Bid to help turn real estate assets into investment options

Infrastructure and property firms may soon be able to "tokenise" their real estate and turn it into investment options if fintech start-up Sygnum gets the green light.

"Tokenising" an asset essentially involves dividing it into tiny digital units or tokens that can then be traded on a platform.

The tokens' small size means an individual could own a part of an asset that would otherwise be out of his or her financial reach.

Sygnum said it is in talks with firms here to tokenise parts of their real estate portfolio.

It also partnered European stock exchange operator Deutsche Börse and Swiss telco Swisscom to build a platform tapping into distributed ledger technology. This allows digital assets like tokenised investment products to be securely issued and traded. The platform is operating in Switzerland, and there are plans to launch it in Singapore over the next 12 months.

Sygnum, which counts Singtel Innov8 as an investor, was founded by a Swiss-Singaporean team to develop products and services simultaneously in both countries.

Heavyweights such as former UBS boss Peter Wuffli and GIC board director Ang Kong Hua are among Sygnum's advisers.

The tokenising move would help digital assets get incorporated in traditional finance - from banking services and asset management to capital raising and brokerage.

Sygnum has applied for a Swiss banking and securities dealer licence that will allow it to offer banking services, brokerage and asset management on the digital asset platform for accredited and high-net-worth investors.

The firm expects to obtain the licence and launch its first products and services sometime this year.

Sygnum plans to get a banking licence here as well, but not this year, it said. It is more focused on offering asset management for digital assets and is gunning for a capital markets services licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

It said it will have sufficient funds to meet capital requirements. The firm is expecting to raise around $75 million in total when its third round of fundraising - led by a Global Logistic Properties-sponsored fund - closes in about two weeks.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2019, with the headline Bid to help turn real estate assets into investment options. Subscribe