Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne & Co. unveiled their tØ (T-zero) platform at NASDAQ’s headquarters in New York.
Overstock.com, an online e-tailer, was one of the first big names to accept bitcoin for payment last year. It has since shifted focus to its ‘digital securities’ initiatives as part of its Medici project. It recently unveiled the ‘cryptobond’, based on colored coins technology, to be issued on its planned TØ platform. $5 million worth of this bond was sold to an affiliate of trading firm FNY Capital last week.
The general goal of these initiatives is to remove the middlemen for securities transactions, making them quicker and more cost-effective. In his presentation, Byrne made an analogy to a grandmother buying a baseball glove from a neighbor, whereby the transaction is settled instantly between the two parties. tØ’s motto is “The Trade is the Settlement.” According to its website, three solutions are offered: private equities trading, public equities trading and the “short token.”
One of the highlights of his presentation was his announcement that the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)- the world’s biggest bank by assets and market capitalization- has been brought on board to use tØ’s tokens.
“This isn’t a pipe dream…ICBC is…swapping files with us, for us to tokenize all their long positions into stock locates,” he said. The bank holds $250 billion of US equities. In addition, “five major foreign banks are lined up behind” ICBC to do the same.
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Byrne was referring to the “Preborrow Assure Token”, a blockchain-based digital token that aims to ensure that securities dealers cannot ‘double dip’ by lending out the same chunk of assets to more than party at a given time.
Byrne has long been an outspoken critic of practices on Wall Street, including naked short selling. One of his passions has been to put an end to the apparent ability of prime brokers to make substantial profits by renting out the same assets to multiple parties. His scheme aims to disrupt the fungibility of stocks that allows dealers to settle them on a ‘net’ basis, allowing them the wiggle room for double dipping and naked short selling.
45% of the revenue of the prime brokerage industry, he said, is “purely a rent seeking behavior. It is a monopoly extracting “enormous monopolistic rents.”
Byrne asserted that he doesn’t need Securities and Exchange (SEC) approval for his solutions, but he’ll get it anyway if necessary.
Also speaking at the event was tØ co-founder Johnny Tabacco, who announced that all attendees are receiving a kit containing a secure link entitling them to $25 in bitcoin.