Articles

Blockchain Takes Manhattan


– [Narrator] Welcome to New York City. The crown jewel of the real estate market. Everybody wants a piece. And now, thanks to blockchain technology, that may very well be possible. This $36.5 million development is being sliced into digital shares, or tokenized, as it’s called, so that investors around the world can own as much, or as
little, as they can afford. – We have the typical bank
financing on this project with a conventional bank, and
this loan matures in January. We’ve decided to take a right turn and tokenize the debt
here on the property. The construction is 95% complete, we are starting to get inspections
in the next week or so. – We have a bank deadline on us, where we have to sell a
certain amount of units or repay the entire
loan by a certain date. If construction’s been delayed, if the market turns,
if competition pops up, and we’re not going to be
able to hit that deadline, what do you do? So by tokenizing the debt, it gives everyone breathing room to sell at a normal pace with the market instead of against it. – [Narrator] The people
behind this offering reside across the East
River, in that other borough. Here, the blockchain start-up, Fluidity, has teamed up with
broker-dealer firm, Propellor, to generate tokens by
crafting smart contracts, and in so doing, they
could be changing the way we all do business in the future. – When we started to look
at the real estate industry, it’s probably one of the
most inefficient industries that exist currently. You have a lot of
middlemen, a lot of lawyers, a lot of bankers and
just being able to create something that has real impact
on an industry like that, I think you’re looking at
significant disruption. – [Narrator] But for a project determined to eliminate middlemen, there’s
a lot of people involved. – Motivator.
– Coder. – I’m a lawyer.
– Facilitator. – Strategy.
– Project Manager. – Developer.
– Co-founder. – I’m just the broker. – I’m a fan. – [Narrator] An important
party that is absent in this equation is a bank. – There will not be a bank involved. – [Narrator] The process
goes something like this. These guys create tokens
on the blockchain. The tokens represent
the condo unit’s debt, and can be traded as private securities. If token holders sell their shares, the purchaser can either
preserve the tokens on the blockchain, or cash them out, thereby dissolving
these tokens altogether. This, theoretically, would
produce more liquidity to a notoriously ill-liquid market. – It’s a hard, asset-backed, secured loan. – We’re taking private securities and we’re putting a digital
wrapper around them, which makes it easier to
track and easier to transfer. – There’s only four assets
you can own in the world. Stock, a bond, a currency or a commodity. And we think every single one of them’s gonna get digitized. Tokenize the world. – [Narrator] And that’s already happening. A UK company recently
tokenized this Andy Warhol. Now, 100 people own 31.5% of
this $5.6 million painting. And when it rises in value,
the tokens will as well. So, is the same thing happening with New York City real estate? – Literally, 25, 30 million people can own a piece of this at a dollar a pop. When has that ever been possible? – [Narrator] Technically,
it’s still not possible. At least, yet, that is. Many hurdles remain before this becomes a democratizing force for the masses. Not least of which is the
fact that these tokens are only available to
accredited investors, keeping the barrier of entry high. Open only to the rich. But all of this is very new, and hasn’t yet fully impacted the system. Blockchain innovations like this one, clearly has the potential
to disrupt the way we do business, and even the way we define the very things that we own. – You know, if there’s another downturn, and banks say, oh, we have
a hard time lending now, okay, well, I don’t need you, because I can tokenize
my loan that I wanna use to buy that condo there. And that’s what I’m gonna do. So now we don’t need banks anymore. That is what’s crazy.

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