How Decentralized Finance is Making Investing Universally Accessible
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How Decentralized Finance Makes Investing Universally Accessible

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The following content is sponsored by Abra.

Decentralized Finance

How Decentralized Finance Makes Investing Accessible

Historically, global financial markets have been restricted to those with exactly the right contacts, in the right locations, and with vast amounts of wealth already at their disposal. Investing for the general population, however, was typically expensive, cumbersome, and inaccessible.

Fortunately, today’s infographic from Abra demonstrates how the decentralized financial market has brought about solutions to these hurdles.

Why Investing Should be More Accessible

Many factors such as theft, inflation, and political or economic shifts can erode personal wealth over time.

Being able to invest in the global financial market offers a hedge against these risks, and yet for those with modest resources and limited connections, investing has typically been out of reach.

Consider several well-known platforms or funds:

  • Etrade ─ $500
  • T. Rowe Price ─ $2,500
  • Vanguard S&P Mid-Cap 400 Index Fund ─ $5,000,000

Investment minimums range from several hundred to several million dollars—making any hope of investing impossible for most.

This is especially urgent for the global middle class, which is expected to swell 180% by 2040. Having access to more avenues to build and protect wealth will be key to sustainable economic growth for a growing majority worldwide.

But how can people actually start investing if much of the current market is still too expensive?

Fractional Investing Offers Better Access

In the past, brokers were limited to buying and selling stocks as whole units.

Fractional investing, however, allows investors with a lower net worth to access valuable, expensive stocks. It also attracts investors that are less likely to buy and sell on a whim and instead focus on long-term growth.

Blockchain technology has been a key component in this democratization of global wealth—much like fractional investing—because people are no longer restricted by their resources, location, or lack of connections.

A New Wave of Investing

Decentralized finance is:

  • Permissionless
    Users no longer need a third-party to verify their transactions.
  • Global
    Users can access decentralized financial markets from anywhere using their smart devices.
  • Transparent
    Every transaction is made publically viewable.
  • Censorship-resistant
    No one can make arbitrary changes or cause system-wide shutdowns.
  • Programmable
    Anyone can customize smart contracts based on regional and technical requirements.

Decentralized financial tools, using blockchain and cryptocurrencies, are providing excellent alternatives to building wealth by offering smaller investment minimums, lower fees, and faster transaction times.

The rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies introduced the world to the simple concept of fractional investing—owning extremely small fractions of digital currencies.

Now, investors can also own fractions of high-priced stocks, ETFs, fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies, and stable coins, through Abra’s novel platform.

Abra: the Blockchain-based Investment App

Abra is the world’s first global investment app that uses the Bitcoin blockchain to make investing more accessible. Abra makes it fast and easy to manage your investments—all from one app.

  1. Simple: Easy to use and globally available, Abra’s app makes investing a breeze.
  2. Secure: Abra is secure and private—backed by blockchain and smart-contract technology—giving investors full control of their funds through non-custodial wallets.
  3. Fractionalized: Invest in partial shares of traditional and digital assets, starting at $5.
  4. Global: Trade, store value, and invest in a range of fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies, ETFs, and stocks from 154 countries.

The Future of Investing

Historically, investing in equities has been a key to building personal wealth, and Abra’s technology allows more people around the world to access the same types of investments, no matter their location or income.

A survey of Abra users shows the democratization of investing in action:

Affordability: Most Abra users have roughly US$50 in their portfolios.

Security: Abra users enjoy privacy of information and full control of their assets.

Accessibility: A top priority for Abra users, they are able to invest in financial markets and expensive equities worldwide.

With its intuitive, global platform, Abra has introduced the future of investing for everyone.

“For the first time, we can truly democratize access to investment opportunities at global scale.”

—Bill Barhydt, CEO of Abra

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Visualizing the Global Silver Supply Chain

Nearly 50% of global silver production comes from South and Central America. Here’s a look at the global silver supply chain.

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silver supply chain

Visualizing the Global Silver Supply Chain

Although silver is widely known as a precious metal, its industrial uses accounted for more than 50% of silver demand in 2020.

From jewelry to electronics, various industries utilize silver’s high conductivity, aesthetic appeal, and other properties in different ways. With the adoption of electric vehicles, 5G networks, and solar panels, the world is embracing more technologies that rely on silver.

But behind all this silver are the companies that mine and refine the precious metal before it reaches other industries.

The above infographic from Blackrock Silver outlines silver’s global supply chain and brings the future of silver supply into the spotlight.

The Top 20 Countries for Silver Mining

Although silver miners operate in many countries across the globe, the majority of silver comes from a few regions.

RankCountry2020 Production (million ounces)% of Total
1Mexico 🇲🇽 178.122.7%
2Peru 🇵🇪 109.714.0%
3China 🇨🇳 108.613.8%
4Chile 🇨🇱 47.46.0%
5Australia 🇦🇺 43.85.6%
6Russia 🇷🇺 42.55.4%
7Poland 🇵🇱 39.45.0%
8United States 🇺🇸 31.74.0%
9Bolivia 🇧🇴 29.93.8%
10Argentina 🇦🇷 22.92.9%
11India 🇮🇳 21.62.8%
12Kazakhstan 🇰🇿 17.32.2%
13Sweden 🇸🇪 13.41.7%
14Canada 🇨🇦 9.31.2%
15Morocco 🇲🇦 8.41.1%
16Indonesia 🇮🇩 8.31.1%
17Uzbekistan 🇺🇿 6.30.8%
18Papua New Guinea 🇵🇬 4.20.5%
19Dominican Republic 🇩🇴 3.80.5%
20Turkey 🇹🇷 3.60.5%
N/ARest of the World 🌎 34.24.4%
N/ATotal784.4100%

Mexico, Peru, and China—the top three producers—combined for just over 50% of global silver production in 2020. South and Central American countries, including Mexico and Peru, produced around 390 million ounces—roughly half of the 784 million ounces mined globally.

Silver currency backed China’s entire economy at one point in history. Today, China is not only the third-largest silver producer but also the third-largest largest consumer of silver jewelry.

Poland is one of only three European countries in the mix. More than 99% of Poland’s silver comes from the KGHM Polska Miedź Mine, the world’s largest silver mining operation.

While silver’s supply chain spans all four hemispheres, concentrated production in a few countries puts it at risk of disruptions.

The Sustainability of Silver’s Supply Chain

The mining industry can often be subject to political crossfire in jurisdictions that aren’t safe or politically stable. Mexico, Chile, and Peru—three of the top five silver-producing nations—have the highest number of mining conflicts in Latin America.

Alongside production in politically unstable jurisdictions, the lack of silver-primary mines reinforces the need for a sustainable silver supply chain. According to the World Silver Survey, only 27% of silver comes from silver-primary mines. The other 73% is a by-product of mining for other metals like copper, zinc, gold, and others.

As the industrial demand for silver rises, primary sources of silver in stable jurisdictions will become more valuable—and Nevada is one such jurisdiction.

Nevada: The Silver State

Nevada, known as the Silver State, was once the pinnacle of silver mining in the United States.

The discovery of the Comstock Lode in 1859, one of America’s richest silver deposits, spurred a silver rush in Nevada. But after the Comstock Lode mines began declining around 1874, it was the Tonopah district that brought Nevada’s silver production back to life.

Tonopah is a silver-primary district with a 100:1 silver-to-gold ratio. It also boasts 174 million ounces of historical silver production under its belt. Furthermore, between 1900 and 1950, Tonopah produced high-grade silver with an average grade of 1,384 grams per tonne. However, the Second World War brought a stop to mining in Tonopah, with plenty of silver left to discover.

Today, Nevada is the second-largest silver-producing state in the U.S. and the Tonopah district offers the opportunity to revive a secure and stable source of primary silver production for the future.

Blackrock Silver is working to bring silver back to the Silver State with exploration at its flagship Tonopah West project in Nevada.

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A Complete Visual Guide to Carbon Markets

Carbon markets are booming. But how do they work? In this infographic, we show how carbon markets are advancing corporate climate ambitions.

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Carbon Markets

A Complete Visual Guide to Carbon Markets

Carbon markets enable the trading of carbon credits, also referred to as carbon offsets.

One carbon credit is equivalent to one metric ton of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Going further, carbon markets help companies offset their emissions and work towards their climate goals. But how exactly do carbon markets work?

In this infographic from Carbon Streaming Corporation, we look at the fundamentals of carbon markets and why they show significant growth potential.

What Are Carbon Markets?

For many companies, such as Microsoft, Delta, Shell and Gucci, carbon markets play an important role in offsetting their impact on the environment and meeting climate targets.

Companies buy a carbon credit, which funds a GHG reduction project such as reforestation. This allows the company to offset their GHG emissions. There are two main types of carbon markets, based on whether emission reductions are mandatory, or voluntary:

Compliance Markets:
Mandatory systems regulated by government organizations to cap emissions for specific industries.

Voluntary Carbon Markets:
Where carbon credits can be purchased by those that voluntarily want to offset their emissions.

As demand to cut emissions intensifies, voluntary carbon market volume has grown five-fold in less than five years.

Drivers of Carbon Market Demand

What factors are behind this surge in volume?

  • Paris Agreement: Companies seeking alignment with these goals.
  • Technological Gaps: Companies are limited by technologies that are available at scale and not cost-prohibitive.
  • Time Gaps: Companies do not have the means to eliminate all emissions today.
  • Shareholder Pressure: Companies are facing pressure from shareholders to address their emissions.

For these reasons, carbon markets are a useful tool in decarbonizing the global economy.

Voluntary Markets 101

To start, there are four key participants in voluntary carbon markets:

  • Project Developers: Teams who design and implement carbon offset projects that generate carbon credits.
  • Standards Bodies: Organizations that certify and set the criteria for carbon offsets e.g. Verra and the Gold Standard.
  • Brokers: Intermediaries facilitating carbon credit transactions between buyers and project developers.
  • End Buyers: Entities such as individuals or corporations looking to offset their carbon emissions through purchasing carbon credits.

Secondly, carbon offset projects fall within one of two main categories.

Avoidance / reduction projects prevent or reduce the release of carbon into the atmosphere. These may include avoided deforestation or projects that preserve biomass.

Removal / sequestration projects, on the other hand, remove carbon from the atmosphere, where projects may focus on reforestation or direct air capture.

In addition, carbon offset projects may offer co-benefits, which provide advantages that go beyond carbon reduction.

What are Co-Benefits?

When a carbon project offers co-benefits, it means that they provide features on top of carbon credits, such as environmental or economic characteristics, that may align with UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Here are some examples of co-benefits a project may offer:

  • Biodiversity: Protecting local wildlife that would otherwise be endangered through deforestation.
  • Social: Promoting gender equality through supporting women in management positions and local business development.
  • Economic: Creating job opportunities in local communities.
  • Educational: Providing educational awareness of carbon mitigation within local areas, such as primary and secondary schools.

Often, companies are looking to buy carbon credits that make the greatest sustainable impact. Co-benefits can offer additional value that simultaneously address broader climate challenges.

Why Market Values Are Increasing

In 2021, market values in voluntary carbon markets are set to exceed $1 billion.

YearTraded Volume of Carbon Offsets (MtCO₂e)Voluntary Market Transaction Value
201746$146M
201898$296M
2019104$320M
2020188$473M
2021*239$748M

*As of Aug. 31, 2021
Source: Ecosystem Marketplace (Sep 2021)

Today, oil majors, banks, and airlines are active players in the market. As corporate climate targets multiply, future demand for carbon credits is projected to jump 15-fold by 2030 according to the Task Force on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets.

What Qualifies as a High-Quality Carbon Offset?

Here are five key criteria for examining the quality of a carbon offset:

  • Additionality: Projects are unable to exist without revenue derived from carbon credits.
  • Verification: Monitored, reported, and verified by a credible third-party.
  • Permanence: Carbon reduction or removal will not be reversed.
  • Measurability: Calculated according to scientific data through a recognized methodology.
  • Avoid Leakage: An increase in emissions should not occur elsewhere, or account for any that do occur.

In fact, the road to net-zero requires a 23 gigatonne (GT) annual reduction in CO₂ emissions relative to current levels. High quality offsets can help meet this goal.

Fighting Climate Change

As the urgency to tackle global emissions accelerates, demand for carbon credits is poised to increase substantially—bringing much needed capital to innovative projects.

Not only do carbon credits fund nature-based projects, they also finance technological advancements and new innovations in carbon removal and reduction. For companies looking to reach their climate ambitions, carbon markets will continue to play a more concrete role.

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