Conclusive insights: The Global Digital Securities Ecosystem Study

Infrastructure providers

Companies were identified as infrastructure providers if they offered a technological framework that allows 3rd parties to issue Security Tokens. They had to do this by offering their own token standard. This led us to a collection of 22 different projects.

  • Every company except one offers an operational infrastructure
  • 11 companies come from the USA, 9 from Europe, 2 from Asia
  • Public and Private ledgers are both seeing application

Key findings

Infrastructure providers consist of many different kinds of projects. Well established ecosystem players like Ethereum are confronted with a variety of small companies, trying to fill out their own niche within the industry.

Types of verification algorithms

Research process

Finding out that private protocols are on the rise came of no surprise to us. BlockState has worked with r3 corda, one of the leading forces behind private infrastructure frameworks, where we got to know the technology from up close and learned about its potential.

Issuance providers

Issuance providers were included as long as they offer or plan to offer a service to issue any type of asset in the form of a Security Token. This lead us to 53 different companies active in the space.

  • Issuance providers again predominantly come from the US (17 companies)
  • Lots of information is undisclosed
  • Ethereum is the most commonly used infrastructure

Key findings

When it comes to issuance providers, the leading indicator for a companies maturity in the ecosystem is the amount of STOs it executed or is planning to execute. Only the fewest companies we identified could offer a number higher than 5, most remained below.

How many companies executed which amount of STOs?

Research process

Researching issuance providers confronted us with several headache-inducing data points. Despite the amount of STOs and the raised volume both being fairly crucial to determine an issuance providers success, many of the companies we identified didn’t disclose anything. After digging through blog posts and social media and still not fining any definite results we decided to leave the data points unspecified for these cases. This is the reason why you can see quite a few “N/A”s in our table for this section.


We counted companies as investors as long as they invested into any given company of the ecosystem, so any company that we listed in our study. This added up to 69 investors in total.

  • The USA dominate this category like no other with 42 companies
  • 2nd place goes to German with just 6 investors
  • Investment firms tend to be smaller enterprises with max. 10 employees

Key findings

While doing our research the data fairly quickly showed one of the maybe more surprising results. Only 28% of investments made come from Blockchain-specific VCs. More than twice the amount, 64% of investments, come from traditional VCs. Security Token at least from an investors perspective seem to have gained mainstream traction.

Distribution of investors

Research process

VCs and other investors never make it easy to find the actually interesting data. While we were able to easily identify all the relevant investors through the websites of the companies that were invested in, data like the amounts flowing into these companies are largely a well kept secret. In a few instances though we were able to find out more.

Secondary Markets

Secondary markets are trading platforms which enable the secure exchange of Security Tokens. We were able to identify 54 companies who offer or plan to offer this kind of service.

  • Largely not operational
  • Geographically spread out like no other category
  • Offering a wide range of additional services

Key findings

We identified secondary markets to be one of the key missing parts the ecosystem still has wot work on. 47 companies out of the 54 we identified are still working on their product. This is heavily influenced by the non-existent regulations regarding secondary trading of digital securities and the consequential prohibitions.

Target groups of secondary markets

Research process

Researching secondary markets, lead us to one of the main conclusions of this study: They have a long way to catch up. When going through the individual projects websites we approached it of the perspective of someone who actually wants to trade security token and tried to sign up for the service to gain access to a trading interface.


We included banks in our study when they executed any type of action that included security token activity. This means that a bank doesn’t necessarily has to offer token-related services in order to meet our criteria. In this way we were able to identify 17 different banks.

  • 24% of banks are still developing their services
  • Ethereum and r3 corda are used most frequently
  • Banks mostly tokenise debt

Key findings

Banks find themselves in a very diversified field of players:

  • State owned banks,
  • coporate banks,
  • investment banks,
  • and commercial banks
Types of banks

Research process

Luckily whenever banks interact with digital securities they usually do so with high amounts of money involved and news outlets always catch up on detailed information. This streamlined our research process a lot.


Our study gave an incredibly comprehensive overview over the ecosystem. Strengths and weaknesses became clearer than ever and the whole ecosystem will have to work towards its unanimous goal of increasing the traction further and further. By working together with the local governments, companies can work on a legal framework that establishes digital securities as a common good. Once the secondary markets can catch up and thus remove the bottleneck from the ecosystems lifecycle, the market has the potential to grow at an even more rapid pace than it already does.


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  • Blockchain knowledge: We wrote a Medium article on how to acquire the necessary blockchain knowledge within a workload of 10 working days.
  • Our two blockchain books: We have edited two books on how blockchain will change our society (Amazon link) in general and the everything related to finance (Amazon link) in particular. Both books are available in print and for Kindle — currently in German and soon in English. The authors have been more than 20 well-known blockchain experts in startups, corporations and the government from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein — all contributing their expertise to these two books.
Our two books: the first one on blockchain and the society and the second one on blockchain and finance


Paul Claudius is a serial entrepreneur with 10+ years of experience scaling and selling disruptive businesses and category leaders across Europe. Digital securities have become his home ground at BlockState where he takes care of the company’s strategy and business development as CEO.



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Philipp Sandner

Philipp Sandner


Professor | Lecturer | Author | Investor | Frankfurt School Blockchain Center