Real Estate, Mortgages and Fixed Income on the Blockchain? Interview with Brightvine CEO

Sticking investable assets on the blockchain is a common pursuit in today’s world of cryptocurrency. While the benefits are many – some of the most notable include greater accessibility, reduced friction and fees, and the potential to split up illiquid assets – the challenges are also plentiful. 

Brightvine, a blockchain-powered investment platform that connects vetted issuers of real-world assets to digital investors, is one such firm tackling this challenge. Today they announced a partnership with Angel Oak Ventures, the technology venture arm of Angel Oak Companies, which works in innovative mortgage solutions. The partnership will look to leverage Brightvine’s platform in exploring new investment avenues for investors. 

It’s salivating to think about the impact on the wider financial market if real estate and blockchain can be merged successfully. The notoriously illiquid and inaccessible real estate market could be transformed if anyone could ever crack how to successfully tokenise these assets. To get answers on why this is such a challenge, the progress being made, and what exactly this partnership with Angel Oak entails, we interviewed Brightvine CEO Joe Vellanikaran. 

 

CoinJournal (CJ): People have long fantasized about real estate living on the blockchain, but so far the progress has lagged behind other sectors within crypto. What do you think the reason is for this?

Joe Vellanikaran (JV): There are two main reasons: Low awareness in the real estate industry of the benefits of blockchain and poor infrastructure to support real estate tokenization. The real estate industry is incredibly sophisticated with well-trained, financially savvy individuals tapping into many options that currently exist to finance their investments. However, most appear to be unaware of the benefits that blockchain provides for real estate, such as greater liquidity by reaching a broader based of investors and efficiencies gained through automating redundant functions through smart contracts. Even though crypto and blockchain have been around for over a decade, there still isn’t a technological solution that properly appreciates the dynamics and nuances of the real estate industry. That’s where Brightvine comes in. 

 

CJ: The press release outlines reducing “friction of traditional secondary markets” as a benefit to the tokenized approach. Can you please elaborate on what you mean here?

JV: Despite the sector being many times larger than equity markets, there is no NYSE for mortgages, real estate, or fixed income products. Sales and transfers of these assets are privately negotiated, requiring significant due diligence and transfer costs. Brightvine enables the seamless transfer of asset tokens across transacting parties — all while reducing audit costs through blockchain-based validation of documents and data.

 

CJ: What demographic are you targeting with the Angel Oak partnership – DeFi investors looking to diversify their portfolios by adding real estate exposure, but staying within the realm of crypto?

JV:  That’s right, but we are also targeting institutional and accredited investors in traditional finance who are looking to invest in asset classes that are too difficult to audit and track without Brightvine.

 

CJ: Will this make real-estate investment more accessible, given the typically large and illiquid investments can be fragmented on-chain?

JV:  Yes. We enable fixed income and real estate asset managers to raise funds from blockchain-based investors using tokens. These funds are typically financed by large institutions and rarely trade. Tokenizing the fund allows a broader investment base to access these high performing alternative asset classes, which are typically closed off to most investors.

 

CJ: What would you say is the biggest motive for an investor to invest in a tokenized real estate asset rather than via the convention trad-fi route? Or is this simply for investors who cannot access such vehicles outside of crypto?

JV:  The biggest motives are access and flexibility. This route provides greater portfolio selection and customization as well as the ability to easily trade your tokenized assets on a secondary marketplace. 

 

CJ: I joined the waitlist to join Brightvine. Why is there a waitlist, and when do you expect to open this up?

JV:  This year, we will be launching a platform that enables investors to purchase and stake digital assets on Brightvine.

 

CJ: Will Brightvine continue to focus on real estate, or do you have plans to tokenize more asset classes?

JV:  Brightvine is currently focused on the mortgage, fixed income, and real estate industries, but we’re always exploring new possibilities and open to pursuing other asset classes in the future. 

 

CJ: How could mortgage issuers benefit from your product?

JV:  We offer mortgage issuers access to the Brightvine Portal, which is a secure management platform that increases efficiency, security, and liquidity for mortgages and MBS. Loan originators and issuers tokenize their real-world financial products into digital assets, enabling the easy transfer of validated data with third parties such as investors, broker dealers, and RIAs. Additionally, issuers use the Brightvine Portal to coordinate and conduct primary offerings of digital assets to investors.

 

CJ: What do you think the future holds for tokenized stocks? Do you think either tokenized stocks and real estate will ever become mainstream, pulling capital away from the trad-fi sector?

JV:  I strongly believe that trad-fi and DeFi will eventually merge. Trad-fi is filled with scores of incredibly intelligent, hard-working, savvy investment professionals. It may take some time, but I believe the industry will adapt and adopt blockchain to enable all asset classes, from equities to fixed income. Eventually, we won’t even be talking about tokenization. It will simply be the technology driving a new financial market that is more efficient, transparent, liquid, and accessible. 

 

CJ: Do you have any fears surrounding regulation here? For example, tokenized stocks and other similar securities have been under tight scrutiny from authorities as to whether they represent securities. Will this affect Brightvine or their investors?

JV:  We respect and encourage regulation of the industry, and as a result, compliance is at the core of Brightvine’s products and offerings. Any securities offered on Brightvine will comply with the proper guidelines of the appropriate regulatory bodies. 

 

CJ: I’m from Ireland originally, where it has been very difficult for young people to secure mortgages since the GFC, with many getting caught in rental traps. Somewhat of a hypothetical question, but do you think tokenized real estate and mortgages could have a chance at lessening this problem eventually?

JV:  Yes! Let’s say the general public in Ireland is interested in improving homeownership countrywide. They could create and fund a blockchain-based liquidity pool that algorithmically purchases mortgages of borrowers in Ireland. This product increases liquidity for mortgages while the immutable ledger of validated data reduces expenses related to mortgages. Increasing liquidity and reducing expenses improves pricing for borrowers. Better pricing means that more people qualify for a mortgage which in turn improves homeownership. 

Additionally, the investors in the fund likely will receive a greater return than if they had left their funds in the bank! Brightvine will be launching a product to address this very problem later this year. 

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