Marc C. Riebe, founder of eLocations, talks smart contracts, cryptocurrencies, blockchain incentives and flying to moon with Elon Musk.
Mr. Riebe, with your platform eLocations you want to revolutionise the commercial real estate business thanks to a blockchain solution. You have chosen the path of an ITO (Initial Token Offering) to finance the development. Why not the traditional way via the stock exchange?
The Blockchain heralded the end of exclusive investment opportunities reserved for a small elite. With an initial token offering, we offer a fair and comprehensible investment for everyone.
In the run-up to the now launched ITO, you have already made a private placement of the tokens. How did it go?
For reasons of fairness to the later investors we have set ourselves a strict limit on how much capital we accept before the presale. To meet the one million mark, we had to cancel a number of investors.
What is the minimum target for the ITO, how many tokens are planned and how are the proceeds used?
A total of 1.25 billion tokens were defined. The softcap amounts to EUR 2.5 million. The proceeds will be used primarily for the development of the software solution and the eLocations database.“ This database is intended to bring the global real estate world transparently to the blockchain.
Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) and Initial Token Offerings (ITO) have been criticised for numerous flops, total losses, and cases of fraud. What security can you give investors that eLocations has a future as a marketplace and investment?
As experts in the global real estate industry, we were able to win the head of a leading investment bank to support us. Klaus Mark, the Tyrolean entrepreneur with an annual turnover of over 100 million euros, has also invested in our project. Our platform exists since 2016 and has been generating sales since then. eLocations is the continuation of the previous company since the beginning of my independence in 2005 as a successful company. So we are not another new startup that collects money and doesn’t have an active business.
In addition to detailed data on the properties and their location, your offer focuses on an intelligent contract (smart contract). This should enable all parties involved to conduct business quickly, securely and transparently. Who develops the smart lease contract and when will it be available for use?
In principle, we even use two smart contracts. One for the issuance of the eLocations token eLOC and one that functions as a new standard rental agreement for commercial properties. Both are developed in-house under the leadership of Dr. Davinder Pal Singh Sawhney. Followed by my original vision of uniting the global land registers into a global real estate data store on the blockchain, whereby the smart contracts are audited by renowned blockchain companies.
For some time now, you have been operating an information platform with comprehensive data on real estate offers worldwide. How will this offer be integrated into the new platform and to what extent will the business model change with the new platform?
By evolving and merging the 300 or so global listing platforms on one page, thus ensuring for the first time in the history of the global commercial real estate industry, for example, that everyone understands how it is possible for the leading pension funds, insurance companies and real estate funds to be the first to be awarded the contract for the acquisition of AAA properties. Furthermore, on the one hand we show historical data and on the other hand, we offer our clients the opportunity to assess in advance the turnover and rental potential of a property in order to be able to carry out the due diligence like the major competitors.
Digitisation has the effect of eliminating traditional intermediaries in the respective industry. Providers and customers can negotiate and do business directly with each other, commissions are dropped and transparency is massively increased. What impact do you expect for the real estate brokers if your platform is successful?
The business model of the classic broker will have to adapt to the new circumstances. For example, they could participate in the collection of real estate data for the eLocations platform. The case recalls the introduction of the sound film in the 1920s, accompanied by massive protests by musicians who feared for their jobs in the cinema. The same applies to the agents of the travel industry about 10 years ago, who have all been retrained today. At the end of the day, everyone has an individual skill set with which they can open up new areas of work, especially in times of disruption through digitalisation and blockchain.
You have chosen Zug as the headquarters of eLocations, which as Crypto Valley has made a name for itself worldwide as the center of cryptocurrencies and blockchain initiatives. Where does Switzerland stand internationally in the digitalisation of the real estate sector?
Currently we are first movers and pioneers in our special segment not only in Switzerland but worldwide. We particularly appreciate the Crypto Valley for the lively exchange with experts and partners as well as the exciting conferences. We were able to win a large part of our team in this environment. We are also pleased about the start-up-friendly regulatory breeding ground and that we can act in compliance with FINMA.
In which regions do you see the greatest potential for eLocations in the near future and what economic conditions do you expect?
Africa, South America and all BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), as there is still no reliable legal certainty for land register entries there. Furthermore, the eLOC token is very interesting for investors from countries with strong currency fluctuations, as it offers a stable long-term portfolio share due to the revenue share.
At the end of the interview, you have two wishes. What are they?
To fly to the moon with Elon Musk and implement the eLocations land registry. The second would be that all landlords of commercial real estate worldwide would be taxed at least one percent and that this tax would benefit all the people of the world through the implementation of Prof. Götz Werner’s concept.
Original interview By Helmuth Fuchs for Moneycab