Hey, you there! Yeah, you, sitting in front of your computer at work or staring at your phone on the subway. Are you tired of working nearly every single day to maintain a barely tolerable standard of living? Do you wish you could live a life of luxury? Well, thanks to the technological miracle of the Ethereum blockchain, you can now "own" a digital token representing one-sixth of an expensive car that you can drive for exactly four days but only after going to pick it up somewhere.
The company behind this scheme is Swiss startup TEND, founded by former Credit Suisse banker Marco Abele. The way it works, according to the startup's website and a customer service representative I spoke to, is that TEND first buys a luxury object like a vintage car or a Steinway piano. Users may also put their own objects or properties up for sale, but they have to be vetted by TEND. The company then creates digital tokens for those objects, which describe terms of shared ownership, and sells them to people.
For example, you could partly "own" a 1955 Porsche Speedster (read: four days of use, a club membership, and a racetrack experience). And when you're done with your "investment," you could sell your digital token representing one-sixth of a used car to someone else. Or, you could "own" a Steinway piano (read: one rehearsal day, opera tickets, and an "intimate concert")!
Those token buyers collectively own that car or piano, although it is stored and maintained by TEND and the ability of token owners to change the terms of their ownership is limited, the customer service representative told me.
"We will use some of the proceeds of the token sales as capital to source [additional] assets," the representative wrote in a message.
TEND's business model sounds exactly like time-sharing on steroids, and it targets the same types of people. The TEND website states that the company will give people "opportunities which are currently beyond their reach but reflect their aspirations."
The company is running a pilot with 20 people, according to cryptocurrency news site CoinDesk, so the platform is not yet accessible to the public. But the company's website gives an idea of what offers will look like in the future.
According to the customer service representative, co-owners can decide to take their object off the TEND platform entirely to store and maintain it themselves, but "the rights to change the terms [of ownership] are limited and depending on assets."
Personally, I'm all for co-ownership. If I could legitimately co-own something useful but infrequently used, like a set of tools, that would rock. But timesharing luxury goods, simply because I could never hope to afford them myself? Man, that's just dark, with or without the shiny blockchain tech.
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