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Asset Tokenization: Unlocking New Possibilities for the Enterprise

Marc Lewis
Managing Editor
June 10, 2024
Asset Tokenization: Unlocking New Possibilities for the Enterprise
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Recently, financial institutions have embraced blockchain technology to tokenize real-world assets, sparking significant excitement in the finance world. Tokenization enables banks to leverage decentralized finance (DeFi) benefits, secure assets on the blockchain, and enhance transaction efficiency with smart contracts.

By tokenizing assets like property or artwork, they can be converted into digital assets, facilitating easier online trading without traditional paperwork or intermediaries. This not only accelerates financial markets but also democratizes investment opportunities by allowing asset fractionalization, making investments accessible to a broader audience.

What is Asset Tokenization?

Asset tokenization is the process of creating digital tokens on a blockchain or distributed ledger to represent real-world or digital assets.

Blockchain makes asset tokenization possible by providing a decentralized, secure, and transparent platform. It eliminates the need for a central authority, reducing fraud risks. Transactions are securely recorded using cryptographic techniques, ensuring integrity, while a ledger offers clear and verifiable ownership records, enhancing transparency.

Smart contracts automate and enforce transaction terms, increasing efficiency and minimizing the need for intermediaries. These features collectively facilitate the seamless creation, transfer, and management of digital tokens representing real-world assets.

The Benefits of Tokenization

Asset tokenization offers numerous advantages, transforming traditional assets into digital tokens on a blockchain. This process enhances liquidity, accessibility, transparency, and efficiency, making it easier to trade and manage assets.

Efficiency

  • Tokenization eliminates many of the intermediaries and administrative costs associated with traditional asset transactions, potentially reducing transaction costs and increasing efficiency.

Liquidity

  • Tokenization allows assets to be easily traded on digital marketplaces, enabling investors to buy and sell assets with greater ease and efficiency. This can increase liquidity in the market, which can attract more investors and potentially increase asset values.

Transparency

  • Tokenization creates a transparent and immutable record of ownership and transaction history, making it easier to track the ownership and value of assets. This can improve trust and reduce fraud in the market.

Accessibility

  • Tokenization offers investors the opportunity to invest in resources that were previously inaccessible or hard to access due to geographic, legal, or other restrictions. Fractionalization makes unique assets available to larger populations of people.
Infographic lists the benefits of tokenizing assets

Benefits for Asset Holders

Asset holders gain significantly from tokenization. Fair pricing, reduced management costs, increased liquidity, and the ability to integrate with decentralized applications (dApps) provide a streamlined and cost-effective way to manage and utilize assets.

Benefits for Institutional Finance

For institutional finance, asset tokenization opens new avenues for market participation and compliance. It enhances the efficiency of settlement processes and improves risk management through greater transparency and immutable transaction records.

Increasingly, with partners like Kaleido, financial institutions that want to start tokenizing assets no longer need expertise in blockchain technology to build a digital asset strategy. They simply need to ensure that the underlying assets are accurately represented and that there are safeguards in place to prevent fraud and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

The use of tokens can streamline international business as they facilitate cross-border transactions. By providing greater visibility into the real-time location and value of an asset we can gain insights into the value of a portfolio or transactions within a portfolio. This makes assets in motion more trackable and leaves us an audit trail as we conduct business internationally.

What Real-World Assets Can Be Tokenized?

Any item in the real-world can be tokenized, or represented digitally. Tokenization of real-world assets involves converting traditional assets such as equities, bonds, real estate, or commodities into digital tokens on a blockchain platform.

This graphic provides a quick look at some items that are commonly tokenized, and we dive deeper into examples below. ‍

Infographic gives examples of assets that can be tokenized

Commodities

Banks use tokenization to represent and trade commodities on the blockchain by creating digital tokens that represent ownership of the underlying commodity. These tokens can be traded on a blockchain-based platform, allowing for faster and more secure transactions.

The tokens are typically backed by physical commodities held in storage, and can be redeemed for the underlying asset if desired. This allows banks to streamline commodity trading, reduce transaction costs, and provide greater transparency to investors.

Stocks and Securities

Banks use tokenization to represent and trade stocks and securities on the blockchain by creating digital tokens that represent ownership of the underlying assets. The tokens are typically backed by securities held in custody, and can be redeemed for the underlying asset if desired. This allows banks to streamline securities trading, reduce transaction costs, and provide greater transparency to investors.

Fractional ownership in stocks and private equity is an interesting concept too, as it allows new communities to pool resources to make purchases. Banks can use tokens to improve liquidity, as we can use current assets for collateral against future purchases.

Currencies

Financial institutions use tokens to represent real currency holdings by creating digital tokens that are backed by physical currency held in reserve. These tokens are called "stablecoins" and are designed to maintain a stable value relative to the currency they represent, such as the US dollar. Kaleido has a lot of experience building institutional grade financial platforms.

The amount of currency held in reserve is audited and verified by third-party organizations to ensure that there is a one-to-one backing of the stablecoin with the underlying currency. This allows faster and more secure transactions for fiat currency transactions, as well as providing a bridge between the traditional financial system and the world of cryptocurrencies.

Intellectual Property

Tokens can represent intellectual property, including ownership or licensing rights to a particular piece of intellectual property, such as a patent or copyright. These tokens can be traded on a blockchain-based platform, allowing for greater transparency and efficiency in the licensing and distribution of intellectual property.

The tokens can also be programmed with smart contract functionality to automate royalty payments, licensing terms, and other contractual obligations. This allows financial institutions to streamline the management of intellectual property, reduce transaction costs, and provide greater liquidity for intellectual property owners.

Real Estate

Banks can tokenize a real estate asset to increase their liquidity, as a digital asset is easier to buy, sell, or fractionalize. Investors can buy smaller portions of the property, which can reduce the barriers to entry, making it more accessible to a broader range of investors. This means banks can access new customers, including those who might not be able to afford a whole property or don't want to take on the risk of owning an entire property.

Tokenization of real estate assets can eliminate intermediaries, reducing the time and cost involved in completing transactions. These transactions can then be made transparent or audited.

Cost is another benefit as we digitize physical places. We can reduce the costs associated with managing assets, such as property maintenance, insurance, and legal fees.

Art and Collectibles

Tokenization of a piece of art involves creating a digital representation of the artwork on a blockchain network. This digital representation can be bought, sold, or traded like a cryptocurrency. This increases liquidity, as the token can be used for collateral against a loan. We can also imagine all the new people who could own a great piece of art if, say, they owned one millionth of a Picasso.

With the price of art skyrocketing in some markets, this technology can create a tamper-proof record of ownership and transaction history, reduce fraud, stop counterfeits, and prove provenance.

You can find more examples of assets to tokenize here.

The Tokenization Process

Tokenizing a physical asset involves several key steps to convert it into a digital token on a blockchain. This process ensures the asset's value can be easily traded, bought, or sold in a digital marketplace.

How to Tokenize a Physical Asset

  1. Asset Identification: Identify the physical asset to be tokenized, such as real estate, artwork, or commodities.
  2. Asset Valuation: Conduct a professional valuation to determine the asset's market value.
  3. Legal Compliance: Ensure the tokenization process adheres to relevant regulations and legal requirements.
  4. Smart Contract Creation: Develop a smart contract that defines the terms and conditions of the tokenized asset, including ownership rights and transfer rules.
  5. Token Issuance: Mint digital tokens that represent the asset, ensuring they comply with blockchain standards (e.g., ERC-20).
  6. Platform Selection: Choose a blockchain platform to issue and manage the tokens, such as Ethereum or a specialized tokenization platform.
  7. Fractionalization: Optionally, divide the asset into smaller fractions to increase accessibility and liquidity.
  8. Market Listing: List the tokens on a digital marketplace or exchange to enable trading and investment.

By following these steps, asset owners can efficiently tokenize physical assets, enhancing liquidity, accessibility, and market efficiency.

You can read a step-by-step guide on tokenization here.

Token Standards for Financial Institutions

Financial institutions use different token standards to tokenize real-world assets, depending on the specific use case and platform they are using. Some of the most commonly used token standards for asset tokenization are:

  1. ERC-20: The ERC-20 is the most widely used standard for tokenizing assets on the Ethereum blockchain. It defines a set of rules and functions for creating and managing fungible tokens, which are identical and interchangeable with each other. This standard is commonly used for tokenizing digital assets such as securities, commodities, and real estate.
  2. ERC-721: The ERC-721 token standard is used for creating non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which represent unique assets that cannot be replicated. This standard is commonly used for tokenizing collectibles, art, and other unique assets.
  3. ERC-1155: The ERC-1155 token standard is a newer standard that allows for the creation of both fungible and non-fungible tokens on the same smart contract. This standard is used for tokenizing gaming items, virtual real estate, and other assets that have both fungible and non-fungible characteristics.
  4. ERC-1400: The ERC1400 is a token standard for security tokens. It provides a set of rules for token issuance, transfer, and redemption, enabling compliance with relevant regulations and facilitating security token offerings.
  5. ERC-1404: ERC1404 is a token standard for security tokens that focuses on compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. It provides a set of rules to limit token transfers based on specific criteria, such as investor accreditation, ensuring regulatory compliance in security token offerings.
  6. ERC-1410: ERC1410 is for security tokens that provides a modular framework for token issuance, management, and trading, allowing issuers to customize token features and investor rights. It supports functionalities like partial transfers, token lock-ups, and token voting.
  7. ERC-1462: ERC1462 is a token standard for digital securities on the Ethereum blockchain. It allows for the representation of real-world assets like equities, bonds, and funds as tokens. It enables compliance with relevant regulations and facilitates the trading of digital securities on a decentralized platform.

New standards are being developed to address specific use cases and requirements. We’ll update this page as additional standards become available or popular.

Screenshot of the digital asset platform service library
The Kaleido Asset Platform makes smart contract management radically simple, allowing you to pick from token templates, import from GitHub, or upload raw files.

Risks and Challenges

While asset tokenization offers numerous benefits, it also presents several risks and challenges that must be addressed.

Token Standards

Ensuring compliance with established token standards (e.g., ERC-20, ERC-721) is crucial for compatibility and security. Variations in standards can lead to interoperability issues and hinder seamless integration across platforms.

Interoperability

Achieving interoperability between different blockchain networks and platforms is a significant challenge. This involves ensuring that tokens can be transferred and recognized across various systems without losing value or functionality.

ROI/Monetization

Calculating the return on investment (ROI) for tokenized assets can be complex. Factors such as market demand, liquidity, and transaction fees impact the profitability of tokenization projects, requiring thorough financial analysis.

Questions About Asset Tokenization

How Do Businesses Make Money From Tokenization?

Asset tokenization converts rights to an asset into digital tokens on a blockchain. Businesses can monetize these tokens through:

  • Fractional Ownership: Selling smaller portions of high-value assets to a broader investor base.
  • Transaction Fees: Facilitating easy trading of tokens and charging fees.
  • Value-Added Services: Offering asset management, smart contract development, or compliance solutions.
  • Operational Efficiency: Streamlining processes, reducing intermediaries, and lowering costs.

Overall, tokenization unlocks liquidity, broadens investor participation, and creates new revenue streams. For more, explore our detailed articles on the [tokenization process] and [challenges of tokenization].

How Do Regulatory Frameworks Impact Tokenization Adoption?

Regulatory frameworks greatly influence tokenization adoption across different regions. Clear regulations help enterprises navigate legal complexities and ensure compliance. However, evolving and varied regulations pose challenges, especially for multinational companies. Staying informed and consulting legal experts is essential. Some regions offer clearer guidelines, facilitating tokenization, but global harmonization is still lacking.

What Are the Key Technological Challenges and Solutions in Implementing Tokenization?

Key challenges include:

  • Security and Scalability: Ensuring a secure, scalable blockchain infrastructure.
  • Integration: Seamlessly integrating with existing financial and IT systems.
  • Identity Management: Managing digital identities and privacy.

Solutions:

  • Blockchain Choice: Selecting the right blockchain platform (private, consortium, or public) based on requirements.
  • Smart Contracts: Using smart contracts to automate transactions.
  • Identity Systems: Implementing robust identity management for privacy and compliance.
  • Partnerships: Collaborating with blockchain technology providers like Kaleido for tailored solutions.

How Can Enterprises Measure the ROI of Tokenization?

Measuring ROI involves evaluating tangible and intangible benefits:

  • Tangible: Cost savings from reduced transaction times and costs, increased asset management efficiency, and unlocking liquidity.
  • Intangible: Enhanced market reach, customer engagement, and competitive advantage.

Set clear metrics before implementation, such as transaction cost reduction, transfer speed, and market expansion, to quantify these benefits effectively.

How Do Tokenized Assets Differ from NFTs?

Tokenized assets and NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) differ mainly in their characteristics and purposes. Tokenized assets represent fractional ownership of real-world assets like real estate or stocks and are fungible, meaning each token is interchangeable and holds the same value. In contrast, NFTs represent unique digital items such as art or collectibles and are non-fungible, meaning each NFT is distinct and has its own value. While tokenized assets facilitate broader access and liquidity in traditional markets, NFTs are used to verify ownership and authenticity of digital assets.

Put Our Asset Tokenization Platform to Work for You

Kaleido simplifies the management of digital assets for financial institutions. Our platform offers tools to help banks tokenize real-world assets efficiently:

  • Smart Contract Tools: Customize pre-built templates and manage contracts across deployments.
  • Advanced Visibility: Track asset values with oracles and a white-label block explorer.
  • Seamless Integration: Integrate existing systems with web3 to manage assets at scale.
  • Unlimited Connectivity: Access and manage assets across various blockchain networks from one console.

If you’re interested in learning more about digital asset management before you get started, this video from our CEO Steve Cerveny is a great place to start.

When you’re ready to leverage our platform to tokenize assets easily and effectively, schedule a talk with our solution architects to get assets on-chain quickly.

Make Tokenization Easier

The Kaleido Asset Platform can radically accelerate your digital asset strategy.

Request a Demo

Make Tokenization Easier

The Kaleido Asset Platform can radically accelerate your digital asset strategy.

Request a Demo
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Interested in Blockchain?

Start learning blockchain and creating enterprise solutions today with a free Kaleido account!

Create Free Account

Make Tokenization Easier

The Kaleido Asset Platform can radically accelerate your digital asset strategy.

Request a Demo

Make Tokenization Easier

The Kaleido Asset Platform can radically accelerate your digital asset strategy.

Request a Demo

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