The Blockchain Could Change the Backbone of the Stock Market
Modern technology enables stock markets to be faster and more complex than ever.
But while the speed of order executions are infinitely more impressive across the board, the conceptual backbone behind the stock market itself hasn’t changed much. In fact, the model we use today for settling trades and ensuring proper share ownership is still based on the one initially created in the 17th Century.
A Decentralization of Equities?
Today’s infographic comes to us from Equibit, and it envisions what a decentralized securities platform could look like.
In such a paradigm, the settlement of trades would not occur through centralized transfer agents, but instead through a blockchain with this feature “built in”.
The application of blockchain technology could take the modernization of the stock market one step further. Instead of technology being used simply to speed up more complex transactions, the blockchain could change how the plumbing behind the system works to mitigate current risks and problems.
But to understand how transformative this idea is, we need to look at the history behind the current model first.
The Roots of the Modern Market
The roots of the modern stock market can be traced back to Amsterdam in the year 1602, when the Dutch East India Company became the world’s first “publicly traded” company.
Trade missions to the West Indies were risky and expensive – so shares and bonds in the company were initially sold to a large pool of interested investors to spread the risk. In turn, backers of the company received a guarantee of some future share of profits.
As investors began speculating about the prospects of the Dutch East India Company, a secondary market quickly developed for these securities. People bought and sold stock in high volumes, and a central registrar tracked the transfer of shares between parties.
The Backbone of Today’s Market
Over 400 years later, the stock market is not that much different from the earliest exchange found in Amsterdam.
Modern computing and the internet have sped up transactions so they can be executed in milliseconds, but the conceptual backbone of the market hasn’t changed at all.
Stock Transfer Agents are the centralized registrars in the background that track share ownership for issuers and the stock market. They are a third party that will cancel the share certificate for the investor that sold the shares, and substitute the new owner’s name on the official master shareholder listing.
There are over 130 stock transfer agents in the USA and Canada, maintaining the records of more than 100 million shareholders on behalf of over 15,000 issuers.
New Technology, Old Model
While modern stock transfer agents use today’s technology, the same old model persists – and it creates multiple industry problems:
Centralized and expensive
- Depositories and transfer agents are a single point of failure
- Registration, transfer, distribution, scrutineering, courier fees
- The more widely held, the higher the administration costs
- Information asymmetry leads to market advantages
- Forged securities still a concern
- Counterparty risk is systemic
Furthermore, legal ownership rests with transfer agents in most jurisdictions. Investors actually do not have title.
At the same time, the industry is huge – just one company, The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) is the highest financial value processor in the world with $1.6 quadrillion in transactions in 2016.
The Problem With Centralization
During the Financial Crisis, the problems of increased centralization and limited transparency reared their ugly head.
Companies like Lehman Brothers and MF Global self-destructed – and nobody knew what kind of assets they had off their balance sheets.
If an accurate [blockchain] record of all of Lehman’s transactions had been available in 2008, then Lehman’s prudential regulators could have used data mining tools, smart contracts and other analytical applications to recognize anomalies. Regulators could have reacted sooner to Lehman’s deteriorating creditworthiness.
– J. Christopher Giancarlo, Commodity Futures Trading Commission
This lack of clarity and risk helped drive hysteria, ultimately exacerbating the extent of the crisis. Because no one could quantify the risks, investors liquidated their assets. More selling meant even less liquidity.
Enter the Blockchain
Instead of putting all stock transactions through a centralized hub, the blockchain can be used to directly transfer share ownership between investors.
Here’s how a decentralized securities platform could work:
- Somebody decides to transfer a security.
- The transaction is broadcast to a P2P network consisting of computers known as nodes.
- The network of nodes validates the transaction and user’s status using known algorithms. A valid transaction will transfer the title of the security.
- Once verified, the transaction is combined with other transactions to create a new block of data for the ledger and thus completing the transaction.
In other words, stock exchanges could run using a blockchain under the hood, with no longer any need for a centralized settlement or transfer of share certificates.
This is cheaper, faster, reduces risks, and more secure. It also would be fully transparent.
Even better, such a platform could also serve as the base for other value adds – and fully transform the way we think about equity markets.
Charting the Number of Failed Crypto Coins, by Year (2013-2022)
We visualize over 2,000 crypto failures by year of death, and year of project origin. See how and why crypto projects die in these charts.
The Number of Failed Crypto Coins, by Year (2013-2022)
Ever since the first major crypto boom in 2011, tens of thousands of cryptocurrency coins have been released to market.
And while some cryptocurrencies performed well, others have ceased to trade or have ended up as failed or abandoned projects.
These graphics from CoinKickoff break down the number of failed crypto coins by the year they died, and the year they started. The data covers a decade of coin busts from 2013 through 2022.
What is the marker of a “dead” crypto coin?
This analysis reviewed data from failed crypto coins listed on Coinopsy and cross-referenced against CoinMarketCap to verify previous market activity. The reason for each coin death was also tabulated, including:
- Failed Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)
- Abandonment with less than $1,000 in trade volume over a three-month period
- Scams or coins that were meant as a joke
Dead Crypto Coins from 2013 to 2022
While many familiar crypto coins—Litecoin, Dogecoin, and Ethereum—are still on the market today, there were at least 2,383 crypto coins that bit the dust between 2013 and 2022.
Here’s a breakdown of how many crypto coins died each year by reason:
|Abandoned / |
|Scams / |
|ICO Failed / |
|Joke / No
Abandoned coins with flatlining trading volume accounted for 1,584 or 66.5% of analyzed crypto failures over the last decade. Comparatively, 22% ended up being scam coins, and 10% failed to launch after an ICO.
As for individual years, 2018 saw the largest total of annual casualties in the crypto market, with 751 dead crypto coins. More than half of them were abandoned by investors, but 237 coins were revealed as scams or embroiled in other controversies, such as BitConnect which turned out to be a Ponzi scheme.
Why was 2018 such a big year for crypto failures?
This is largely because the year prior saw Bitcoin prices climb above $1,000 for the first time with an eventual peak near $19,000. As a result, speculation ran hot, new crypto issuances boomed, and many investors and firms got bullish on the market for the first time.
How Many Newly Launched Coins Died?
Of the hundreds of coins that launched in 2017, more than half were considered defunct by the end of 2022.
Indeed, a lot of earlier-launched coins have since died. The majority of coins launched between 2013 and 2017 have already become “dead coins” by the end of 2022.
|Coin Start Year||Dead Coins by 2022|
Part of this is because the cryptocurrency field itself was still being figured out. Many coins were launched in a time of experimentation and innovation, but also of volatility and uncertainty.
However, the trend began to shift in 2018. Only 27.62% of coins launched in that year have bit the dust so far, and the failure rates in 2019 and 2020 fell further to only 4.74% and 1.03% of launched coins, respectively.
This suggests that the crypto industry has become more mature and stable, with newer projects establishing themselves more securely and investors becoming wiser to potential scams.
How will this trend evolve into 2023 and beyond?
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