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CAPITAL MARKETS

Agora works with incumbents to digitalize primary markets

If regulated investors are to buy bonds on blockchain, incumbent infrastructure providers such as CSDs must embrace the very technology that threatens their traditional role.

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Over the past eight months, agora Digital Capital Markets – the fintech headed and co-founded by former Bank of America, Salomon Brothers and Barclays debt capital markets banker Charlie Berman – has been running a series of tests of new software to automate the pre-trade negotiation, primary market execution, settlement and life-cycle functions of new bond deals.

Agora is one of a group of firms – along with Fnality and Nivaura – that see various technologies, including the artificial intelligence (AI) behind legal mark-up language and blockchain for sharing of agreed and confirmed terms, coming together for a new digital age in debt capital markets.

“We now have a V1 syndicated bond product that will go into live use after a great deal of input from users and continuously be updated,” Berman tells Euromoney.

Fourteen investment banks – representing more than half of the market as measured by the 2021 sovereign supranational and agency (SSA) bookrunner league table – five SSA issuers, and a large infrastructure provider participated in a series of test benchmark deals in dollars and euros.

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Charlie Berman, agora

These were executed on a private permissioned distributed-ledger technology (DLT) network on R3’s Corda platform.

Euromoney


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