然而，房地产投资信托基金并非没有缺点。首先，由于本质上类似于积极管理型基金，它们会产生交易成本和费用。这些成本和费用的产生既为公司创利，也覆盖了管理、营销和其他费用的开支。同理，这些投资组合的规格可能非常严苛，有几个级别和等级的资产，使得外行投资者难以理解。其次，大多数REITs还承担着重要的杠杆作用，通常占总资产的三分之一至一半不等。如今房地产证券型通证发行（real estate STOs）已开发出针对上述问题的解决方案，极大地降低了成本并提高了交易效率，同时提升了安全性、准确性、透明度、监控和可跟踪性。房地产证券型通证既可以像债务一样支付利息，也可以具有股权属性，将价值与基础资产联系起来。
The Digital Revolution Reshapes the Global Financial System
Deputy Dean of Academics, Professor of Finance and Director of the Fintech Research Center at Fanhai International School of Finance, Fudan University
Associate Professor of Practice in Finance at Fanhai International School of Finance and the co-director of the Fintech Research Center at Fanhai International School of Finance, Fudan University
Visiting Scholar at Fanhai International School of Finance, Fudan University
Post-doctor of the Fintech Research Center at Fanhai International School of Finance, Fudan University
While the world continues to fight the global COVID-19 Pandemic, innovation has led the way in maintaining commerce and finding long-term solutions that will fuel economic growth once we emerge from this crisis. Work is being conducted online in unprecedented numbers and online service providers like Zoom, WeChat, Taobao, and others have led the way in helping the world maintain a sense of togetherness and relative normalcy. Meanwhile, next generation digital solutions are being explored that will help us to combat the economic repercussions of the health crisis and that represent a transformative stage in the development of world economies and financial systems.
DCEP Testing and Economic Recovery
On March 24, the People’s Bank of China announced that it had completed the development of the basic functions of the central bank’s digital currency electronic payment (DCEP) and is drafting laws for its implementation. Test sites have been announced in Shenzhen, Chengdu, Suzhou, and the Xiong'an New District with early plans seeming to surround government-run consumption such as transportation.
Unlike Alipay and other infrastructure-dependent systems, the pseudonymous system DCEP allows for digital wallets to function in the absence of linked bank accounts and even Internet connections, allowing for a truly cash-like experience. This will empower consumers and vendors alike to conduct commerce in a whole new, un-intermediated way, while enjoying the regulation, reliability, and efficiency of a digital sovereign-banked unit of trade. The potential impact on money transfer, international commerce and settlement, and the continued internationalization of the RMB cannot be over-stated.
However, during the COVID Crisis, the impact of this technology may be still larger. As the US struggles with its Payroll Protection Program (PPP), small businesses that need the money the most have limited access while large corporations like the Los Angeles Lakers have received millions in funding. A digital currency would allow governments to track both the distribution and use of subsidies. Furthermore, the PPP has been overrun by a massive number of applications being processed in a non-distributed way where both process and information remain largely opaque and deployment has been weak (with the first 350 billion halted after only about 30% of its capital was effectively deployed). A Blockchain-based system of true validation of need, nearly immediate deployment, and assurances as to use of capital would resolve many of these issues.
Perhaps more importantly, citizens in need likewise continue to struggle. Smart contract technology along with a national digital currency system ensure direct-to-user stimulus, eliminating losses incurred while trickling through traditional financial systems. Such a system would be exponentially more effective in the face of multiple such infusions, as experts predict that the eventually economic recovery is likely to come in waves, with ups and downs, rather than in a V-shape. The disease has already shown itself to have progressed in waves of disease expansion and contagion in different regions of the world, and as the global economy is clearly linked, economic recovery will be impacted by both the domestic and international environment. Multiple stages of economic stimulus may be required. Over the last 20 years, the world has generated 186 trillion dollars in cash supply that has generated only 46 trillion in sustained GDP. Clearly, blindly flooding the economy with cash is not the answer. We must aim to target capital where it is most needed and ensure critical consumption for the most vulnerable.
Digitization of Value
The original Internet revolution allowed for the digitization of information, democratizing its access for everyone in the world by making it available online. The digitization of value represents the next digital revolution that is on the cusp of fundamentally transforming the world’s economies. The opportunity is much larger than just new digital forms of traditional currencies and online payment options. The ability to create a digital asset out of anything of value, from real estate to works of fine art to commodities, will provide unprecedented fungibility and liquidity. This will enable radically disruptive digital financing and business model innovation that can allow ecosystems to effectively create customized incentive structures to optimize their own digital economy.
In August 2019, the world's first regulated digital asset banks Seba and Sygnum both received the first banking and securities dealers’ licenses from Switzerland’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA). Later in October that year, Sygnum also received a capital markets services license in Singapore, allowing it to provide digital asset management services. As a result of the regulatory clarity around the world, new forms of fully regulated asset-backed digital asset securities, known as securitized token offerings (STOs), are popping up globally, from NYC to Singapore. While both Switzerland and Singapore take the initial lead in the world of regulated digital assets, the country to watch will be China.
On October 15, 2019, China announced the Blockchain Service Network (BSN), which is a cross-public network, cross-regional, and cross-institutional national Blockchain service infrastructure platform. This platform is spearheaded by the National Information Center which provides top-level planning and is independently developed and deployed by China UnionPay and China Mobile, combining Blockchain technology and with their existing network resources. BSN completed internal testing on April 15th and will be the backbone infrastructure technology for massive interconnectivity throughout Chinese mainland, from city governments, to companies and individuals alike. The network will also form the backbone to the Digital Silk Road to provide interconnectivity to all of China's trade partners around the globe. The BSN will be a new Internet protocol to allow a more efficient way to share data, value, and digital assets in a completely transparent and trusted way between anyone who wants to be a node on the network.
REITS vs Real Estate Tokens
Real estate is the world’s largest asset class with a total estimated asset value of over US$250 trillion globally, larger than stocks and bonds combined. However, it is estimated that less than 3% of investment quality real estate is traded each year, compared with nearly 100% of the value stocks and 60% of bonds. This illiquidity in the real estate investment market is attributed to the large capital requirement and long investment period associated with these assets. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) were developed in the 1960s to provide liquidity to this market and are essentially mutual funds for real estate assets. The current global market cap for REITs is around US$7 trillion, and by some measures, REITs have outperformed almost every other asset class over the past 30 years.
China is looking to join this fray in the near future, having already dabbled in privately-traded “Quasi REITs.” These securities likewise derive their value from real estate but are debt-instruments that pay interest, rather than equity REITs that pay a dividend, the common structure for REITS globally. On April 30, China announced plans to create a public market for REITS. According to a statement jointly issued by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), the “Notice Concerning Work in Relation to Advancing Infrastructure Real Estate Investment Trust Trials,” CSRC and NDRC will “make full use of capital markets to actively support the undertaking of REIT trials for high-quality infrastructure in key areas and industries in accordance with the principles of the market and rule of law.”
REITs, though, are not without their shortcomings. First, because of they are essentially structured like actively managed funds, they generate transactions costs and fees that arise both for the profit of the firm and to cover the overhead of managing, marketing, and other expenses. Likewise, these portfolios can be draconian and have several levels and grades of assets that may be difficult for lay investors to understand. Most REITS also take on significant leverage, often ranging from a third to a half of total assets. Real estate STOs have developed to generate solutions to some of these concerns, greatly reducing costs and increasing transaction efficiency, all while improving security, accuracy, transparency, monitoring, and traceability. Real estate STOs may be either debt-like in paying interest or have equity qualities linking value to the underlying assets.
The Fintech Research Center has been working with Securitize, a US-based company that provides solutions for token issuers to successfully offer their digital securities. In interviews conducted with issuers, we find that STOs provide governance solutions through smart contracts, engage multiple investors from one access point, and can serve dozens if not hundreds of investors in 14 jurisdictions. Their system supports fully transparent cross-border transactions, and tokens can be traded at any time around the world without the limitations of operating hours of a traditional exchange.
STOs are often written on single-assets and are fully transparent, have virtually no management or trading fees, and are unlevered. REITs, in contrast, provide asset management services and diversification. We don’t view real estate STOs necessarily as a substitute for REITs, and it’s not hard to imagine eventual REIT-like portfolios that might also hold real estate tokens. In the short-term there certainly appears to be a market for both.
Administrative Affairs Blockchain and Blockchain Service Network (BSN) in China
In order to strengthen their governance capabilities and improve governance efficiency, government departments are adopting Blockchain technology, forming an administrative affairs Blockchain. For a long time, the Chinese government has aimed to move away from "information islands," to break through data barriers, and to improve the efficiency of civil affairs. With traceability, immutability, and data encryption as its features, Blockchains can be a solution to some current pain points.
China’s administrative affairs Blockchain applications first appeared in 2017. By 2019, the number of new projects had increased from 2 to 23. Currently, several provinces and cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin have introduced administrative affairs Blockchain applications. Shenzhen was first to launch Blockchain invoices and a central bank Blockchain trading platform. However, in terms of specific numbers, the amount of administrative affairs Blockchain applications in China is still small, and it is dominated by Beijing and the Guangdong Province, the sum of the two exceeding one third of the total number nationwide. At present, the most mature applications are judicial deposit certificate, electronic invoice, and gold trades, but recently, the highly anticipated DCEP was launched.
Launched globally this past month, the BSN is China’s first global infrastructure network, and Zhang from the National Information Center points out that BSN will provide a high-quality and customized technical service platform and a credible, reliable, and scalable infrastructure service provider for China's smart infrastructure and for the development of the digital economy. It has even begun to play an active role in the control of the COVID-19 pandemic as it has been deployed in the national center for disease control.