerts and sports events) are highly-paid lobbyists who represent Wall Street investment banks that have an agenda–to make fees from selling investment products and to ensure there is as little as possible regulatory oversight on their activities. Thanks for reinforcing that view, Mr. Trump!

But, in the case of the latest innovative product known as initial coin offerings, where innovators are raising money for an assortment of business models through issuance of bitcoins vs traditional shares in a company, Wall Street banks are finding themselves short of having a controlling role in the underwriting, sale and secondary market trading of these ‘instruments.’ Whilst the likes of Goldman Sachs and other fintech-friendly firms are racing to find their sweet spots in the digital ledger, blockchain and bitcoin space, suffice to say those investment banks are not happy about losing out on what would have been tens of millions of dollars in underwriting fees that could have been generated from the more than 160 private placement offerings that raised nearly $3billion since the beginning of the year, as well as potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in potential underwriting fees based on the pipeline of ICO deals in the pipeline.

So, it should come as no surprise that despite the ongoing string of announcements about new ICO issuance, the SEC has seemed to be asleep at the wheel for months insofar as issuing any regulatory edicts, leading some cynics to suggest that lobbyists from Wall Street have more recently whispered into the ears of SEC Chair Jay Clayton and compelled him to assert the power of SEC over those conducting initial coin offerings.

MarketsMuse readers are directed to coverage by Prospectus.com, “SEC Invokes Duck Test for Initial Coin Offerings-ICO Alert” via this link

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor via cmo@marketsmuse.com.

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One More Corporate Bond Electronic Trading Platform; Still None Include Bond ETFs

Well Matilda, as if the universe of corporate bond electronic trading platforms isn’t crowded enough, despite clear signs of consolidation taking place for this still nascent stage industry (e.g. upstart Trumid’s recent acquisition of infant-stage Electronifie) , one more corporate bond e-trading platform has its cr0ss-hairs on the US market. The latest entrant is UK-based Neptune Networks, Ltd., a consortium controlled by sell-side investment banks that has inserted electronic trading veteran Grant Wilson as interim CEO. Neptune’s lead-in value proposition’ is perfecting the IOI approach to capturing liquidity, and also offers a tool kit of connectivity schemes that bridge buyside and sell-side players.

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Grant Wilson, Interim CEO Neptune Networks

Promoting indication-of-interest orders ( pre-trade real-time AXE indications) as opposed to actionable bid-offer constructs that are ubiquitous to equity trading platforms, is a technique that other US-based corporate bond trading platforms are already advancing. Neptune is also not alone in their positioning an ‘all-to-all’ model as a means to inspire buy-side corporate credit PMs and traders to embrace electronic trading, a seemingly counter-culture technique that enables them to swim in the same pool as sell-side dealers aka market-makers. The distinction that Neptune brings to the table is girth and size, thanks to its sponsors Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Citi and Deutsche Bank, each of which maintain board seats.  Unlike the other players in the space that are focused on building a “round lot marketplace” (as opposed to retail size orders that MarketAxxess (NASDAQ: MKTX) specializes in, Neptune carries over 14,000 individual ISINs daily, claims that its average order size is 5mm,  total daily gross notional in excess of $115bn, and according to Neptune’s marketing material, over 22,000 individual ISINs have been submitted to the platform since January 1st.

Lots of e-bond trading platforms, but none are incorporating bond ETFs, at least not yet.

As compelling as Neptune’s value proposition is, some corporate bond e-trading veterans are quietly wondering whether these initiatives are somehow missing the memos being circulated throughout the institutional investor community profiling the rapid adoption of corporate bond ETF products in lieu of their long-held focus on individual corporate credits.

According to e-bond trading veteran Jay Berkman, who helped launch BondNet in 1994 when it was the industry’s very first web-based exchange platform for investment grade and high yield bonds, and who now serves as an advisor to fintech merchant bank SenaHill Partners, the firm that has led early fund-raising rounds for  Trumid,  Electronifie and  EMbonds  (SenaHill also advised on the recent Trumid-Electronifie combination), “Anyone who follows the trends [and follows the money] can’t help but appreciate that a broad assortment of Tier 1 investment managers, RIA’s and even public pensions’ use of bond ETFs is increasing in magnitude by the week, not the quarter. Added Berkman, “If you’re operating an electronic exchange platform for corporate bonds, and your users are rapidly increasing their use of fixed income exchange-traded funds, having a module for ETFs would seem to be a natural next step.”

Others in the industry have suggested to MarketsMuse reporters that enabling users to trade the underlying constituents against the respective corporate bond cash index along with a module for create/redeem schemes, or even a means by Issuers can distribute new debt directly seems to make “too much sense.”  But then again, these same industry experts acknowledge the political landmines that would most assuredly be encountered by those trying to disrupt and innovate within corporate bond land are perhaps too much for those who need to prove their business models before aiming at new frontiers. Continue reading

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Institutional Investor 2017 Top 40 Trading Tech Top Guns

And The Winner Is….Institutional Investor Presents 2017 Top 40 Trading Tech Top Guns

Who says trading technology wonks are under-appreciated within the context of recognition by industry followers? Certainly not MarketsMuse fintech curators, and definitely not Institutional Investor Magazine, which brings us their annual ranking of the top trading technologists on the planet.

“The Trading Technology 40 were selected by Institutional Investor editors, taking into account nominations and input from industry experts. The leadership criteria include recent and career accomplishments and contributions to individual companies and to the industry at large; scope and complexity of executive responsibilities; and pure technological innovation.”

The 2017 ranking was compiled under the direction of II Senior Contributing Editor Jeffrey Kutler. Profiles were written by Kutler; Asia Bureau Chief Allen T. Cheng; Staff Writer Jess Delaney; and Senior Writers Frances Denmark, Imogen Rose-Smith, and Julie Segal.

Here’s an excerpt from the just published findings..

Modern financial markets could not function without automation. Traders, counterparties, and transaction-processing infrastructures depend on automation to cope with the avalanches of data that are both generated by the markets and essential to their reliability and integrity. Despite occasional glitches — which have become progressively less frequent and less severe since the disastrous flash crash of May 2010 — it all happens so smoothly that it is easy to take the technology for granted.

That’s a credit to the technologists of the trading world featured in this year’s Trading Technology 40. Whether they work in equities, fixed income, currencies, commodities, or derivatives, the executives listed here are pioneering solutions to countless problems presented by the size and complexity of markets.

Whether your fintech or trading technology company is planning a private placement offering available to a select universe of friends and family, qualified investors or an initial public offering (IPO) via an exchange listing, a prospectus or offering memorandum is required by your investors and industry regulators that govern securities offerings. The experts at Prospectus.com have prepared business plans, offering documents and more for a discrete universe of financial technology start-ups.

To view the winners and their biographies, go straight to II’s article via this link

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A Fond Fairwell to Fintech Pioneer Neil DeSena

Those of us who have worked in and/or around the world of electronic trading for more than 15 minutes readily know about REDI, the ubiquitous direct access execution platform for stocks and options that was introduced by Spear Leeds & Kellogg in 1987 to its professional clearing customers, a universe that grew to thousands of professional traders across the globe. For those not old enough to remember Spear Leeds aka SLK, it was one of the financial industry’s largest specialist firms with it biggest boots on the ground on the NYSE and Amex, and for decades, one of the largest clearing agents for stock and options exchange members and upstairs prop traders. SLK was also one of the industry’s most recognized upstairs market-makers until being acquired by Goldman Sachs in 2000 for a whopping $6.5bil. For those in the know, Goldman’s record-setting acquisition was attributed in part to a fellow by the name of Neil DeSena, “a boy from Bayonne” whose name was synonymous with REDI from the day it was first introduced in 1987, to the day the platform came under Goldman Sachs stewardship, to the day in 2016 when REDI was sold by GS for $1bil to Reuters Plc, and for every day in between, including now, when a trader somewhere in the world uses REDI to send a buy or sell order for stocks, options and/or futures into the now global OEMS platform.

History has already shown that the usually prescient Goldman Sachs wanted not only SLK’s prop-trading business and its clearing customers-which delivered hundreds of millions in high-profit revenue , GS also wanted to be at the forefront of electronic trading and SLK provided that. And, it was Neil DeSena who offered that entree. Until his untimely passing last week, barely three months after celebrating his 52nd birthday, Neil DeSena’s name and the brand name REDI remained forever intertwined, despite the fact that Neil had retired from his role as a Goldman Sachs MD several years ago. It was DeSena who was widely-credited for taking the REDI electronic platform from a closed stock and options order routing system for SLK clearing customers to a a billion-dollar, global OEMS platform synonymous for trading stocks and listed equity options. Upon Goldman’s acquisition, Neil became a GS managing director and under their banner, he built REDI into the industry leading global multi-asset trading system, expanding data centers and global networking through Europe and Asia with full interdependency/redundancy, creating a fully 24×7 global institutional trading platform. In 2015, Goldman sold REDI to Reuters for a cool $1bil.

Ironically, Neil DeSena was not an inventor, nor a prodigy software wonk, and not an MIT-educated computer geek or a Harvard MBA. Neil came to the financial industry as most did ‘back in the day’; he was a humble, but eager “boy from Bayonne” who came from a middle-class family and like so many others from the hamlets near the world’s trading centers, he aspired to work on Wall Street’s trading floors. As noted in his bio at SenaHill Partners, the fintech merchant bank Neil co-founded in 2013 with Justin Brownhill after retiring from Goldman, Neil’s first Wall Street job was typical to that of other 23 year olds; he scored an entry-level, back-office clerk (for retail broker Quick & Reilly). After rising through the ranks and learning how to leverage technology and lead people, Neil joined SLK in 1992, where he became the first employee of REDI. To the tens of hundreds that Neil since touched throughout his personal and professional life, ‘the rest is history’, but Neil’s history and the legacy he leaves behind cannot go without mention.

Neil DeSena was a classic innovator and entrepreneur who always maintained a prescient view when it came to the future of marrying technology and financial markets. He was less a student of technology than he was a student of human behavior and the inherent opportunities that technology-based solutions could provide to one of the world’s biggest industries. Better than most, including the legions of Wall Street technology and business development gurus, Neil had an innate and intimate understanding of the the mindset of those who navigated stock and options marts and what they would need to be more efficient and more effective, before those savvy-traders knew themselves. It was Neil’s thought-leadership, his uncanny ability to gain the trust and confidence of those around him, his foresight as to how/where/why technology could be leveraged, and perhaps most of his all, his endearing personality and sense of integrity that served as a benchmark for so many people he encountered.

Never one to rest on his laurels and certainly not like so many from the finance industry who aspire to build wealth for themselves and retire to a life of luxury, when Neil left Goldman Sachs, it took little time to decide “What’s Next?” Joining hands with Justin Brownill, one of the trading tech industry’s most successful entrepreneurs, the two formed SenaHill Partners in 2013 and framed the firm to be one of the very first fintech merchant banks focused on fostering upstart and industry disrupting financial technology firms. Since the firm’s creation barely four years later, more than two dozen finance industry tech pioneers have joined as network advisory board members; each contributing expertise, relationships and insight in their respective areas and helping to review nearly 2500 business plans submitted to SenaHill. The collective of professionals has gained the attention of finance industry and tech industry titans and has put wind behind the sails of dozens of disruptive startups focused on areas from bitcoin and distributed ledger to financial-flavored media platforms.

Irrespective of the degree of success enjoyed by enterprising start-ups that DeSena and Browhill have helped guide, Neil DeSena’s truest success is illustrated less by counting the literally hundreds of people who came to offer kindness and support this past weekend to Neil’s wife Carolyn and his three young children, Madeleine, Neil Anthony, and Jack, but more by the legacy he leaves; Neil always reminded those who were smart enough to listen that “material success is fleeting; honor and integrity are the most important virtues, as it those qualities that we should all be remembered for.” Continue reading

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Fintech, Fixed Income Trading & Fragmentation-Now a Private Placement Bond Platform

Fintech Fixed Income Trading & Fragmentation-What’s Next? A Venue for Private Placement Bonds & MTNs

Despite the seeming oversupply of electronic bond trading initiatives, the convergence of fintech and fixed income trading continues to spawn new electronic trading start-ups, bringing the total industry count to 128 venues.  The latest player, dubbed “Origin Markets”, aims at filling a void in the $1.5 trillion Medium-Term Note space aka private placement bond market. The “still-in-beta mode” initiative is based in the UK and backed by a consortium of global banks led by BNP Paribas, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Societe Generale and Credit Suisse.

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Raja Palaniappan CEO Origin Markets

Origin’s founder and quarterback is Raja Palaniappan, a former Credit Suisse flow trader and MIT wonk who cut his teeth trading MTNs at various firms during the past 9 years and was most recently a VP responsible for making markets in investment grade and crossover corporate bonds and CDS at Credit Suisse.

A spokesperson for UK-based Origin said its platform “simplifies issuance in the medium-term note private placement market by acting as a central information source.” The business model allows dealers to receive targeted funding levels from issuers on a single platform and allows users to foster new relationships through cloud-based technology and bank-grade security.

“[Issuers] can optimise their funding using the built-in cross-currency pricer, comparing their funding levels to their own and their peers’ levels in the secondary markets,” Origin said.

Joakim Holmstrom, head of funding at Municipality Finance, explained the platform makes the medium term note process more efficient and provides access to a broader pool of dealers. Ben Powell, head of funding for IFC, added that Origin’s platform “simplifies what was once a manual process prone to inefficiency. It allows us to manage our dealer communication in one central place.”

The platform’s full launch is expected later this year and brings the total number of electronic fixed income platforms to 128, according to a recent compilation of platforms by front office trading consultant John Greenan.

Bob Mahdavi, the CTO for private placement bond documentation firm Prospectus.com stated “The MTN market is indisputably one of the largest sectors in terms of number of issues, yet it is populated by thousands of private issues that don’t typically lend themselves to being traded in an electronic venue.” Added Mahdavi, whose firm works with tens of dozens of Issuers, as well as attorneys and boutique investment banks throughout Europe and Asia in preparing debt offering documents, “You can build it, but will they come?”

According to fintech merchant bankers at SenaHill Partners “When considering the still nascent stage impact of electronic venues focused public company investment grade corporate bonds, including the likes of startup Electronifie among others, a platform that can prove truly effective and liquid for MTNs can prove to be a big challenge, albeit the backing of big banks does provide some wind in the sail.”

If you’ve got fintech fever, or just a hot tip, a bright story idea profiling global macro, fintech, ETFs, options, or fixed income markets, or if you’d like to get visibility for your firm through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, etc., please reach out to MarketsMuse Corporate Communication Conciege via this link

As noted in a 11 Jan story in TheTradeNews and citing the work of Greenan, between November 2016 and January this year alone, 14 new fixed income trading platforms joined the market.

“…The asset class is overcrowded with trading venues as regulation forces the structure of fixed income across instruments away from a centralised model – mostly due to bank balance sheet constraints – towards a decentralised model….Market participants have said the explosion of venues is causing fragmentation and a ‘liquidity drought’ in global bond markets.”

Large buy-side firms and asset managers have the opportunity to act as price makers rather than price takers, according to a quarterly report published by the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) this week.

The report said the bond market has seen a decrease in ratio turnover, despite an increase in market size and overall turnover against a backdrop of bond issuance, as issuers take advantage of low interest rates globally.

Joanna Cound, head of public policy EMEA at Blackrock and a member of the ICMA board, explained this has led to liquidity in fixed income markets suffering, something regulators have taken a greater interest in over the last year.

Fixed income participants are wary the bond market has not improved significantly since the financial crisis, as future stress events could have far-reaching consequences.

To continue reading TheTradeNews story click here

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2016 Top Fintech Financiers According to Institutional Investor

Identifying the top fintech financiers is no easy task these days. It seems like only yesterday when MarketsMuse curators were among the first to advance the phrase “fintech” in the course of profiling startups seeking to disrupt the financial services sect, many of which have been led by sell-side veterans who made their best trades building innovative financial technology applications for bulge bracket banks and institutional brokerage platforms. At the outset of this now mainstream trend towards disruption of legacy financial technology tools and applications, fintech was a label given to trading system firms; now it is a ubiquitous moniker used to categorize a full-blown industry that counts more than 3000 start-ups and fast growing enterprises across the globe.

(feature images courtesy of YANN LEGENDRE)

Fintech is still the term used to to describe fast-moving firms that deliver Web 3.0 trading system and institutional broker tools, but also now includes enterprises that have brought peer-to-peer lending, crypto currency, distributed ledger companies and other offerings that are rapidly changing the way financial industry firms operate, and more important, the behavior of end-users across the globe. Along the way, this evolution has also created a cottage industry of bankers, private equity firms and VCs who share the catchphrase “What’s Next?” and whose respective vision is focused on the “next great thing” within the context of the way we interact when conducting a financial-centric task.

“Many of the Fintech Finance 35 — those ranked by Institutional Investor as the leading financiers and facilitators of the ongoing entrepreneurial explosion in financial technology — have “partner” in their titles. Their firms are structured as partnerships, but all on the list are partners in a practical, day-to-day sense. They are as much strategic advisers and collaborators as they are funders; “partnerships” are what they offer to companies they invest in and usher toward growth and maturity.” Jeffrey Kutler, Institutional Investor Magazine

With that, its no surprise that Institutional Investor Magazine, which for years has been the harbinger of the financial industry’s best-in-class people (e.g. Institutional Investor All America Research Team is the bible used to benchmark equity and fixed income research analysts) has more recently started tracking the top funders and dealmakers from across the fintech ecosystem via II’s Annual Fintech Finance 35. And, hot off the press: II’s 2016 Top Influencers in Fintech Finance! With 35 top guns highlighted, MarketsMuse team arbitrarily picked out one of the profiles from the middle of list of 35 to share with our readers. The folks who have risen from last year’s #19 spot to this year’s #16 spot are the principals of SenaHill Partners, which is arguably one of the fintech industry’s leading pioneers. SenaHill positions itself as part investment bank, part PE investor, part adviser and part incubator.  Below is the excerpt courtesy of II’s Jeffrey Kutler.

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Justin Brownhill, SenaHill

Principal investor, strategic adviser, and business accelerator, SenaHill Partners gets a lot of mileage out of just 14 people. “We’re hiring,” managing partner Justin Brownhill says — an auspicious indicator for the New York firm and perhaps for fintech deal flow overall. Founded by Brownhill and co–managing partner Neil DeSena in 2013, SenaHill is staffed by people with extensive banking, brokerage, and operational experience, further leveraged by an adviser network of dozens of industry veterans, who contribute strategic insights and help identify and vet investment candidates. “Two to three generations of knowledge,” hands-on experience and a roll-up-the-sleeves attitude set SenaHill apart, says Brownhill, 45, who was an investor in and executive at Lava Trading, which Citigroup acquired in 2004, and CEO of the Receivables Exchange from 2007 to 2012. “Venture capital in financial technology is a journey, not a me-too business,” says DeSena, 52, who started the REDI institutional trading business in 1992 and ran it until 2006, the last six years as part of Goldman Sachs Group. “ ‘Five years and exit’ isn’t the way it works.” SenaHill’s 22-company portfolio includes investment research and analytics site Market Realist, where Brownhill is a board member; blockchain smart-contracts company Symbiont, where DeSena is a director and former Morgan Stanley capital markets executive Caitlin Long recently became chairman and president; and WealthForge, a private capital–

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Neil DeSena, SenaHill

raising platform that placed third in last year’s UBS Future of Finance Challenge (see Hyder Jaffrey, No. 30). Another holding, know-your-customer platform Trunomi, represents “reg tech,” the emerging regulatory-and-compliance category that Brownhill and DeSena are following alongside other fintech themes in capital markets, banking and payments, insurance, wealth management, and infrastructure. “The interest is now top-down,” Brownhill observes, referring to incumbent financial services companies’ openness to investing in or partnering with entrepreneurs. “They are hiring us to connect them with young, emerging technologies.” Says DeSena: “The incumbents need help. Their budgets are big but shrinking.”

Prospectus.com team of capital markets experts and securities lawyers specialize in preliminary offering prospectus, secondary offering prospectus and full menu of financial offering memorandum document preparation. More information via this link

The Fintech Finance 35 will be honored at the iiFintech Awards taking place on December 1. The awards program was designed to bring together the honorees of the Tech 50, Fintech Finance 35, and Trading Technology 40 to explore how financial technology will continue to transform the industry.

This ranking was compiled under the direction of Senior Contributing Editor Jeffrey Kutler. Individual profiles were written by Kutler, Asia Bureau Chief Allen T. Cheng, Senior Writers Frances Denmark and Julie Segal, and Staff Writer Jess Delaney, as well as by former Editor Michael Peltz, Content Editor Anne Szustek, Associate Editor Kaitlin Ugolik, and Assistant Editor Jen Werner.  To read the entire story from II, please click here

 

2016 Top Fintech Financiers According to Institutional Investor
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Bond Boy Rutter Adds Tackling UST HFT to List of Axes

Nobody can accuse veteran government bond market broker and fintech poster boy David Rutter of being single-minded. The former Prebon Yamane exec, who later migrated to inter-dealer broker ICAP where he became of head of electronic trading, then did a stint as CEO of fixed income and FX platform BrokerTec, and who more recently has positioned himself as a blockchain empressario via his role as co-founder and head of R3, the industry consortium dedicated to normalizing the use of distributed ledger technology across the financial ecosystem remains determined to set the standard for how UST’s and related futures contracts are electronically traded.  His latest axe is to cut down on the noise and disruption created by high-frequency trading (HFT) tools used by so-called predators that have ‘undermined’ how government bonds are traded in the OTC marketplace.

(Bloomberg) via reporting by Eliza Ronalds-Hannon : David Rutter, the former head of the biggest electronic venue for Treasuries, says his startup will launch a new trading platform called LiquidityEdge Select this week. According to Rutter, a big draw is that it will enable clients to shut off bids and offers from firms they suspect are using hair-trigger algorithms to trade against their orders. He’s enlisted Cantor Fitzgerald to backstop the transactions and signed up about 90 clients, including most of the Treasury market’s 23 primary dealers and several high-speed trading firms.

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David Rutter, Liquidity Edge LLC

“There’s a lot of pent-up demand to fix the inherent disadvantages” on some of the existing venues, Rutter said from his midtown Manhattan office. Going up against certain kinds of speed traders can be “a huge frustration.”

Success is far from guaranteed and there’s considerable debate over whether high-frequency traders, or HFTs, actually do more harm than good. But one thing is undeniable: technological advances and post-crisis bank regulations designed to limit risk-taking are transforming the inner workings of U.S. government debt trading. What’s resulted is a sense of disorder among the more traditional players in the world’s most important bond market.

“The game is changing every day,” said Tom di Galoma, the managing director of government trading and strategy at Seaport Global Holdings. On electronic platforms, the rise of HFTs “concerns anybody else who trades on them.”

If you’ve got a hot tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your firm through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, etc., please reach out via this link

Liquidity Woes

Regardless of who or what is responsible, there are signs U.S. government bonds have gotten harder to trade, even as Treasury Department officials say the $13.7 trillion market is sound and the ability to transact remains robust.

An average of $491 billion of Treasuries have changed hands each day in the past year, down from $600 billion in 2011, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. The ability to trade without moving prices has also deteriorated, with another measure indicating Treasuries are now 50 percent more sensitive to price fluctuations than they were five years ago.

At the same time, the market itself has become more prone to sudden shocks, with the Oct. 15, 2014, “flash crash” in Treasury yields the most prominent example. While regulators still haven’t figured out what triggered it, they concluded that automated trading firms made the wild ride that much worse.

All these changes have come as regulations imposed in the aftermath of the financial crisis prompted Wall Street banks to retreat from dealing. Computerized firms have swept in to fill the void.

Electronic platforms like ICAP Plc’s BrokerTec and Nasdaq Inc.’s eSpeed now account for almost half the volume in the Treasury market. Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, and its affiliates also provide trading in Treasuries.

‘Phantom Liquidity’

On the main venues that cater to dealers, eight of the 10 biggest firms by volume last year were non-bank proprietary trading firms, according to Greenwich Associates, a financial services consulting firm. Their influence has led HFT critics to blame computerized traders for providing “phantom liquidity.”

That occurs when those firms use their speed to suddenly change the amount they are willing to buy (or sell) once they detect incoming orders. And it can be costly for slower-footed investors who enter the market thinking there’s a certain amount they can trade, only to have it disappear. In some cases, predatory firms use sophisticated algorithms to decipher a counterparty’s intentions and race ahead of its orders.

The problem was underscored by the Bank for International Settlements, which concluded in a January paper that such strategies have the potential to depress bond-market liquidity. According to Greenwich, less than half the trading activity on inter-dealer platforms last year consisted of “true market making,” which the research firm defined as the willingness of firms to buy and sell a specific security on demand.

“A lot of the intermediaries that had balance sheets to absorb risk and trade, they’re gone,” said Ed Al-Hussainy, senior global interest-rate analyst at Columbia Threadneedle Investments, which oversees $460 billion.

Value Proposition

That’s where Rutter comes in. LiquidityEdge is the first of at least four companies that are planning to start trading platforms by year-end.

LiquidityEdge Select differs from traditional electronic platforms in a few distinct ways. First, clients can pre-select counterparties and trade with them using anonymous user IDs, rather than sending an order into a central market that everyone can see. That maintains confidentiality and enables clients to receive bids and offers only from parties they want. Second, the system allows customers to exclude any streams at any time.

Rutter says this kind of self-policing gives non-bank traders a greater incentive to provide firm orders, while weeding out predatory firms that try to game the system.

LiquidityEdge will also use Cantor Fitzgerald as a central clearing counterparty, settling trades via the Fixed Income Clearing Corp. That means trades are guaranteed even if one party fails to deliver on either payment or bonds. The lack of a such an arrangement precipitated the demise of Direct Match, a Treasuries trading startup that shut down in August.

Diminishing Returns

To be sure, a proliferation of trading platforms could potentially harm liquidity more than help it.

New venues may poach clients from the incumbents — BrokerTec, Rutter’s former employer, and eSpeed — but that may just lead to shallower liquidity across more venues and result in a Treasury market that’s more fractured than it is now. LiquidityEdge Select will be the firm’s second trading venue for Treasuries. It will sit alongside the firm’s one-year-old bilateral platform, LiquidityEdge Direct.

“Is it a case of, the more liquidity pools the merrier?” said Anthony Perrotta, global head of research and consulting at Tabb Group, which specializes in market-structure research. “Some would say yes. At the same time, people’s bandwidth is only so great.”

The Treasury market’s two incumbents, BrokerTec and eSpeed, already have plans to launch competing trading venues later this year.

To continue reading the Bloomberg story, click here

japan fintech sector fever

Land of Rising Sun Embraces FinTech Sector; Japan’s Biggest Banks Open Wallets

The FinTech Sector is red hot now in Japan as Land of Rising Sun Banks now looking to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into fintech start-ups after the abolition of a law that prevented them from owning more than 5 per cent of a technology company.

(FT) 25 September The changes are part of a national effort to push into the fintech sector and pursue investments in financial technology startups, highlighting fears in Tokyo that Silicon Valley could decimate Japan’s banking sector as it did the country’s mobile phone industry.

“Japanese institutions are concerned that a Google Bank or Facebook Bank will conquer Japan,” said Naoyuki Iwashita, head of the FinTech Centre at the Bank of Japan.

It means that Japan could become a big new source of funding for start-ups, especially in Asia, that are experimenting with technologies such as blockchain or artificial intelligence.

Yasuhiro Sato, chief executive of Mizuho, told a conference in Tokyo last week that Japanese banks had been constrained by regulators wanting to preserve old, but tried-and-tested, IT systems.

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Yasuhiro Sato fintech
Yasuhiro Sato (photo courtesy of WSJ)

“I think [regulators], especially the Japanese Financial Services Agency, are now changing their thoughts on that,” he told the FinSum conference, organised by the FSA and Nikkei, owner of the Financial Times.

The change in the law means banks can ignore a 5 per cent limit on stakes in non-financial companies if their purpose is to apply information technology to finance.

The FSA is considering a further legal change that would make it easier for fintech companies to engage in regulated financial activities. “In order to obtain more technological advances from outside participants,” said Mr Sato. “That’s the reason why the banking law will now quite likely be changing.”

Mizuho established a presence in Silicon Valley three years ago and this year added an innovation-focused office in New York. Mr Sato said the rule changes would accelerate that. “We have created a specific team, which is the innovation product team, to make significant investment in venture companies. We are sending many many persons to the US.”

Rakuten, the Japanese ecommerce group, has launched a $100m fund to invest in fintech companies and SBI Holdings, a financial group, raised a ¥30bn ($299m) fintech venture fund earlier this year.

Other global banks have opened outposts in California. BBVA, the Spanish bank, is one of the most aggressive, acquiring Simple, an Oregon-based digital lender in 2014, and investing in Prosper, the San Francisco-based peer-to-peer platform. It also set up a venture capital company, Propel Ventures, to pursue investments in other start-ups. SenaHill is a leading merchant bank boutique specializing in fintech initiatives and focused on fast growth companies that are producing revenue and/or startups that have at least one year of business operating metrics.

To continue reading the story Land of Rising Sun Embraces FinTech Sector from FT.com, please click here