There has been a huge increase in companies issuing equity-like tokens to raise capital but so far there hasn’t been a solution to issue debt. Counterparty has attributes which would make it an ideal platform for blockchain-based bond issuance and trading.
Why hasn’t there been any token-based bond issuance on Counterparty or other platforms yet?
It seems like there are a few things holding this back at the moment. First, there aren’t any widespread tokens linked to the USD, EUR, JPY, GBP, and other currencies in which debt is traditionally issued. Over time it seems inevitable that this problem will be fixed; someday a bank or another institution will issue a USD linked token collateralized with their deposits, redeemable for actual USD on demand.
Another reason is bonds are more complicated than equity because of their coupon payments and maturity schedules. Equity-like tokens are the low hanging fruit of the capital markets that can be replicated on the blockchain. Therefore, they have been the main focus up to this point. Eventually all capital markets activity will become decentralized.
Counterparty would be ideal for bond issuance and trading due to the simplicity of the platform and the availability of some built in functions that are already in place.
Bond Issuance Example
For those unfamiliar with bonds this is a simple example of how the issuance process works:
Company A wants to buy Company B and needs $10 million dollars. It is going to finance the entire purchase with debt.
Company A goes to an investment bank and tells them they want to do a bond deal.
The investment bank advises Company A on the term of the financing and the rate of interest Company A will need to pay to be able to sell the bonds.
They suggest Company A issues a 10 year bond with a 5% coupon. For a typical corporate bond this means they will pay a semi-annual coupon of 2.5% ($250,000) every six months until the bond matures in 10 years, at which point they will pay the final coupon along with the $10 million in principal.
The investment bank charges a big fee to company A for its services. Then it partitions the bonds into smaller blocks, marks them up and sells them to its clients who are looking to buy income-producing investments.
Company A gets its $10 million dollars and buys company B. Record profits are realized and everyone gets a nice bonus.
How could it work on Counterparty?
Company A needs to issue $10 million dollars of debt to buy company B. Instead of going to the investment bank it goes to a specialized online portal that is connected to a Counterparty wallet and the network.
Company A decides on the coupon payments and maturity schedule, then issues $10,000,000 of tokens (probably in $1000 increments) representing these terms. The issuance is published and anyone interested in buying Company A’s bonds is notified. Any necessary documents and details regarding the bond deal can be uploaded to the portal for prospective buyers of the bonds.
Buyers log into the portal and buy the bonds. The transactions are recorded via Counterparty and Bitcoin’s blockchain so they are cleared and final in 10 minutes instead of the typical 3 day settlement timeframe.
Notice Company A isn’t paying expensive investment banking fees and the bond buyers aren’t paying a markup on their bond purchase. The market becomes more streamlined and efficient.
After the bonds are in the market they can be traded on the DEX. The DEX could also be ported to the bond portal to only show bonds to traders, excluding other tokens. Bond tokens can also be transferred into any Counterparty-enabled wallet.
What about the coupon payments and principal at maturity?
Coupon payments can be handled without any change to Counterparty using the dividend function. The specialized wallet could be programmed to automate the process of sending coupon payments on specific dates.
The principal payment at maturity could be handled with the call function, where an issuer can buy a token back at a set price in the future. The call price would be set to the principal value plus the final coupon payment.
-Company A could post collateral to a smart contract. If the company defaults on the contract the collateral is distributed to bondholders. This allows them to issue bonds with a lower interest rate, reducing their financing costs.
-Data feeds could link the value of coupon payments and principal to the value of various currencies. So even if there aren’t any USD linked tokens in the market a company could issue bonds in BTC with coupon payments and principal denominated in BTC but the value of the distributions could increase or decrease based on a selected currency.
-The DEX could be used to trade existing bonds that are already issued and in the market. A broker could purchase bonds, hold them as collateral and issue tokens representing the bonds. The tokens could trade on the DEX and could be exchanged with the broker who holds the collateral on request. This would create demand for counterparty tokens, as each unique CUSIP or security id would need to be created.
My intent is to start a discussion around this topic. Counterparty is a fantastic platform that runs on the oldest and most secure blockchain on the planet. It needs to be used for more than trading Rare Pepe tokens.
*I don’t have anything against Rare Pepe tokens, just trying to make a point.