With the recently concluded International Women’s Day, it has been highlighted once again that women are underrepresented in many spaces across the world such as the Blockchain industry and the tech world in general.
To get to the root of this, we spoke with Natalia Karayaneva, CEO of Propy, a Blockchain-based real estate platform about women’s empowerment, property and Blockchain.
Women are vastly underrepresented in Blockchain and tech in general. What would you recommend be done to combat this?
You are right, the tech space is still male-dominated and women are vastly underrepresented. My advice for the women in the industry would be to focus more on their accomplishments as numbers can prove the success, no matter of the gender. Women in tech often need to double their efforts during the initial stages of their career, so they need to be persistent. I highly recommend identifying advisors or mentors and reaching out to them for support and direction.
Blockchain has been in existence for over a decade now. Do you feel it is more inclusive than when first started or has nothing changed?
In general, despite the popularity of cryptocurrencies – arguably the most successful application of blockchain technology, the dearth of other applications with broad appeal and the extreme difficulty with which the blockchain can be understood and used by the uninitiated, has placed some limits in its wider adoption. Thus, while blockchain is much more inclusive now than it was 10 years ago by virtue of its much higher number of adoptees, the easiness or difficulty by which it can be understood and utilized has improved but not nearly as much as its adoption rates in the same period of 10 years.
Your company, Propy, has said that it prioritizes having women in leadership roles. How has that, in your opinion, changed your working environment?
It is not a priority to have more women than men in leading positions at Propy. We aim to be as transparent and equitable as possible when hiring employees for open positions. Leadership, qualification, talent, ability to inspire team members, as well as alignment with corporate culture and our high spirit are the essential qualities that we look for when recruiting for a managerial position.
Could you tell us a bit about Propy?
Until now, the traditional process of closing real estate transactions has been tedious, not only complicated and expensive but also vulnerable to fraud.
With Propy, this would change. We have re-invented the existing real estate process by deploying smart contracts on the blockchain. Thanks to the technology our solution eliminates fraud, speeds up transaction time and allows agents, buyers, or sellers to close a real estate deal entirely online. Plus the transaction can take place using traditional currency, cryptocurrency, or a combination of both.
The best part is that there’s almost no learning curve. One demo is usually enough to onboard agents, title agents, notaries and closing lawyers – different players in different jurisdictions. Only hashes of documents are stored on the blockchain and the blockchain address is visible on title deed in the end of the transaction. Agents, buyers, sellers can use this address primarily in unfortunate situations – like claims of ownership or fraud in the future.
Blockchain seems to be taking the real estate world by storm, with properties worth tens of millions being tokenized. When would you say this interest began and what sparked it?
Interest in the tokenization of real assets is as old as blockchain itself. Blockchain broke out in the mainstream news with the emergence of Bitcoin as a mainstream news topic in 2013. While it is not clear when the term “tokenization” as relating to asset tokenization first emerged, articles by blockchain gurus describing the blockchain as a means for keeping records of property titles have been published since at least at about the same time, and certainly well before that.
However, the usage of the blockchain for the tokenization of real assets only became realistically possible in mid-2015 with the emergence of the Ethereum blockchain infrastructure which allows the easy creation of crypto coins or “tokens”. 2016 and 2017 were the years of the ICO, i.e. the raising of capital through the sale of utility tokens, while the concept of real asset-backed tokens was realistically introduced in articles in 2017. 2018 was the year when the first real estate security tokens (i.e. asset-backed tokens) appeared.
What sparked it? of course the realization of the long list of advantages real estate security tokens potentially have over traditional securitizations of real estate assets:
Super fast settlements
Settlements without middlemen
A significant increase in addressable investor pool (democratization of investing opportunities)
Interoperability; i.e. the ability to trade tokens across disparate exchanges and against various currencies or other tokens
Cross border trading
Programmable security tokens
Many young people are forgoing homeownership due to the high costs. How do you feel Blockchain, which is popular among young people, can help?
Typically, real estate transactions take time and require a lot of paperwork, meetings, signature signings before the transfer of ownership. There are also high closing fees, averaging tens of thousands of dollars, that comes with multiple parties and steps involved in the process, which often irritates buyers and sellers.
Blockchain and smart contracts allow all participants in a real estate transaction to interact through a single solution and close a deal entirely online, without the need to be physically present at specific locations.
Young people highly dislike visiting banks, dealing with paper and bureaucracy thus automation of the real estate purchase process can increase home buying rates amongst future generations.
Besides, smart contracts can be considered as a tool that eliminates many of the middlemen in real estate, allowing buyers to acquire property with the click of a button and while paying less for closing fees.
What does Propy have planned for the near future?
After entering the European and US markets with our transaction platform last year, we have serious interest from both real estate corporations and governments to integrate our technology.
We’re also focusing on our newly introduced training program that aims to brand realtors as forward-thinking and educate them to be amongst the first to interact with this disruptive technology. This would inevitably give them an advantage.
2019 is set to be the year of change, evolution, and innovation. Stay tuned for the official launch date of the full roadmap for this year on our Medium blog and our newsletter.