HSBC blockchain

HSBC used blockchain technology to settle more than three million forex trades in the last year. 

The trades, worth $250 billion, are a “small proportion” of HSBC’s total trading figures. However, it’s a huge step forward and proof that blockchain can offer real-world solutions.

HSBC said the distributed ledger technology had helped the company lower costs while reducing errors and delays. It has also allowed the bank to automate some processes that previously relied on manual input.

While many banks have experimented with blockchain technology, few have implemented it into existing processes. HSBC is now looking at how blockchain can help global clients improve forex trades.

Source: Reuters

blockchain artwork

The world’s first blockchain auction took place last year.

A 31.5% stake in Andy Warhol’s painting 14 Small Electric Chairs was tokenized and sold to bidders who could pay with bitcoin, ethereum, or a native cryptocurrency ART. Each token share was determined by a smart contract on Ethereum. 

Is this fractional ownership system the future of artwork auctions?

The gallery behind the initiative, Dadiani, thinks so: “For the first time ever high-value, blue-chip art works will be available for everybody to own utilizing the unique [blockchain] platform.”

75% of Auction Houses Are Looking Into Blockchain

According to one of The European Fine Art Fair Reports from 2017, called TEFAF Art Market Online Focus, 75% of auction houses are looking into offering some sort of blockchain technology within the next five years.

The tokenization of assets is a huge theme across the blockchain industry. And, alongside real estate, the art world is among the first to embrace the revolution.

artwork blockchain stats

But Why Blockchain and Artwork? 

Let’s dig into some stats and think about it. 

Issue #1.  Even though art is considered a great investment, there’s no consistent data on value

The Mona Lisa was evaluated at $100 million back in 1962. More than 50 years later, in 2017, ERGO insurance specialists now estimate that figure at $750 million – $1 billion considering inflation and other factors. 

But there are only a handful of masterpieces in the world. So, the overall return on investment is quite unpredictable. Even the data points from different market players are entirely inconsistent.

For example, a well-known art expert, Melanie Gerlis, who combined “all the research on the broad market points to an average compound return on investment-grade art” came up with 4% annual return.  

Warhol blockchain artwork

When the researchers from Stanford Business School tried to do the math and analyze data from 1972 to 2010, they found out that the return was closer to 6.5%. And The Blouin Art Sales Index, popular amongst art dealers database, estimates a 10% annual return. For reference, the average yearly return from the S&P 500 was about 11.46% from 1988 to 2018. 

Even experts not sure about the changing value in fine art. How are average folks suppose to deal with all that?

By recording auction and gallery sale prices on an immutable, transparent blockchain, we could theoretically bring some clarity to art values over time.

Issue #2. Investing in art is not easily available to the general public. Selling art is easier for dead geniuses. 

Works by 52,105 artists appeared at fine art auctions in 2017 according to the Art Basel and UBS’s The Art Market | 2018 report. But only 1% of those names accounted for 64% of the sales (works priced and sold higher than $1 million per pop). 

According to the same report, nearly all artworks up to $1 million declined in value. On the contrary, the market for works priced over $1 million increased. The number of items sold in that segment grew by 76% along with the 50% value increase.

Successfully investing in art is therefore limited to those who can afford million-dollar auction prices.

Artwork on the blockchain

Apart from the price, think of the transaction fees. There’s no “fair” price for art. It’s just a matter of what are you agreeing to pay as a buyer plus fees (those are sometimes negotiable), that can reach up to 25% depending on the price of the piece. And don’t forget about the ongoing costs of purchasing such a valuable lot – insurance, video surveillance, top-notch security system, etc. 

All that means that you’ve got to have a couple of millions of dollars to spare if you are really into purchasing some fine art. And it’s not clear when you’ll be able to sell your acquisition in case you urgently need your money back. Those investments are amongst the most illiquid. 

Blockchain auctions, like Andy Warhol’s 14 Small Electric Chairs, could change this. By tokenizing a fractional share of expensive paintings, anyone can get into art investing, even with a small amount.

Issue #3. Fraud and lack of transparency 

The art market is not as regulated as more traditional investments classes. There is more temptation to do things wrong. And even when you deal with the most authoritative galleries and auctioning houses and paying the highest fees, there’s still a risk of fraud.

Let’s remember Christie’s case. Christie’s has reportedly sold forgeries from La Horde by Ernst Max to Heinrich Campendonk’s Girl with a Swank. More than that, The Independent claims that at least 20% of the paintings held by world-class museums are fake. 

But imagine, what if there was a database with the history of ownership and proof of the authenticity for all the pieces of art ever existed? Doesn’t it ring “blockchain” to you? 

Who’s Leading the Artwork Blockchain Evolution?

The revolution is already happening. At the moment there are two main types of players in the field: 

  • Those solving infrastructural problems – e.g. recording and verifying artwork authenticity on a blockchain, creating a service solution those tokenizing artwork. 
  • Those democratizing fine art as an investment – e.g. companies selling fractional ownership of artwork via token sales or auction.

Here are some of the biggest players:

Blockchain App Factory

Blockchain App Factory is somewhat equivocal and mysterious. They provide an extraordinary number of services (due diligence, creating of a token, auditing, and legal services for assigning a value for the token).

ArtWallet

ArtWallet is a “blockchain-based ecosystem” which aims to verify the authenticity of artwork by tracking its ownership, history, and provenance on a blockchain. Their whitelist is opening soon.

Monegraph

The much more open and clear Monegraph allows artists to register their works on the publicly verifiable Bitcoin blockchain. It provides users with a certification of authenticity for the tokens, representing pieces of art.

Blockchain Art Collective

Blockchain Art Collective also aims to track and prove artwork authenticity. It tags artwork with a tamper-evident, NFC-enabled Certificate of Authenticity, complete with timestamps, to a blockchain. (Blockchain Art Starter Kit starting at $20).

blockchain art collective

Verisart

Verisart was founded by Robert Norton, the former CEO of Saatchi Art & Sedition Art. It strives to build evidentiary infrastructure for artworks and collectibles that are verifiable by anyone based on a public blockchain. 

Artory

My personal favorite from this list is Artory. Founded in 2016 by Nanne Dekking, the former chairman of Sotheby’s, the company tracks provenance of fine artwork and collectibles. Due to his background, Dekking has some aces up his sleeves, so in November Artory partnered with Christie’s New York to sell $318 million Barney A. Ebsworth collection and keep the transactions data recorded on its blockchain. 

Maecenas

Maecenas is the company that powered the sale of 31.5% ownership of Andy Warhol’s piece last summer. Maecenas is currently working to organize a second auction, this time featuring Picasso. The auction is preliminarily scheduled to be held during the 1st quarter of 2019. 

Masterworks

Masterworks was founded by Scott Lynn, who has been a passionate art collector for more than 15 years and accumulated a pretty impressive selection of Abstract Expressionism including Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Barnett Newman. And now Masterworks offers a clear framework for its users along with well-researched analytical data about the investment in fine arts.  The team has acquired Warhol’s “1 Colored Marilyn (Reversal Series),” and at the moment of writing 97% of it has been reserved by retail investors. A minimum investment of $1,000 will give anyone 50 shares of an artwork. Payment can be made via bank transfer (for the citizens of the US and Canada) or via credit card (5% fees applied). The next on the Masterwork’s selling list is Claude Monet. 

Masterworks blockchain artwork

TheArtToken (TAT) 

TAT was issued by Swarm, a non-profit provider of open infrastructure for digital securities. The project’s team already owns a pre-funded art collection of $4.1 million value and currently is in the process of its own token sale that is due to end at the middle of January 2019. Each token sold represents partial ownership of a Post War & Contemporary Art collection. It is stored in a Swiss bonded warehouse and managed by FineArtDigital AG.

R.A.R.E Digital Art Network

R.A.R.E is a company selling digital artwork. Using blockchain technology, each piece of digital artwork can be given a unique identity or a limited run. It brings scarcity and value to digital artwork that was never possible without blockchain.

Snark

Snark is selling “atoms,” which represent fractional ownership of Eve Sussman’s acclaimed video 89 seconds at Alcazár. 

Conclusion

As mentioned before at BlockExplorer, tokenization of real assets is something I am very excited about. For now, the only thing that’s left to do is to relax and observe how all of those startups will bring the technologies of the distributed ledger to a new level of adoption at least in the art space. 

Baby steps. 

How long will it take to allow anyone in the world to purchase a share of an authentic Rembrandt or Van Gogh in a matter of a couple of clicks from a mobile device? Go ahead and share your predictions in the comment section below.

Crypto Curious? Subscribe to the Block Explorer newsletter to get exclusive crypto insights before they appear on the site.

bitcoin blockchain future trends 2019

There’s no other way to say it: 2018 was a true rollercoaster for the blockchain world.

While it started with a historic surge to an unbelievable crypto market capitalization of $900 billion at its peak, the market disastrously retraced by nearly 90% since those glory days.

Despite countless financial analysts and crypto experts predicting heights of up to $60,000 per bitcoin in 2018, the year, unfortunately, turned out to be one of the worst for the crypto market.

However, now it’s time to focus on the future. In order to effectively prepare yourself for the following year, you definitely want to take a look at the following sectors of the blockchain world.

1. Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

bitcoin etf approval date

Date to Watch: 27th of February, 2019 – VanEck and Solid X Bitcoin ETF Decision Date

Bitcoin ETFs have undoubtedly been one of the hottest topics during the past 12 months, especially since they are regarded as a potential catalyst for rapid price increases of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. 

One ETF application, in particular, has been declared as a possible game-changer. The collaboration between investment firm VanEck, the blockchain company SolidX and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). It is one of the few physical ETF proposals that is actually seen as promising by several financial experts. 

If a trading vehicle of this kind was approved, the ETF issuer would need to actually buy real bitcoins from an exchange or, more likely, the over the counter (OTC). A potential ETF of this size requires tens of thousands of bitcoins, and the ensemble would need to acquire them, which could lead to a rapid increase in price. 

Furthermore, an ETF would enable investors and traders to eventually trade bitcoin on a traditional stock exchange, which would also help the digital currency to gain popularity and availability. 

Unfortunately, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has not yet decided on the ETF submitted by VanEck and SolidX. The final decision has been postponed several times, however, the SEC announced an ultimatum on December 7, 2018. The Commission chose the 27th of February, 2019, as the day for either the approval or disapproval of the proposal. 

Although dozens of established cryptocurrency specialists, like CNBC expert Bill Barhydt, believe that we will see an ETF approval in the following months, it remains to be seen if the SEC is convinced that the time is right to unleash the first physical Exchange-Traded Fund for Bitcoin.

Further reading: What is a Bitcoin ETF (And Will it Trigger a Bitcoin Price Surge?)

2. Tokenized Securities

security token map - the block
Mapping the Security Token ecosystem, by The Block

“Security tokens, not utility coins, will attract significant amounts of Wall Street money next year.”

Security tokens or tokenized securities were definitely buzzwords that grew in the past 12 months in crypto. This is, of course, because tokenized assets are one of the most promising innovations in the blockchain sector, as they could disrupt the corporate and financial world.

Rohit Kulkarni, the managing director of SharesPost, one of the leading marketplaces for private securities, firmly believes that 2019 is going to be the year of tokenized securities. In a recent article on Nasdaq, Kulkarni stated that “security tokens, not utility coins, will attract significant amounts of Wall Street money next year.” 

Despite missing regulations often being seen as a major stumbling block for the industry to grow, Kulkarni is confident that the space will mature in the near future. “We ultimately expect a more stable regulatory environment over the next six to twelve months,” he said.

In 2018, many companies already started engaging in the security token industry. Overstock, for example, became the first billion dollar company to start building their very own security token exchange, which is expected to open up trading during this year. 

Moreover, Open Finance became the first U.S. based security token exchange that went live on December 13, 2018. With traditional stock exchanges, such as Switzerland’s and Malta’s main stock exchanges, forming partnerships to build security token exchanges, the industry is without a doubt worth to keep an eye on in 2019.

Further reading:

Nasdaq Stocks on the Blockchain: You Can Now Buy Tokenized Shares in Apple, Tesla, and Facebook

Real Estate on the Blockchain: Is Tokenized Property a Reality in 2019?

3. Nasdaq and New York Stock Exchange Get Involved in Crypto

Nasdaq bitcoin futures

Date to Watch: Late January – The expected launch of Bakkt.

The two biggest stock exchanges in the world will step into the crypto ring in 2019: the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq. 

Bakkt, a cryptocurrency exchange built by ICE, which is the parent company of the NYSE, planned to launch the first physical-backed bitcoin futures on January 24. Although the start has already been postponed several times, crypto enthusiasts still see the exchange as a potential game-changer for involving institutional investors into the market, due to the reputation and experience that is connected with its operator.

Meanwhile, Nasdaq is following Bakkt on its mission and recently announced it was working on Bitcoin future trading for 2019 as well. Further news from Nasdaq include the exploration of security tokens and a potential exchange for such assets in the following time.

While it is not yet certain what kind of future security token trading Nasdaq will be providing, it still shows that some of the biggest financial enterprises in the world are not scared of the overall bearish market sentiment of 2018. “The concept of having a digital currency that does allow for transfer of money across borders, that really transcends the banking system, and allows for a seamless transfer, is really really fascinating and one that we have to assume will become a part of the ecosystem of the internet,” Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman commented on digital currencies such as bitcoin.

Further reading: “We’re Doing This No Matter What”; Nasdaq Confirms Bitcoin Futures Launch

4. Custody and Storage Solutions

fidelity-investments-crypto-blockchain-bitcoin-760x400

Fidelity: We’ll “make digitally native assets, such as bitcoin, more accessible to investors”

$1 billion in cryptocurrency was stolen in 2018 with high-profile crypto exchange hacks hitting the headlines. Keeping cryptocurrency on an exchange is risky. And, while holding bitcoin yourself in a personal wallet is safe, you risk losing the wallet.

That’s why custody and storage solutions will be a huge talking point in 2019.

As for institutional investors, bitcoin or storage solutions are seen as major hurdles for attracting the big fish to the crypto market. Most institutional investors are prohibited from investing in assets unless they are held in secure custody provided by highly specialized firms, 

Coinbase and other blockchain companies already gave birth to novel crypto asset custodial solutions in 2018. Fidelity, an established asset management firm that administers its clients’ assets with a combined worth of about $7 trillion, also decided to “make digitally native assets, such as bitcoin, more accessible to investors,” and founded a new subsidiary that focuses on storing digital assets for its clients. According to CNBC, the company is already in the process of onboarding clients and is expected to launch its platform in early 2019.

Some say that we should even expect major banks to join Fidelity and Co. in providing services for storing bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. As stated in several reports, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse, at the Singapore FinTech festival in 2018, mentioned that banking institutions are about to offer blockchain asset custody solutions to their clients during the next year.

5. Over-the-Counter (OTC) Trading

Circle OTC bitcoin trading

The Circle Trade OTC desk

Circle reported $24 billion in OTC crypto trading last year

OTC or over-the-counter trading is another keyword that pops up here and there when scanning the blockchain related stories of 2018. OTC trading is the private buying and selling of cryptocurrencies, often in huge amounts, off the major exchanges.

Bitcoin OTC coverage has increased in the media and social networks, but the trading activity itself seems to have increased in 2018 as well.

With Goldman Sachs-backed Circle’s OTC trading platform recording $24 billion in OTC trading last year, it is regarded as a true money-making machine. “We have seen triple-digit growth enrolling in our OTC business. That’s a big growth area,” mentioned Jeremy Allaire, the CEO of Circle, in an interview with Bloomberg in October.

Consequently, some of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges are now working on their own OTC trading desks or, in regard to Coinbase, quietly launched one in the matter of a few months. 

Binance, on the other hand, decided to act in a different way, as its newly founded investment wing Binance Labs recently invested $3 million into a U.S. based OTC desk called Koi Trading. 

With major exchanges moving into the OTC business, the field is likely to play a key role in the blockchain world during 2019.

Further reading: What is Bitcoin OTC Trading? Inside the Mysterious World of the Rich and Nebulous

6. Banking and Blockchain

Creating a “seamless experience for storing and managing digital assets”

Banking institutions around the globe are already experimenting with blockchain technology in order to improve cross-border trading and daily operations. In 2018, several achievements were made and they might give us an outlook of how the following 12 months could look like for banks.

The first real customer transactions between several big international banking institutions were conducted on the blockchain platform We.Trade on July 3, 2018. This event is considered a major milestone for blockchain adoption, as institutions across all industries were previously not interested in leaving their sandbox test environments.

While established banks are continuously pushing forward adoption of distributed ledger technologies, new players are also eyeing the creation of banks that are focused on blockchain assets. 

Smaller offshore destinations in the Caribbean, e.g. Bermuda, recently announced an update of their banking legislation in favor of blockchain technology and assets. Additionally, a young enterprise called EQIBank, founded by previous bankers from HSBC, UBS and Credit Suisse, just opened their first customer accounts in December 2018.

EQIBank aims to provide a seamless experience for storing and managing both traditional and digital assets, as stated in a recent press release. This can definitely be considered as an upcoming trend since crypto startups around the world are currently applying for banking licenses in their countries.

7. The Cryptocurrency Insurance Industry

Gemini insurance
The Gemini exchange and custody service is now fully insured

“The evolution is dramatic”

Insurance giants, such as MetLife and Allianz, are often regarded as notable blockchain researchers and adopters. Fair enough, considering that transparent ledgers and smart contracts seem to be the perfect enhancements for the daily business of an insurance company. The most promising use-cases include, but are not limited to, automating payments once the terms of a claim are met, increasing the transparency of transactions, storing information and enabling blockchain powered IoT processes.

Ryan Rugg, the global head of insurance at R3, believes the current evolution of insurance companies is a huge leap for the industry. “These developments would be innovative in any sector, but when you consider the processes underpinning the insurance industry have remained largely unchanged for hundreds of years, the evolution is even more dramatic,” Rugg explained in an article on BlockTribune. When talking about the future, Rugg further stated that “2019 will undoubtedly see the insurance industry enter the next stage of its digital transformation.”

Further reading: Cryptocurrency Insurance: What is It?

8. Regulation Developments

“We need appropriate regulations to be put in place and enforced to safeguard the interest of investors”

2018 has definitely seen some considerable developments in terms of global blockchain regulations. With Malta officially becoming a blockchain island, smaller jurisdictions opening up to security tokens and the SEC finally cracking down on a majority of all the controversial ICOs, the blockchain space clearly advanced and is on its way towards becoming a matured industry. Still, there are countless regulatory issues left that hamper the global adoption of blockchain technology and services.

With 2018 as a foundation, we most probably will see exponential progress in the following year in the most important jurisdictions, such as the US and the EU. In fact, there are already several signs that validate this assumption. On October 18, the SEC announced the launch of a new FinHub, where regulatory approaches to novel financial technologies, like blockchain, are researched and evaluated.

After Singapore, Malaysia is another Asian country that wants to introduce new legislation for blockchain in the following year. “While some parties might still be skeptical of this space, there can be no doubt that we need appropriate regulations to be put in place and enforced to safeguard the interest of investors,” said Lim Guan Eng, Finance Minister of Malaysia. In Liechtenstein, the government is currently working on the Liechtenstein Blockchain Act, which should pave the way for institutional investors in 2019.

Further countries that are expected to unveil updated laws for blockchain include the United Arabian Emirates, Israel, Russia, Thailand and seven major states within the EU. The ball is finally rolling and global regulations in various areas of distributed ledger technology seem to be closer than ever before. We definitely have an exciting year ahead of us and might even be looking towards one of the most productive years for the blockchain industry ever.

Crypto Curious? Subscribe to the Block Explorer newsletter to get exclusive crypto insights before they appear on the site.

For $21,000, you can now buy a fraction of a student residence building, The Hub, in South Carolina. In exchange for your investment, you’ll receive a digital token that represents your share of the building’s ownership fund.

It’s part of a joint effort from Convexity Properties, a Chicago-based real estate investment firm and Harbor, the all-in-one tokenization platform.

This tokenization of real estate opens up the market to investors that might not be able to afford a full property or even the high minimums of traditional real estate investment trusts (REITs).

In 2018, an asset management company, Elevated Returns, sold tokenized shares in a luxury hotel in Aspen, Colorado. Investors received “Aspen coins” to denote their partial ownership in the project. The crowdfunding campaign, via Indiegogo, started on the 8th of August 2018 and ended on October the 1st, 2018, raising $18 million.

Aspen tokenized real estate
Investors received “Aspen Coins” to denote ownership in the luxury Aspen Hotel

However, only accredited U.S. investors were allowed to participate in the sale with a minimum investment of $10,000. “Accredited investors” are individuals with “earned income that exceeded $200,000 in each of the prior two years” or has a net worth of over $1 million.

These experimental projects point to a possible new future in real estate investment and blockchain technology. But how close are we to the realization of tokenized real estate? Block Explorer dives deeper into the various projects in their space, tracks their progress, and outlines the opportunities available.

Why Put Real Estate on the Blockchain?

The real estate industry experiences some massive problems.

Here are some of the biggest, according to a new report, Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate 2018-2019 from The Counselors of Real Estate (CRE):

1. The increasing interest rate on housing mortgages and overall political uncertainties make purchasing a house less and less attractive. 

2. The new immigration laws and consequences of urban infrastructure are most likely to contribute to the further price increase of newly-built real estate objects. 

3. The boom of e-commerce makes it unviable for many retailers to run a brick-and-mortar business, so the demand for commercial real estate objects is going down. 

Moreover, disruptive technologies are reshaping the industry altogether. As another research paper called Emerging Trends in Real Estate (for the U.S. and Canada in 2019) by PricewaterhouseCoopers points out, investing in real estate related technologies will accelerate drastically. 

It could reach $5.2 billion in 2018, which is significantly higher than $1.3 billion poured into the field in 2014. And blockchain technologies are named amongst the 13 real estate industry disruptors. 

And it’s not surprising. Distributed ledger technologies can potentially patch a lot of holes in the industry. Firstly, it could help create a fully-transparent real estate registry. Secondly, it can create buying opportunities for financially-limited investors, through fractional ownership. 

Real Estate blockchain

The Biggest Real Estate Blockchain Projects Right Now

Numerous blockchain startups have flocked to the space, promising easy access to real estate investment to anyone curious to get in. And not only to accredited investors. Among the most noticeable are:

Atlant

Atlant offers Ethereum-based peer-to-peer rentals and tokenized real estate ownership. However, even though the prototype has existed since September 2017, and the public beta of the product was launched in October 2018, there’s still a lot of work to do. The company is still struggling to acquire all the necessary licenses and there’s not much clarity on the timeframe. 

Blockimmo

Blockimmo is striving to facilitate “an accessible, streamlined real-estate market” through tokenized real estate shares. Their recent big news is the company’s business model approval by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA). It also launched a testnet with two property listings samples. 

Real properties supposedly will be available on the platform in 2019. It’s all sounds very promising. Yet, when digging more in-depth to the current company’s website, it appears to be clear that the team has a long way to go.

Some worrying discrepancies can be found in the “frequently asked question” section. It claims that “submitted real estate properties are carefully curated by our team of experts”, but the current number of employees is four, and three of them are developers. So, those are probably not a great fit when it comes to real estate evaluation. But let’s give it some time. 

Jointer.io

jointer.io is another startup in the field. With an attractive motto “using blockchain & AI to democratize commercial real estate,” they want to go one step further and offer tokenized real estate not as a form of investment in one property but as an index, combining several properties. 

Sounds great, but so far the website itself doesn’t articulate much about the progress and it hasn’t launched yet. A popup announcement saying “50 investors viewed this offer” when someone is trying to check out what the company has to offer is also quite sketchy. 

Meridio

Meridio also promises to “democratize real estate,” boasting lower investment minimums, reduced transaction costs, and increased liquidity. It invites you to “browse the properties,” but to do so you have to register on the platform. We’ve requested the access, though at the moment of writing there was no feedback from the team (see below). And the project’s progress, judging by its corporate blog, hasn’t been very obvious recently.  

Meridio

Brickblock

Brickblock is one of the earliest players in the tokenized real estate field and seems like they are on the right track with legal, partnerships and overall progress. It’s yet not clear if the project truly meant to expose any investor to the possibilities of owning a fraction of a real estate. While writing this piece we tried to register on the platform and there were some roadblocks on the way (despite the claims that it will only take 15 minutes to register). 

Brickblock real estate blockchain

The link to verification application didn’t arrive via text message as promised, the verification code to launch the identity confirmation chat wasn’t working (screenshot below). But overall it feels like an excellent start with an actual perspective of getting somewhere. 

Brickblock real estate blockchain

What’s Next For Tokenized Real Estate? 

Even though the true “democratization” of real estate and the ease of investing in tokenized assets might solve a lot of problems, there’s a long way to go in many regards.

Especially due to numerous regulatory issues related to tokenizing real estate, notably if we are talking about the global availability of such assets. 

For now, it will be difficult to usurp the traditional securitized real estate investment trusts (REITs).  Realty Income Corp., offers Retail Stores REIT investment and currently trades at around $62 per share with monthly dividends of about 0,3% – 0,4%. Simon Property Group also pays out quarterly dividends of 1%-1,3% and the price of approximately $164 per share at the moment of writing. 

I can purchase it with a couple of clicks using the mobile application of my bank with no legal complications and even my taxes are paid automatically from the profits received.  

There’s no doubt that tokenized assets are the future and it might be much more convenient and even possibly more profitable to the holders. However, there’s still a long way ahead for it. So let’s hope that an infinite number of passionate brainiacs invading the space will have enough energy and determination to figure it out. I keep my fingers crossed. 

And what do you think of tokenized real estate investment? How long will it take us to get there? Go ahead and share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Crypto Curious? Subscribe to the Block Explorer newsletter to get exclusive crypto insights before they appear on the site.

blockchain charity donations

To round out the year, we asked our Block Explorer writers to tell us what they’re most excited about for blockchain and crypto in 2019. In this piece, Rebecca Campbell explores the potential for blockchain to bring transparency to charitable giving.

As 2018 draws to a close, a look back at the last 12 months has been anything but smooth for the cryptocurrency market.

This time last year, bitcoin was trading within touching distance of $20,000 and the bulls were loving it. Fast-forward to December 2018 and bitcoin has fallen roughly 80%. So, as the market slowly turns away from 2018 and looks ahead to 2019, what is it that I’m most excited about the space for the New Year?

Blockchain Brings Transparency to Charity 

Throughout 2018, the use of the blockchain in the supply chain industry has demonstrated the potential the technology has in improving services.

Whether it’s within art, food, humanitarian, fashion or healthcare, knowing what is happening from start to finish can change how we view things, delivering a greater level of transparency, and with it trust.

For me, I’m particularly interested in seeing how the blockchain can change how we give money to charities. 

Blockchain in Supply Chains

Millions of people around the world donate to charity, but for many, the question of how the money is spent and who it’s helping often remains unanswered.

Trust and confidence in the charity sector remains low, according to a Trust in Charities 2018 report by Populus, a UK market research company, and the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

It notes that trust and confidence had dropped to 5.5 out of 10, declining from 5.7 when the report was last conducted in 2016. This drop in faith follows the scandal surrounding Oxfam earlier this year, in which Oxfam was banned from Haiti after its workers were accused of sexual misconduct.

Trust in charities
Trust in charities has declined precipitously over the last few years, according to Populus report.

Blockchain Startups Bring Transparency to Charity Donations

In a bid to improve how we view charity donations, there are already several platforms available, which are working at bringing about transparency to the donation process.

One of which is London-based Alice, a social funding and impact management platform built on the Ethereum blockchain.

Launched in 2017, the platform’s first pilot was in partnership with St. Mungo’s a UK-based homeless charity. The aim of which was to find homes for 15 homeless people on the streets of London.

Alice blockchain charity
Alice’s pilot project to help the homeless in London

Raising $103,000 in Bitcoin

Another platform that is delivering transparency to how we donate is Italian startup Helperbit, a natural disaster management platform whose goal is to bring transparency to the charity and insurance sectors, giving people back the power.

To date, Helperbit has received 354 donations, amounting to nearly $109,000 in bitcoin from 1,298 users, with 12 different projects currently ongoing. One project is raising money for toys that can be built or adapted for children with disabilities. Another project is raising money for a clean water project in Nigeria.

California-based BitGive Foundation is another platform that is making waves within the crypto and blockchain giving space.

Founded in 2013, the first Bitcoin non-profit organization has been working for the last five years at boosting transparency within the donation industry. Last October, BitGive went live with its beta version of GiveTrack, a blockchain-based donation platform that enables donors to transfer, track, and deliver a permanent record of transactions across the globe from start to finish.

BitGive projects
BitGive projects from 2013 – 2016

Earlier this month, the organization launched GiveTrack 1.0 which lets donors track how their funds are used in real time. BitGive also announced its support for four new non-profit organizations: Code to Inspire, Desafio Levantemos Chile, América Solidaria and Run for Water.

Donors Know Exactly Where Their Money Is Going

Through the GiveTrack platform, it’s aiming to give donors a higher level of confidence, knowing that the money they are donating is going to those who need it the most as well as how the funds are spent.

These are just a few of the charity platforms that are using blockchain to improve the donation supply chain. And as we move toward 2019, I’m excited to see what else these organizations have in store and how they can further improve the charity sector.

With confidence and trust at an all-time low for the charity sector, blockchain-based platforms, such as those mentioned, are paving the way to how more people around the world may donate in the future.

Crypto Curious? Subscribe to the Block Explorer newsletter to get exclusive crypto insights before they appear on the site.