Leading a $20 million Series B round of funding in capital market blockchain technology company Symbiont could arguably be Nasdaq’s biggest crypto play to date.
It comes right after Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman gave further clues to Nasdaq’s commitment to cryptocurrency and blockchain adoption this week. It could also mean Nasdaq will create a platform to issue and trade tokenized securities.
$20 Million Investment and Commercial Integration
Nasdaq Ventures has a led the round of funding to 2015 blockchain startup Symbiont and is joined by Citi Ventures, Galaxy Digital, and Raptor Group.
Symbiont describes Nasdaq as an “anchor partner” which will benefit from developing applications on its “Assembly” enterprise blockchain and smart contract platform. According to the recent release:
Assembly provides the opportunity for new participants to enter the digital asset market and offers existing participants a superior infrastructure on which to build the future of financial markets.
Nasdaq will be using the platform to “explore new business opportunities” with clients looking for smart contract and tokenization solutions.
Gary Offner, Head of Nasdaq Ventures says its investments “help build our future market infrastructure used by more than 100 marketplaces around the world.”
Revealing that as well as supporting a “unique institutional” application of blockchain that this latest investment will:
Include the integration of Symbiont’s enterprise blockchain and smart contract platform into the Nasdaq Financial Framework.
Is a Nasdaq Security Token Trading Platform Imminent?
The Symbiont and Nasdaq partnership could see Nasdaq quickly move into creating tokenized securities for clients as well as trading. Something that has been rumored and connected with Symbiont for the past few months.
Symbiont co-founder and CEO Mark Smith’s comments hint at future plans. He says the investment is a “huge opportunity to be able to go all over the globe with Nasdaq.” And to provide ways to “buy and transact new types of instruments” with Symbiont’s smart contract technology.
Nasdaq’s Biggest Crypto Technology Play Yet?
In December Nasdaq Ventures joined Fidelity in a $27.5 million round of funding for cryptocurrency exchange ErisX. The funding split was not revealed and though Nasdaq headlined the investment it does not appear to be lead funder. The Symbiont partnership could possibly be Nasdaq’s biggest financial commitment to the nascent cryptocurrency and blockchain sector yet.
Furthermore, not only are there rumors that Nasdaq will make a move to securities token offerings. Nasdaq is also working with VanEck on plans to bring more bitcoin-based futures to the US market in early 2019. There is a delay for these plans while Nasdaq and VanEck negotiate with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). And, the CFTC is feeling the effects of the partial US federal government shutdown.
The Next Step Into Crypto?
In July 2018, while already working to implement Nasdaq technology into several cryptocurrency exchanges, Nasdaq held closed door talks to discuss the future of cryptocurrency. CEO Adena Friedman had said she believed cryptocurrency was the “right next step” for currency.
Speaking on route to Davos, Friedman gave further clues as to Nasdaq’s commitment to cryptocurrency:
The invention itself is a tremendous demonstration of genius and creativity, and it deserves an opportunity to find a sustainable future in our economy.
Friedman believes digital currencies will have a “role in the future.” She picked out Nasdaq’s technology offering to crypto players and its investment in ErisX as examples saying:
At Nasdaq, we are working to help cryptocurrencies gain investors’ trust.
And, back in April 2018, Friedman was asked if Nasdaq had its own direct plans for a cryptocurrency exchange. The CEO called cryptocurrency an “unregulated space” notably added:
Nasdaq would consider becoming a crypto exchange, over time.
One could speculate that a Nasdaq platform for tokenized securities is looking likely for 2019. And that a natural progression from this might well be a cryptocurrency exchange, at some point.