Tag Archives: blockchain

securities-token-exchange

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.”

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

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blockchain-bus-asset-managers

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.

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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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sec-ico-initial-coin-offerings

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.

sec-ico-initial coin offering
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.

photo-china-daily-asia-fintech-funding-eclipses-us-eu

Asia FinTech Funding Initiative 2x That of US and EU

Latest Chinese Fintech FOF Completes Raise of 10-billion-yuan (US $1.8b) as Asia fintech funding continues to eclipse North America and EU allocation to financial technology initiatives..

(Econotimes.com) 28 December 2016- In a move to advance China as a financial and technology hub, Asia FinTech FOF, a foundation that aims to seek investment opportunities and fuel mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in Asia, was established in Beijing on Tuesday, China Daily reported. (feature photo also courtesy of China Daily)

With funds of 10 billion yuan ($1.44 billion), the foundation is the second fund of funds (FOF) after the Zhongguancun FOF, which is valued at 30 billion yuan. The Zhongguancun FOF was established in 2015 and expected to support acquisitions worth 150 to 200 billion yuan.

The Asia FinTech FOF was initiated by both private and State-owned capital. This includes Hong Kong-listed Credit China Fin Tech Holdings Ltd, Shanghai Xinhua Distribution Group Ltd and Jilin Province Investment Group Corp Ltd.

“Our investment will center on leading companies in the fields of big data, AI, cloud computing, mobile payment, supply chain financing and block chain,” said Sheng Jia, the executive director of Credit China Fin Tech, as quoted by China Daily.

Xie Sha, managing partner of Asia Fintech FOF, said that the fund already has some projects in the pipeline, which includes areas such as big-data driven consumption financing, blockchain infrastructure provision and AI-based credit service platforms.

While fintech has taken the global financial sector by storm, the Asian fintech funding market is spearheading this revolution. In the first half of 2016, the Asian fintech market saw $10 billion of investment far more than North America’s $4.6 billion and Europe’s $1.8 billion.

China, in particular, is in the forefront with policy support also stimulating the growth of country’s fintech market. The State Council in August published the national five-year plan on scientific and technological innovation by 2020, in which of fintech innovation is particularly encouraged.

“Fintech is reshaping the financial business. And this is an opportunity that neither traditional financial institutes nor technology firms want to miss,” said Xie.

steven-chow-prospectus.com
Steven Chow, Chief Strategy Officer, Prospectus.com

According to  Steven Chow,  the Hong Kong-based Director and Chief Strategy Officer for capital formation consultancy Prospectus.com, “Based on the projects that we’ve been engaged to assist throughout both 2015 and 2016, there is no question that that Asia domiciled companies, and particularly China-based start-ups are heavily focused on the fintech space.”  Added Chow, “However cyclical thematic investment trends tend to be, fintech is now justifiably an asset class unto itself. It is more than clear that the powers that be in China understand this, perhaps even better than their counterparts in the US or Europe.”

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To continue reading Asia FinTech Funding Initiative 2x That of US and EU, please visit Econotimes.com via this link

 

blockchain-equities-ats-overstock

What’s Next? A Blockchain-Powered ATS for Equities

“What’s Next? Well, for those familiar with Patrick Byrne, the controversial and innovative founder of Overstock.com, one of the first online retailers to embrace the use of bitcoins, it should not be a surprise that Overstock’s chief honcho would ‘get the joke’ and realize its all about the underlying technology that powers cryptocurrency applications, known as distributed ledger. While bitcoin currency continues to encounter challenges in terms of mass embracement, the real grease that makes the makes the wheels turn is under the hood. With that, Overstock subsidiary “T0” (T-zero) is taking a page from both the industry consortium formed by R3 and the Senahill-backed Symbiont –both of which target institutional capital markets usage–and aiming it’s own sights on retail investors by setting to launch an equities-centric Alternative Trading System aka ATS powered by their own blockchain formula.

A distributed ledger is a consensus of replicated, shared, and synchronized digital data geographically spread across multiple sites, countries, and/or institutions.
A blockchain is a type of distributed ledger, comprised of unchangable, digitally recorded data in packages called blocks.
Rob Daly of MarketsMedia (not related to MarketsMuse) provides the scoop..

Online retailer Overstock.com expects trading to begin on its blockchain-based alternative trading system before the end of the year, according to company officials.

The ATS will be operated by Overstock.com subsidiary TO as part of the company’s Medici Project, and it will only handle trades in the company stock, at least at first. So while it’s not an immediate competitive threat to the existing field of 13 U.S. stock exchanges plus several dozen ATSs, the initiative will be closely watched as a gauge of the potential of distributed-ledger technology in capital markets.

The ATS will write completed trades to its blockchain instead of routing them to the National Securities Clearing Corp., a subsidiary of Depository Trust & Clearing Corp., for clearing.

Overstock.com plans to prime the liquidity on the ATS through a new issue of corporate shares to existing shareholders the day before trading commences on the new trading venue.

judd bagley blockchain ATS
Judd Bagley

T0 officials plan to formally announce its partnership with a broker-dealer on Sept. 12. “For those who want to trade on the ATS, they will have to create an account with the broker-dealer,” said Overstock’s man-in-charge Judd Bagley, who declined to name the brokerage firm.

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Investors will be able to select from multiple “very vanilla” order types, which are still in development, he added. T0 may use a so-called maker-taker rebate model to encourage liquidity, but officials have not made a final decision.

The new trading venue is a mix of internally developed technology and the technology T0 acquired with its purchase of order-routing firm SpeedRoute in October 2015. T0 built its matching engine internally as well as the necessary interfaces to the rest of the U.S. equity marketplace.

The company, in conjunction with Bay-area consultancy PeerNova, also developed a proprietary blockchain architecture for the ATS instead of using Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Ripple.

To continue reading the story from MarketsMedia, please click here

BNP-PARIBAS-FINTECH-BLOCKCHAIN-CROWDFUNDING

BNP Paribas Gets Blockchain for Crowdfunding

(RaiseMoney.com)-French broker-dealer BNP Paribas “gets the joke” when it comes to fintech applications for equity crowdfunding and is embracing blockchain technology to advance their vision.

A subsidiary of BNP Paribas Group has announced a partnership that will find it leveraging blockchain technology to enable private companies to issue securities via equity crowdfunding.Revealed today, the partnership finds BNP Paribas Securities Services, its asset services division, working with investment platform SmartAngels on a pilot the firms said would be launched in the second half of 2016, pending regulatory approval.

In statements, BNP lauded the effort as a “major step” in advancing crowdfunding. The project will see BNP Paribas developing and managing a registry for shares in private companies using the blockchain that in turn will automatically register securities issued by SmartAngels.

Smart Angels will serve as a secondary market for shares registered on the BNP platform, a move the partners said would make it easier for startups and small businesses to access financing.

“Investor payments will be processed immediately and e-certificates will be issued to them straight away. Financial transactions made via the platform will therefore be performed simply, quickly, securely and for a lower cost.”

 

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Philippe Ruault, Head of Clearing, Settlement and Custody Solutions, BNP Paribas Securities Services

Philippe Ruault, head of product for clearing at BNP, emphasized his belief the program would accelerate trading in the private securities market.

“This is a major innovation for the custody and account-keeping of unlisted securities,” he said.

The project is not the first that finds a major financial firm seeking to leverage the blockchain as a way to ease aspects of the private securities process. The effort notably follows Nasdaq Linq, a pilot designed to allow entrepreneurs the ability to issue and manage private shares using a private blockchain system.

For the full story, please click here

blythe-masters-bitcoin-blockchain

Blockchain Babe Blythe Masters in Repo Deal with DTCC

Blythe Masters, the former grand dame of derivatives for investment bank JP Morgan, who after a less-than-glorious exit from her senior role overseeing credit derivatives for House of Morgan and who reinvented herself as a blockchain babe and leads digital ledger startup Digital Asset Holdings, has proven that every cute cat has nine lives. In a press release issued this week, Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. aka DTTC, the industry-owned utility that processes transactions across the multi-$trillion repurchase agreement and government securities markets has entered into an agreement with the startup to test their blockchain application for use within the $2.6tril repo market sleeve so that lenders and borrowers across the often illiquid repo market can have a more efficient tool to track securities and cash flowing between counterparties.

Digital Asset Holdings, for which Masters is Chief Executive Officer, is considered one of the top 3 fintech companies focused on leveraging digital ledger technologies, the basic foundation of the cryptocurrency bitcoin. R3 Blockchain Group, whose investors include a consortium of 42 investment banks and financial service firms and is led by former inter-dealer broker David Rutter, along with Symbiont, the creator of Smart Securities and sponsored by merchant bank SenaHill Partners, are considered to be the other leading players in the space seeking to ‘institutionalize’ the value proposition of the technology that powers bitcoin.blythe-masters-marketsmuse

(WSJ)-Depository Trust & Clearing Corp., a firm at the center of Wall Street’s trading infrastructure, is about to give the technology behind bitcoin a big test: seeing whether it can be used to bolster the $2.6 trillion repo market.

DTCC said in a statement Tuesday that it will begin testing an application of blockchain, the digital ledger originally used to track ownership and payments of the cryptocurrency bitcoin, to help smooth over problems in the crucial but increasingly illiquid corner of short-term lending markets known as repurchase agreements, or “repos.”

Repos play a critical role in the financial system by keeping cash and securities circulating among hedge funds, investment banks and other financial firms.

DTCC, an industry-owned utility that helps settle trades in the repo market and elsewhere, wants to apply blockchain technology to the market, so that lenders and borrowers can keep track of securities and cash flowing between firms in real time.

To test blockchain’s ability to improve repo trading, DTCC has tapped Digital Asset Holdings LLC, a startup run by former J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. executive Blythe Masters. Earlier this year, DTCC invested in the firm focused on blockchain applications, along with a range of banks including J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and others.

 

For the full story from WSJ, please click here

top fintech bankers

Institutional Investor’s Top-Ranked FinTech Bankers Include…

Institutional Investor Magazine has recently announced the world’s top 35 FinTech Bankers, and…

As astutely noted by Institutional Investor Magazine’s Senior Editor Jeffrey Kutler, “The origin of the term “fintech” is difficult to pinpoint; only very recently has it become an accepted label for one of the hottest segments of the technology market. The availability of high-­performance computing and low-cost distribution channels is attracting a steady stream of entrepreneurs with ideas for improving, if not revolutionizing, financial products and processes — and investors are in hot pursuit.”

With that lead in, MarketsMuse curators are happy to excerpt II’s latest ranking report, this one profiling the top fintech bankers and financiers. We extend a special salute and shout out to merchant bank SenaHill Partners, led by securities industry veterans Neil DeSena and Justin Brownhill—whose boutique merchang banking firm is ranked within the top 20 of 35 firms profiled by Institutional Investor’s global survey.

Institutional Investor’s first Fintech Finance 35 ranking turns a spotlight on the financiers who are abetting this flowering of innovation. They include deal makers at various stages of the investment cycle and facilitators of the incubating, mentoring and capital-­raising ecosystems that accelerate promising financial start-ups’ paths to commercialization.

According to one global tally, by consulting firm Accenture, fintech investment tripled in 2014, to $12.2 billion, its growth rate dwarfing the 63 percent for venture capital overall. Research firm CB Insights estimates that fintech’s share of total venture capital activity quadrupled between 2008 and 2014, to 12 percent.

That’s the big picture. Here we present perspectives on the boom through the lenses of some of its leading players. (To account for firms’ partnership structures, a total of 41 individuals are recognized.) Opinions and investment theses vary, as does the approach of a traditional venture fund manager compared with that of a corporate strategic investor. But all share a conviction that fintech is here to stay and an enthusiasm for the work, which neither begins nor ends when checks are issued. Venture capitalists typically meet with hundreds of prospects over the course of a year before making a relatively small handful of bets, and through board seats or other types of advisory relationships they provide ongoing guidance, often drawing from extensive industry experience.

The Fintech Finance 35 ranking was compiled by Institutional Investor editors and staff, with nominations and input from industry participants and experts. The evaluation criteria included individual achievements and leadership at the respective firms, influence in the community at large, and the size, reputation and impact of the respective funds and institutions in the financial technology industry — particularly in the current wave of fintech financing.

The Fintech Finance 35 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, Julie Segal and Aaron Timms; Research Staff Writer Jess Delaney; Senior Contributing Writer Katie Gilbert; Associate Editor Kaitlin Ugolik; and Editor Michael Peltz.

And, coming in at #18… Continue reading

Attention Wall Street BlockHeads: Get Your Bitcoins Here

MarketsMuse fintech update is a “bid on” to prior Wall Street bitcoin initiative coverage, and following is courtesy of excerpt from 4 Aug story by Bloomberg LP reporter Andrew Leising, ” Wall Street, Meet Block 368396, the Future of Finance.”

Justin Brownhill, SenaHill
Justin Brownhill, SenaHill

When Justin Brownhill wants to check up on one of his latest investments through fintech merchant bank SenaHill Partners LP, he only needs to check the ledger unpinning bitcoin. The address: block 368396.

That’s the new digital home for the equity stake his firm made in Symbiont, a startup using bitcoin’s underlying blockchain software to make it quicker and easier to prove ownership of assets or transfer them between buyers and sellers.

Putting its money where its mouth is, Symbiont on Tuesday morning digitized and published several of its equity investments to the blockchain, which drives the bitcoin digital currency. That means the stakes will forever be part of that public record, allowing dividend payments or stock-option conversions to happen automatically.

“I woke up this morning and thought, ‘This is a historic moment,’” Brownhill, a managing partner at New York-based SenaHill, said in an interview after the Symbiont presentation on Tuesday. The merchant bank has investments in over a dozen other private companies. “Our job now is to go and espouse the benefits to all our portfolio companies,” he said.

Wall Street is becoming enamored with the potentially transformational way blockchain could overhaul how derivatives, bonds, loans and other asset classes work, dramatically simplifying the process of tracking ownership and accelerating the transfer of assets from one person to another.

Smart Securities

Symbiont’s innovation is creating what it calls smart securities. The company is now practicing what it preaches: its founders’ stakes as well as shares and options granted to employees have been converted into encrypted code that lives in the bitcoin blockchain — the same ledger where any purchases and sales of the digital currency are recorded. Symbiont customers can do likewise to track changes in ownership interests.

“Today is the day crypto joins Wall Street,” Symbiont Chief Executive Officer Mark Smith said to the room full of investors, bankers and reporters in New York. Representatives of JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and other financial institutions were among the audience members.

Symbiont’s not alone in trying to bring the blockchain to Wall Street. Other firms investigating finance-related uses of blockchain include Digital Asset Holdings LLC, headed by former JPMorgan Chase & Co. banker Blythe Masters; Nasdaq OMX Group Inc.; Ripple Labs; and the New York Stock Exchange.

In June, Symbiont raised $1.25 million from a group of investors including former NYSE chief Duncan Niederauer; former Citadel LLC executive Matt Andresen; two co-founders of high-frequency trading firm Getco LLC, Dan Tierney and Stephen Schuler; and SenaHill.

For the full story from Bloomberg LP, please click here

Frmr NYSE Capo Niederauer Backs Bitcoin-based ‘smart securities’ startup Symbiont

Tech Talk: Bitcoin’s Distributed Ledgers: A FinTech Innovation..

MarketsMuse Trading Technology/FinTech department profiles Wall Street’s rapid embracement of the tools that power Bitcoin with a look at Symbiont, a company that aspires to disrupt the capital markets process.

Distributed ledgers, the technology behind the Bitcoin blockchain, can be used to issue, trade and process an array of financial instruments on a single, global, decentralized peer-to-peer financial network. And guess what, Symbiont, a startup that’s backed by several high-powered Wall Street figures, has established a platform for so-called smart securities, or financial assets that are programmable versions of traditional securities, using the distributed ledger.

Early investors include Duncan Niederauer, former CEO of NYSE Euronext, and Matt Andresen, founder of the Island ECN. “Symbiont is bridging the gap between Wall Street and the emerging blockchain ecosystem,” said Niederauer, managing member of 555 Capital and a member of the Symbiont Board of Directors.”It’s an exciting, timely and much-needed development for the long-term health of the markets.”

Neil DeSena, Senahill Partners
Neil DeSena, Senahill Partners

SenaHill Partners, the recently-established fintech merchant bank led by former Goldman Sachs trading tech honcho Neil DeSena and former Citigroup tech titan Justin Brownhill will serve as Symbiont’s business development agent. “SenaHill Partners is focused on fintech companies, and specifically on assisting a transition from analog-based financial services into technology-based financial services,” Smith said. “All of our access into the Street comes through SenaHill, so SenaHill is an important part of the Symbiont story.” SenaHill Partners also served as merchant bank and deal advisor to Livevol, the provider of equity and index options technology and market data services. During the first week of June, Livevol entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by options exchange CBOE Holdings, Inc.

“The real value of this new technology is in the underlying protocol, the distributed nature of the Bitcoin blockchain, and the immutable nature of its ledger,” says Symbiont CEO Mark Smith. The distributed ledger is “a way to create new securities that could solve some of the problems that existed in the more opaque, less transparent, less liquid markets,” Smith said.

“We have launched Symbiont to create a generic platform that can operate on multiple types of cryptographically protected distributed ledgers to create what we are trade marking Smart Securities,” said Smith. “It’s a digital security that can be programmed with all the terms and conditions of a financial instrument. Once issued on a block chain, it can act autonomously to execute and extract terms and corporate actions without any human intervention.”

MarketsMuse sends a shout-out and thumbs up to June 18 reporting of this story by MarketsMedia.com