Tag Archives: prospectus.com

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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cryptocurrency bank license

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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SEC Subpoena Smackdown: ICO Issuers & Enablers Get Pinned

An SEC subpoena is not exactly what any Issuer (or stock promoter) puts on the top of their birthday wish list. And, for crypto cool kids who are either already a member of the ICO Issuers Club, or who have applied to become part of the dapper dapp crowd that is floating digital coin or digital token offerings, its time to make sure that you have set aside real cash (or crypto-currency) for defense counsel fluent in engaging with the SEC.

According to multiple news outlets, the top US securities regulator has launched a series of cluster bombs in the form of SEC subpoena aimed at ICO Issuers and respective enablers. Included in the SEC’s ‘outreach” are  ‘consultants, advisors, promoters, and other actors who have played a role in helping blocktech start-up companies raise what industry experts believe to be billions of dollars through initial coin offerings. Of that figure, forensic investigators believe at least $200 million raised by several dozen ICO companies during the past year  has “gone south.”

As noted by investor document preparation firm Prospectus.com, “According to multiple news outlets, in recent weeks the SEC has sent subpoenas to dozens of blocktech companies and individuals who are involved in cryptocurrency, including crypto crowd thought-leader Patrick Byrne, the founder of Overstock.com and his company’s cryptocurrency-focused subsidiary, tZero. When Overstock announced in early November they would be launching an ICO, the company’s shares skyrocketed from the the mid $20’s to nearly $90 per share in a manner of days. When it was revealed this week that Overstock (NASDAQ:OSTK) was one of multiple companies that have received SEC subpoenas, its share price plunged 20% in two days.

“ICO Issuers are compelled to understand the term “Caveat Venditor”, lest they be moved to the top of the SEC’s ICO Subpoenas list.”

The targets of the initial coin offering crackdown subpoenas include potential SEC enforcement actions against companies that have launched ICOs, the cryptocurrency equivalent of IPOs, as well as their lawyers and advisers. The subpoenas reportedly include requests for information on how ICO sales and pre-sales are structured, according to anonymous sources to WSJ. The SEC is also requesting the identities of the investors who bought digital tokens, The New York Times found. The SEC declined to comment.

caveat-venditor-ico-issuersPeter Berkman, a Florida-based securities attorney and US Federal Bar Association member who also advises investor document preparation firm Prospectus.com, stated “Nobody should be ‘shocked’ that regulators are stepping up their scrutiny of ICOs given that many have the characteristics straight out of “Boiler Room 4.0.” There’s a cadre of bad actors and so-called promoters who are preying on the naivete of start-up entrepreneurs as well as the greed profile of unsophisticated investors,” stated Berkman.

There are steps that ICO issuers can take to stay inside the regulatory goal posts, or at very least, under the radar given that SEC rules for ICOs remain in the ‘forming stage. Attorney Berkman advocates ICO Issuers should be compelled to understand the term “Caveat Venditor”, unless they want to be moved to the top of the SEC’s ICO Subpoenas list. Prospectus.com thought-leaders were arguably early to opine that among other ICO compliance guidelines to follow, accredited investor guidelines should be embraced by ICO issuers. The firm has provided multiple crypto cool kids and start-up entrepreneurs with a best practice approach to raising capital in the course of advancing  digital token and digital coin offerings.

To continue reading via blog post at Prospectus.com, click here

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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.

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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

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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:

simon-dixon-banktothefuture
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 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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Canada Stock Exchanges Weigh Walk-Back re Cannabis Share Listings

Canada stock exchange regulators appear to be suffering from a pot-hangover, as exchange execs and regulators re-visit criteria for cannabis share listings. Its a high-flying industry for sure; 69 publicly-traded cannabis companies with aggregate market cap of USD $6.4bil have their shares listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, the smaller TSX Venture Exchange and the Canadian Securities Exchange. According to private placement specialist firm Prospectus.com, during the most recent 2-3 years, upwards of 300 ‘established entities’ have advanced private placement offerings that have raised nearly $1bil from private equity firms, venture capital shops and other sophisticated investors. When considering that North American sales of legal cannabis, which generated $6.7 bil in 2016  is growing at a rate of 30% YoY, its no surprise that cannabis entrepreneurs and their investors are stoking for public share listings, an avenue that provides a publicly-traded currency for them to expand and acquire others, and enables investors to benefit from greater liquidity of their holdings. That said, according to senior attorneys at Phoenix OTC Services,  “Cannabis share listings are certainly being sought by a broad spectrum of private companies, but Canada stock exchanges, which host the majority of public cannabis companies, appear to be suffering from a “pot hangover” as senior exchange executives and Canadian regulators are now weighing a walk-back on listing criteria to address fears these companies could be violating US securities laws.”

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Horizons Medical Marijuana Life Sciences ETF

While some ETF industry players continue to plot courses behind the scenes to follow the path of TSE-listed Horizons Medical Marijuana Life Sciences ETF (TSE: HMMJ) in an effort to create their own cannabis-flavored exchange-traded funds, some cannabis industry legal experts are bracing for Canadian securities regulators to try and “put the genie back in the bowl” and possibly de-list companies that are viewed to be running afoul of US laws.

According to 14 Sept story in the WSJ,  the parent company of the Toronto Stock Exchange and an umbrella organization of Canadian securities regulators are looking at cannabis companies with U.S. operations—including growers, medical-marijuana distributors and pharmaceutical firms whose products include marijuana ingredients—to determine whether trading in their shares should be allowed to continue on Canadian exchanges.

The regulatory attention comes as the Toronto Stock Exchange and its smaller rival, the Canadian Securities Exchange, have been actively courting marijuana company listings from around the world. At present, roughly half the trading activity on the Canadian Securities Exchange is sourced from marijuana-based businesses, a high-growth sector that is expected to become a $50 bil global industry within the next 7-10 years. (Source: WSJ)

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Nasdaq Bets on Blank-Check Co. IPOs To Boost Listings; SPACs are Sizzling

Competition for listings is a contact sport in the world of major stock exchanges as evidenced by the assortment of US bourses vying to increase market share in exchange-traded fund (ETFs), which represent nearly 2000 securities or more than half of all equities listed on major US stock exchanges.  While the NYSE has long been the place-to-list for issuers of ETFs, Nasdaq has proven to have sharp elbows in not only soliciting ETF issuers (with BATS taking a distant third), Nasdaq now has another card up its sleeve-the exchange operator is aiming at another listing product known as blank-check companies and is aggressively biting at the heels of Intercontinental Exchange Inc.’s NYSE, which has carved out a niche in the listing of these companies, more formally known as Special Purpose Acquisition Companies aka SPACs ™. In an effort to grab market share in this product away from NYSE and boost IPO listings (and hence more fees from Issuers and more revenue from distributing market data) Nasdaq recently filed proposed new rule changes with the SEC that will make it easier for SPACs ™ to list on that platform.

According to reporting by Alexander Osipovich of the WSJ, 22 blank-check companies have floated IPOs so far this year, raising nearly $7bil.

Special Purpose Acquisition Vehicles are shell companies that raise funds via a public offering whereby the proceeds are managed by a pre-selected team of industry-specific executives who receive an equity stake in the shell and are charged with acquiring an existing private company or in some cases, several private companies and roll those companies into the existing publicly-traded entity. In the event an acquisition cannot be identified and approved by an overwhelming majority of the shareholders within [typically] 24 months of the IPO, 95% of the funds raised are returned to the shareholders.

The investment vehicle construct was first created in the 1970’s, but soon fell out favor after regulators uncovered widespread abuse by operators of  blank check company managers, which led to multiple cases of securities fraud charges against many different firms.  The blank check model was later refined in the early 1990’s by GKN Securities, whose principals created a much tighter construct and trademarked the SPAC™ acronym. GKN successor firm boutique investment bank Early Bird Capital since carried the torch of its predecessor; during the past ten years, Early Bird has underwritten and/or co-managed nearly 75 SPAC™ IPOs that have raised over $4bil.

Early Bird’s early success has not gone unnoticed by leading Wall Street firms; 6-pack investment banks Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and Deutsche Bank among others have crowded into the space that Early Bird Capital forged. In 2017 alone, SPACs™ have raised nearly $4bil for an assortment of acquisition-minded firms.

According to Paul Azous, CEO of Prospectus.com, a consultancy that assists companies throughout the course of preparing investor offering documentation and via a captive network of securities attorneys, the firm also advises companies seeking to list on stock exchanges, “The blank-check concept is in vogue once again, and we’re working with at least two clients who have targeted specific industries that are seemingly ripe for roll-up.” Added Azous, “With Nasdaq easing the listing burdens, strategy of creating a public shell that can with reasonable ease, roll a private company into that publicly-listed entity should provide a good shot-in-the-arm to IPO activity, which has experienced fits and starts in each of the last several years.”

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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equity markets-you'll know it when

You Know The Equities Markets Will Move Lower When…

If you’ve been a professional trader for ‘more than 15 minutes’ (i.e. years, if not decades), you know the equities markets will move lower when (a) complacency prevails, a sense of calm is seemingly endless and equity market indices quietly creep higher and higher or (b), business news front page stories profile ‘amateur day traders’ who are minting millions of dollars by betting against volatility, and ‘selling short’ the risk of increased volatility by using VIX-centric products to capitalize on the complacent nature of markets. If this were a high school history class (or an advanced math lesson titled “revert to the mean”), the correct answer to above would be both (a) and (b). That said, professional traders who have ‘seen it all’ and are programmed to take a contrarian stand –in this case, by betting against complacency- have been suffering for months, both intellectually and P&L wise.

But when the front page of the NYT business section profiles home grown trading wizards, including a twenty-something former store manager at Target Corp who quit his day job to become a day trader, and has since made as much as 20x his prior annual income (and accumulated an eight-figure nest egg) “simply” by selling short new-fangled “VIX-flavored” financial instruments-those that measure market volatility, its no surprise that a shoe will drop and hit those folks in the head quickly and decisively. Not to suggest that MarketsMuse curators were shocked this morning when, after finishing their read of the aforementioned NYT story, US equity markets sold off by nearly 1% in early Tuesday trading. The question becomes, why is today different than other day within the context of the past 9 months, when equity market sell-offs have had a shorter shelf life than a freshly made souffle?

Out of every crisis comes opportunity, and Hurricane Harvey portends to provide a re-building boon for those areas in Texas that have been tormented by one of the country’s greatest natural disasters. Prospectus.com provides a full menu of feasibility study services for entrepreneurs who will be working to make Houston, Austin and surrounding areas great again.

US Equities, along with a discrete universe of non-US equity markets have been in a north bound trajectory for multiple months, despite ever-increasing geopolitical concerns and crises that have not merely seemingly right-minded global macro investment strategies, but have confounded highly-trained portfolio managers focused on equities markets and nearly every other asset class. Existential threats to the equities markets are served for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, and include but are not limited to North Korean missile launches, catastrophic environmental events (e.g Hurricane Harvey), terror-wreaking incidents advanced by a faction of fools who have hijacked the Islamic faith and actually believe that after blowing themselves up, they will spend eternity with 7000 virgins as a reward, and of course, the chaos-inducing cackle that comes straight out of the mouth of the current US President–aka He-Who-Must-Not-Be Named further as it will only enhance his ‘ratings’.

Who do you call to distill whether equities markets are actually poised to ‘revert to the mean’ after achieving 20% gains in less than 12 months? MarketsMuse curators who connect with top gun traders and investment managers (and have collectively spent multiple decades working in/around trading desks on both sides of the aisle) have a default go-to investing guru. Will our favorite top gun, who advances a uniquely RareView have all of the right answers all of the time? Most likely not, but its better to be right more often than wrong, and better still to achieve solid performance on a consistent basis vs. flying blindly with the notion ‘keep calm and carry on’ , especially when that approach inevitably leads to undesirable outcomes..

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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Fortune CEOs Take Unequivocal Stand; This BD Bids On

Taking a Unequivocal Stand is Easier for Fortune CEOs than for POTUS–so it seems. Fortune 500 CEOs who have taken exception to erratic and equivocal statements made by the current sitting president of the United States have been systematically subjected to ‘assault by Twitter’ by the country’s CEO-in-Chief. In turn, their company’s share prices have suffered from sell-offs, as investors fear the “wrath of Trump” will extend to federal government actions intended to harm those companies who have failed to heed Mr. Trump’s so-called “lectures.” Attacks and Counter-Attacks via Twitter has become a contact sport, all thanks to “POTUS.”

Within the context of Wall Street firms, “un-biased and conflict-free” are two phrases that agency-only broker-dealers advance on a continuous basis. These phrases connote their conforming to a fiduciary posture that is intended to protect the interests of their client above all else. When it comes to political discourse, most broker-dealers are loathe to insert themselves in a political fracas, yet other BDs are run by folks whose moral compass overrides their need to keep quiet, regardless of the risk that a regulatory agency such as the SEC or FTC (overseen by Congress) will , at the urging of Mr. Trump, exact some type of revenge for challenging the current president. Courtesy of BrokerDealer.com Editorial Section, MarketsMuse editors join those who are taking the high road, and in that effort, we’re re-distributing a piece that profiles a unique broker-dealer’s viewpoint expressed via trading desk commentary and distributed to their Fortune treasury clients and the leading Wall Street ‘book-runners’. We’ll defer to our readers to click on links leading back to the minority broker-dealer in question. Hint-the firm is the oldest minority broker-dealer owned/operated by Service-Disabled Veterans.

A Special Editorial from BrokerDealer.com: Most Fortune CEOs, as well as leaders of Investment Banks and Broker-Dealers (aka BD) are typically loathe to take a political stand. For the former, making pronouncements that will raise the ire of the current president are likely to be met by “injury by twitter,” or worse still, federal agency scrutiny of the company, which could prove devastating for public company shareholders. For the universe of corporate leaders with a conscience and also recognized thought-leaders, only a few have yet to prove unequivocal when reacting to the equivocal comment made by President Trump when framing his first view of what US Attorney General Sessions labeled as a”domestic terror event.” We’re referring to the white supremacist rally that led to 3 deaths and multiple injuries in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend.

For investment banks and broker-dealers, let’s face it-politics and business mix best with each other when done over cocktails or discrete ‘off-site’ meetings to discuss new capital market initiatives, deal issuance and/or asset management mandates. After all, most traditional broker-dealers eschew taking a political stand that opposes the federal government administration, simply out of fear that the long lips of the current WH CEO will whisper to administration-appointed SEC bureaucrats with a message akin to ‘the right industry regulator might want to make this [firm] go away..” Most, but not all is the catchphrase that compels a re-distribution of a capital markets desk commentary that focuses on fixed income markets and along with a smidgen of geopolitical observations and delivered to a captive group of leading Fortune 500 corporate treasurers, as well as a select group of sell-side syndicate desk ‘book-runners’.

Sponsored by Prospectus.com. Our 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

Here’s the extract of the day’s piece, titled “Risk On, Risk Off, US-NOKO Tensions Subside; Ugly Heads of Racism Take Top Headline…”

Investment Grade Corporate Debt New Issue Re-Cap – A View About Charlottesville and the Aftermath

Risk was clearly back on in the financial markets today, as U.S./NOKO tensions fell to the wayside.  Unfortunately prejudice and racism reared their ugly heads in the Charlottesville, Virginia riot over the weekend.  On Monday, Fortune 500 thought leaders Ken Frazier, CEO of Merck & C0., Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, and Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour each took a stand by protesting the ‘equivocal’ comments made by President Trump in his first response to the domestic terrorism acts in Charlottesville, which were advanced by self-proclaimed alt-right and white supremacist neo-Nazis.  Mischler Financial Group  stands with every corporate executive (and every duly-elected or duly-appointed government official) who stays true to genuinely right-minded beliefs and applauds their respective organization’s dedication to doing right by doing good. In case you missed the memo, many of America’s Fortune corporations adhere to this same notion and advance their commitment via proactive Diversity & Inclusion initiatives.

 

For those corporate executives who may have spent all of their undergrad time in finance and accounting classes, and for those who are perhaps not as familiar as they could be i.e. American History (let’s not forget to mention world history, too!), racism and bigotry are diseases that spew hatefulness and cannot be allowed in a free and democratic society. The incendiary and incite-full actions for which the various white supremacist and KKK groups are notorious for, are NOT protected by “First Amendment rights.* These are cancers that cannot be discounted or condoned via equivocal platitudes; simple right-mindedness demands they be eradicated.

(*Think Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr i.e. Schenck v United States and also re-visit Brandenburg v. Ohio)

 

To the above point, one need only re-read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to appreciate that D&I is part and parcel to our country’s DNA. It is also part of the cultural foundation of many Fortune 500 corporations, including Intel, including Merck, including Under Armour and including many others! D&I infers respect for and appreciation of differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion. But it’s more than this. We all bring with us diverse perspectives, work experiences, life styles and cultures and we presumably all share a disdain for anyone and any group that attempts to dismantle, disrupt and or destroy. Kudos to Mssrs. Frazier, Krzanich and Plank for putting themselves in harm’s way and risk of “injury by Twitter” for being true leaders and staying true to their convictions and their constituents.

 

Kudos also to the many Fortune executives who have raised their own voices to advocate on behalf of right mindedness, and to those corporate executives such as Jamie Dimon, CEO of Citigroup, who have opted not to resign their volunteer roles serving on “Presidential Councils” in protest to seemingly wrong-headed rhetoric. One can hope they have chosen to remain in their roles so that they can be that much more proactive in their WH-appointed roles and/or similar presidential councils in which they serve as volunteers. These are jobs these business leaders have [presumably] accepted to better the country, not to help advance any political platform or political agenda. How the US Secretary of the Treasury or the Director of the National Economic Council can square the so-called ‘equivocal’ views expressed by the CEO-In-Chief vs. their own cultural beliefs will likely be subject to ongoing self-reflection, external speculation and spirited debate. These are smart folks and optimism demands these administration officials be given the benefit of the doubt, just as it is incumbent on any/every corporate leader to serve as role models for employees, customers and clients; just as right-minded parents do for their own children.

 

Today’s VIX closed 3 bps tighter versus Friday’s close. Also a reminder that tomorrow is August 15th – “mid-August” – that’s when North Korea’s illustrious “bad boy” proclaimed that he’d have his master plan ready to bomb Guam developed by.  One week from today on Monday, August 21st begin joint U.S-South Korean military exercises referred to as Ulchi-Freedom Guardian. The exercise began in our Bicentennial year of 1976. North Korea has annually perceived the joint exercise as “preparation for war.” It is the world’s largest computerized command control implementation. Up to 80,000 American and South Korean troops have participated in this exercise in the recent past.  The game will go on for two weeks before concluding on Thursday August 31st.  Enjoy the show Mr. Jong-Un. You’ll have front row seats though I recommend binoculars. Here’s lookin’ at you kid!  To continue reading the day’s debt market commentary, click here

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Put this Cannabis Fund in Your ETF Pipe

Cannabis cures all kinds of ailments (so they say..), but whether the plant-based elixir is framed as ‘medical marijuana’ or “recreational marijuana”, investing in a nascent stage, a fast growing enterprise, or even a cannabis fund that capitalizes on pot companies can be problematic, particularly via US exchanges. So, to borrow a phrase from Horace Greeley, MarketsMuse exchange-traded fund curators say “Go North, Investors, Go North!” Pass “GO” and head straight to Canada’s Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE), where you can imbibe on Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences ETF (HMMJ.TO).

With $120 million in AUM, Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences ETF  is the first exchange traded fund in North America that focuses on the legal marijuana market.  Launched in April on the TSE, it has no U.S. competitors,  as federal law prohibits the drug, making it difficult to set up a cannabis fund or a marijuana etf that includes companies that grow and/or legally distribute wacky weed or derivative products.

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Steve Hawkins, Horizons ETF

As noted by Reuters’ David Randall in his Aug 7 profile of HMMJ and interview with Steve Hawkins, Horizons ETF co-CEO and the Issuer behind HMMJ, “Canada, is gearing up to legalize recreational use of cannabis by July 2018, and that legislation is expected to bolster investment opportunities in an industry that will be catering to 20 million+ Canadian adults aged 20-65.”

So, aside from the direct constituents of the companies that cater to the cannabis trade, the natural question is, what are the constituents of this so-called cannabis fund aka Marijuana ETF? Notes Reuters, “With positions including marijuana grower Aurora Cannabis Inc (ACB.TO), medical marijuana companies such as GW Pharmaceuticals Plc (GWPRF.PK), and fertilizer company Scotts Miracle-Gro Co (SMG.N), the fund attempts to capture the full extent of the Canadian marijuana industry, which Deloitte expects could grow to $22.6 billion if the recent bill to legalize recreational use is successful.  Scotts Miracle-Gro is a part of it because they have been extremely public about their investment in the growth of the marijuana industry going forward with respect to hydroponics and specialized fertilizer. Then there are biopharm companies which are not specifically marijuana growers or distributors but are involved directly or indirectly in a derivative.”

According to Israel Frenkel, a securities attorney for private placement and IPO documentation firm Prospectus.com, “We’re administering investor offering documents for several US-based start-ups right now, and at least one of those companies, which is positioned as a combination real estate play and  equipment leasing company would ostensibly be a candidate for HMMJ. Added Frenkel, “Arguably, there are potentially several dozen start-ups in the cannabis space that offer intriguing opportunities for public market investors, but only when the US Federal Govt gets its house in order and accepts the notion that Volstead Act didn’t stymie the spirits industry, it merely inspired a whole set of work-arounds that left out paying taxes to the US Treasury. ”

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

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CFTC Approves LedgerX Exchange to Facilitate Bitcoin Options Trading

What’s Next for Option Markets? A CFTC regulated platform for bitcoin options; NY-based firm gets approval to trade puts and calls on cryptocurrency.

For bitcoin aficionados, the road to legitimacy has been pockmarked with obstacles and detractors, including those who have insisted that bitcoins are the currency of money launders, drug dealers and illegal arms dealers, as well as those who believe ‘bitcoin is a massive Ponzi Scheme’. In the meanwhile, the price of a bitcoin has increased exponentially in the last 12 months alone and has vaulted past the price of gold–which has historically been the back-up currency of choice for those hedging fiat currencies of sovereign governments.  But, innovation and disruption knows no barrier or limits, demonstrated by fact the US CFTC has put its impromptu er on New York-based LedgerX, which will be the first regulated platform to trade options contracts on cryptocurrency.

Per CNBC coverage–The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced Monday it unanimously approved digital currency-trading platform LedgerX for clearing derivatives. LedgerX initially plans to clear bitcoin options, the release said.

“A U.S. federally-regulated venue for derivative contracts settling in digital currencies opens the market to a much larger customer base,” Paul L. Chou, LedgerX CEO, said in a separate release from the trading firm.

“We are seeing strong demand from institutions that previously could not participate in the bitcoin market due to compliance restrictions against unregulated venues,” Chou said, noting a desire for assets that aren’t correlated with the broader stock market.

The firm plans to launch bitcoin options in early fall, and ethereum options “within a few months,” Chou told CNBC in a phone interview. That will mark the first federally supervised options venue for bitcoin.

LedgerX received an order of registration as a Swap Execution Facility on July 6.

The firm primarily operates in New York and said in May it raised $11.4 million in a Series B round of financing led by Miami International Holdings and Huiyin Blockchain Venture Investments.

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 CFTC noted that its Division of Clearing and Risk also issued Monday a letter “exempting LedgerX from complying with certain Commission regulations due to LedgerX’s fully-collateralized clearing model.”

Chou said the exemption was due to LedgerX’s plan to “not allow very leveraged trading.”

The authorization “does not constitute or imply a Commission endorsement of the use of digital currency generally, or bitcoin specifically,” the CFTC said in a release.

Bitcoin traded Monday afternoon about two-thirds of a percent higher, near $2,780, while ethereum traded about half a percent lower, near $225, according to CoinDesk.

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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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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Finance Industry Vet Behind Non-Profit Borders.Org

Business Plans Without Borders aka Borders.org is a novel non-profit intended to provide wind in the sail for startups launched by immigrants, refugees and under-served inner-city entrepreneurs.  Created by long-time finance industry veteran Paul Azous, the altruistic initiative defies current political in-sensibilities and embraces the simple notion that small businesses are the lifeblood of a vibrant economy.

The spirited debate surrounding immigrants vs. legal immigrants, nationalism vs. populism and let’s not forget the philosophy embraced by White House Svengali Steve Bannon’s  and his leaning to  ‘traditionalism*’, MarketsMuse Curators were inspired to spotlight a news story profiling what is perhaps an easy idea to digest:  it’s all about altruism, or at least that is the thesis being advanced by a long time finance industry consultant who has accrued more domestic and international frequent flier miles than most.

Finance industry veteran Paul Azous, a Seattle-based self-made entrepreneur who is often referred to by polls across the private placement industry for being a  “Top 40 Under 40” has a view that both sides of the aisle should embrace when it comes to putting the wind in the sails of folks who aspire to achieve the American Dream. The thesis that drives the non-profit “Business Plans Without Borders”  is simple: “..if those with passion, focus and entrepreneurial aspirations who want to do good for themselves and their communities lack the compass that can point them to the on ramp are not embraced and given a lift by those who understand the obstacles faced by [legal] immigrants,  refugees and the under-served from within our very own borders, who can we support?!”

Per below news release, Azous and his wife launched the non-profit in Q4 2016 with the goal of providing business plan preparation, mentoring as well as awarding startup grant funding to inner-city entrepreneurs as well as incoming immigrants and refugees who are able to meet merit-based criteria and applicant requests are reviewed by a volunteer Advisory Board comprised of start-up gurus and thought leaders from across various industries. Azous is looking to aggressively add to the advisory network whose members not only review applicants, those advisors are also committing to match grants extended by the non-profit.

SEATTLE, Feb. 15, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Serial entrepreneur and veteran business plan advisor Paul Azous announced that he has recently launched a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting the most vulnerable in society with their business startup needs. The organization, Business Plans Without Borders  assists refugee, immigrant, and inner-city, low income aspiring entrepreneurs with business plan writing assistance in the form of business writing collaboration, the allocation of grants and facilitating networking opportunities with seasoned industry professionals. Aspiring entrepreneurs who qualify for assistance can apply directly via the organization’s website, www.borders.org . Grants are awarded based on merit.

Paul Azous is an 18 year finance industry veteran and Founder/CEO of Prospectus.com, a global consulting firm that assists startups and later stage private and public companies with a broad range of professional services, from business plan and prospectus writing to initial public offering and stock exchange listings.  During the past 15 years, Paul and his firm have guided scores of companies across multiple industries and geographic regions in helping to launch start-up and fast-growth businesses. His primary focus has been on developing business plan summaries, financial and business models, conducting company valuations and assisting with debt or equity offerings. Through a global consultancy framework, Azous has been credited with fast-tracking nearly 5,000 companies in over 50 countries with their business planning and investor documentation needs.

“Creating Borders.org has been a goal of my wife, Tamar and myself for several years, as we’ve always been determined to mentor and back aspiring entrepreneurs who have not had the benefit of a support system,” says Azous. “With Tamar’s background in micro finance and her own “momtrepreneur” experience, coupled with my background, Borders was just a matter of time.”

Entrepreneurs within Border.org’s target demographic typically lack the resources necessary to launch a successful business, even if the business fills a market need. This leaves them unable to raise sufficient funding to adequately develop and market their products or services and consequently, those initiatives are short-lived. Borders.org assists with the most important document that a business owner or entrepreneur must have: the business plan. A business plan enables entrepreneurs to build a roadmap for their company, and is a necessary component to raise capital from qualified investors and/or lending institutions. Borders.org guides entrepreneurs through the strategic business planning process and links them with a wide network of volunteer industry professionals who provide free business startup services, including legal work, accounting, and marketing.

About Borders.org

Business Plans Without Borders aka Borders.org – is a 501(c)(3) non–profit organization. The organization was created to assist low income, refugee and immigrant entrepreneurs with writing and developing their business plans. Borders.org staff works one-on-one with aspiring entrepreneurs, helping them formulate, structure and develop cohesive business models, provides merit-based grants to awardees and networking opportunities with accomplished mentors who can bridge the gap between a strong idea and successful implementation. 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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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.

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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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