Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology conquered the financial world in 2017. As we see more capital gravitate towards promising virtual currencies and initial coin offering (ICO) projects, technologists are advancing tokens as a new way of exchanging economic value of traditional assets such as real estate, which has led to “asset tokenization” becoming a hot topic
Hong Kong tech veteran Ricky Ng Yau-ping, co-founder of iClick Interactive, one of the largest digital advertising platforms in the Greater China region and which has partnered with Chinese tech giants Tencent and Baidu, has founded I-house.com and I-house.com Token (IHT), a blockchain real-estate cloud platform that involves the use of crypto token.
Ng recently sat down with the Hong Kong Economic Journal to explain his plan on asset tokenization, which assigns a tradable digital token as a unit of value for the asset it represents.
HKEJ: As we understand, you are working on a blockchain platform and issued token for it. Would you like to elaborate on that business?
Ng: Recently I started I-house.com, the first blockchain real-estate cloud platform worldwide and launched a token sale of the I-house.com Token (IHT).
What we are introducing to the market is the Asset Tokenize Offering (ATO). Through smart contract and distributed accounting technology, large real-estate can be split and distributed to financial institutions and investors.
We have seen how Airbnb revolutionized the lodging market, and how WeWork drives the change in the workplace industry. With I-house.com Token, users are able to invest and gain from the global real estate market, say, owning a slice of a resort in Japan without digging deeper into their pockets.
Also, ATO expands the asset owner’s fundraising channels, shortening the time the owner spends on sourcing channels. To property owners, the concept of ATO is, to some extent, similar to the pre-sale of buildings under construction.
The I-house.com Token will not be used as a form of currency in the asset transactions. In the asset transactions, we now accept fiat currencies, like US dollars, yuan, yen, and HK dollars, as well as cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ethereum. For investors using fiat currencies, the investment process would be like property crowdfunding, which requires adherence to financial and crowdfunding regulations.
Q: How has the market responded to the project?
A: So far so good in China. People in mainland China, in general, have an easier acceptance of new things. They are used to trying things out; if it doesn’t work, that’s fine. And we have seen people working on similar projects, believing that this is the next big thing. Gathering a community that embraces technology and innovation is significant for development of blockchain technology. If we want to do that in Hong Kong, we can’t do anything unless we have a quality community.
Q: Would you advise young tech talents to jump into the blockchain technology space?
A: Sure! In the past, ICO projects were vilified due to ineffective scrutiny. Small investors with no professional knowledge could be easy targets of scams and frauds. But there is a different case now in the United States and China, where we have seen authorities allow corporations or entities to launch ICO projects, and also participation from institutional investors.
For our I-house.com Token project, investment institutions account for 90 percent of the investor base, including Draper Dragon, one of the core funds of the Draper Venture Network, which is also an investor in Tesla. I believe a token sale in full compliance with the law would guarantee a protection to the buyers.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 13
Translation by Ben Ng with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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