We sat down for an interview with Akshay Mehra, co-founder of Crowd Genie (www.crowd-genie.com). Crowd Genie is a P2P Small business lender, in operation since 2016 and registered in Singapore, and they are one of the handful of companies to have the Capital Market Services License from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
Crowd Genie is planning to build an Asia wide tokenized asset platform, where they will tokenize real-world assets, and enable investing and lending across countries to make capital flows much more seamless. CGSPV, Crowd Genie’s related company, finished their token sale in the first Quarter of 2018 (http://www.genieico.net), the proceeds from which will go to build the Crowd Genie platform, their token (symbol: CGC) is listed on HitBTC, and Cobinhood.
Interviewer (I): Hi Akshay, thanks for taking the time out to talk with us, to kick things off, can you tell us a bit about your tokenized platform for which you conducted the token sale?
Akshay (A): Hi, thanks for having me over. To give you an overview of what we are looking to build, let me first go back into the problem we are looking to solve. The issue, at least in Asia, is that capital flows are terribly inefficient and are stuck behind national boundaries, because of different regulations and gaps in market development. This inefficiency is a huge drag for Asia because most of the countries here are developing, and not having access to capital slows the potential growth for small and medium-sized companies, which provide almost 80% of the employment. We have been operating in Singapore, and as we looked around the region, we felt that with the Distributed Ledger technologies maturing, there is a real possibility to set the capital free. Ideally speaking, an investor in Indonesia, should be able to evaluate and invest into a small company in the Philippines seamlessly without having to worry about due diligence, and funds remittance.
I: How do you see blockchain, and your token (CGC) playing a role in this?
A: Regionally we think that there is a $500 billion market for assets that can be tokenized fairly quickly. We are focused on getting real-world assets such as loans, property, securitized assets, on the blockchain. Unlike a lot of crypto-enthusiasts, I don’t think every business needs blockchain. For our business, I believe that blockchain’s trustless transactions, and smart contracts features are fundamentally essential for making capital financing more efficient. The technology can be hugely disruptive to the way banks, and traditional financial institutions work. So, our aim is to take our due diligence and risk assessment capabilities, and apply them to assess real-world assets in countries across the region. Once, we have done the due diligence, we can tokenize chunks of these assets, put them on the blockchain, and investors can invest in these chunks using our token CGC from anywhere in the world. And when the time for repayments come in, the smart contracts ensure that the investors and borrowers know exactly who owes whom how much. Essentially, we are building a platform with its own internal currency – CGC – that will combine our due diligence smarts, with the ability to borrow and invest seamlessly. Our token’s utility becomes essential to enable transactions on the platform.
I: That’s interesting, how is the product development coming along?
A: We have just released an update on the architecture for our platform, including how the transactions will actually be conducted, the technology stack for different services, and the smart contracts needed to power the platform. We are now in the next step, of building the first set of prototypes. Our technology team is working on it, and I expect the first prototype to be out by December of this year itself.
I: I was looking at your Medium posts, and it seems you are going to use a Hybrid blockchain approach, what’s the reason for this?
A: That was one of the big outcomes from our architecture development phase. We looked at different options, from completely public blockchain, to totally private blockchain architectures. We settled on a middle path, because we felt that there are some data that should be on a private chain such as your name and personal details, while there are other parts such as repayments that should be on the public blockchain that anyone can verify. There are some features that we wanted that were not available on Ethereum, and that’s why we have chosen Quorum for our private blockchain. It is close enough to Ethereum to ensure development efficiencies, while offering additional features that we require for our business. Quorum architecture has a really good and well-thought-out security module, and node validation architecture that works well for organizations such as ours where privacy concerns are important. I recently added a post on our Medium channel on my learnings from the architecture process (ed: http://bit.ly/2MriuFT)
I: Moving to the overall market, what’s your take on the drop in the prices for almost all cryptocurrencies?
A: It has been a brutal price correction across the board – down more than 80% from its peak. From my standpoint, I have been focused on making sure we continue with our product development and expansion plans. There’s only so much that we can do to influence the market and pricing. However, from a broader perspective, I believe that the market will reward tokens that actually build something useful. During the go-go phase of the market, anything with the word blockchain would be successful. I think there are some businesses where the immediate use of blockchain is apparent. For instance, in our case blockchain helps in ensuring asset ownership and trust-less capital flow management, other things like risk assessment and due diligence are honestly not where blockchain’s technology is useful, and we don’t intend to use blockchain in those parts of our platform. I’m sure that there are other factors driving the pricing down, including concerns about institutional money, regulatory/ legal challenges, but fundamentally, if a company can build a product that solves an issue, it will get rewarded.
I: I agree with you on the need to deliver tangible products on the blockchain. So what’s next for Crowd Genie beyond platform launch?
A: We are continuously looking to enhance our partnership in both the crypto and traditional financial markets. We are looking to see if there is a way to get CGC token to be used for payments on the other platforms, hopefully we will be able to share some news on this very soon. Additionally, we are looking to setup an office in Australia within the next 6 months, as we think that Australia is a larger asset market than Singapore, and would be a good way to launch our cross-border asset lending platform.
I: Interesting, seems a lot is on the way. Can you let us know who you are partnering with for use of CGC tokens?
A: We should be making an announcement within the next 20 days, if all goes well.
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