Written by: Sormeh Konjkav
Last week, Sormeh Konjkav and Laura Suttie from Waypoint attended an event hosted by Commercial Real Estate Women San Francisco (CREW SF) called “Will Blockchain Really Transform Commercial Real Estate?”. The two panelists at this luncheon were David J. Thelander, Special Counsel pioneering the first dedicated blockchain practice group for the law firm of Gravel & Shea in Vermont, and Saureen Shah, Co-founder and CEO for Spot Protocol, developing a blockchain protocol to represent, fund and tokenize real estate assets. These panelists were moderated by Morgan Mills Suttich, Manager of Operations and Finance at Ross Stores and recently authored an article on blockchain for The View’s Technology issue.
The discussion began with a simple question: “Who knows the difference between blockchain, cryptocurrency and bitcoin?”
These 3 words have been buzzwords of 2018, heard in the news and the media and especially in San Francisco’s tech industry. To some surprise, an estimated 1 in 10 attendees raised their hands. In reality, this is still a very new and revolutionary concept, and like the early days of the internet, can be very intimidating to many. Let’s break it down:
Blockchain is a ledger that records transactions. It is the platform that powers cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrencies are digital or virtual currencies used as a medium of exchange. They are transacted via the blockchain.
Bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency. There are now loads of cryptocurrencies available in the market and bitcoin is one of the original and most popular of “cryptos”.
So why is blockchain such a big deal? Blockchain’s benefits are that it’s decentralized in that there’s no authority, distributed, completely transparent, immutable in that data cannot be retroactively changed once recorded, there’s no third-party custodian like a bank is to dollar currency.
How will it affect real estate? Currently, real estate transactions are highly manual and people intensive. The potential for blockchain to disrupt the real estate industry can be significant in driving efficiencies and preventing document alterations for example. Though there is still a long way to go, a future in which title and title insurance will be eliminated or in which the escrow process can be minimized is not impossible. We’re already seeing blockchain traction in the real estate world. Propy, a global real estate marketplace, is the first blockchain-enabled real estate transaction solution, utilizing smart contracts on blockchain to facilitate transactions and decentralize title registry. Many states and countries, including Arizona, Vermont and Ukraine are also promoting smart contract pilots. And smart contracts are just the start; acquisition deals, utility data storage and management are just a few potential areas blockchain can affect in real estate.
“The event was a great forum for questions and thought leadership around blockchain in the industry.” – Laura Suttie
Events like these are great for women in real estate to learn and be in the know about technologies that may be the future of the industry. Stay tuned for our next blog in which we dive deeper into smart contracts and blockchain in real estate!