Blockchain-based real estate platform RealBlocks announced today that the startup raised $3.1 million in a seed round to build seamless investment and fundraising by “tokenizing” properties.
RealBlocks operates by providing access to private equity in real estate properties by turning them into tradable securities based on blockchain assets that represent microshares. The process, the company says, allows for easier investments by allowing firms to purchase shares directly with U.S. dollars or cryptocurrency.
Perrin Quarshie, founder and chief executive of RealBlocks
“With the support of our strategic investors, we’re accelerating development of our product and adoption of blockchain technology for real estate, an industry that previously hasn’t seen much innovation.”
The round was led by Science Inc. with participation from Morgan Creek Digital, Zelkova Ventures LLC, Ulu Ventures LLC and Cross Culture Ventures.
Greg Gilman, co-founder and managing director of Science Inc
“We believe that the real estate market, like nearly all asset classes, will be increasingly data-driven and digitized or digitally native,” said Greg Gilman, co-founder and managing director of Science Inc. “This use of blockchain technology has real-world benefits that perfectly align with our investment model.”
The global real estate market is massive: the 2018 annual MSCI Real Estate Market Size Report estimated that the industry saw $8.5 trillion globally during 2017 in professionally managed investments.
According to RealBlocks, approximately $145 billion of that market is trapped in what the company calls “illiquid capital investments” that could be, in part, unlocked with its tokenization platform.
Blockchain technology has proven itself highly useful for digitizing and tokenizing anything that can be represented with digital assets.
Blockchains work by provisioning cryptographically secured wallets of tokens, such as the bitcoin blockchain and its cryptocurrency, through providing a secure and tamperproof history of transactions. That lends itself extremely well to financial instruments such as securities, stocks and, in this case, shares in real estate.
The RealBlocks platform uses Ethereum, the second-largest public blockchain in the world, as its token infrastructure to create real estate tokenized micro shares and track their sale and exchange. The company says that allows clients to have peer-to-peer liquidity across a global market, opening up a new way to trade in real estate by enabling anyone in the world to invest, raise capital through the property microshares.
Examples of specific properties pushing into real estate tokenization include crowdfunding site Indigogo Inc. selling security tokens in the St. Regis Aspen Resort and Harbor Platform Inc.’s launch of a $20 million sale of tokens in an off-campus student high-rise called The Hub at the University of South Carolina.
Also treading the same shares-based real estate investment waters as RealBlocks, Blocksquare Inc. launched a similar platform in March 2017. With Blocksquare’s service investors can also buy, sell and trade in tokenized properties.
With its platform, RealBlocks hopes to provide a number of benefits to investors interested in entering into the digital side of tokenized assets and usher in the token economy.
Peer-to-peer trading of RealBlocks microshares is provided by the company through a portal and bulletin board. More information about signups and opportunities for investments is available at the company’s website.