Yael Tamar is both the Co-CEO & Co-founder of SolidBlock, a new fundraising vehicle, offering a compliant global platform for the issuance and trade of digital securities backed by real estate & other assets. Yael is a financial strategist, speaker, advisor, and mentor with over a decade of experience. Yael is a regional co-chair at FIBREE, the Foundation for International Blockchain and Real Estate Expertise.
When did you first discover cryptocurrency and blockchain technology?
Interesting question. Although I first became acquainted with cryptocurrency and blockchain technology about a decade ago, I discovered the need for cryptocurrency in the summer between second and third grade, while eating ice-cream on the beaches of the Black Sea.
I was born in Crimea, on the shores of the Black Sea. I was seven when I realized that the currency of my country had no value. I remember how one day I went to buy ice-cream with bills that had far too many zeros on them and the next day they had even more! We would take markers and cross out the zeros so that we would know how much money we had. I realized that this paper money was worthless. I am sure that those earliest years fostered my passion for financial freedom and entrepreneurship.
Jump forward many years—after leaving home at the age of 16 to attend high school and university in the US—and I’d found myself living in New York. I always knew that my life’s journey would be at the forefront of social and economic evolutions. I worked on Wall Street and continued to M&A, PE and investment banking in Israel but my pace and passions were clearly fit for the start-up world.
In 2018, my cofounder Yuval Wirzberger founded SolidBlock and I joined shortly after. Yuval and I are the basis of a fantastic team. He has over 15 years of technology and product management experience and has helped both startups and large enterprises bring new media and technical visions to life. I have over a decade of experience as a marketing executive within the fintech, finance, telecom, and energy industries, as well as a long track record as an entrepreneur. Both of us arrived to the blockchain sector about 5 years ago from slightly different angels – I consulted regulated bodies like institutions and governments and Yuval built products and did crypto mining. Together we’re making history.
Could you share the genesis story behind SolidBlock?
Meeting my friend and Co-CEO of SolidBlock, Yuval Wirzberger, in 2018, was serendipitous. I became aware of Yuval’s involvement in the tokenization of the St. Regis Hotel in Aspen, CO., and when I realized he lived in Israel, too, I figured I would contact him and tell him how interested I was in his project. I looked for him in blockchain groups and one of my friends, Sam Katz, started working with Yuval at the time as a securities legal advisor for SolidBlock – so he introduced us. Despite being completely different in our backgrounds and religious outlooks, Yuval and I are a perfect match. We are able to use each other as a springboard for turning our ideas into products for our company. The synergy that exists between us, and our shared understanding of both business and marketing strategy has helped us create a first-rate start-up. SolidBlock is a play on words that captures the essence of our vision of transforming illiquid assets such as real estate into tradable, compliant liquid assets. The technology behind SolidBlock is based on blockchain and our primary, initial focus is on real estate, a “solid” real world asset. The word “block” has a dual role, emphasizing blockchain and the blocks that build houses.
What are some benefits for investors of tokenized real estate?
Blockchain technology creates a secure and efficient tamper-proof log of sensitive activity that is easily accessible and readily transparent. This makes it excellent for real-time international payments and money transfers for SolidBlock’s investors. It also decreases the cost of these transfers by reducing the need for banks to manually settle transactions, not to mention doing away with all the paperwork involved in a traditional real estate deal. Additionally, investors have more control over when and if they’d like to liquidate their holdings. All in all, capitalizing on tokenized real estate is the smart move for future-oriented investors.
Outside of real estate, what other types of equity can be tokenized on SolidBlock?
Our tech can be used to tokenize both equity and debt backed by real estate, so technically property owners can in a way “deposit” their assets in the digital form. We have plans to enable companies to deposit their equity or issue tokenized debt as well, but right now we are focused on establishing our market in the property sector.
What countries currently have the best regulation in place for tokenizing equity?
I would say that Switzerland is at the top of the list with Singapore and the US right behind. Switzerland has become a world leader in locations for blockchain companies, mainly because of governmental support. A kind of Crypto Valley, an area between Zurich and Zug, is now home to many companies in the blockchain sector that can explore new and innovative business models. This is primarily because of the legal certainty that Switzerland is providing to start-ups as they create an increasingly strong ecosystem. I like the US regulation because for the most part it’s clear, and it also allows almost unlimited marketing for private placements to accredited investors. This creates a much more fertile ground for tokenization.
Could you discuss the process for companies that want to tokenize through the SolidBlock platform?
The process involves creating a new entity (SPV) and various legal structures focused on private placement of unregistered securities. Keep in mind that the operational and business models of actual assets—whether it be a high-end tourist destination or an operating property—must be tailored to the asset and the players involved. SolidBlock creates a smart contract using blockchain to reflect the relevant assets and holding companies associated with it plus the rights of investors and expected returns. We structure the financial aspects and the planned payout of dividends according to the agreement. Then, once everything is in place, we issue the tokens and help list the tokens on exchanges ro enable trading in the secondary market.
What is your vision of where the digital securities industry will be five years from now?
My prediction is that tokenization will be standard within five to ten years. For a long time, the world has worked in tandem with centralized or traditional finance, that is, where banks control people’s assets. Current trends, coming on the heels of the creation of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, are leading towards “open finance,” a more transparent and individually-controlled type of finance. Crypto is fast becoming the new frontier for decentralized financial platforms and markets. The trend is towards DeFi, to the extent that the DeFi market cap soared from $1 billion in 2020 to $30 billion in February, 2021. This is the wave of the future – the democratization of finance and real estate.
You’ll be speaking at the upcoming Security Token Summit, what will you be discussing?
I will be speaking in a session titled, “What Major Challenges & Opportunities Lie Ahead for The Adoption of Digital Securities?” that will be moderated by Keith Smith from Security Token Advisors. It is scheduled live from 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., IDT, and I hope you’ll join me.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about SolidBlock?
Our mission at SolidBlock is to create a market that is global, democratic, inclusive, transparent, and efficient, with no borders, limits, or unnecessary complexities and where capital is both accessible and protected.
SolidBlock wraps real world assets in a compliant crypto-like structure that lets investors buy and sell them at any time on our marketplace or participating exchanges. These asset-backed digital assets are easy to buy and sell, collateralize for securing loans, and combine into structured products. Please check our marketplace.solidblock.co.
Thank you for the great interview, readers who wish to learn more should visit SolidBlock, or they should attend the Security Token Summit to hear Yael Tamar speak at the session titled “What Major Challenges & Opportunities Lie Ahead for The Adoption of Digital Securities?”.