Michal Bednarek/123RF

Disruption by Blockchain Part 16: Darvin Kurniawan – REIDAO

  • 20 February 2018
  • Expert Insights

Our new Disruption by Blockchain series aims to highlight companies that are leveraging the incredible potential of blockchain technology to disrupt and revolutionize their industry. Through one on one interviews, we'll speak directly with industry leaders to cut beyond the hype and get directly to the heart of practical use cases and examples of how it will change the world, one industry at a time.

The following is an interview we recently had with Darvin Kurniawan, CEO of REIDAO.

1. What’s the history of REIDAO? How and where did you begin?

DK: We started about 3 years ago now, before all the hype regarding any ICO. Ethereum was just getting started back then.

We started the company with the goal to create a digital asset that represents real value in the real world, in our case that is real estate. At first we attempted to do that by simply pegging the token to the ownership of the underlying real estate, however, we soon learned that if we did it that way it has a high risk to be seen as securities, even though we did not build it for investment purposes.

So we had to regroup and rethink on how we can achieve the same goal of creating a digital asset that has real value, and at the same time complying with any existing regulation. Through this process, we pivoted to a model that is focused on the utility of real estate, and to start with we picked holiday & tourism niche since that is something most people experience one way or another, and our Crowdvilla project was born.

Crowdvilla is our proposed model to change the paradigm surrounding asset ownership, from the current model which is highly centralised (and capitalistic in nature), to a new paradigm where a group of people (or community) indirectly own the asset, for the utility value of such asset. We see this as a true sharing economy model.

2. Who are the founders and key team members? 

Darvin Kurniawan, CEO

Darvin is a co-founder of REIDAO, a blockchain startup based in Singapore, creating a digital representation of real estate on the Ethereum blockchain.

As a graduate of NUS School of Computing Darvin is well positioned to capitalise on the growth of the blockchain technology. Prior to REIDAO Darvin was involved in a few new businesses both in the low-tech and hi-tech space. Darvin is a big believer and follower of Blue Ocean Strategy and Emergenetics.

Hendrik Tanjaya Tan, CTO

Hendrik Tanjaya Tan is an IT professional with more than 14 years of experience in delivering solutions in the telecom industry. He has held various roles working with clients in EMEA and APAC regions.

He holds Bachelor of Computing degree from the National University of Singapore. His interest in blockchain technology led him to discover the potentials that it can bring, especially in real estate industry.

David Chandra, COO

David studied Computer Science at National University of Singapore. There he met friends who shared the similar passion for entrepreneurship. They would, twelve years later, become his co-founders in REIDAO. David discovered his love for real estate and immensely enjoyed working with people, providing his analytical insight in helping them to make one of the most important decisions in their lives. Technology will ultimately be able to empower more people to gain access to real estate, which he believes is one of the great keys to improving people's lives & well-being. This, to him, is why he believes in REIDAO.

Prof. Neo Kok Beng, Chairman

NEO Kok‐Beng is a technology entrepreneur & venture catalyst, and specialized in the product development and commercialization of technology from universities and research institutes. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore, and teaches new product development, design thinking, business innovations and technology commercialization. He is also on the academic committee and a faculty member of the Singapore‐Stanford Biodesign program. Kok Beng is on the Faculty of Executive Education, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. As an affiliate faculty of the Science, Technology & Globalization Program, he researches and teaches technology and innovation policies and strategies. He is a Fellow & Council Member of the Institution of Engineers, Singapore; and chairs the national engineering promotion committee. He is a resource panel member of the Singapore Government Parliamentary Committee on Finance, Trade & Industry; and contributes his expertise in technology entrepreneurship, science & technology plans, and innovation policy. He has an MBA(NTU), B.Eng (Hons) (NUS), Executive Cert in Innovation & Strategy (MIT), and attended the Science, Technology & Innovation Policy Program (Harvard).

Prof. Tan Wee Liang, Legal Advisor

Tan Wee Liang is Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Law at the Singapore Management University (SMU). He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, U.K. He has authored several books and has published various papers in international journals including Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Business Research, Family Business Review, International Business Review, Journal of Entrepreneurship, and Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship. He also serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Small Business Management, : Enterprise and Innovation Management Studies and the Journal of Enterprising Culture, of which he is the managing editor. He is the International Vice-President of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (2002 to present) and serves as Chairman of the Professional Standards Committee of the Institute (2000 to present) and member of the International Council since 1998. He is also appointed a National entrepreneurship expert by the Asian Productivity Organization (Tokyo) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). In his capacity as a National expert, he trained and advised the heads of Asian national productivity organizations in strategic planning for their organizations.

3. What problem are you solving? Who are you solving it for?

DK: The real issue that we are targeting is the distribution of wealth. We are seeing it more and more now that when assets such as real estate are owned by centralised entity this will lead to centralisation of wealth. We think technology can help solve this issue, and we are starting with holiday properties.

We are really doing it for the society in general. If this works we can see how it will change the current asset capitalisation model.

The Crowdvilla structure can be extended to any kind of asset out there, to really benefit the community, rather than a small group of people (shareholders in the current common organisational context).

4. What is your solution to this problem?

DK: We are introducing a new paradigm – how an asset can be owned (indirectly) by a community, together. With Crowdvilla these assets are holiday properties. The community will be able to truly share these properties for their utilities (holiday stay) and at the same time remove all the costs/middleman usually associated with profits in the current model. This will immediately bring costs down (better value) for the users – the community.

A Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) will be formed, to legally owned the assets, because the legal system has not caught up yet to the tokenisation model/economy. Being an NPO this organisation lacks shareholders, which basically means whatever asset this organisation has can't really benefit a small group of people. This NPO will then be mandated to establish the network of holiday assets that the community can utilised.

Token holders will see that the contribution that they made through the token sale is used by the NPO to acquire properties and establish the utility that it promises. If you are a token holder you will have rights to utilise the asset, perpetually, as long as you hold the token. Now the mechanism on how we can achieve this is detailed in the whitepaper.

5. Why is your industry ripe for disruption?

DK: We have seen how “pure capitalistic” model is struggling right now. One example that I will point out is the Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme that is being trialed out. One can argue that UBI is a very socialistic policy, but see who are championing that, and you will see a disconnect between our supposed capitalistic society and the policy being implemented going forward.

We are basically making an argument, and assumption, that maybe – just maybe – technology such as the blockchain can be used to also govern our physical world and our interactions with each other. As collective owner of assets, we are proposing an arguably socialistic model where the community indirectly own the assets, and at the same time allow the technology (tokenisation) to govern how these assets are utilised, rather than having a central “entity/organisation/government” making the decision regarding the policy (as seen in the history with failed pure socialistic ideology where a central government make all the decisions).

This is really turning into a very deep and ideological discussion, and I will be happy to have an in-depth discussion with any of the readers. Please get in touch with me directly through one of the channels if you are really intrigued on how this intersection of the blockchain technology (digital world) and real-world asset (real estate) coincides and how it can potentially change our lives.


6. What’s the future of your industry?

Prediction #1: In terms of real estate tokenisation, we will probably see serious attempts in tokenisation that is security in essence. This will happen sooner or later, as and when the ecosystem is established and ready.

Prediction #2: We will also start to see exchanges that are geared towards securities based token listing.

Prediction #3: As for the holiday industry, we will probably see current disruptors being disrupted which forces the whole industry to rethink how to change the status quo. Paying 10-15% commission for a platform/marketplace service is just not good enough anymore.

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