The former digital chief of Credit Suisse is launching a blockchain-based investment platform that lets people share ownership of “experiential” assets such as artwork or a classic car, and is seeking to raise funding for the startup via an initial coin offering (ICO).
Marco Abele, who left the investment bank this summer, is offering investments in assets usually limited to high-net worth individuals through a new platform called Tend. Well-known fintech industry insider Oliver Bussman, a former chief information officer at UBS and the investment bank’s “blockchain guru” is a strategic advisor.
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“People are looking for more real investments that reflect passions or interests,” he told CIty A.M.. It means a small group of investors would own a piece of art or vineyard together from which they would get a return, but they would also get to use the asset, getting to stay at the vineyard, for example.
The use of the Ethereum blockchain enables ownership to be tracked and traded more easily.
Tend is aimed at those with wealth of between £100,000 and £1m who are overlooked by private banks but who are underserved by retail banks. Abele estimates this group to number 350m globally with a growing number in emerging markets and megacities where wealth is rising.
A pilot of the platform has already been created and it’s aiming to have 100 customers by next spring to begin a test phase. By August next year Abele hopes to have 400 users
“We will start slow to have high quality integrations and learn and iterate from there,” he said.
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And the project, so far self-funded “to series A level” Abele said, will be funded by an initial coin offering (ICO) or token sale through which it is seeking to raise SFr30m (£22.5m). It will be a separate token to the one underpinning tansaction on the Tend platform.
Abele said he had gone the route of an ICO rather than venture capital funding as it gave more people access to investing in innovative startups. “They’re [VCs] looking for a high exit, not a long-term business. They have an agenda.”
And, he hopes to “set new standards” for token sales, having structured the offering around the laws of a bond issuance.
“Token generating events are, we are convinced, the future of financing innovative new ventures like ours,” he said.