Nasdaq Could Gatecrash the Crypto Market with a New Platform

The firm, which is best-known for bringing technology companies such as Facebook and Tesla to market, is exploring a security token platform, the people said. Such platforms provide a way for firms to issue a token, which trades on a blockchain, as a way to raise funds. Security token offerings (STOs), unlike some initial coin offerings (ICOs), aim to fit into the parameters of existing U.S. securities law.

Since last year, the ICO market exploded in popularity with billions of dollars raised across hundreds of projects. The market, which is known for its fair share of fraud and big dreams, has helped some startups raise millions in seconds, drawing scrutiny from regulators such as the SEC.

Nasdaq is speaking with a number of firms as part of its efforts, including blockchain startup Symbiont. The people said the platform would issue tokenized securities as well as trade them. If such a platform were to successfully come to market it would join a number of firms offering such services including Polymath, tZero, and TrustToken.

Nasdaq’s interest in issuing tokenized securities dates back to 2015, one person with knowledge of the platform said. Then, before the bitcoin bonanza of 2017, the firm partnered with Chain to complete and record its first securities transaction on blockchain technology.