A strong regulatory framework built for the modern, always-digitally-connected economy that embraces the concepts of free markets and innovation equally is what is most needed in fintech today, as the impact of blockchain in the market intensifies. In this chat with GlobalFintechSeries, Derek Boirun, CEO and Founder at Realio shares a few points on this trend.
Can you tell us a little about yourself Derek? How did the idea behind Realio come about?
Like many in blockchain currently, I started learning about the tech and buying the early digital assets in 2016 and as the space blew up, it became clear that the technology was a great fundraising vehicle. Being in a kind of crowdfunding business already that deals with individuals investing and moving money across borders, it was a natural solution and easy transition. Early on, we actually wanted to raise money for a tokenized real estate fund, but at the time the market was not ready for real estate tokens and we weren’t seeing the money being invested in these tokens across the board. But as a believer long term, we decided to set out to build a great platform in the meantime because not many great solutions existed. The vision for tokenized real estate (democratized global access to quality deals) is what has driven the development, but obviously regulation is the hardest part to overcome.
How has your journey as a fintech entrepreneur been; what are some of the biggest experiences from your journey?
Tech is unlike any other industry I have experienced. Coming from a real estate development background, which as a profession and business is one of the oldest and slowest moving, I can’t help but be cautious with the “move fast and break things” mentality of tech, but that’s the mindset that attracted me to it. Ideas become crude products, implemented, and those that stick, replicated over and over all in a matter of weeks. This type of open source innovation can be dangerous for those that engage with it (especially in blockchain), but I see it as a necessary evil for innovation to flourish. The technology being created right now with blockchain is quite honestly a once-in-a-lifetime type of development, as if we were witnessing the invention of the lightbulb in real time and not quite fully understanding the scope of its eventual impact.
How have you seen Blockchain emerge and impact industries and the fintech marketplace over time? Can you share your thoughts on some recent game-changing innovations you’ve come across?
The genesis and growth of blockchain over the last 10 years, starting with Bitcoin, is curious to say the least. Bitcoin emerged not as a solution to an existing technical problem, but to a monetary policy driven problem and issues surrounding centralization and privacy. It was ideological. Now, you are seeing almost all central governments and big banks establishing blockchain R&D departments or outright implementing their own blockchain solutions to issue CBDCs or make back-office functions more efficient. While these solutions are far from the original intent of Bitcoin, the idea of decentralizing trust into the process is what makes the technology useful, so transactions and transfer of ownership can be verified instantaneously with high certainty. Removing central parties from any process if more efficient and direct. I continue to be amazed with some of the DeFi solutions being developed, especially those around lending and liquidity pools. When you pull back the curtain from all the hype, there are products with real world solutions that can be implemented immediately in the DeFi space. The bigger question is when will businesses learn to trust and use them.
As technologies mature and use of blockchain in fintech rises, how do you think the future of this space will transform and shape up?
If you look at the way Uber and AirBnB transformed commuting and travel accommodation business models, there are many clues as to how blockchain will transform financial services. Things will become more transparent, peer to peer, instant, and less costly. Lots of legacy businesses will become obsolete, but markets are efficient so new businesses will be created as well. The barriers to entry for young start-ups in financial services have already been demolished, with billions of dollars already being supported through DeFi products created this year by founders under the age of 30.
Where do you see Realio in the next few years? Can you talk about some upcoming innovations users can look forward to before we wrap up?
We just announced an amazing partnership with a private equity firm that will spawn a new product by the name Valentus.Digital. The vision of Realio is that we can make the business of private equity more efficient and more competitive by building out all of its financial infrastructure with blockchain. From fundraising, to digitizing private membership/LP interests, to automating the entire compliance process all the way to providing peer to peer marketplaces for investors to transact with each other 24/7, globally and without transaction fees (this adds up for institutional size transactions). This is what Realio is building.
Derek Boirun is the Founder and CEO of Realio, an end-to-end, blockchain-based SaaS platform for the issuance, investment, and life-cycle management of digital assets. Derek is an entrepreneur with institutional experience in commercial real estate development, EB-5 capital investments and blockchain-based investing. He previously founded and currently acts as managing member of American Economic Growth Fund, an EB-5 investment platform focused on sourcing overseas capital for U.S. based real estate projects.