The Fast and Simple Way to Sell Physical Assets on the Blockchain
Read The Mattereum Universal Bridge on Medium or continue below.
Mattereum’s approach to linking physical assets to the blockchain is unique because it forms a “Universal Bridge” between the two. It’s like a bridge between two different blockchains, but it’s a bridge between real world assets like real estate and gold bullion, and the blockchain world of NFTs. We’ve cracked the hard problem of putting real estate on the blockchain using our Universal Bridge; there’s a £1.9million piece of beachfront property in the south of England being traded as an NFT on OpenSea by our clients West London City Lets through their blockchain subsidiary Tokenized Properties, using the Mattereum Universal Bridge.
Buying the NFT gives you the option to have full title to the land transferred to you. We offer this to the rest of the industry as as service: bring us your projects, your assets, and we’ll bring them across the Universal Bridge for you by securely turning them into NFTs.
We’ve cracked the hard problem of putting real estate, and everything else, on the blockchain
There are other approaches to putting physical assets on the blockchain, but these are designed for a specific asset class, or a small number of related asset classes, and doing something different would need a whole lot of new legal work. If it exists in the physical world, however, Mattereum can put it on the blockchain — a Universal Bridge. We did think of calling it “the Mattereum Rainbow Bridge’’ because Asgard, right; that would be cool; and it is capable of putting the whole spectrum of property on chain.
But then we thought — Marvel, hmmm, they have serious lawyers, so maybe we shouldn’t go there, we do not want to be tangling with Matt Murdoch or She-Hulk — so “Universal Bridge’’ it is.
And it is universal; we can literally use this Mattereum Universal Bridge for anything you can think of, and for anyone — asset owners, exchanges, other physical asset NFT protocols, brokers and dealers — Mattereum’s Universal Bridge service is open for you to bring your physical assets to the blockchain of your choice, enabling them to be sold using a Physical Asset NFT that gives the purchaser ownership of the physical thing itself. Literally reach out, talk to our team, and we can get your project started.
Mattereum’s Universal Bridge service is open for you to bring your physical assets to the blockchain
So, how does the Mattereum Universal Bridge work? Deep breath… Property is defined by law. Mattereum’s ability to bind a smart object to legal contracts means we can connect the physical property and associated property rights to the blockchain, forming a bridge. All forms of property more developed than a bear guarding a cave are created by law; this is something that is under-appreciated, even by the libertarians. The thing that makes something property is law and there is no property that exists that is not defined by law. This means that if you can figure out the binding between the law and the blockchain, you can load any kind of property you like into the blockchain by only having to write the configuration contracts that specify the attributes of the property and the correct parts of the legal invocation such that the binding works.
All forms of property more developed than a bear guarding a cave are created by law
Let’s take a deeper dive into the law side of things so we can understand precisely how this forms part of the Universal Bridge. Commercially significant law is either the law of the jurisdiction the property is in, for example a Japanese house is subject to Japanese law, or the law governing the contracts agreed between the two parties making the transfer. This doesn’t have to be in the same jurisdiction as the parties contracting internationally (or even in the same country) can choose the law under which they want the contract to operate. The most common choice is English common law, so as part of the contract the two parties agree that the contract will be under English common law. If there is then a dispute it will be referred to an arbitrator who will be drawn from a contractually defined group of arbitrators knowledgeable and qualified in English common law. Any disputes that then arise get resolved by courts or arbitrators in the agreed contract jurisdiction and the local court will honour the word of that arbitration court. All that is standard commercial law and it already handles hundreds of millions of transactions a year. That gives us the binding between the physical object and the law, and it applies to all forms of property in the almost 170 countries who are signatories to the 1958 New York Convention on Arbitration, which makes it universal for almost all practical purposes.
Binding the physical object to the law only gets us so far. For the bridge to reach all the way to the blockchain, there needs to be an extra step that binds the law to the chain; this is where Mattereum’s system comes into play. Mattereum makes this all-important final connection through its unique system of Mattereum Asset Passports (MAPs). MAPs accurately define the object and connect it to warranties that make legally enforceable claims about the thing being defined and link it to an automated custodian. This is the perfect legal counterpart to a smart contract, and it forms the final part of the legally binding bridge between the object, its legal status and related contractual obligations, and the blockchain. This allows trusted trade in any kind of object and in addition allows objects to be bought and sold as NFTs without the need to physically transfer the item or even necessarily see it, such as gold or an artwork secured in a vault. It also means that an NFT linked to a piece of real estate can be transferred without buyers having to redo all the legals because they are already there on the blockchain.
Our unique system of Mattereum Asset Passports (MAPs) binds law to the blockchain
Well, we now have a Universal Bridge that can connect literally anything to the blockchain with full legal backing, whether physical objects or things like intellectual property licences, but what can it be used for? We’ve already mentioned gold, and artwork sales — Mattereum has used the Universal Bridge to put gold bars on the blockchain that can be bought and sold as NFTs, allowing purchasers to realise the value and security of gold while at the same time keeping it safely vaulted, and we’ve put a valuable Warhol on chain too. So far the gold we have put on chain for clients has been bought by individuals, but it’s entirely possible to use gold with a MAP to back a currency — anybody can inspect the gold reserves of a project which buys its gold as NFTs by using a blockchain explorer. We’ve mentioned how we can sell actual real estate as an NFT that gives the purchaser an option to own the land, too, but there’s a whole bunch of other ways real estate can be managed through the Universal Bridge. It could, for example, have a role to play in preserving the Amazon, which is a whole different story. We’ve done it for collectables, starting with William Shatner memorabilia and more recently a famous musician’s favourite instrument that came with a suite of associated perks for the purchaser.
You could choose to use the Universal Bridge to lend money on cars or to precisely specify second hand parts for a jet engine, then move them round the world so airlines could get exactly what they need, when they need it, in the sure knowledge that the part is genuine and its service history hasn’t been falsified. You could use this system to manage the transfer of assets along a supply chain, making it impossible for anyone to slip counterfeits into the system.
The assets don’t even need to be physical (although physical assets are at the heart of what Mattereum does), it is entirely possible to manage intellectual property on the blockchain via the Mattereum Universal Bridge, or to arrange hotel bookings. And that’s all without even mentioning tags — we already have the capability to put tags on physical objects that encode the details of their MAP and so directly link the thing to the blockchain. This means that bulk goods such as clothes can all be tagged so that they can easily be resold and buyers can check that they were ethically produced, aren’t counterfeit etc etc, repairs can be logged, service histories included. This enables a more efficient circular economy as when an item comes to the end of its life it will be possible to know exactly what is in it so it can be effectively recycled.These just scratch the surface of the possibilities, we’re always interested in hearing from clients who have new ideas for using our service to connect their assets to the blockchain via the Mattereum Universal Bridge, as well as those who have some of the above assets they would like to talk to us about; there are literally no limits. Universal.
The Universal Bridge can connect literally anything to the blockchain
This is all very well, but the Universal Bridge only works as a service if it is cost effective for its users. It saves businesses money by solving real business problems, that’s for certain. Real estate sales take forever, but Mattereum has streamlined the transaction by ensuring that legal documentation about the property and title, which would normally require time and expense on the part of the purchaser to sort out, is securely stored on chain. It isn’t good for investment grade wine to be moved all the time, but Mattereum makes it possible for bottles to change ownership without ever leaving their cellar, and so on. To do this via the Mattereum Universal Bridge is transactionally efficient too. We’ll bring any asset to the blockchain and typically charge less than 2% of its value for the service, and we can make it work in any jurisdiction and on any chain of your choosing. The Universal Bridge is flexible as well, it configures slightly differently depending on the needs of the asset class; we aren’t trying to force everything into a cookie cutter solution. The MAP can be configured to take account of the norms and conventions of the industry within which the asset is being traded, so a MAP for a gold bar will take account of different things from a MAP for a piece of real estate, and one for a bottle of wine will be different again. All of them, though, will do the same job and take their asset over the Mattereum Universal Bridge.
We’ll bring any asset to the blockchain and typically charge less than 2% of its value for the service
Mattereum isn’t just about selling stuff. We aim to use the Universal Bridge to make the world a better place while doing that; but how would that work? Well, on a very basic level, in an emergency situation, an earthquake, a refugee crisis, things like that, when a lot of specific things are needed now and there is a lot of chaos on the ground, being able to find exactly the right things and direct them to where they are needed will be made much easier by MAPs, and the ability to track aid means that the problem of corruption skimming off large amounts of it is essentially solved, so disaster relief becomes a lot simpler.
But that’s just one specific set of problems. The Universal Bridge has far wider implications for the world economy. Imagine if you could get rid of counterfeit goods; accurate descriptions of things supported by legally enforceable warranties in the MAP can do that, and that’s 2–3% of global GDP, right there. This is a small benefit, though, compared to being able to search the world’s goods to find an exact item that meets your precise specification. With the MAP being machine readable and on the blockchain it can do precisely that using semantic search. No more rummaging in online marketplaces to find something that is kind of OK-ish for what you need, but the exact right thing, found in moments and then shipped to you in hours — the Universal Bridge can make that a reality. Even so, that’s still a small benefit compared to the ability to get the truth out of everyone so that you know what you buy will perform properly.
With the warranties in the MAP, sellers are incentivised to provide the truth about the object for sale because they come with legally enforceable financial penalties, balanced by better prices for trustable items and an opportunity to get a payment against your warranty in every subsequent sale. There are still larger benefits to be had though; all these benefits are dwarfed by giving everyone the ability to get rid of surplus things and get them to the people who want them quickly, easily and profitably, it doubles liquidity of the global economy as you can get rid of clutter for 80–90% of what you paid for it because someone out there WILL want it, be able to find it and make a deal with you for it easily. Trickle down economics that works.
But the biggest benefit of all comes from all these systems working together to bring physical property into the digital age in a globally optimised way. This allows us to use the global market and other mechanisms to fix the human race’s relationship with matter, stop us being ruled by our junk and end the destruction of our planet that happens because we are making the wrong things at the wrong time and are not using the things we made yesterday in an effective way. Mattereum’s Universal Bridge is, in the end, the Universal Bridge to a better, more sustainable, future.
Mattereum’s Universal Bridge is the Universal Bridge to a better, more sustainable, future.
This is not hype and hand waving about something Mattereum hopes to do in the future, it is a reality right now. Physical objects, bought and sold on the blockchain, using the Mattereum Universal Bridge. We can provide this service for any client — asset owners, exchanges, other physical asset NFT protocols, brokers and dealers — today.