One of the most fun parts of the recent BlockShow Asia 2017 was meeting new great Blockchain-powered companies driving the industry in the APAC region; so was BitCar, a Singapore-based project which implements quite an innovative concept - peer-to-peer ownership of exotic cars. Cointelegraph team had a chance to chat with Gov Van Ek, the co-founder and Sheree Ip, legal & Blockchain development head at BitCar, about Singapore, reading and how the things were different back in 2013.
However, all the chats with company representatives came after the main part of the conference - in which BitCar were directly and so actively involved.
Hong Kong, Singapore and yellow Lamborghini
The recent conference wasn’t the first collaboration experience for BlockShow and BitCar. A couple of months earlier, Sheree Ip also joined the BlockShow meetup in Hong Kong, where she took part in Regulatory Panel Session and also gave a brief interview afterwards. The location of the BlockShow Asia main conference - Singapore - seemed good for the BitCar team: not only because of the city’s status of one of the biggest global business hubs but also because of the location of the BitCar itself. Gov Van Ek, co-founder of Bitcar, said:
“We chose Singapore specifically for BitCar. The talent pull here is very high, the education system is fantastic, and also everything from the monetary authority of Singapore through to other regulates and the community itself is becoming increasingly supported with high-quality fintech and ICO companies, so that’s why we feel confident in basing ourselves in Singapore and setting up our company here. We think it’s a great environment here.”
BitCar managed to draw everyone’s attention the day before the conference - all because of the yellow Lamborghini car which was clearly supposed to become the main attraction of the company’s exhibition space. It already became clear back then that the company really got prepared for the event.
And it turned out to be true. Apart from being one of the biggest BlockShow exhibitors, it’s hard not to mention the contribution BitCar brought to the conference programme. Thus, in the first day of BlockShow Gov Van Ek shed some light on BitCar activities and provided his rich insight on Fractional Ownership of Exotic Cars - an innovative concept developed by the company. In his speech, performed from the main stage of the event, Gov Van Ek explained the company’s vision of exotic cars as not just a piece of art, but a high-class asset. He explained his point of view with several examples, also expressing his regret for this asset not being properly explored in some parts of the world:
“Right now in China there is still a ban on importing this kind of cars, and it’s only matter of time before it opens up and there are thousands of millionaires who are going to want to get involved in that asset class, so this asset class is really exciting - that’s what we think.”
Speaking of the second day of BlockShow Asia 2017, it's hard not to mention Sheree Ip participating as a panelist in a discussion titled The Major Laws Blockchain is Going to Change. There Sheree shared an interesting insight: it often happens that working with utility token can’t fit into commonly accepted structures or classifications (including the regulatory ones) and creates some brand new forms, which the current law will have to adapt to.
“So, we’ll see a lot of changes in the laws coming very shortly, or small amendments even...coming in the next couple of years.”
Being one of the main sponsors of BlockShow Asia 2017, BitCar was rather closely involved in the organizational process - and that’s why it’s even more pleasant to receive such positive feedback from them.
“We thought it was a well put together event! The Blockshow Team accommodated us very well with our special requirements of moving our Lamborghini in. Presentation stage gave us a fantastic opportunity to explain our product to attendees. Network opportunities were great there, with dedicated spaces to allow for this and after parties organized by Blockshow. We were very impressed with all the extra effort put in with the artwork, CT and Blockshow style. Overall we had a fantastic three days and would be keen to be a part of the next event Blockshow event! Well done.”
Behind-the-scenes with Cointelegraph
In the breaks between exhibition and speeches, Cointelegraph’s managing editor Lucrezia Cornèr had a chance to chat with both Gov Van Ek and Sheree Ip in the quiet atmosphere of the BlockShow Media Room.
CT: My first question is how do you feel here in Singapore? How do you find the community?
SHEREE: Yes, definitely. Seeing all these startups, seeing whatever has to do is just amazing. We’ve done here with a Lamborghini but then you got all these other booths set up… It’s just fantastic seeing everyone around. All this energy is really great.
GOV: Yes, we are seeing a dream company and I went to school in Singapore many years ago, so I feel pretty comfortable. I lived here for eight years as well, so very comfortable did I come to Singapore which is really opening up well for the fintech sector.
CT: I imagine that you travel a lot, both. Do you think the fintech community in Singapore is different of that in other countries?
SHEREE: For me, I travel quite a bit, but I think Singapore is just a roam of fintech life at the moment. Everyone’s learning and catching on. Hong Kong is quite similar. I was in Hong Kong last month for Blockshow as well, and it’s totally different dynamics, different people. People are more cooperative over there, but at the same, I think it’s all quite similar, but Singapore for me at the moment is fantastic just seeing the weather, the people and everyone here.
CT: Interesting, because on a personal level, I’ve heard somebody telling that Singapore is very much law-restricting, meaning there are a lot of laws everywhere. You can read something like the fine for fishing is 5000 dollars, importing chewing gum also would make you pay quite a sum… A lot of bans, but still such a creative technology ecosystem? How would you explain it?
GOV: Yes, Singapore has had a history of some bans, but it’s a very well organized place and the safety expected from people is amazing, it’s a way up between the two. But, I will say, Singapore is progressive and it’s changing. There were even times when we were a little worried about the ICO industry, and then recently, for a quality ICO companies, the maxims are encouraging and we feel encouraged by the regulatory environment here and the talent pull very much. I think it is progressing and changing, so I think next year we’ll see more companies relocating to Singapore and doing their businesses here, I think we will see that.
SHEREE: Even the turnout today, at Cointelegraph Blockshow, we just see the massive numbers. It says something like everyone is gearing up to actually get involved in Singapore.
CT: True, I think we are growing every second and it’s progressive. What inspired you to enter the crypto community back in… I don’t know when?
GOV: 2014, 2013 probably. Sheree and I, we started in very early days and that’s why I’m in Australia and we were doing a Blockchain project. We went around people talking about Blockchain. They just looked at this like, “Are you mad?”, “What ever is that?” This couldn’t just get any traction. We went to investor meetings back in 2014, and they just said, “What is this,” “I don’t understand it,” “Go away” sort of thing. There was absolutely nothing. Few could outline the value of Bitcoin. At that time the line was still flat.
CT: So maybe we are all a little bit mad here. As you told, people thought, back in 2013, that it’s mad to develop such a project. Do you consider yourself mad for innovations or is it all rational?
SHEREE: It’s mad and it’s rational at the same time. You learn about tech and you think, “Wow, you can do so many things with it,” so I’ve done identity, I’ve done my always different industries, and now BitCar is the one for us. You know, a really fun product, a really sexy product that everyone can find understanding. We’ve been working on this since 2015, but back then the market was not mature enough to really understand what Bitcoin is. It was a deep dark digital currency and they didn’t really understand what Blockchain technology is. Now these two questions have been answered, and Bitcoin is doing really well. We are thinking this is the time when everyone comes to understand tokenizing products, digital assets and really understand that you can take things and they all can become digital. This is the beauty of what we’re doing. We have BitCar and some fractional ownership of exotic cars. Exotic cars are an asset class people couldn’t really get to before. You need those millions of dollars, but where are you going to find that? But now we’ve decided that things are going to be digital and this is the exciting future that we’re looking forward to.
GOV: I wouldn’t say we are mad. I think we are experimental, though. We’ve experimented, we’ve created Power Ledger, we’ve created American Blockchain Company and BitCar, and they are all somewhat experimental because this didn’t exist before. We like to do something that’s never been done before and world-first. Cryptocurrency and exotic cars can look like a cocktail that’s quite high-octane. Some people might think it’s just a gimmick, but actually it’s years of work, careful research, and it’s the opening of an asset class that’s been closed to the public. We’re very excited about the reaction. So far, it’s fantastic.
CT: Could you recommend some tips for reading? Maybe some recent big impression that you had on crypto or on anything? Something that is worth reading and being inspired by it?
GOV: I actually read a lot of your articles…
SHEREE: I was going to say that!
CT: Thank you! So happy to hear that!
GOV: I will say, there was a good one the other day about asset tokenization. There was explaining why asset tokenization is becoming the real theme for 2018, which is about the cars as well. A part of this is because it’s so frictionless; the fees are lower and it’s transparent. That applies to many different sectors. I think 2018 is really going to be the year where we’ll see the assets tokenization take off.
CT: Thank you! [to Sheree]: And you about reading?
SHEREE: I am a bit more of an academic. These days I’ve come across this throughout the sector. A lot of people come to me and ask, “What can I learn about,” “What can I read,” they’re just getting to the beginning stages of Blockchain. There are a lot of materials out there and for a lot of you I would say, look, if you are interested, you need to set up something as simple as Google Alerts and just getting updates, just keeping on top of the daily news. Read the headlines and that just gets people going. I find most of you will come to be happy with what you just to learn as it goes.
GOV: Or if you want something hardcore, read the Game Theory which is also a part of the Blockchain theory. Game Theory is a big part of the design of the Blockchain.
CT: Well, thank you very much for your innovative approach in work and also in life – it’s just fascinating to follow you.
SHEREE, GOV: Thank you!