RAAY OS First Application: Tokenisation Of German Real Estate Fund


Blockchain is a foundational technology, an underlying technology layer for applications built on top of it, allowing them to share a joint database and a ledger. It provides realtime access to an immutable and consistent data set. Based on our experiences launching the Building Blocks project on behalf of the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) in May 2017, Datarella launched its RAAY project in early 2018. 

RAAY’s goal is to become a new operating system for banking. Since the finance industry hasn’t changed much during the last decades, and financial crises followed by new stern regulatory frameworks have made banking even harder, banks are faced with a multitude of challenges, from a degenerated trust to inflexible and overcharged IT infrastructures and processes. For the RAAY team, blockchain provides the ideal basis for renewing trust and making IT more efficient for banking. Therefore, RAAY has been working on a new operating system to enable players of the finance industry with a blockchain-based technology layer to build lean, efficient, trust-less applications on top of it.

RAAY is partnering with a German bank to create a blockchain-based token representing the ownership of a German real estate fund. The token is part of an immutable, trust-less and decentralised system built specifically for the new RAAY operating system for banking. The token and the auxiliary system achieves an improved model for ownership of real estate by applying blockchain technology, secure and scalable identification solutions and tried-and-tested account management software. 

The token is characterised by a smart contract defining key functionality (transfers, rights, etc.) and listing properties (ownership, price, fund information, etc.). The token smart contract is linked to another smart contract which manages the different tokens and allows users to interact with various tokens in a simple way. Ownership of a token is proven by the possession of a private key. The corresponding public key is publicly listed in the smart contract. Building on the immutability and security of blockchain technology allows any token holder to prove ownership to anyone, in real-time, without doubt. 

The auxiliary system contains three main components: 

  • Identification, 
  • Application for Tokens and 
  • Fund-Connection. 

The Identification takes place according to applicable KYC-regulations with the addition of the creation of a blockchain identity, in effect a public-private key pair. The secret private key is much like a password and can be either downloaded to a secure offline-storage by the client or can be stored in a so-called cold wallet managed by a future RAAY-bank entity. If investment amounts exceed a certain limit, tokens are stored in a multi-signature wallet for additional security. 

The Application for Tokens is a protocol for converting any type of funds (fiat or cryptocurrency) into tangible asset tokens. It requires an account with a depository bank for fiat currencies. 

The Fund-Connection is the direct correspondence between existing tokens and shares of the fund in question. This ensures the validity of each claim that a token holder may have, on any ownership/access to dividends from the fund. 

This is the first step in RAAY’s strategy to create the new operating system for banking. It is a needed use case that will be operational and reduce costs for the fund deploying it. By going stepwise from one application area to another, RAAY will build a modular and configurable OS for banking that removes inefficiencies regardless whether the partner is a fund, a bank or a fintech-company.

The RAAY Operating System As The New Protocol For Banking

From the early days of capitalism, when from 1633 the Hollandische Mercurius referred  to capitalists as the owners of capital, on to David Ricardo who, in his Principles of Political Economy and Taxation  is seen as the one who actually coined the term capitalism, until today: the structure and behavior of the enterprise as the main capitalist entity, hasn’t changed that much. With the advent of blockchain technology, the evolution of the enterprise could pick up pace, dramatically.

An enterprise can be defined as the largest participant of an economic system with an ideology based on – in most cases – private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. In the early days, the owners of an enterprise would manage its operations themselves. With the advent of the public corporation, ownership and management were separated from each other: in most cases, the owners did not participate in the management of the company but delegated this to employed executives. With this separation of ownership and management, and a trend towards larger entities with hundreds to thousands, to hundreds of thousands of employees, enterprises had to be structured in a way that would enable a proper management and controlling. In democratic countries, there are specific sets of regulations and laws that provide the framework for owners’ and managers’ scopes of action.

The Enterprise As An Institution

Throughout the history of capitalism, enterprises have been regarded as stand-alone, singular entities, existing because of the product and service portfolios they would offer to the market. Aspects of enterprises’ interdependencies and connections with their environments played a minor role: one of the better known examples of this is James Buchanan’s Public Choice theory that describes people’s decision-making process within the political realm. When, with the Industrial Revolution, people became aware of the significant external effects enterprises could have not only on the lives of their employees but on the environment, etc., something changed within the enterprises: owners and managers started wondering how they could address their enterprises overall impact on the outside world.

Another aspect that made managers think of the interdependency of their company with others, was marketing. Companies discovered that it wasn’t enough to produce high-quality products – they had to tell potential customers about it and even had to compete with other companies offering similar products.

The Enterprise As A Platform

Acknowledging external impacts of enterprises and the shift from supply-side to demand-side driven markets mark a clear behavioral change for enterprises: trade  unions, environmental regulations, but also purely economic aspects, such as just-in-time production or supply chain optimization, all have led to a new kind of enterprise – evolving from institutional constructs into a platform, acting as hubs mainly responsible for organizing a network of partners making sure a final product will be presented to the customer.

The enterprise as a platform: these days, most companies would be happy being regarded as a platform. After all, that propels them into the top ranks of the innovative minority according to AccentureBain and other consultancies.

And yet, the platform enterprise isn’t state-of-the-art.

Platforms may offer many positive aspects but they lack all advantages of a decentralized, trustless system, such as a blockchain protocol. Apple, Tencent, Siemens, or other giant platforms are centralistic structures that are successful as long as each platform partner plays along: as soon as one entity in the supply chain fails, the product can’t be delivered on time or with a certain quality. Costs of managing and controlling the platform processes itselves have become immense. In the event of an external irregularity, e.g. an activist group’s protest on the basis of an alleged misbehaviour, followed by a consumer boycott, could force even market leaders to halt the production process or even to discontinue a product line. Platforms are highly sensitive against irregularities because of their centralistic architecture.

The Enterprise As A Protocol

There is a cure for this sensitivity: if platform enterprises improve themselves further and evolve into protocols, they become resilient against internal as well as external attacks and they can regain what most of today’s companies have continuously lost in the past years: credibility and trust in the eyes of consumers. A protocol can be described as a defined set of rules and regulations that determine how data is transmitted in networks. A blockchain protocol is a decentralized database and ledger that allows all participants of the network to work with the identical, consistent data set at any time.

Convergence: Blockchain + Smart Technologies

A protocol enterprise uses blockchain technology to share the database and its additional, external intelligence, such as AI, autonomous machines, VR or AR, to collaboratively manage and control a supply chain process. The system is completely decentralized, featuring automated processes in line with a set of rules and regulations all participants have agreed on – the governance model. A liquid feedback mechanism ensures that all participants have the ability to participate in the network’s opinion making process. Depending on the intended level of openness, either selected third parties or the general public may also join the network. In the first case, a private, permissioned blockchain would allow a pre-defined group of participants to join the network. If everybody should be granted access to the network, a public blockchain would be used.

Cryptoeconomics & Token Design

Participants of blockchain networks need tokens to communicate or, more correctly, to transact on the blockchain. These tokens can take different shapes: they can represent a value store only, or they come with a set of instructions defining the so-called token design, or cryptoeconomics of the network. Cryptoeconomics describe the incentive mechanism that motivates participants to actively engage in the network.

In the same way, the token design is the regulatory framework for behaving within the network, it’s the (re-)presentation of each participant’s behaviour and value system. In other words: the token is the representation of the brand equity of the network’s or protocol’s participants. Customer perception will be created through the design and use of the blockchain network tokens. Since all transactions in a blockchain are immutable and, therefore, represent an accurate, consistent history, all actions of a protocol enterprise are open for scrutiny by third parties, s.a. auditors, or the general public, i.e. (potential) customers. CEOs of protocol enterprises won’t have to fear misleading accusations by activist groups. However, they have to be aware that omniscient auditors or customers form their opinions on the company on the basis of a complete behavioral history. Bad times for fraudsters!

A Tokenised (Banking) Economy

It presumably will take years, if not decades, for existing enterprises to evolve in protocols. Also, many of today’s platforms will not join this evolution and will remain platforms or even morph back into institutions before the end of their business cycle. But for a new breed of contenders, blockchain technology provides the basis for a tokenised product offering already today. These vendors won’t necessarily regarded as enterprises in the first phase, but they might take over the role of today’s market leaders.  The key aspect of a tokenised economy is the token representing the behaviour and values, or, the brand equity, of market participants.

Blockchain technology is still in its infancy: most systems are not enterprise-ready, yet. However, the decentralized and open nature of blockchains provide the basis for a market penetration in an insane mode . Bitcoin, the first blockchain protocol, has evolved into the world’s 6th largest  currency by circulation  according to the Bank for International Settlements. The figure is based on a value of bitcoin at $10,765 each, meaning that the total value of all bitcoins in circulation is $180 bln. Bitcoin evolved into this widely used currency within nine years of existence – being the very first of its kind, initialising the category of cryptocurrencies.

Solarcoin, another cryptocurrency and token, was launched in 2014.  It’s a global rewards program for solar electricity generation: 1 Solarcoin represents 1 MWh (megawatt hour) of solar electricity generation. Verified solar electricity producers,  may get Solarcoins for free when participating in the network. 99% of Solarcoins will be given to solar electricity producers of 97,500 TWh (terrawatt hour) over 40 years. The creators of the Solarcoin foundation expect a market price of $30 per MWh in unregulated and unsubsidised markets. As of today, a Solarcoin costs $0.50 – so, there us a long way to go to reach a $30 price tag. However, at $0.50, Solarcoin has the third largest market capitalisation of all cryptocurrencies, reaching over $45 bln. Since renewable energies, especially solar power, cover more and more of the world’s energy consumption, we could expect the Solarcoin network becoming the or one of the main vendors within this space. And, what else is Solarcoin than a reasonably tokenised product offering?

The RAAY Operating System For Banking

For the RAAY team, blockchain technology is more than a database and a ledger: it’s the new operating system of a tokenised banking economy. Done right, the RAAY operating system not only allow new vendors of financial services enter a crowded market, its decentralized and open characteristics provide the tools for completely decentralized and open business models, such as (a renaissance of) cooperatives, collectives, etc..

RAAY provides the tools – creators, entrepreneurs and any existing third party vendors may now use it and start morphing centralized, vulnerable platform enterprises, products and services into decentralized, efficient, resilient, innovative ones.

The story of RAAY – The future of money

RAAY are large, circular stone disks – or: stone money – carved out of limestone formed from aragonite and calcite crystals.  RAAY stones were quarried on several of the Micronesian islands, mainly Palau, and transported for use as money to the island of Yap.

They have been used in trade by the Yapese as a form of currency. The monetary system of Yap relies on an oral history of ownership. Because these stones are too large to move, buying an item with one simply involves agreeing that the ownership has changed. As long as the transaction is recorded in the oral history, it will now be owned by the person it is passed on to and no physical movement of the stone is required.

For us, this Yapese tradition was the reason to name our Blockchain-based banking solution RAAY.  In the same way, the passing over of stories of (the possession of) Raay stones perfectly embody the key ingredients of modern Blockchain technology, such as authenticity, immobility, and consistency of transaction data. Raay stones meant the same to Yapese people as data in blockchains mean to participants of 21st century’s decentralized supply chains or financial ledger networks.

In the same way Yapese did not have to show their Raay to shopkeepers to buy essential goods, RAAY users do not have to trust each other in order to purchase and sell goods and services. Blockchain technology takes care of the “trustlessness”that blows for a highly scalable and seamless financial transaction experience.

Having a bank account, or: why being unbanked should not be an option

Living and working in Europe, one might underestimate the relevance of participating in international banking. Globally, over 2 billion people have no or limited access to financial transactions. This must change.

As a young person, when I was traveling through Europe, there were no Credit Cards (the Europeans with exceptions of the British were very late in adopting cashless payments). When I needed money, say in Italy, I had to go to a bank or the post office and cash a check. I had to write out several forms, my passport would be manually copied, all in all the procedure would take about 30 minutes and the fee was something like 5 Euros.

What for me was just a small nuisance- at home I would go to my bank’s atm with my debit card or wire money directly from my account – is representative for the daily life of about half of the world’s population. About three billion people don’t experience the comfort of current accounting with all the cashless payment services, while two billion people have no access to banks at all.

Being Unbanked Isn’t An Option

Not having a bank account for your current financials is much more than just an inconvenience. It is also more serious than just affecting peoples private lived. It literally keeps people outside the economy. Having to pay every invoice immediately in cash, or respectively, having to get all your income in cash, too, clearly limits the dimensions of doing even small business. Nobody will give you a credit line either, except friends and family, so every move that a business makes, has to be covered with funds upfront. All raw material, all tools, all rent and wages for workers cannot be balanced against the expected cash flows. To do business, people have to hold reserves; and in cash, unprotected, easily lost, stolen, or worst -robbed.

A different, however related problem with a cash-based economies, is taxes. I am aware that many of ultra-libertarian celebrities of the blockchain world acclaim “tax is fraud”. I don’t want to discuss this. I am convinced of the necessitiy of collecting taxes to maintain public goods and services. But even if I would think differently, I would still have to acknowledge the fact that for the time being, states will continue to enforce getting their refenues. Collecting taxes in a cash only economy however requires much more direct control. Like in the old days, you need tax inspectors continuously sniffing arround your physical business. This is inefficient and often unfair, and leeds to huge problems of corruption.

Despite all criticism, the western banking system has proven an essential part to foster economic growth, and sustaining stable, prospering societies. To make the virtues of banking accessible to all means to open up the chance for many to participate in the global economy.

RAAY is our solution to bring banking to the unbanked.

Two Token Model – A Cryptoeconomic Approach For High-yield, Yet Stable Transaction Networks

On December 6, 2017, game company and distributor Valve announced that its gaming platform Steam is no longer accepting Bitcoin as a payment method. The company explained that Bitcoin transaction fees have gone up to nearly $20 per transaction last week, “compared to roughly $0.20 when we initially enabled Bitcoin.” At the same time, CryptoKitties burned up 15% of Ethereum’s gas, causing a mid-level congestion and increasing in-game fees.

Since we have been working on some ICO projects with Datarella over the last months, focusing on cryptoeconomics and token design, and we have been discussing the stability of a token within the Building Blocks project we’ve launched with UN’s World Food Programme, we felt the need for a model that would allow a high-yield return for investors on the one hand, whilst guaranteeing the stability and a proper functioning of the specific application(s) at the same time.

Two Token Model TTM Thesis
Decentralized networks need a token model that

  1. guarantees a stable cryptoeconomic mechanism to exchange assets, services, time and money between peers, and, at the same time,
  2. allows investors to reap large economic benefits, and, therefore
  3. allows an overall story of combining a cooperative/post-capitalist model with a pure capitalist play by technically separating both aspects through the representation of two dedicated tokens.

Proposed Solution

A) Two-Token Model

The network features 2 different types of tokens:
a) a core token (CT) that is tradable at crypto-exchanges,
b) an application token (AT) (per application)

CT
The only function of the CT is that of a currency. In all of the network’s potential applications, there is one overarching CT.

AT
The AT is designed depending on the respective application’s requirements. It is the only token that allows the usage of the respective application. It is not listed at any exchange. Potential listings of ATs probably could not be prevented technically, but by regulation: The network defines the listing of AT’s as not allowed and will exclude applications that behave otherwise. Organizers of applications that already have a token will be offered to exchange their tokens for AT. Additionally, they can be awarded CT depending on their applications’ asset values.

B) Token Issuance Mechanism

Initially, there will be two events that happen at the same time:

  • SAFT of CT to (accredited) investors
  • One-time distribution of (free) AT to interested potential network application users (comparable to a basic income)

The Token Story

A (revenue-driven, high-yield) SAFT will finance the development of the network and serve as the initial AT supply of the network. Within the first applications running, AT holders can earn additional AT, and, directly derived from that, additional CT. The intensity of use and supply of AT represents the intrinsic value of a CT.

This model of a clear, technical separation into  – and combination of – a speculative and an application part should serve the initially conflicting interests of both categories of the network‘s stakeholders: the potentially application-interested majority of AT holders and the potentially solely commercially driven and high-yield-driven investors who hold and trade the CT.

Every app token holder (ATH) will receive CT’s additionally to their AT’s, if the intensity of use of the application reaches a certain threshold. As long as the intensity of use is above this threshold, the ATH will receive additional CT’s, scaling with their intensity of use. When the intensity of use sinks below the threshold, there will be no CT’s awarded further on.

Definition of Intensity of Use IoU Criteria

As mentioned, ATH are being rewarded CT depending on their intensities of use of the application(s). There are several aspects of defining an “intensity of use (IoU)” in a good way. First, an ATH could use a specific application very frequently. This could add to her IoU. Then, the ATH could move huge assets within an application. Again, this could add to her IoU. Further on, an ATH could use an application in a way that leads to a higher IoU of another application. This would lead to trans-application elements of the IoU’s algorithm. Then, there are further aspects, s.a. hoarding/inflation, etc..

Model Attractiveness

The definition of the IoU algorithm is one key aspect of this token model. On the one hand, it seemingly is the most complex problem to solve for the network. On the other hand it offers the opportunity to create one single algorithm that is completely variable in design and can be tweaked throughout the lifespan of the network without any need for changing the structure.

Due to the fact that the AT is not tradable, and the IoU algorithm prevents the ATH from hoarding and other unintended use, it can be regarded as stable.

The CT, in turn, is a tradable token that entails no other rights than being exchangeable with other currencies. The prize of the CT will be defined by market forces alone. This pure market-driven nature of the CT, combined with the value(s) of ATs, makes the network’s model highly attractive for application-focused users, as well as for investors.

We have intensely discussed the TTM within our professional and scientific network, and we have not found severe weaknesses that could prove to become showstoppers. However, we invite you to prove otherwise! Please provide us with your feedback on the Two Token Model – thank you!

UN’s World Food Programme WFP Appoints Baltic Data Science As Partner In Building Blocks Project

Our subsidiary Baltic Data Science (“BDS”) has formally been appointed by WFP to support them on the scale-up of the Building Blocks project.

We are very proud to announce that our close development partner and Polish subsidiary BDS has formally been appointed by the World Food Programme for the further roll-out the existing Building Blocks platform. At the beginning of the this year, we together with our partner BDS started to build a blockchain-based proof-of-concept for WFP and transformed it into a fully-functional blockchain-based transaction platform in Jordan. The inhabitants receive food vouchers that can be used in the village’s supermarket.

So what are the benefits compared to traditional transaction payments? Thanks to the blockchain technology, our innovative system provides higher transparency of aid accounts for beneficiaries and easy tracking of transaction which helps to lower the effort of bookkeeping for vendors and WFP. The biggest, however invisible, advantage is a minimized risk of fraud or data mismanagement.

We are excited to follow the next phase scale-up of the transaction platform and want to thank WFP for their trust and wish both partners a successful roll-out.

If you want to learn more about our services or specifically this project, please contact us at info@datarella.com or BDS at info@balticdatascience.com.

About WFP:
The United Nations World Food Programme “WFP”, with its headquarters located in Rome, Italy is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. WFP is mandated to deliver the food necessary to save the lives of victims of natural disasters, wars, and civil unrest. On average, WFP reaches more than 80 million people with food assistance in 75 countries each year. About 11,500 people work for the organization, most of them in remote areas, directly serving the hungry poor. WFP is part of the United Nations (UN) System.

About BDS:
Headquartered in Gdansk, Poland, BDS is an international data science and blockchain development company specializing in business-focused solutions. BDS develops data-driven applications (mobile/desktop frontends and backends) for international customers as well as blockchain-based applications.

 

Building Blocks – How the World Food Programme is harnessing Blockchain technology to deliver humanitarian assistance

What started with a Proof-of-Concept in Pakistan in early January this year, has been transformed in a fully functional Blockchain pilot being rolled out in Jordan in May, 2017. The Building Blocks project not only demonstrates the power and the impact of blockchain technology and its potential to enhance the lives of millions  but it is proof of the technology’s potential for efficiency gains for a humanitarian agency, such as WFP.

Based on the early, however robust prototype field tested in Pakistan, the Building Blocks pilot in Jordan now serves thousands of households in a Jordanian refugee camp Tazweed village. The inhabitants receive food vouchers that can be used in the village’s supermarket. The seamless integration of the existing iris scan identification technology into Building Blocks system allows the  existing processes to stay in place without any need for changes for the beneficiaries,  the supermarket nor WFP personnel. The only visible differences are a higher transparency of aid accounts for beneficiaries and easier bookkeeping for supermarket managers. The biggest, however invisible, advantage is a minimized risk of fraud or data mismanagement.

The economic benefits of harnessing Blockchain technology can amount to several million US-Dollars for the Jordanien refugee camp population, alone. The goal of the Building Blocks pilot is to demonstrate a fully-functional Blockchain solution that can serve as a role model and architecture for similar humanitarian projects worldwide and a base to develop other use cases.

The Datarella team wants to thank the WFP team, the IrisGuard team and our partners over at Parity Technologies for the great cooperation: from the beginning, we felt being one big team with everybody helping the others out when they needed it. Other than with this collaborative effort a project like Building Blocks would not have succeeded: Blockchain technology still is in its infancy and basic conditions in the field have proven to be challenging. Again: thank you very much for the opportunity to demonstrate the power and the real impact of Blockchain.

If you are interested in the Building Blocks project you might consider visiting our Ethereum Meetup on May, 16 .Here we will present more details and especially share our experiences gained in Tazweed village, Jordan

Find some more information on Coindesk or you contact us directly.

Foto by Houman Haddad, WFP:  Opening scene, 1 May, 9:00 am, in the Tazweed Village supermarket, Jordan