Cryptocurrency and blockchain have been around for more than 10 years, as new technology, concepts and models continue to be developed and reconstructed. However, the most prominent, and perhaps most important application, is still in “Trading”. Because most retail customers cannot directly invest in primary markets, they turn to secondary markets, known as crypto exchanges.
For many exchanges, trading volume is a very simple performance indicator, because volume not only directly correlates to profit, but is also a marketing tactic to attract retail customers. Newer exchanges tend to fall into the trap of forging their trading volume to raise their market ranking and increase brand exposure. Many people think that an exchange with a large trading volume will attract more avid traders because they will have better market depth and liquidity, but that’s far from the truth.
If cryptocurrency aims to become a mainstream investment tool, liquidity is a key issue that needs to be addressed, aside from regulations, safety concerns and new models. Once the liquidity problem is solved, the whole digital asset ecosystem, especially exchanges, can progress rapidly.
The Problem with Depth and Liquidity in the Crypto Market
So, what is liquidity? To use an easier but maybe less accurate definition, liquidity reflects the market’s transaction scale. When you make a transaction on an exchange and open a sell order, you will notice that your pending order will be displayed on the exchange’s order book. This order book is a compilation of every customer’s order. When a bid is opened, it will be matched with an ask based on price. Of course, it’s much more complicated than this, but basically, the compilation of buy and sell orders (also referred to as depth) accurately represents the liquidity that customers care about.
The problem is, when a whale submits an ask of 100 BTC, small exchanges do not have the capacity to handle an order this size. This causes a drastic price fluctuation, such as a 5% slippage between the average strike price and market price. Versus when you submit an order on a big exchange, the slippage may only be around 1% or less. For example, in July, an ask of over 6000 BTC was opened on Binance, the market price only dropped around USD $300 after all BTC were sold. If we use the price of USD $10000/BTC to calculate, the slippage is only 3%, which shows that Binance has high liquidity. When we look at the secondary market however, there is an inconsistency with depth and liquidity among exchanges.
Another Solution: Aggregation Platforms and Dark Pools
The liquidity and market depth problem pushed forward the development of aggregation platforms, which combine the market depth of various large exchanges. When customers use these types of trading platforms, they receive the combined depth of these exchanges, which have more liquidity and a deeper order book than a single exchange has alone. However, these platforms often charge a high fee for their services.
Besides aggregated market platforms, there may be another solution, but first, we have to introduce another concept: Dark Pool. A dark pool allows large anonymous transactions to happen outside of the public market. Simply put, we can think of a dark pool as a trading platform made from a huge order book with high liquidity. Once clients connect to this dark pool, they can utilize a deeper order book, without worrying that their order will cause a big slippage. Transactions will also be made at a reasonable price, and not affected by poor liquidity.
Recently, a similar project, WOOTRADE launched during Shanghai blockchain week, held by Wanxiang Blockchain Labs. WOOTRADE, incubated by Kronos Research quantitative fund, focuses on providing a liquidity service, or more so a market depth service. WOOTRADE not only aggregates depth from larger exchanges, they also incorporate Kronos’s HFT liquidity flow, thus providing a deeper order book with a more competitive pricing.
WOOTRADE’s capability of providing such services largely correlates with the success of Kronos Research’s fund services. Kronos’s Co-Founder Mark Pimentel, graduated from CMU, started his career at Citadel Investment Group, and continued on at Knight Capital’s electronic market making group. His team operated the largest dark pool in the US and Europe during the time. Based on the solid background of their founders, Kronos effectively uses HFT and CTA strategies in their fund. Kronos’s high transaction volume and flow also acts as one of WOOTRADE dark pool’s liquidity provider. In addition, since Kronos is a quantitative fund, they are able to take more risks than traditional market makers can.
Kronos’s Co-founder Jack Tan says, “As a quant fund, Kronos has a very strong partnership with many of the largest digital asset exchanges, and our huge transaction volume is the key to our profits. From a market standpoint, exchanges, wallets, OTCs, large traders, and even other quant teams, have all expressed a need for this liquidity service. We trade over millions of BTC per month, and that volume is added into WOOTRADE, and provided for every connected exchange. We also aim to work with DEX and other decentralized projects to realize a totally fair and transparent ecosystem in the near future.”
eToroX Adds Dash, USDC, USDT and 5 New Stablecoins
eToroX, the blockchain subsidiary of global investment platform eToro, has added five new fiat stablecoins, a new cryptoasset, two further established stablecoins and a crypto-commodity pair, signalling its rapid growth, having only launched only six months ago. There are now 26 tradable assets available on the exchange.
The new assets announced today are:
- Turkish Lira (TRYX), Polish Zloty (PLNX), South African Rand (ZARX), Hong Kong Dollar (HKDX), and Singapore Dollar (SGDX)
- Peer-to-peer cryptoasset, Dash
- Circle’s USDC and Tether’s USDT stablecoins
- GOLDX/BTC pairing
eToroX is committed to supporting the needs of algo traders seeking to diversify into cryptoassets on a secure and regulated platform. These new additions also demonstrate eToroX’s focus on Asian markets.
Doron Rosenblum, Managing Director of eToroX commented, “We see the addition of USDC and USDT as a way for eToroX to further meet the needs of professional and institutional algo traders, particularly in the Asian markets. Adding five new stablecoins, plus the addition of the Dash cryptoasset, demonstrates our ongoing commitment to bridge the gap between the world of blockchain and traditional financial markets.”
GoldX – the tokenized gold stablecoin – is now available as a base currency for a trading as a pair with Bitcoin (GOLDX/BTC). Increasingly, bitcoin is being compared with gold as a store of value. Gold is viewed as a safe haven asset, and bitcoin is increasingly being referred to as ‘digital gold’.
Rosenblum continued: “Our Gold/Bitcoin pair provides a means to trade between the old and the new stores of value, making Gold/BTC an extremely special and interesting combination.”
With today’s new additions, eToroX has added a total of 96 trading pairs since its inception in April this year, and currently offers seventeen eToroX stablecoins in addition to USDC and USDT.
The pairs include: USDEX/ZARX, ZARX/JPYX, EURX/PLNX, USDEX/PLNX, USDEX/HKDX, USDEX/TRYX, USDEX/SGDX, ETH-USDT, XRP-USDT, LTC-USDT, BCH-USDT, XLM-USDT, EOS-USDT, TRX-USDT, BTC-USDC, ETH-USDC, XRP-USDC, LTC-USDC, BCH-USDC, XLM-USDC, EOS-USDC, and TRX-USDC.
As eToroX continues to open up the world of trading on the blockchain, more trading pairs will be announced. eToroX will also be adding additional cryptoassets and stablecoins to the exchange in the coming months.
Ucommune Hosts 4th World INS Conference in Beijing, Releases Future Trends White Paper
Ucommune, China’s largest co-working community operator, recently hosted the 4th World INS Conference in Beijing, China. Designed to facilitate information exchange and cooperation in the innovation economy, this year’s conference brought together thousands of entrepreneurs and thought leaders around the theme “The Future of Co-inventing”, echoing Ucommune’s three core values, “Innovation, Network and Share”.
The conference welcomed over 50 experts, scholars, industry leaders, investment institutions, entrepreneurial innovators to discuss a range of trending topics spanning from smart living solutions to innovation and business growth.
“As China’s largest co-working operator, it is our responsibility to connect people and facilitate the exchange of ideas to drive innovation,” said Dr Daqing Mao, Founder and Chairman of Ucommune. “Now in its fourth year, the INS World Conference brings together the most brilliant minds from across the country to create and share. Enriched with the spirit of innovation, sharing and connection, this conference looks at how future technology trends, creative ideas and cultural developments are transforming our daily life and work.”
During the conference, Ucommune announced the findings of their annual “The Future of Co-inventing: Report on Future Trends in 2019” white paper, providing valuable academic insights for data analysts, economic observers and political researchers. The 96-page report includes data from 76 data sets and ten cities to examine how artificial intelligence will shape future homes, public spaces, and businesses across nine scenarios and industries: blockchain technology; 6G; connected family healthcare systems; VR applications; autonomous driving and facial recognition.
Neptune Reports Fiscal 2020 Second Quarter Results
Neptune Wellness Solutions Inc. (“Neptune” or the “Corporation”) (NASDAQ: NEPT) (TSX: NEPT), today announced its financial and operating results for the three-month period ended September 30, 2019. All amounts are in thousands of Canadian dollars except specified otherwise.
Second Quarter Financial and Corporate Highlights:
- Total revenues for the three-month period ended September 30, 2019 amounted to $6,512, representing an increase of $2,151 or 49% over the first quarter ended June 30, 2019 and a decrease of $559 or 8% compared to $7,071 for the three-month period ended September 30, 2018.
- Revenues from the Cannabis segment reached $1,220, an increase of $1,182 sequentially from the three-month period ended June 30, 2019. Neptune started the commercial operations of its Cannabis segment in March 2019 and hence had no revenues in the prior year period ended September 30, 2018.
- Revenues from the Nutraceutical segment for the three-month period ended September 30, 2019 amounted to $5,149, representing an increase of 20% sequentially, over the first quarter ended June 30, 2019 and a decrease of $1,922 or 27% compared to $7,071 for the three-month period ended September 30, 2018. The decrease in revenues was attributable to timing of orders of our nutrition business.
- Net loss for the three-month period ended September 30, 2019 amounted to $20,775 compared to $3,050 for the three-month period ended September 30, 2018, an increase of $17,725. The increase is mainly attributable to an increase in stock-based compensation expense, depreciation and amortization and to accretion expense on contingent consideration combined with a lower Adjusted EBITDA1.
- Adjusted EBITDA1 decreased by $3,353 for the three-month period ended September 30, 2019 to ($4,581) compared to the three-month period ended September 30, 2018. The decrease in Adjusted EBITDA1 is mainly attributable to investments made in the cannabis segment to grow the workforce in anticipation of increased sales volume as well as an increase in salaries and benefits at the corporate level.
- On July 24, 2019, Neptune completed the acquisition of the assets of SugarLeaf. Neptune paid an initial consideration for SugarLeaf of $23.7 million (US$18.1 million), a combination of $15.8 million (US$12 million) in cash and 7.9 million (US$6.1 million) or 1,587,301 in common shares.
- On August 14, 2019, Neptune announced the creation of Neptune Ventures, a strategic investment arm and technology incubator which is expected to stimulate innovation and partnerships in the cannabis and wellness industries.
- On August 22, 2019, Neptune announced the addition of two new members to its team to support the company’s rapid growth. Neptune appointed Stephen Lijoi, as Vice-President Operations and José Dominguez as Cannabis Sommelier and Formulation Specialist.
- In August 2019, Neptune appointed Mr. Philippe Trudeau to its Board of Directors. Mr. Trudeau is a visionary leader with extensive experience in consumer goods. Mr. Trudeau spent 25 years at Trudeau Corporation, a consumer products company marketed in more than 70 countries, where he held many key positions including president from 2010 to 2018.
Subsequent to Quarter-end
- On October 4, 2019, Neptune announced a new strategic partnership with American Media LLC (“American Media”) which will provide US$12 million in advertising and creative services to Neptune to support the marketing and commercialization of Neptune’s consumer-facing brands in the U.S. Neptune will issue 3,000,000 warrants to AMI, each warrant allowing the holder to purchase one common share of Neptune at an exercise price of US$8.00 per share and with a 5-year expiration date.
- On October 17, 2019, Neptune announced that it entered into an agreement to provide extraction services to a large U.S.-based farming services operation. Under the contract terms, Neptune will receive hemp biomass to be processed and transformed into crude oil extracts. The 2-year agreement could reach a total value in excess of US$20 million.
- On October 17, 2019, the Corporation announced the appointment of Brett DuBose as Vice-President of Sales for the U.S. Region. Brett has more than 20 years of sales experience, most recently with Lonza Consumer Health and Nutrition where he was Associate Director Sales, for the Eastern U.S and Canada.
- On November 11, 2019, Neptune announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (NYSE: IFF) to co-develop hemp-derived CBD products for the mass retail and health & wellness markets. Under this strategic product development partnership, IFF will leverage its intellectual property (IP) for taste, scent, nutrition, and ingredients to provide essential oils and product development resources. Neptune will leverage its proprietary cold ethanol extraction processes and formulation IP to deliver high quality, full and broad-spectrum extracts for the development, manufacture and commercialization of hemp-derived products, infused with essential oils, for the cosmetics, personal care and home care markets. The initial launch will include a variety of topical products across the aromatherapy category, a market estimated at approximately $3 billion annually. Neptune will issue 2,000,000 warrants to IFF, each warrant allowing the holder to purchase one common share of Neptune at an exercise price of US $12.00 per share and with a 5-year expiration date.
“We have a strong opportunity in the consumer market, and in recent months I have been focused on developing our B2B and B2C strategy for the U.S. market. According to most estimates, the U.S. hemp-derived CBD market is expected to exceed US$20 billion at retail in the next five years. This market size is roughly three to four times larger than the expected size of the Canadian cannabis market and represents our largest opportunity today. The collaboration agreement with IFF and the American Media partnership will help raise the awareness of our CBD brand, Forest Remedies™. We expect to introduce our first consumer products at retail locations and online with rollout commencing in the first half of CY2020,” stated Michael Cammarata, CEO of Neptune.
“We achieved a significant milestone in mid October when we completed our Phase II capacity expansion. This additional capacity will alleviate our constraints in the near-term and help accelerate the company’s revenue growth in the cannabis segment. However, the start-up of our ethanol process has been longer than initially expected which has delayed the full ramp-up by one month to the end of December. With regards to our CO2 operations, we have been running seven days a week since the end of July and we are pleased with our yields and quality of extracts.” Said Stephen Lijoi, VP Operations.
“I believe we have created a very solid foundation to grow our company with a well capitalized balance sheet. Moreover, we are at an inflection point in terms of profitability. The dynamics of the legal cannabis and hemp extraction markets remain favorable with a scarcity of biomass extraction capacity in both Canada and the U.S., which should lead to continued sustained demand for our extraction services. We expect our revenue growth to accelerate for the remainder of the FY2020 based on the strong demand witnessed for extraction services. Lastly, we have a comprehensive strategy based on geographic diversification, and a wide scope of value-added services, as well as unique and distinctive products,” concluded Mr. Cammarata.
Total revenues reached $6,512 for the three-month ended September 30, 2019, down versus last year’s revenues of $7,071. The majority of the revenues during the quarter were generated in the Nutraceutical segment. The decline in total revenues was attributable to timing of orders of our nutrition business.
For the three-month ended September 30, 2019, Adjusted EBITDA1 was a loss of $4,581 compared with a loss of $1,228 last year. The increased Adjusted EBITDA1 loss is due to investments made in the cannabis segment to grow the workforce in anticipation of increased sales volume as well as an increase in salaries and benefits at the corporate level. The decrease can also be explained by an increase in litigation legal fees and additional SG&A coming from SugarLeaf.
Neptune reported a net loss of $20,775 for the three-month ended September 30, 2019, an increase compared to a net loss of $3,050 last year. The increase in net loss is mainly attributable to an increase in stock-based compensation expense, depreciation and amortization and accretion expense recognized on contingent consideration as well as for the same reasons as stated in the Adjusted EBITDA1 section above.
Cash and cash equivalents were $24,399 as of September 30, 2019. On November 6, 2019, Neptune closed a revolving line of credit with a large Canadian financial institution for an amount of $5 million to support the nutraceutical segment.
This summer Neptune initiated a search process to hire a new CFO. This process is well underway and the Corporation’s new CFO is expected to be announced in the coming months. Following the departure of Mario Paradis, Claudie Lauzon has been appointed interim CFO of the Company. Ms. Lauzon is the Corporate Controller of Neptune and has been employed by the Corporation for 10 years.
Official Launch of the Forest Remedies™ Brand
Our CBD consumer brand, Forest Remedies™, was acquired along with the purchase of SugarLeaf Labs. Initially, Forest Remedies™ was used to gain consumer insights on CBD finished product forms. Since its beginning in the fall of 2018, the brand has gained traction locally. The increasing demand for high quality hemp-derived products has led Neptune to recently rebrand Forest Remedies™ to appeal to a wider audience. Forest Remedies™ offers finished products such as tinctures, balms, massage oils, soft gels, and pet soothers. Additional products are currently in development. Forest Remedies™ products will continue to be available online (www.forestremedies.com) and could enter mass market retailers in calendar 2020. With innovation and a focus on quality, Neptune is confident in its ability to successfully grow the Forest Remedies™ brand. The company will deploy a marketing campaign and will be launching a new online platform in early calendar 2020.
Research and Development Initiatives
Neptune is undergoing and/or planning 10 research and clinical studies to further elucidate the benefits of its MaxSimil omega-3 licensed technology. Among the several initiatives underway is a clinical study that is a follow-up on a successful nonclinical study to determine if MaxSimil fish oil, when used as a carrier oil, can increase the absorption of cannabinoids in humans. In another study Neptune will try to establish if our proprietary formulation of MaxSimil fish oil and CBD can help with occasional anxiety from everyday life events. We also have an upcoming clinical study which will look at the use of our proprietary formulation of MaxSimil fish oil and CBD for workout recovery to determine if athletes will benefit from its use. This builds on the findings of our mitochondrial activity and inflammation resolution studies. We have increased our clinical activity because of the benefits we see in combining our omega-3 formulations with cannabinoids and have increased the size of our R&D team accordingly.
“We continue to see strong demand for extraction services in Canada. We have provided extraction services to five clients in Canada and expect to continue to diversify our client base in the coming months. While the ramp-up of our phase II ethanol extraction is slower than originally anticipated, once running at full capacity by the end of December, this custom-built specialized equipment should provide Neptune with low operational costs,” said Stephen Lijoi, VP Operations at Neptune.
The construction of our Phase IIIa is ongoing and is being adapted to our customers’ needs and changes in the Canadian Federal and Provincial regulatory requirements for Cannabis 2.0. This process is expected to be completed before fiscal year-end, subject to Health Canada approval. The expansion of our packaging capabilities is tracking as planned along with the installation of security measures for our warehouse to comply with Health Canada’s requirements. We expect to send a license amendment to Health Canada for the certification of those areas early in calendar 2020.
The next few months will be very active at Neptune. We have several projects ongoing in Canada such as obtaining our organic certification, applying for our sales license and further down the road, seeking our EU GMP certification. These future catalysts should help the company accelerate its revenue growth in Canada.
Our U.S. operations are scaling up as planned and our facility in North Carolina should reach a processing capacity of 1,500,000 kg of biomass annually by the end of December, as expected. The recent changes implemented by the USDA are expected to increase the cultivation of hemp in the US and could translate into increased demand for biomass extraction in the coming years. The recent client wins are an endorsement of our ability to provide superior extraction services. Our talent pool continues to grow with the addition of key personnel such as a VP Sales – U.S. Region and a Head – Quality Assurance both of which should help support additional growth.
SOURCE Neptune Wellness Solutions Inc.
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