Investors and companies seeking capital may find themselves in a world where stocks and bonds begin to disappear in 15 years thanks to blockchain, predicts a recent survey by Citi’s Business Advisory Services and Citi Ventures.

But even if that prediction comes true and blockchain brings significant technological disruption to the financial services industry, many aspects of investing and raising capital won’t change, financial market participants tell ThirtyK.

Citi’s survey, titled “Industry Revolution – Investment Management in 2033, Part 1: The New Building Blocks,” was based on 60 interviews with executives at investment firms and fintech-focused venture capital firms, academics and other experts who focus on how emerging technology will affect investment management. It envisions a future in which registered investment tokens embed smart contracts into blockchain. These tokens would use artificial intelligence and big data technologies to handle contract terms and enforce investor and issuer rights.

Stock-Based IPOs Would Go Bye-Bye

With registered investment tokens potentially replacing equities over time, companies looking to raise capital through an IPO would see traditional stock-based offerings decline, the survey says.

That may not be such a big deal, Alex Buelau, Coinschedule founder, tells ThirtyK. Coinschedule tracks initial coin offerings (ICOs).

“Not much would change for the companies trying to raise money,” he says. “This is just about the mechanisms for money transmission, storage and transaction execution logging. Depending on how it’s done, there could be a benefit of companies being able to tap into global investors rather than just local or national ones since cryptocurrencies don’t recognize borders.”

“A critical piece is that the assessment of the value of the underlying assets and the financial security will be assessed in a fully democratic way,” Palte says.

Investors Miss Stocks and Bonds?

Investors will be relying on the same investment principles when putting funds into registered investment tokens as they would when investing in stocks and bonds, Barry Palte, co-chair of the International Association of Investment Bankers (IAIB) and managing director at BlueMount Capital, tells ThirtyK. What would change would be the technology delivering the investments, he says, and that would bring one significant shift.

“A critical piece is that the assessment of the value of the underlying assets and the financial security will be assessed in a fully democratic way,” Palte says.

Speaking for himself and not for the IAIB, Palte says, however, that many of the cryptocurrencies going live claim to be backed by something of value but actually have no underlying asset value the way stocks, which provide ownership stakes in companies, do. He added that the current cryptocurrency environment reminds him of the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s when a number of startups with questionable business models received high valuations.

Cryptocurrencies are still in a relatively early stage, but governments worldwide are aggressively looking at how to regulate them and the exchanges they trade on. For example, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last month said that many online trading platforms for digital currencies should register with it. By 2033, the Citi survey says that blockchain-based investment tokens will be “registered.” The IAIB has not yet taken a stand on whether it wants ICOs to be registered with the SEC, Palte says.

Regardless of whether stocks and bonds cease to eventually exist, Palte says investors will always need investment bankers to provide an assessment of a potential opportunity – whether it is cryptocurrencies, stocks or bonds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dawn Kawamoto
Dawn Kawamoto is an award-winning technology and business journalist, whose work has appeared in CNET's News.com, Dark Reading, TheStreet.com, AOL's DailyFinance, and The Motley Fool. She has also covered the technology jobs and careers market for Dice.com.