neoFIN Hamburg’s tech partner is Agora Innovation GmbH. In a two-part interview, CEO & Co-Founder Phong Dao answers our questions. In the first part we focus in particular on the characteristics of the platform and its benefits for issuers and investors and highlight the interaction between technology, law and sales.
Dear Phong, please introduce yourself and your company Agora Innovation.
Phong Dao (PD): Moin Moin (as they say in Hamburg, right?), I am Phong, CEO & Co-Founder of Agora Innovation GmbH.
Agora Innovation is a FinTech company with focus on blockchain, DLT and digital assets. Our product iVE.ONE, with the vision to provide better digital assets for everyone, is a global investment and issuance platform for legally compliant digital securities on the blockchain. The platform combines various national regulatory requirements with the blockchain to protect companies and investors from money laundering and sanction risks.
Simply put: regulated and digital fundraising on the blockchain.
With iVE.ONE you have developed your own technology. What makes the solution different from others on the market?
We have developed iVE.ONE as a simple and user-friendly platform where investors meet with the digital assets of issuers. The biggest hurdle for issuers of digital securities at the moment is legal compliance, as this has to work out not only when issuing but also when placing or subscribing on a national level.
And this is exactly where our USP is: For the issuer, the solution is legally secure and, thanks to our platform, he always complies with the legal requirements of the respective country. The investor always goes through an AMLA-compliant (“Anti-Money Laundering Act”) process, so that everything on both sides is in compliance with the law. This interaction is regulated by our “rule engine”, a kind of regulatory infrastructure that enables the securities to be transferred in the primary and secondary market in compliance with the law.
In one sentence: With iVE.ONE we build the bridge between issuers and investors.
The subscription process also runs through IVE.ONE, meaning you provide the interface that is implemented for each issue on your own website. For most investors it is completely new territory to subscribe to a digital security. How easy is that?
PD: Because it is uncharted territory, we have developed our platform in such a way that the investor can invest in different digital securities from different issuers without having to deal with the subject matter. If he has online banking skills or a securities account, he can also subscribe to a digital security or a security token via our platform. If he prefers the old world after all, there is also a subscription certificate which is used by our sales partners.
Could practically everyone carry out their own digital securities issue themselves with iVE.ONE?
PD: An article about our platform actually summed it up with its headline: “Tokenisation simple and cheap – could be a sensational innovation”. With iVE.ONE, everyone can issue their own digital securities in a regulated environment and offer them to investors for purchase. In this sentence, I am just cutting two more fields: Since we are in a regulated environment with securities, we need legal support on the one hand. On the other hand, the placement (sales) is of great importance for a successful issue. That is why we work as a team with neoFIN Hamburg and FIN LAW, among others, to make an issue a success.
We are currently preparing a digital securities issue together. Without saying too much about the project and the asset, how does this project differ from the one Agora Innovation has done so far?
Since the early stages, where we supported companies with more manual processes, our iVE.ONE platform has automated a lot and developed a better ecosystem for digital securities. The issuer only wants to focus on one thing, and that is raising capital. So the biggest difference is that with neoFIN Hamburg we have a distribution partner who makes the placement for the issue a success. So I am really glad that we can focus on our core competence – namely the development of the technical issuing and investment platform for better digital assets.
Last but not least: Congratulations to your latest investment ! After High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) had already invested EUR 750,000 a year earlier, EOS VC’s investment is now the second groundbreaking investment and a great appreciation. How did it come about? And what will you use the capital for?
PD: Thanks for the congratulations. I happened to meet the two managing directors of Finlab AG, Stefan Schütze and Juan Rodriguez, at a ’round table’ in Bonn at the HTGF Family Day over dinner. At that time I was not really in fundraising mode yet and so we first got to know each other as persons. When the time came, I simply approached the two of them: great people and also all conversations with the two and their team were always very good.
Since we have put a lot of effort into development so far, we will not only invest in product development, but also in marketing and sales activities. A further step for this year is also the entry into the Asian market, as we estimate the potential there to be much greater than here in Europe and have already been able to establish very good contacts.
*In February 2020, the FinLab EOS VC invested a seven-figure sum in Agora Innovation. Behind the venture capital fund are Block.one, the publisher of the block chain protocol EOSIO, and FinLab AG, one of the first and largest European investors focusing on FinTech and block chain
In the second part of our interview with Phong Dao it becomes more personal: The CEO & Co-Founder of Agora Innovation tells us what moves him regarding crpyto assets and how he sees the development of digital securities and thus also his own company.