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Op-Ed: Broker-Dealers Leading the STO Market

As we move out of the era of ICOs and into a new era of digital securities, sometimes referred to as “Security Token Offerings (STOs),” issuance platforms and other technical solutions for tokenization tend to receive the most attention. A successful and compliant fundraise, however, depends upon a number of regulated service providers, one of the most important of which is an experienced broker-dealer (BD).

After soliciting feedback from 50-plus industry players, we’ve compiled below some of the current movers and shakers in the space.

Entoro

Based in Houston, Texas, under the leadership of James Row, Entoro has established itself as a leader in the digital securities space, most recently leading the Lottery.com and Soluna Power STOs. Although Entoro has a team working across industries, its core experience lies in the energy sector, in the Texan homeland of oil and gas. Entoro is working toward offering a vertically integrated BD service complete with a technical solutions and an ATS.

Fintech Global Markets

FinTech Global Markets has added Maco.la to its team, which already includes FinTech Clearing and is an affiliate of Boustead Securities. Both FinTech and Boustead had been exploring blockchain technology and how to integrate it into back-office functions before token sales ever caught on. The firm is currently leading the InfluenceMine token sale. As a market leader in conventional Reg A+ offerings, it has also played a role in many of the tokenized Reg A+ offerings that are coming to market. Maco.la is an asset management and advisory firm that holds investments in many promising blockchain infrastructure companies, including Silvergate Bank.

Atomic Capital

Based in New York and led by Alexander S. Blum, Atomic made waves by running its own capital raise on its own in-house security token issuance platform. This makes Atomic one of the few BDs on this list that has seen the process from the perspective of an issuer. Atomic offers three tailored levels of service, including advisory services, its in-house issuance platform and compliance protocol (the Atomic Digital Securities Standard) and targeted capital raise support, making it a one-stop shop for tokenized offerings. Atomic requires a fundraise minimum of $10 million and focuses on the software, physical infrastructure and life sciences sectors.

Exemplar

Headquartered in Boston, with offices in New York, Chicago, San Jose and Los Angeles, Exemplar is led by Chris Marston and offers a comprehensive suite of services under its corporate brand. Its BD provides compliance and back-office support to the Cointopia platform, and it has been involved in token sales such as KODAKOne, GoCoin and Current Media. Exemplar’s sister companies can also provide legal, tax and business strategy services.

Propellr

Operating out of New York and led by Todd Lippiatt, Propellr was one of the first real estate-focused BDs to enter the tokenized arena. As the BD behind Fluidity, an AirSwap project, Propellr announced its presence with the release of the “Two-Token Waterfall,” an innovative representation of the real estate capital stack in tokenized form. Propellr applied the Two-Token Waterfall structure to its first deal, a tokenization of two NYC properties called “Thirteen East + West.” Propellr is also the BD behind Aristone Capital, a traditional real estate finance investment fund.

Cuttone & Co.

Based in New York, New York, and led by Keith Bliss, Cuttone is a much more traditional player with a deep relationship with the New York Stock Exchange. Until recently, its major focus has been on traditional IPOs, but it appears that, after making a small investment into t0, it caught the digital securities bug and has a few offerings in the works.

ConsenSys Digital Securities

Based in Brooklyn and currently in stealth mode, this is the newest division of the Ethereum startup accelerator ConsenSys, and it aims to be the STO version of Token Foundry. With its network of East Coast investors and recent investment into North Capital, this team might just pull it off.

North Capital

If you’re looking for a well-rounded BD with extensive experience in the blockchain industry, it’s hard to beat North Capital. Led by Jim Dowd and based in Salt Lake City, the firm has a footprint in the California Bay Area and McAllen, Texas. North Capital provided escrow and compliance support on the first-ever security token deal, BCAP, for Blockchain Capital. The firm has also provided capital placement services for the Science Blockchain and Protos security token sales. With over $670 million raised across 750 deals, North Capital brings serious firepower to the table, and it continues to provide escrow services to STOs in partnership with Securitize.

Influential Capital

Based in Las Vegas and led by Jaron Lukasiewicz, Influential Capital focuses its fundraising efforts on Series B and later-stage technology startups who have already established product market fit, and it seeks to partner with established venture capital firms in the STOs.

US Capital Partners

Based in San Francisco, US Capital is no stranger to small-cap technology deals. The team has a seasoned reputation and countrywide footprint. Entering the digital securities landscape as the BD for CityBlock and Ambisafe, it may be the perfect partner for digital tech-focused raises under $20 million.

Canaccord Genuity

This Canadian player with a U.S. presence is considered a top-tier investment bank for emerging market deals. This is most evident through its advisory and fundraising work in metals and mining, cannabis and crypto mining. Notable deals include Coinsquare, HyperBlock and Ether Capital.

Triad Securities

Triad is an old-school, family-run BD based in New York. Scott Daspin leads the blockchain practice at Triad, where it has conducted half a dozen conventional raises for blockchain startups in process. Its powerful network is behind many of the biggest deals in the blockchain industry, including the relationship between North Capital and ConsenSys Digital Securities. Although Triad doesn’t lead tokenized capital raises, it is a valuable syndicate partner and can provide additional capital firepower to any BD team.

GMP

Based in Toronto and led by Harris Fricker, GMP is no stranger to raising money for blockchain-focused companies and funds. The firm works on both private and public placements and has impressively led distribution for Galaxy Digital LP, Ether Capital, Hive Blockchain Technologies and HutEight.

Satis Group

Based in San Francisco and led by CEO and attorney Emma Channing, Satis team members are veteran STO advisors. The team has worked on some of the earliest issuances in the space including Blockchain Capital (BCAP), Science Blockchain and OpenFinance Network. Through a recent partnership with INTE Securities, this firm has joined the broker-dealer ranks and is a great partner for issuances looking for a more full-service touch.

EEA Launches 'Token Taxonomy Initiative'

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance has announced a "Token Taxonomy Initiative" to develop universal definitions for tokens to encourage their interchangeability across blockchain platforms. Members of the initiative include Microsoft, R3, ConsenSys, IBM, EY, Accenture and Intel.

Gemini Adds Support for SegWit

Source: Gemini

Gemini Trust, a New York-based cryptocurrency exchange, has announced support for Segregated Witness (SegWit) addresses and transaction batching. As a result, customers can now use SegWit addresses for bitcoin deposits and withdrawals, ideally improving processing times and lowering bitcoin withdrawal fees.

Nestlé and Carrefour to Share Product Data With Consumers Via Blockchain

Source: Nestlé

Food producer Nestlé and retailer Carrefour will equip the packaging of a French instant mashed potato product with a QR code that provides blockchain-based data about its origins to consumers. The pilot was developed in conjunction with IBM Food Trust.

IMF and World Bank Launch 'Learning Coin'

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have launched a permissioned blockchain-based "educational" digital token called Learning Coin. The token is inaccessible to the public and has no monetary value, but was developed to help agency staff becomes familiar with the principles behind distributed ledgers and cryptocurrencies.