All Inscopes

Tokenization of Assets and Securities

Sunil Panoo
May 8, 2024
Tokenization of Assets and Securities

As the dialogue surrounding the tokenization of real-world assets (RWAs) gains momentum, propelled by tangible implementations and the involvement of major financial institutions, a crucial aspect that demands attention is navigating the legal landscape.

Tokenization, the process of representing assets on a blockchain, offers many benefits including increased liquidity, fractional ownership, and streamlined transactions. However, amidst the promise of innovation, understanding the legal implications along with regulatory framework in a particular jurisdiction is important .In this article, we delve into the multifaceted legal considerations associated with real-world asset tokenization, emphasising the need for clarity and compliance in this evolving ecosystem.

Before delving into the legal aspects, let’s discuss the benefits and use cases of asset tokenization.

Benefits of Asset Tokenization

Asset tokenization offers a paradigm shift in asset management, benefiting both retail and institutional investors. By converting the intrinsic value of traditional assets into blockchain-based tokens, it enhances accessibility, market efficiency and security.

  • Accessible Investing: Tokenization lowers barriers to entry, allowing fractional ownership and diversification for retail investors.
  • Improved Efficiency: Fractional ownership increases liquidity, while blockchain streamlines transactions, reducing costs and the reliance on intermediaries.
  • Security and Transparency: Blockchain technology ensures immutability, boosting confidence in asset integrity and market transparency.
  • Global Reach: Blockchain is inherently borderless, which allows assets to be marketed to a global pool of investors, potentially increasing demand and valuation.

Asset Tokenization Use Cases

Tokenization revolutionizes various asset classes, unlocking new opportunities and markets.

  • Real Estate: Fractional ownership enables broader investment in high-value properties, increasing market liquidity.
  • Commodities: Tokenization can be applied to commodities like gold or oil, where tokens represent a certain amount of the physical commodity. This method simplifies trading and storage issues, while also providing transparency in ownership and transactions.
  • Carbon Credits: Tokenization improves transparency and accessibility in carbon credit trading, fostering a greener economy.
  • Other Assets: Intellectual property like digital artwork and NFTs, collectibles, and niche assets that do not normally get bought or sold in a marketplace can be tokenized, democratising access and increasing market liquidity.

Legal considerations in asset tokenization:

Ownership and Transfers:

Tokenization involves creating and transferring tokens representing ownership in RWAs. Establishing a robust legal framework for ownership and transfer mechanisms is essential. This includes defining rights and obligations of token holders, ensuring compliance with property and contract laws, and implementing processes for verifying ownership. Carefully drafted legal agreements reflecting token smart contracts are crucial for enforceability and risk mitigation for both companies and individuals who deal in these tokens and/or their underlying RWAs.

Structuring Tokenization:

Tokenizing RWAs varies depending on the asset involved. For example, real estate tokenization often requires special purpose entities like corporations or partnerships to legally own the asset. The choice of ownership vehicle depends on factors like start-up costs, tax implications, and statutory requirements, necessitating a tailored approach for each asset.

Navigating Securities Laws:

Tokenization expands RWAs to broader markets but also may infringe securities’ laws. Tokens that qualifying as falling under securities or derivatives are subject to regulations, including prospectus and registration requirements. Entities distributing securities may need to register with securities regulators, prepare disclosure documents, and comply with reporting and compliance rules and other associated legal or quasi-legal requirements by governing authorities. Even secondary trading platforms for tokens may face specific regulatory requirements to protect investors and market integrity.

Compliance with Anti-Money Laundering Laws:

Tokenizing RWAs triggers obligations under anti-money laundering (AML) laws aimed at preventing financial crimes. Providers of virtual  asset exchange services must register as money services businesses (MSBs) and adhere to stringent compliance measures that are inter-related with those of RWAs. Robust Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures are crucial to verifying the identity and location of token purchasers and the source of funds, ensuring AML regulations compliance.

Privacy and Consumer Protection:

Because tokenization involves collecting and using personal data, this will require compliance with privacy and data protection laws and thus implementing measures to safeguard privacy rights and prevent data breaches is crucial. Additionally, consumer protection legislation applies to tokenized RWA offerings to ensure fairness and access to remedies in disputes, among other issues.

In Conclusion:

The tokenization of real-world assets holds significant potential for transforming traditional asset markets, but it is important to first navigate through the legalities involved. Among the most important of these critical considerations are to ensure that regulatory compliance, ownership mechanisms, securities laws, AML regulations, privacy protections are set in place and operationally sound. Engaging legal professionals who have specialised blockchain expertise can facilitate a legally sound tokenization process, ensuring compliance and risk mitigation. Having clarity and ensuring strict adherence to legal frameworks are essential for realizing the full potential of this innovative technology.

Disclaimer: *WadzPay is a B2B technology provider. All regulated activities featured in WadzPay are conducted by licensed entities in applicable jurisdictions.