Newly launched derivatives platform EQUOS.io is set to become the United States’ first publicly-traded crypto exchange later this year through a “backdoor listing” on the Nasdaq.
Its operator, Hong Kong-based Diginex, announced Thursday it is combining EQUOS.io with Singapore’s 8i Enterprises Acquisition Corp – a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) listed on the Nasdaq.
SPACs are shell companies that use funds from their initial public offerings (IPOs) to acquire target companies, bringing them public through the “backdoor.” Around since the 1990s, they’ve experienced something of a renaissance in recent years, with the total amount raised hitting a record $13.6 billion in 2019 – more than four times the $3.2 billion in 2016.
Diginex CEO Richard Byworth told CoinDesk that SPACs were faster and cheaper than traditional listings. In addition, they fix valuations in advance, avoiding the possibility of WeWork-like devaluations at the last minute, he noted.
EQUOS.io will be the first publicly-traded cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S. once the acquisition is completed in September, Byworth said.
Newly launched, EQUOS.io is an institutional-oriented exchange with a team from the traditional derivatives space. The ambition is to expand the still-nascent crypto derivatives scene to hundreds of times the size of the spot market – just like traditional markets.
Diginex had planned to move ahead with the listing much earlier. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved the acquisition back in late February with a shareholder vote confirming the deal planned for March 20, around the time global equity markets were in a tailspin.
“If you remember, that was the day when the S&P 500 was down 12.5%,” Byworth said, “so the conclusion was probably not the best day to go to market.”
EQUOS.io isn’t the only crypto company heading to the public market. Ant Group, one of the principal issuers for China’s digital yuan, announced a dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai earlier this month. Crypto exchange Coinbase is also said to be considering a direct listing for 2021.
Chinese mining chip manufacturer Canaan Creative held a $100 million IPO in November 2019. Since listing, its share price has fallen by two-thirds, from $9 to $3 at press time.
After filing again with the SEC and being re-approved in June, everything is now set for the Nasdaq listing. Although U.S. citizens will be able to purchase shares in EQUOS.io, Byworth said that the exchange itself will not actually operate in the country.
So why list on the Nasdaq? CoinDesk asked.
“The Nasdaq listing is more about the credibility and trust,” Byworth said, adding that it remains the foremost stock exchange for tech stocks anywhere in the world.
With the bull run in tech stocks showing no signs of slowing and that the company will become one of the very first cryptocurrency firms to trade on the Nasdaq, Diginex has a compelling investment case for its derivatives exchange, he said.