Having attended the World Economic Forum in Davos for the first time last year, I knew a little more about what to expect. A bit less snow this time meant fewer signs of weather disruption, but technology disruption was very much in evidence.
Large parts of the Promenade (the main shopping street in Davos) were turned into shop fronts for many of the world’s leading technology giants: Facebook, Google, Workday, Salesforce, to name a few. On one side street, which I have somewhat affectionately named as Blockchain Alley, the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) and leading blockchain technology company ConsenSys occupy neighbouring units. This year, blockchain has emerged from being a fringe event to a topic inside the main conference centre. And as an advocate for exploring the application of blockchain to real estate, the more interesting thing for me is that cryptocurrency is no longer the main topic of conversation.
I was delighted to participate in a panel discussion led by Duncan Mavin (Managing Editor of the Dow Jones Media Group) with fellow panellists Jeff Schumacher (founder of BCG Digital Ventures) and Mo Shaikh (co-founder Meridio). Much of the focus to date has been on the “tokenisation” of single assets and indeed Meridio are at the forefront of this innovation. Tokenisation has the potential to open up a new avenue for some private and institutional investors to place equity in larger real estate assets than previously possible, by essentially creating new financial instruments that can easily be traded. As this will involve minority interests in a capital structure it will be a regulated industry, and it’s impressive to see regulators, real estate and blockchain industry leaders coming together to develop this.
But it’s the application of smart-contracts in the blockchain that really excites me, as all parties to a transaction can rely on the incorruptible truth contained within them. Any new technology that can significantly enhance the experience for investors as they manage and trade their economic interest in real estate will revolutionise liquidity in the market, and increase overall activity. It really is exciting to see, and it’s great to be part of it. Vive la révolution!