The Global Digital Securities Ecosystem

A comprehensive study of the market (2019)

The global financial markets are facing a new, digitised infrastructure paradigm. Blockchain technology and tokenisation promise to improve accessibility of capital markets both for investors and issuers of financial products. These are only a part of the equation however. In order to unfold the full potential of digital asset financing, a mature ecosystem is required. This includes players across the entire value chain, including investors, banks and secondary markets.

At BlockState, we build the technology to support digital asset financing using security tokens. Together with the renowned blockchain think tank, Frankfurt School Blockchain Center, we conducted this study to provide a current overview of the global community of financial technology innovators in the digital asset space, showing who is taking an active role in shaping the market.

We analysed more than 200 companies associated with the security token ecosystem, taking into account several general and category-specific factors like operability, the technology companies use, the types of assets tokenized and more. This report is a ‘living study’. As the security token ecosystem is quickly evolving we will frequently update its content and appreciate any contributions and updates.

        

Overview

A total of 213 players were identified as part of the ecosystem. The young industry is seeing strong year over year growth in changing sub segments, showing the formation of a broad and deep industry around the technology.

Summary of general findings:

  • Two epicentres of the global security token ecosystem have evolved. Europe leads the industry with 88 companies identified, closely followed by the 83 players coming from the USA. The USA dominate the investors category while Europe shows its strength with the issuance providers.
  • Within Europe, Germany, Switzerland and the UK are leading markets, with a combined 47 players. Germany stands out with 10 issuance providers – more than any other European country.
  • 2014 and earlier years saw a heavy influx of players, comprised especially of many traditional investors entering the space as well as existing DLT-based projects adopting digital asset related services.
  • The rate of incorporations slightly flattened in 2018 despite maintaining a high level compared to previous years.

Location of companies (interactive)

USA dominates the global market, while Germany is leading in Europe

Incorporations per year

Issuance providers make up the majority of recent incorporations, with 21 in 2018

Data: Companies per category and country

Geographical Comparison

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Infrastructure Providers

Total: 22

Infrastructure providers form the backbone of the security token ecosystem. In this section, we highlighted the various blockchain protocols used to issue and support security tokens. We included both open protocols as well as projects that provide a proprietary protocol. 

Key take-aways:

  • The STO ecosystem has long relied on Ethereum, which powers 94% of STOs observed in our previous global study about STOs.
  • The market is diversifying with new players emerging, particularly to offer private blockchain solutions that respond to security and stability concerns and to serve specific corporate client needs.
  • Infrastructure providers predominantly choose modified versions of Proof-of-Stake as their verification algorithm, leaving the most commonly employed Proof-of-Work algorithm behind.

Analysis

Type of protocol

Public chains represent the majority but private protocols are on the rise

Verification Mechanism

Contrary to the crypto ecosystem Proof of Stake dwarfes its competitors

Digital Securities Ecosystem – Infrastructure providers

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Issuance Providers

Total: 53

One of the biggest hurdles is to allow the regulated issuance of tokens, which gives the issuers a decisive role in the ecosystem. All companies providing an end-to-end STO issuance platform were included and in addition we listed their partial services for the STO issuance procedure (KYC/AML/advisory/secondary exchange/etc).

Key take-aways: 

  • While a large number of issuance providers is entering the market, the segment is still somewhat opaque. Information about successfully conducted STOs as well as their underlying protocols are rarely available.
  • The USA is the leading the STO-race, based on volume raised, number of STOs and number of issuance providers. Europe is closing in but still has a long way to catch up.
  • Only 16 out of 54 issuance providers offer public information on their raised funds, and even fewer companies offer information regarding planned or executed STOs.
  • Current issuance providers cover a wide range of asset classes ranging from equity over debt to funds and real estate, showing that tokenisation bring value to conventional asset classes.

Analysis

Type of assets covered by Issuance Providers

Equity remains the most popular tokenised Asset

Distribution of development status for Issuance Providers

Issuers offer the most advanced infrastructure of the ecosystem

Number of launched and executed STOs per operational Issuance Providers

Most issuers have not yet fully executed a STO

Digital Securities Ecosystem – Issuance providers

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Investors

Total: 69

This section highlights actors investing into ecosystem players. This means any company that invested in a firm whose primary focus is on security token and related services. As a result, our list includes traditional as well as blockchain-focused VCs, in addition to funds and digital asset managers.

Key take-aways: 

  • 71% are “traditional” investors, signifying a big interest and some validation from the “old”economy in the new technology.
  • The market is still highly fragmented. Only 5 out of 69 companies have invested in more than one security token related firm.
  • The majority of investors are USA-based, with 61%. Germany follows second, with a 9% market share.
  • Investors in the digital asset field remain somewhat intransparent as the industry is still quite young and only few major players have solidified their position.

Analysis

Distribution of investors

Traditional ventures make up 72% of investors

Top 10 countries by number of investors

Asias strongest category, yet the US are unchallenged

Number of employees per investors

Investors tend to work in smaller businesses

Digital Securities Ecosystem – Investors

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Secondary Markets

Total: 53

This section highlights secondary markets – platforms that offer the functionality to buy and sell security tokens. 

Key take-aways: 

  • Only 6 companies currently offer operational, regulated trading solutions, showing that secondary markets currently represent a major market gap.
  • A total of 47 companies were identified to be currently working on secondary market solutions.
  • Many platforms claim to be operational yet still await regulatory approval. These companies were classified as “in development”.
  • Most players offer associated services. The most frequent ones being issuance-, wallet- and custody services. 
  • The market is highly influenced by legislation. As a result, digital asset-“friendly” jurisdictions like Malta and Switzerland are European leaders.

Analysis

Distribution of current development status

Regulated secondary markets are awaiting their finalisation

Distribution of Secondary Market's client type

Retail investors are going to have access to 89% of secondary markets

Secondary Markets offering additional services

Costody is the most popular additional service

Digital Securities Ecosystem – Secondary markets

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Banks

Total: 17

This section shows which established financial players are actively positioning themselves in the security token ecosystem. We included a variety of actors from investment banks to private banks. 

Key take-aways: 

  • Only a few banks adopt digital securities. The services they provide come down to tokenisation, custody and two cases of settlement.
  • Tokenisation sees the most popularity out of the three. Assets worth 1,573,300,000 USD have been tokenized by 9 banks.
  • In China digital securities are gaining lots of traction, putting the chinese banks ahead of all others in terms of volume of tokenized assets.

Analysis

Number of banks offering digital asset services

The banks’ services are rather spread out, issuance stands out though

Distribution of development status for digital assets services

Simpler infrastructure offerings allow for a high share of operational services

Type of banks

Digital Securities Ecosystem – Banks

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Methodology of the report

Clarification

The research for this study was executed with the goal in mind to provide an accurate and up to date overview of the security token ecosystem. The methodology clarification is supposed to make this study as transparent as possible and easy to understand.

If you wish to submit new data or propose a change, please use the “submit” button below each of the sections above.

This study does not guarantee accuracy, it is based on publicly available information and should not be taken as official information but a first overview of a complex and continuously evolving ecosystem. For detailed documentation on secondary sources apart from company websites and associated social media accounts, please consider inspecting the last few columns of each individual datasheet.

Eligibility 

All the companies studied are part of the security token value chain. We covered companies regardless of their geographical location.

Infrastructure

Projects that provide a working infrastructure on which tokens can be distributed were included. This was not limited to a public approach, also private ledgers that are used by corporate clients were included.

Issuance providers

Every company that is planning to release an STO issuance platform or is already actively operating one was included. This was limited to a release of the platform under the given companies identity. Firms that are working on platforms of other projects were not included.

Investors

Any company that invested in other firms that primarily offer Security Token related services have been included. If an established company was founded with different businesses in mind and expanded into the field of Security Tokens, its investors weren’t included. Exceptions were made if an established company launched a new legal entity for this cause and investments were made solely in favor of the newly created entity.

Secondary markets

We included companies that are currently offering secondary trading services for the ecosystem as well as companies who are developing their own trading solutions at the moment or are awaiting regulatory approval. The availability of additional services was not a factor to make a company eligible.

Banks

Banks were included as long as they’ve participated in a specific use case of securities on an institutional level. Listing in our datasheet didn’t require a primary focus on Security Tokens, neither did it require a permanently available Security Token related service.

Quantitative methods

The numbers and charts above are based on available answers for each category. The data is up to date until the 13/09/2019. Not in all cases did all sources have available data, but we avoided categories with a small sample size in favor of detailed charts. Where our dataset was incomplete, values are expressed as percentiles.

Terms

The status “Operational” implies a for specific customers accessible and usable service is available on a given platform.
“In development” can refer to both, pending regulatory approval, as well as a work in progress which can reach from the announcement of a product all the way to near completion.

Empty data points (“N/A”) do not imply a value of “0” or a “no”, but rather refer to the unavailability of the sought after information at the time of our research. In case of additional sources, an empty data point implies that all information was available on the companies website and no secondary sources were used.

Data sources

This study was based on secondary online research on 200 companies, with data up to date until the 13/09/2019. We reached out to every company in order for them to update their data. If you want to be added to our end table or modify some information, please email us at [email protected]

Most of the data was gathered from the official online presences of each of the companies as well as their associated blogs and social media accounts. Their websites are listed in the individual datasheets for each section. Any further information we included but that didn’t originate from given websites was included in one of the sources listed below.

News outlets

 

Security Token related

 

Databases

 

Other

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