Fintech startup Qwikwire aims to raise $9 M from ‘initial coin offering’ in 2018

Cover Art Erka Capili Inciong

Words by

Digital Reporter

Two‑year‑old fintech company Qwikwire, which boasts of being the leading cross‑boarder real estate payment processor in South East Asia, announced last Friday its own digital currency that will be sold through an initial coin offering (ICO).

Pre‑selling of the coin will start on February 26, and regular selling will run from March 26 until the end of April.

Qwikwire aims to raise $9 million for its new project called AQwire, a “decentralized app” and website powered by blockchain technology that will serve as a market place for real‑estate developers to attract and sell properties to foreign buyers. The app will be launched in September 2018.

Tech startups that utilize blockchain technology are taking advantage of the popularity of cryptocurrencies like the much talked about Bitcoin (whose value, as of writing, is now over $20,000 per coin). In this process, they develop new ways to raise capital—some of which going beyond the norm of courting investors or borrowing from the bank.

This ICO process is pretty much the same as the initial public offering or IPO done by established companies to expand their capital by selling a stock to the public or potential investors. In an ICO, however, no share in the company is offered, except for a “crypto‑token” sold in exchange of other digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum to generate funds for an upcoming product or application.

While tech startups in other countries like the U.S. have been resorting to this fund raising process since 2013, launching an ICO is relatively new to the Philippine startup community.

 

Joining the blockchain space

In Qwikwire’s case, the company will sell its own cryptocurrency called “QEY” in exchange of Ethereum, with the equivalent value depending on the latter’s rate during the selling period.

Users of the app can only use QEY in purchasing properties through the platform.

The initiative marks Qwikwire’s entry to the blockchain space.

Qwikwire CEO and founder Ray Refundo believes that “blockchain is the future” and that it is “the new internet.”

“So many companies have been built on top of the internet; Google, Facebook, Uber. [It’s an entirely] new economy built on top of the internet. But the internet is a simple thing, it’s just actually a network of interconnected computers. In the same way, blockchain is a system of interconnected ledgers or data bases. Basically it’s a new way of processing information,” he explained during the launch held at QBO Innovation Hub in Makati, City.

While not so much applications have been built yet on top of the technology after Bitcoin, which is the first blockchain‑powered app, Refundo said that in the next 20 years, blockchain will be “as big as or even bigger than the internet today.”

By using blockchain to run the new app, Refundo said they can validate all listings, buyers, and transactions in the platform at large. And since it is a decentralized system, users no longer need to pay for a middleman that is among the requirements in purchasing properties from abroad.

“[There are] so many problems that can be solved by blockchain, especially when you talk about global commerce or from traveling to banking and finance,” he said.







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