A security token offering (STO) / tokenized IPO is a type of public offering in which tokenized digital securities, known as security tokens, are sold in security token exchanges. Tokens can be used to trade real financial assets such as equities and fixed income, and use a blockchain virtual ledger system to store and validate token transactions.
Due to tokens being classified as securities, STOs are more susceptible to regulation and thus represent a more secure investment alternative than ICOs, which have been subject to numerous fraudulent schemes. Furthermore, since ICOs are not held in traditional exchanges, they can be a less expensive funding source for small and medium-sized companies when compared to an IPO.
An STO on a regulated stock exchange (referred to as a tokenized IPO) has the potential to deliver significant efficiencies and cost savings, however.
By the end of 2019, STOs had been used in multiple scenarios including the trading of Nasdaq-listed company stocks, the pre-IPO of World Chess, FIDE's official broadcasting platform, and the creation of Singapore Exchange's own STO market, backed by Japan's Tokai Tokyo Financial Holdings.