Real estate is an industry that holds immense potential to benefit from blockchain technology. Procedures that require tons of paperwork and physical presence, can all be replaced by smart contracts on the blockchain. eLocations, coined as ‘the Airbnb of the retail real estate’ by CEO Marc C. Riebe, provides a global data platform regarding rents, neighbourhood value, geo-specific information and also provides an interface that allows P2P interactions.
This technology and its impact on the middleman trading in real estate will facilitate a system which is faster, more transparent and secure. Marc has worked with many giants in fashion and luxury retail such as Armani, Chopard, Eres, Hugo Boss, Escada, Fogal, Gucci, Jimmy Choo and Tara Jarmon. We had an opportunity to connect with Marc and get his views on how eLocations is going to transform the retail real estate industry.
Coinedict: What does blockchain mean to you?
Marc: Blockchain to me is the decentralisation of the data, which will make everything more transparent in the future. In comparison to the current commercial real estate industry, we have much more visibility in the market because today everything is off-chain and nobody knows what’s really going on in this market.
Coinedict: So what role do you think blockchain has to play in the real estate industry?
Marc: The real estate industry is like the travel industry over a decade ago. Ten years ago it was impossible to book your flight or your hotel via an iPhone. Today we observe a similar issue in the real estate industry. You call your broker, the broker shows you the physical locations up for rent or for sale, but the market would provide you with hundreds of options. It’s obvious that one broker alone cannot give you the kind of insight that our platform can. Business conducted in a peer-to-peer (P2P) manner owing to blockchain eliminates the need for a middleman, so you can directly sell and rent your properties.
Coinedict: How does eLocations compare to the Universal Property Index?
Marc: At the moment there are four to five listings websites in each country. So you have no distinct websites which give you a worldwide overview. So if you are a commercial tenant for example, then you have to go on all these websites individually to get the information required to start an office. eLocations functions as a one-stop shop for all this information.
Coinedict: What aspects of real estate leasing and purchasing will eLocations focus on?
Marc: At the moment we are focusing on leasing. We have four thousand units for rent on the website, and very soon we will have two hundred and fifty thousand existing properties and more than ten thousand units for rent online. Besides that, users are also provided location intelligence about their neighbour, what they are paying, and who the landlord is etc.
Coinedict: What are the benefits of having the eLOC or LCN token?
Marc: We are giving a dividend of 60% of our net profit to the token holder and when we issue the LCN token then he can convert the eLOC token and he gets an additional bonus of 20%.
Coinedict: Do you see people paying large amounts of money through these token for the retail properties? Will this be the currency in which we will trade real estate?
Marc: We will remunerate everybody who provides his data. We will incentivise people who are contributing to the whole new system of bringing transparency to this market. Therefore we strongly believe that the LCN token will be a great tool to incentivise many many people and help us grow very very fast.
Coinedict: How do you think prop tech is going to alter the status quo?
Marc: Prop tech is a wide field and you have many new startups in prop tech. We are going to explore that in a couple of weeks in Munich where they have a special prop tech zone. So you will see many newcomers to this market with new ideas to manage the community between the tenants and big houses. But in relation to the commercial property industry, prop tech will help everybody be more alert and have more ways to compare data but also to communicate with other markets participants to share the knowledge in between the system.
Coinedict: How do you differ from competitors such as open-door, house or compass? Dealing in the retail real estate industry? Or do you believe you have no competitors?
Marc: At the moment the competition, if you can call it a competition, are other big brokerage firms like CBRE which are all working off-chain. So you have an office in London, New Delhi and Tokyo but they are not connected to each other. All the brokers are working for themselves within their city and company and do not share their skills, knowledge or context. I spoke to an Indian broker and asked him if he was reporting to London or New York, and he replied by saying “No why should I, because if I give them my database, they wouldn’t need me any longer”. So I think only twenty per cent of these brokers would survive the next ten years, but the rest of the jobs like I said in the beginning with the travel industry, will disappear not through us but through the blockchain because more and more business will be P2P. As you book your flight by yourself on your smartphone, you will then also rent your shops or buy your properties yourself on the smartphone or on your computer.
Coinedict: What is the scope of growth for eLocations?
Marc: Our aim is to have a hundred million commercial properties online by 2025. We are growing steadily right now in the prime locations in each country from the bigger cities down to the smaller cities. There is so much work that is required to cover all those locations. We have to moderate the landlords and tenants and through the security of the blockchain, we are able to ensure that all the data will be safe and also belong to the right owner.