Sustaining Thailand’s blockchain ecosystem with collaboration between Tezos Southeast Asia and Chulalongkorn University to create the country’s premiere blockchain programme
Elevated Returns (ER), a New York-based financial group focused on digitizing traditional financial assets, has partnered with Thai financial services firm Seamico Securities Plc (ZMICO) and blockchain platform Tezos to expand into Thailand. Following the success of the US$18 million tokenization of the St. Regis Aspen Resort, ER plans to tokenize the global real estate market. It is targeting US$250 million in transactions this year, with US$100 million in Thailand and a plan to launch products in Q2 or Q3. ER is also preparing to file for a Digital Exchange license with the SEC to facilitate the local digital ecosystem, while SE Digital Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Seamico, is in the process of applying for an Initial Coin Offering Portal (ICO Portal) license from the SEC. This partnership is geared to be a first mover of asset-backed digital securities in Thailand’s digital economy. Committed to creating a sustainable blockchain ecosystem, ‘Tezos Southeast Asia’ (TSA) is aiming to create the first blockchain education and research programme in Thailand in collaboration with Chulalongkorn University.
Mr. Stephane De Baets, Founder and President of Elevated Returns (ER) said, “Elevated Returns has huge ambitions to bring this technology to the global real estate market, especially in Thailand. We see enormous opportunities here because Thailand is exceptionally receptive to digital transformation and has the government’s support in line with the Thailand 4.0 policy. As part of ER’s expansion into Thailand, ER closed the 21% acquisition of Bangkok-based financial services firm Seamico Securities Plc worth 467.1 million baht on March 8. ER plans to tokenize the Thai real estate market by using the same successful model as it had in the US, where it had raised US$18 million through the St. Regis Aspen Resort tokenization, representing the first tokenized digital security offering of an internationally renowned trophy real estate asset issued in the world. ER has confidence in the partnership with Seamico to educate, access, and transform the Thai real estate market. Seamico provides local business know-hows, access to regulatory licenses, a large local customer base, and local distribution channels. This year, we target US$100 million in transactions in Thailand and aim to launch products in Q2 or Q3.”
“ER’s expansion into Thailand is riding on one of the world’s highest mobile banking penetration at 74% and second highest penetration in terms of number of crypto wallet holders at 9.9% of the Thai internet user population. The company recognizes that the SEC Thailand is at the forefront of this industry and the country’s regulations is amongst the most supportive of the blockchain industry in the world.” said Mr. De Baets.
Tokenization is a method of transforming traditional financial assets, such as real estate or art, into tradeable digital units known as security tokens, which reside on a secure blockchain. ER’s technology partner Tezos is a leader in blockchain technology, a self-amending blockchain and smart contracts platform that allows organizations and individuals to make transactions in digital assets using its native digital currency “Tezos (XTZ)”. Tezos, built specifically for administering smart contracts, allows ER to issue fully compliant tokenized real estate offerings with the highest security.
“Tokenizing assets is how we can democratize the investing process as we would eliminate middlemen. It could be more lucrative for the seller than the traditional sales process too as this method will result in fewer intermediaries to pay and if the token becomes liquid, it should result in a higher valuation,” said Mr. De Baets.
Mr. De Baets comments, “ER is interested in real estate because it is by far one of the largest asset classes with US$228 trillion in the global market. But due to its large denominations, it remains one of the most illiquid. And real estate appreciates in value over the long term whereas holding cash erodes investors’ purchasing power through inflation.”
Mr. Suthep Wongvorazathe, Chairman of Seamico Securities Plc (ZMICO) said, “We are very excited to announce this significant partnership with Elevated Returns because we believe it will produce substantial mutual synergies. ER’s technology and product expertise combined with Seamico’s local knowledge and capabilities will enable us to revolutionize the traditional Thai real estate market. We are poised to lead this digital transformation. SE Digital is in the process of applying for an Initial Coin Offering Portal (ICO Portal) license from the SEC, which is only given to registered Thai-owned companies. The ICO Portal has the duty to assess, manage, and advise on new ICO issuances as a partner to the SEC. It is the equivalent of an investment banking license for digital securities. Seamico’s partnership with ER positions us well to be a first mover in the digital economy.”
To further build out the local digital financial asset ecosystem, ER is preparing to file for a Digital Exchange license with the SEC. The license will allow authorized security tokens to be traded on the exchange platform. This will greatly increase liquidity to the previously illiquid real estate market.
The partnership will allow ER and Seamico to digitize traditional assets onto the Tezos blockchain platform, issue the tokens via the ICO Portal, and provide a secondary market for these primary issuances. The digital assets can then be sold and traded in much smaller units, enabling unrelated parties the ability to share in the ownership of high-value assets. The approach will let investors access markets that have previously been beyond their financial reach and introduce a regulated method for raising money via digital securities. This is a major development in real estate investment as investors can buy and sell a piece of property at any time even before the whole property actually changes ownership. The partnership is in a unique position to capitalize on the Thai real estate market.
“This genesis of digital transformation will create positive trajectory for the Thai citizens, government, and private sectors by providing greater access to capital formation, enhancing transparency, and reducing administrative costs,” added Mr. Wongvorazathe.
Moreover, Tezos Southeast Asia (TSA), an independent non-profit organization based in Singapore dedicated to promoting Tezos blockchain in Southeast Asia, is working with Chulalongkorn University (CU) to develop the first blockchain education and research program in Thailand, which is anticipated to be launched in the academic year 2019. As part of this expected collaboration, TSA will design the curriculum specially for CU, which will introduce students to the concepts and fundamentals of blockchains, with a focus on Tezos blockchain technology. In addition, scholarship opportunities will be offered and students will get the chance to intern at start-ups supported by tzVentures, a Tezos-specific incubator programme for start-ups to develop their business on the Tezos blockchain technology. These initiatives will further augment ongoing efforts by Elevated Returns and Seamico Securities Plc. to facilitate technology know-how transfer, building local capabilities in Thailand so that innovation can take place in a localized manner. The accomplishment of this expected collaboration will bring about deep economic and social impact, and also position Thailand as a major regional center for blockchain.