With Google I/O, Ira Sohn, and SALT Conference underway, major conferences are capturing the attention of financial media this month. Beginning this Friday, traditional equity conferences will pass the baton to digital securities at the opening ceremony of Ethereal Summit, the de facto launch of New York City’s Blockchain Week.
Thousands of attendees will converge on Manhattan from May 10-17 for the U.S. crypto industry’s most newsworthy week. Comprising a series of events including Digital Asset Summit, Token Summit, and City Blockchain Summit, Blockchain Week is anchored by the headline event at the Hilton Midtown, Consensus, which last year drew 8,000 attendees.
Giving us a sense of the pre-launch energy that is building into next week, digital securities in particular have already secured major headlines.
Arch Real Estate Holdings publicly announced this month a partnership with Polymath, a security token issuance platform. Arch Real Estate Holdings is a private real estate holding company. As they enter this new partnership, the two projects aim “to use blockchain technology in a traditionally proven market to provide access to offerings on a global scale.”
Overstock (NASDAQ:OSTK) circulated a letter to its shareholders this month. Overstock intends to reissue its Series A Preferred Shares for migration to tZero’s securities token trading platform. Because the Series A Preferred Shares (OTC:OSTKP) are already traded on the OTC Markets, Overstock is requesting shareholder approval for the share swap onto tZero’s platform.
Overstock Founder and tZero Chairman Patrick Byrne is one of the leading proponents of asset-backed digital securities. Byrne claims to have titled 50,000 residences in Zambia using a blockchain-based land governance service, one of the largest digital asset securitizations in history, with government approval for another 300,000 residences.
Also last week, Swarm announced that it would bring its asset tokenization technology to the TRON (TRX) blockchain. In an effort to accelerate the process of tokenization, Swarm said they partnered with TRON in order to allow their customers to complete transactions with “faster speeds and fewer fees.”
The most important headline leading into Blockchain Week was the announcement from Bitfinex and Tether that they would seek to conduct the world’s largest Initial Exchange Offering (IEO) of $1 billion. Bitfinex and its related stablecoin project, Tether, the world’s most valuable security token, continue struggling to navigate around their bank and credit accounts at Crypto Capital, plus an ongoing New York Attorney General investigation.
Bakkt, the institutional crypto trading platform owned by the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, announced its acquisition of crypto custodian Digital Asset Custody Company. Bakkt also announced a partnership with Bank of New York Mellon to offer geographically distributed storage of bitcoin wallet private keys.
Also this week, the Philippines’ Cagayan Economic Zone Authority awarded the Asia Digital Asset Exchange a license to operate an Offshore Virtual Currency Exchange. The license allows the listing of digital assets, including utility and virtual currency tokens. Asia Digital Asset Exchange plans to operate a security token issuance platform, as well as a secondary market for exchange trading. With the license in hand, Asia Digital Asset Exchange becomes one of the first regulated security token issuance and exchange platforms in the world with a government license.
Last year’s Blockchain Week attracted 10,000 attendees across more than 30 events with over. NYC’s Economic Development Corporation estimated the week’s positive economic impact of $28.5 million, including $1.6 million in local taxes paid directly to the city.
Investors are also awaiting a public update from New York-based Joe Lubin, one of Ethereum (ETH)’s billionaire co-founders. Lubin’s ETH project incubator ConsenSys (not to be confused with Coindesk’s Consensus conference) is based in Brooklyn. According to reporters at The Information, Consensys is in the middle of an alleged $200 million capital raise, seeking a unicorn valuation.
ConsenSys is one of the largest supporters of the utility of ETH, and given the importance of the Blockchain Week events, investors anticipate some update regarding the financing. On May 6, the head of ConsenSys Ventures, Kavita Gupta, curiously stepped down to pursue a teaching position at Stanford University.
The mood in the crypto markets heading into the month of May is certainly upbeat, with average token prices 20% higher during the month of April. Seasoned market participants have come to expect the pre-Blockchain Week speculative rally, and were certainly not disappointed this year. Bitcoin hit $6,000 on May 6, up over 75% from its lows earlier this year.
Many attendees expect major news from almost every crypto project exhibiting at Consensus. Most journalists expect the majority of press releases the morning of May 14, the start of Consensus. Throughout the week, major scheduled speeches will likely coincide with a press release to accompany the keynote. Journalists follow major hashtags on twitter, including #blockchainnyc #consensus and #consensus2019.
Even smaller digital security projects have taken advantage of the upbeat industry buzz to issue press releases within the past two weeks.
- Smartlands deployed a Stellar (XLM) wallet for on-chain trading of security tokens. Currently supporting two tokens, the team is working on “adding other security tokens issued on the Stellar network (possibly on different blockchains) to the Smartlands Wallet.”
- Streetlife International, a European music and event promoter, will be conducting a Security Token Offering (STO) through Switzerland’s BlockState. Streetlife International produces approximately 250 events annually with over 250,00 attendees.
- MinedBlock launched 12 bounty programs through Bounty0x. MinedBlock is in the middle of its own STO.
- Elite Mining Inc. announced a Series A financing in the form of a STO.
- Crypto Birds extended its pre-STO for an additional three weeks. As of May 6, the project had raised approximately 50% of its soft cap.
- OAX and Blockpass announced a collaboration agreement to create “regulatory-compliant infrastructure” for STOs. OAX is a decentralized asset trading platform. Blockpass is a regulatory technology (“RegTech”) provider offering user onboarding and online services, especially Know Your Customer (KYC) compliance.
Concluding Blockchain Week on May 13, Coin Center will host its 2019 annual dinner with two notable speakers: Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Commissioner Hester M. Peirce and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Commissioner Brian Quintenz. The non-profit think tank has become an important hub for policy announcements, and security token industry stakeholders will be watching for any updated guidance from these regulators.