Crypto 2.0 startup DigitalTangible has announced it will rebrand as Serica (Greek for silk), a move that marks an expansion of the digital asset trading service beyond precious metals.
Launched in September 2014, DigitalTangible has long used Counterparty to allow users to trade between bitcoin and cryptographic tokens representing physical precious metals holdings. As Serica, the company aims to expand this model, allowing anyone with the rights to an asset to create digital tokens that can then be traded on a global market.
Serica CEO Taariq Lewis suggested that the move was a strategic one, led by customers who saw the potential of the service to evolve its formerly niche offering. Whereas DigitalTangible targeted bitcoin traders who sought to use gold’s relative price stability as a safety net, Serica uses digital asset trading to allow owners of physical property to trade it in digital form.
Lewis told CoinDesk:
“We have customers that want to invest in US-based assets. By having customers come to us and say we have asset rights to sell, Serica will custody those rights and that means that our other customers can now participate in these investments. All assets are on the table.”
Serica will, in turn, assist customers with physical assets as they look to create digital tokens for their rights, tie them to the blockchain and monetize them via its marketplace.
So far, Lewis estimates that Serica has listings for more than 50 types of assets, a figure that includes items as diverse as stock certificates, Overstock shares and farmland in Argentina.
Growing a market
While Serica has found a novel way to use bitcoin’s open ledger and Counterparty’s token creation abilities to enable asset trading, the company also faces a steep challenge in building a marketplace of traders who want exposure to such assets.
Though he acknowledged the technology is still in the early adopter phase, Lewis believes Serica can succeed as a solution in specialized areas. Today, he believes the opportunity lies with asset owners who have had difficulty gaining access to a diverse pool of investors due to supply and demand issues as well as geographic restrictions.
“I have customers in Asia that want to invest in US real estate, and customers in the US that want to invest in agriculture in Latin America, so being able to do that on the [bitcoin] blockchain, that’s magical,” Lewis said. “That’s stuff we’ve never seen before so we’re in a race to make sure the rights are in place so we can do that.”
On the demand side, he said Serica will seek to market to individual investors, individual retirement account (IRA) investors and private wealth managers looking to maximize returns from high-risk, high-reward markets.
Word of mouth
The business is faced with the difficulty of getting the word out about a service that could now appeal to a wide range of asset holders.
Whereas DigitalTangible relied on partners in the gold business and traditional web marketing strategies to target the precious metals vertical, Lewis acknowledged that the challenge of reaching markets would now be far greater given the specificity of the targets.
In the face of trying to reach niche global audiences, word of mouth, he suggested, would be the company’s best marketing asset.
“This is still really early, this is highly innovative. It’s a challenge, its not going to be easy. It’s going to take some work.”
Trading image via Shutterstock