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AX Trading LLC (AX), a technology-enabled registered broker-dealer and Alternative Trading System (ATS) operator, today announced a strategic partnership with Quant Network a pioneering technology company providing financial and regulatory technology as well as interoperability in financial services, payments and capital markets infrastructure. Through this partnership, Quant Network’s technology, Overledger a blockchain operating system, will enable universal interoperability for regulatory-compliant security tokens and digital assets to be traded on AX ATS, a regulated secondary trading market. AX intends to integrate Overledger to help foster the evolution of traditional capital markets infrastructure to facilitate the mass implementation of interoperable regulated digital assets. With the increased market adoption of digital assets and banking “coins” such as JPMorgan Coin, AX and Quant Network are at the forefront to enable the transferability and movement of digital assets. George O’Krepkie, AX CEO said: “we look forward to partnering with Quant. Their technology will allow our blockchain agnostic security token exchange to communicate seamlessly with issuers, traders, investors, and regulators across different blockchain protocols. This is a key technological breakthrough that will help us bring the benefits of security tokens to Main Street and Wall Street.” It is expected that the first interoperable digital asset offering may commence as soon as January 2020, and that the AX Trading ATS may be ready to enable and list interoperable digital assets and securities in 2020.Let’s have a closer look at what that means to truly appreciate the significance of the partnership by covering the basics for those not familiar with wall street.
What is an Institutional Investor / Trader?An institutional investor is an organization that invests on behalf of the organization's members. They consist of hedge funds, banks, investment banks, pension funds, insurance companies, endowment funds, or any other type of money management firm.
Institutional investors account for about three-quarters of the volume on the New York Stock Exchange (which alone handles more than $20 Trillion a year in volume). In the US, Institutional investors own about 80 % of the total market value of the equity (stock) market, which globally is worth more than $73 trillion.
Wall Street refers to the institutional investors I mentioned above whereas Main Street refers collectively to members of the general public who are not accredited investors and the overall economy as a whole.
Whilst the Equity Market is huge, Institutional investors also invest in other securities which are prime to be tokenised such as Real Estate Market (Globally worth $217 trillion), the Debt Market (Globally worth $215 trillion) and the Derivatives Market (Low end estimates at $544 trillion and high-end estimates at $1.2 quadrillion). All of which makes the current market cap for cryptocurrencies look like a drop in the ocean.
Who are AX Trading?AX Trading is a SEC-registered broker-dealer and Alternative Trading System (ATS) Operator. They are a member of FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority)and SIPC ( Securities Investor Protection Corporation) regulated authorities. The SEC has some of the most stringent regulations in the world for listing securities and there are fewer than 50 SEC-registered Alternative Trading System Operators in the United States, of which only a handful are currently implementing Digital Assets. Others are awaiting regulatory approval with Coinbase, Circle etc are all looking at getting into this huge market.
AX Trading have investors and sponsored brokers including the likes of Credit Suisse, (a multinational investment Bank and Financial services company worth $27.5 billion). AX currently have over 800 Institutional traders (these are not individuals, but corporations such as hedge funds, banks, investment banks, pension funds, insurance companies, endowment funds etc).
AX Trading have also partnered with Euronext, the largest Stock Exchange in Europe with a market cap of $4.65 trillion as of 2018, in the creation of Euronext Block which utilises AX Trading.
What is an Alternative Trading System?An Alternative Trading System (ATS) is an SEC-regulated trading venue which serves as an alternative to trading at a public exchange. ATS account for much of the liquidity found in publicly traded issues worldwide. They are known as multilateral trading facilities in Europe, electronic communication networks (ECNs), cross networks, and call networks
AX is the world’s first “Electronic Trading Network” (ETN) where institutional traders can proactively connect and trade with other counterparties in a secure environment. Unlike traditional stock exchanges/ECNs that show orders to everyone and traditional dark pools/crossing systems that show orders — presumably — to no one, AX allows institutional traders to pick and choose WHOM they want to notify and also WHAT information they want to share with them.
Institutional investors may use an ATS to find counterparties for transactions instead of trading large blocks of shares on national stock exchanges. These actions may be designed to conceal trading from public view since ATS transactions do not appear on national exchange order books. The benefit of using an ATS to execute such orders is that it reduces the domino effect that large trades might have on the price of an equity.
How does AX Trading Work?The AX Trading process begins when one trader sends an “initiated” order to AX. The order can be routed to the AX ATS via one of our broker sponsors such as Credit Suisse. The initiated order triggers a “Call Auction” on AX, a period of time when the order will rest in AX to be matched against other orders from auction responders.
The Initiator of an AX auction decides who they want to invite to participate in the auction, whether they be all 800+ institutional members or targeted to specific ones, as well as how much info they want to disclose about the order. Based on these instructions, the AX ATS then notifies the members inviting them to participate in the trade.
The invited members can then participate in the trade by either placing buy orders of their own or placing sell orders. At the end of the AX auction period, all orders are brought together, and a match is performed.
In the traditional, continuous market with displayed bids and offers, traders are often chasing liquidity. In other words, the price may move away from them the more they buy or sell to what is commonly called “market impact.” On AX, the advantage of their call auction model is it brings liquidity — in the form of participant orders to the buyer rather than them chasing liquidity.
What is a Security Token?Security Tokens are different than Utility Tokens or Cryptocurrencies. A security token is a digital representation of a traditional security. It may represent shares in a company, interest in a fund, real estate, art collectables, or essentially any asset a party can own. Anthony Pompliano wrote an article explaining tokenised securities in more detail which you can see here
Security Tokens are digital assets subject to federal security regulations. In layman terms, they are the intersection of digital assets (tokens) with traditional financial products — a new technology improving old things. If cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are considered “programmable money” then you can consider Security Tokens a version of “programmable ownership.” This means that any asset with ownership can and will be tokenized (public & private equities, debt, real estate, etc).https://preview.redd.it/21cz6zvus0m31.png?width=569&format=png&auto=webp&s=883eb844e1061cddd585903549dde829098765c2
Quant Network community member David W also wrote an excellent piece on the benefits of tokenisation of assets in a lot more detail than what I will briefly cover here and strongly recommend you check it out.
The Tokenisation of assets is therefore inevitable, because it is a better way to record, exchange and monitor asset ownership for all parties involved. The amounts at stake represent many hundreds of trillions of US dollars
What are the benefits of a security token?
Security Token Issuance PlatformsSecurity token issuance platforms allow issuers to issue Security tokens that represent the security such as Shares in their company etc in return for capital. This is known as a Primary Market. Importantly it’s not just the issuance that they look after, it’s the whole life cycle of a digital security to ensure they remain continuously in compliance as they are traded etc. They also provide reporting to the issuer so they can see who owns the tokens and what dividends to pay out.
Securitize are one of the leading security tokens issuing platforms. They have created the DS Protocol, a blockchain agnostic protocol for security tokens which manages the whole lifecycle of a digital security, ensuring it remains continuously in compliance. They have issued a number of security tokens on the Ethereum network as well as recently working with IBM to tokenise the Corporate Debt Market (worth $82 Trillion). On the back of this they joined Hyperledger, an open source project which includes Enterprise blockchains such as Hyperledger Fabric which IBM is heavily involved with.
They recently also became the first SEC-registered transfer agent, which means Securitize can now act as the official keeper of records about changes of ownership in securities.
There are many companies in this sector which are utilising various blockchains, Other examples include:
Trading VenuesWhilst the issuance platforms above generally also include their own exchange where the token can be traded on, secondary markets such as those offered through traditional stock exchanges and Alternative Trading Systems provide significantly more liquidity.
Traditional Stock Exchanges have been very active in blockchain with some going through proof of concepts, to those like SIX SDX Digital Exchange which is due to launch later this year. They are using various blockchains and cover the full process from Issuance, Trading and Post Trade / Settlement services. I have briefly outlined which blockchain they are using / testing with along with source to read more about it below:
Post Trade — Central Security DepositoriesSituated at the end of the post-trading process, CSDs are systemically important intermediaries. They thereby form a critical part of the securities market’s post-trade infrastructure, as they are where changes of securities ownership are ultimately registered.
CSDs play a special role both as a depository, involving the legal safekeeping and maintenance of securities in a ‘central depository’ on behalf of custodians (both in materialised or dematerialised form); as well as for the issuer, involving the issuance of further securities by issuers, and their onboarding onto CSDs’ platforms.
CSDs are also keeping a number of other important functions, including: dividend, interest, and principal processing; corporate actions including proxy voting; payment to transfer agents, and issuers involved in these processes; securities lending and borrowing; and, provide pledging of share and securities.
Blockchain technology will enable real-time settlement finality in the securities world. This could mean the end of a number of players in the post-trade area, such as central counterparty clearing houses (CCPs), custodians and others. Central Security Despositories (CSD) will still play an important role according to reports:
“CSDs could have an important role to play in a blockchain-based settlement system. As ‘custodians of the code, CSDs could exercise oversight of, and take responsibility for, the operation of the relevant blockchain protocol and any associated smart contracts.” Euroclear Report
Another group of 30 central securities depositories (CSDs) in Europe and Asia are researching possible ways to “join hands” in developing a new infrastructure to custody digital assets. The CSDs will attempt to figure out how to apply their experience in guarding stock certificates to security solutions for crypto assets.
“A new world of tokenized assets and blockchain is coming. It will probably disrupt our role as CSDs. The whole group decided we will be focusing on tokenized assets, not just blockchain but on real digital assets.”
You can read more about how blockchain will affect CSD’s here
Examples of CSD’s in blockchain
The Importance Of Interoperability
The evolution of DLT and the wide adoption across industries and across different market segments is resulting in many different ledgers networks, but the ultimate promise of DLT can only be realized when all ledger networks can seamlessly interoperate. — from the recent DTCC whitepaper with AccentureIt’s clear from the above that interoperability will be crucial in order to unlock the true potential of Distributed Ledger Technology. Issuance platforms will seek to interoperate with as many secondary exchanges as possible to provide maximum liquidity for issuers. Issuance platforms and secondary exchanges are each using a wide range of different blockchains that all need to interoperate as part of the trade process. CSD’s will also need to have interoperability between other CSD’s as well as to the secondary exchanges (again each using different blockchains).
Enter Quant Network’s OverledgerQuant Network’s blockchain operating system, Overledger, provides interoperability between any current and future distributed ledger technology as well as easily connecting Off Chain / Legacy networks as well as plans to connect directly to the Internet. Within 10 months it has proven it can provide interoperability with the full range of DLT technologies from all the leading Enterprise Permissioned blockchains such as Hyperledger, R3’s Corda, JP Morgan’s Quorum, permissioned variants of Ethereum and Ripple (XRPL) as well as the leading Public Permissionless blockchains / DAGs such as Bitcoin, Stellar, Ethereum, IOTA and EOS as well as the most recent blockchain to get added Binance Chain. All without imposing restrictions on connected chains, being Internet scalable and able to easily integrate into existing networks / infrastructure.
Overledger a blockchain operating system, will enable universal interoperability for regulatory-compliant security tokens and digital assets to be traded on AX ATS, a regulated secondary trading market. AX intends to integrate Overledger to help foster the evolution of traditional capital markets infrastructure to facilitate the mass implementation of regulated digital assets. With the increased market adoption of digital assets and banking “coins” such as JPMorgan Coin, AX and Quant Network are at the forefront to enable the transferability and movement of digital assets
Overledger enables Universal Interoperability where digital assets can move across blockchains so that they can interact with smart contracts on different blockchains. It does this by locking the asset on one blockchain and then representing it on another blockchain either by creating a representing token or representing it via metadata. This will enable all of these different parties such as Issuance platforms, Exchanges, CSD’s, traders etc to move the digital asset from their respective blockchain onto AX Trading’s platform for secure, immediate and immutable trading to take place. Potentially it would even allow Digital Assets / Securities to settled on a public permissionless blockchain such as the recently connected Binance Chain in a completely safe, secure and compliant way.
Regulators would be able to run a node and view transactions in real time ensuring that compliance is being kept. Potentially they could also benefit from using Quant Networks Multichain Search capability http://search.quant.network/ to be able to fully track assets as they move across blockchains.
George O’Krepkie, AX CEO said: “we look forward to partnering with Quant. Their technology will allow our blockchain agnostic security token exchange to communicate seamlessly with issuers, traders, investors, and regulators across different blockchain protocols. This is a key technological breakthrough that will help us bring the benefits of security tokens to Main Street and Wall Street.”
SecurrencyAX Trading have also partnered with Securrency (who have previously tokenised over $260 million in real estate assets). Securrency provide a protocol that enables security tokens to remain in compliance regardless of what blockchain the token is on. Due to the layered approach that Overledger has adopted from the learnings of TCP/IP, this protocol can be easily integrated on top of Overledger to enable security tokens to move across blockchains as well as ensuring they remain in compliance with regulations programmed into the token.
Delivery vs Payment (DvP)
A DvP transaction involves the settlement of two linked obligations, namely the delivery of securities and the payment of cash. DvP avoids counterparties being exposed to principal risk, i.e. the risk that the seller of securities could deliver but would not receive payment or that the buyer of securities could make payment but would not receive delivery. Following this requirement, a DvP securities settlement mechanism has to ensure that the delivery of securities and the payment of cash are linked in a way where one leg (obligation) of the securities trade is conditioned to the final settlement of the other leg (obligation) of the trade. Thereby final settlement is defined as “the irrevocable and unconditional transfer of an asset or financial instrument, or the discharge of an obligation by the FMI or its participants in accordance with the terms of the underlying contract”. — STELLA — a joint research project of the European Central Bank and the Bank of JapanWe have seen how Overledger can provide interoperability for the securities to move across Issuers platforms, integrate with Stock exchanges, Central Security Depositories and AX Trading. Now we need to be able to ensure that payment is guaranteed and in a way that offers immediate settlement which is irrevocable. To do this we need to represent FIAT on the blockchain so that it can interact with smart contracts and settle transactions on the blockchain.
J.P.Morgan’s CoinJ.P.Morgan is the largest bank in the United States and ranked by S&P Global as the sixth largest bank in the world by total assets as of 2018, to the amount of $2.535 trillion.
J.P. Morgan was the first U.S. bank to create and successfully test a digital coin representing a fiat currency. The JPM Coin is based on blockchain-based technology enabling the instantaneous transfer of payments between institutional clients.
With J.P.Morgan’s $2.6 trillion balance sheet, expertise in blockchain and global payments network, J.P. Morgan can seamlessly and securely transfer and settle money for clients around the world. J.P. Morgan are supervised by banking regulators in the United States and in the international jurisdictions in which it operates.
How does JPM Coin work?A Buyer purchases JPM coins in advance which get represented on the Permissioned Quorum blockchain ($1 =1 JPM Coin). Quant Network’s Overledger could then provide interoperability to lock those tokens on Quorum and represent those onto another blockchain / AX Trading’s Network. By being able to represent securities and FIAT on the same blockchain (even though the underlying assets are on different blockchains) this provides instant finality / settlements to occur.
Once the seller receives the JPM coin in exchange for the securities they have sold they will be able to redeem them for USD. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to have a JP Morgan account to redeem them, you could imagine in the future that the Bank instead redeems the JPM Coin and credits the users account. Similarly the buyer of the security token redeems the represented token and unlocks the security token on the original blockchain.
You can read more about JP Morgan’s Coin here as well as its use cases
J.P Morgan is betting that its first-mover status and large market share in corporate payments — it banks 80 percent of the companies in the Fortune 500 — will give its technology a good chance of getting adopted, even if other banks create their own coins. “Pretty much every big corporation is our client, and most of the major banks in the world are, too,” Farooq said. “Even if this was limited to JPM clients at the institutional level, it shouldn’t hold us back.”Overledger enables different securities tokens / digital coins representing FIAT currencies to be brought together from the various permissioned / permissionless blockchains onto one platform where trading / settlement can take place. Overledger is the only technology that can do this today across the leading permissioned and permissionless blockchains as well as existing networks, all in a secure, scalable and easy to integrate way.
Quant Network are working with AX Trading to bring more digital assets, securities and tokenised assets to their existing 800 institutional traders in an already live and connected FINRA and SEC regulated exchange. AX Trading is not just about trading securities but other digital assets such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and potentially even Quant in the Future.
This is a multi-trillion dollar market with huge global enterprises, traditional exchanges and global banks are all adopting DLT at a rapid pace and going into production at scale in a matter of months, examples include the NYSE Bakkt launching Bitcoin futures later this month, Swiss Stock Exchange ($1.6 Trillion market Cap) is due to launch their digital exchange running on Corda (SDX) by the end of the year. The DTCC are due to launch their Trade Information Warehouse which processes $10 Trillion of cleared and bilateral derivatives by the end of the year. JP Morgan who transfer $6 Trillion every day are due to launch their JPM coin at the end of year and AX Trading is due to offer their first digital asset by January 2020.
Quant Network’ Overledger enables the bridging of traditional finance infrastructure with the new decentralised finance infrastructure DeFi of the future, helping to redefine Wall Street and Capital Markets.