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Asset Tokenization: Opening Illiquid Assets To Investors

Published July 13, 2023 8:26 AM
Alisha Bains
Published July 13, 2023 8:26 AM

Key takeaways:

Key Takeaways

  • Asset tokenization allows for fractional ownership and makes traditionally illiquid assets more accessible to smaller investors.
  • By making the trading of digital tokens efficient and transparent, it also increases liquidity.
  • Asset tokenization uses blockchain technology to streamline procedures, eliminate middlemen, and cut transaction expenses.
  • Asset tokenization can democratize investing opportunities by enabling people worldwide to hold assets.

What Is Asset Tokenization?

Asset tokenization is the process of recording physical assets on a blockchain or platform using distributed ledger technology (DLT), such as real estate, artwork, commodities, or financial instruments. These tokens, also known as security tokens or digital assets, are made to stand in for all or a portion of the ownership of the underlying physical assets. So, what is the potential of tokenization?

Through the process of “asset tokenization,” hitherto untradeable assets can be turned into digital tokens that are simple to exchange and move around on blockchain networks. Increased liquidity, fractional ownership, transparency, and accessibility to a larger spectrum of investors are just a few of the possible advantages it offers. 

Investors can obtain exposure to various assets through asset tokenization, including those that were previously difficult to access or required substantial capital commitments. Peer-to-peer trading, automatic compliance, and quicker settlement procedures are also made possible by this.

The rights and features of the asset are typically defined, a smart contract is made to reflect those rights on the blockchain, and the appropriate tokens are then issued. Then, on regulated digital asset exchanges or alternative trading platforms, these tokens may be purchased, sold, or exchanged.

Asset tokenization comes with both technical and regulatory hurdles, even though it has many benefits. The three most important issues to deal with are compliance with securities laws, proper ownership representation, and building trust in the underlying asset.

How Does Asset Tokenization Work?

Asset tokenization involves several steps in its process. Here’s an overview of how asset tokenization typically works:

Selecting The Asset

The asset that will be tokenized must be chosen initially. Assets of all kinds, such as real estate, works of art, commodities, or financial instruments, can fall under this category.

Legal And Regulatory Compliance

Adherence to pertinent securities laws and regulations is essential. The asset may need to fulfill particular conditions, depending on the jurisdiction, to be eligible for tokenization.

Asset Valuation

To ascertain the asset’s market value, a professional appraisal is conducted. The tokenization procedure may be established, and the percentage of ownership that each token represents can be determined with the aid of an accurate valuation.

The type of blockchain or DLT platform that will be utilized, the requirements for smart contracts, and the token standards to be used (for example, ERC-20 for Ethereum) are all stated in the tokenization framework.

Development Of Smart Contracts

Smart contracts are designed to reflect an asset’s ownership rights and other pertinent information. These agreements are set up to enforce the agreed-upon terms and conditions, including, if applicable, the payment of dividends or revenue sharing.

Token Creation

The chosen blockchain, or DLT platform, is used to create and issue the tokens. Each token represents a portion of the underlying asset or a particular claim.

Offering And Distribution

The tokens are made accessible for purchase or investment through a token sale, an initial coin offering (ICO), a security token offering (STO), or other legal means of obtaining money. Depending on the terms and conditions of the offering, investors can buy or obtain the tokens.

Trading And Liquidity

After the tokens are released, they may be exchanged on alternative trading platforms or on digital asset exchanges. Because of this, token owners have the ability to buy, sell, or transfer their tokens.

Ongoing Management

The tokenized asset must be properly governed and managed. This covers routine reporting, following rules, and taking care of any necessary changes or upkeep of the underlying smart contracts.

How Much Does Asset Tokenization Cost?

The complexity of the asset, the underlying blockchain platform, legal and regulatory issues, and the engagement of third-party service providers are some factors that might affect the cost of asset tokenization. 

These charges could consist of legal fees, the creation of smart contracts, auditing, compliance, and continuing maintenance costs. To determine the viability of tokenization for a particular asset, it is crucial to perform a detailed cost-benefit analysis .

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Tokenization?

Advantages Of Tokenization

  • Increased liquidity: Tokenization makes it possible for assets to be divided into smaller units of ownership, which increases liquidity. Enabling investors to buy and sell tokens that represent a portion of an asset, even if they cannot afford the entire asset, promotes more liquidity.
  • Access to a wider investor base: Tokenization makes investing opportunities available to a larger group of investors, including retail investors who might not have been able to invest in specific asset classes in the past. By lowering the entry barriers, it encourages inclusion and the democratization of investment.
  • Increased market efficiency: Tokenization uses blockchain technology to speed up the asset purchasing, selling, and trading processes. It decreases expenses and boosts transaction efficiency by eliminating the need for middlemen. Additionally, tokenization eliminates complicated and time-consuming paperwork and offers transparency and convenience in settlement.
  • Improved asset fractionalization: Tokenization allows assets to be owned in portions, giving investment portfolios more flexibility and diversification. Without buying the entire asset, investors can get exposure to a range of assets, including commodities, real estate, and works of art.
  • Enhanced security: Tokenization on blockchain platforms enables the creation of an immutable and transparent record of ownership and transactions, which in turn enhances security.
  • Automated regulatory standards: Tokenization enables the automation of regulatory standards such as Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) checks. This automation, coupled with integrating compliance features into smart contracts, streamlines the process. Moreover, smart contracts facilitate the automatic execution of predetermined conditions, minimizing the need for manual intervention and enhancing operational efficiency.

Disadvantages Of Tokenization

  • Regulatory complexities: Tokenization functions within currently enacted laws, which may differ between jurisdictions. Investor protection laws, tax laws, and securities rules can all be complicated to comply with, necessitating careful thought and adherence to all relevant legal requirements.
  • Market volatility and liquidity risks: Market volatility may affect the value of tokenized assets, which could influence investment returns. Furthermore, depending on the particular asset and the number of buyers and sellers in the market, the liquidity of tokenized assets may be restricted.
  • Potential for fraudulent token offerings and scams: Because tokenization is still in its infancy, there are chances for scams and bogus token offerings. Before investing in tokenized asset offerings, investors should use prudence and perform careful due diligence.
  • Infrastructure and blockchain dependency: Tokenization depends on blockchain technology, which is still developing and confronting technical difficulties. Along with the accessibility and dependability of supporting infrastructure, it is important to take blockchain platforms’ scalability, security, and interoperability into account.
  • Investor protection gaps: Many jurisdictions’ legal frameworks for tokenization are still being developed, which could cause confusion and possible investor protection gaps. To offer sufficient safeguards for tokenized assets and investor interests, clear rules and legal frameworks must be implemented.
  • Integration issues: Tokenization may encounter integration problems when interacting with traditional banking systems. To bridge the gap between blockchain-based assets and classic financial infrastructure, both sectors must coordinate and work together.

What Is The Difference Between NFTs And Tokenized Assets?

NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) and tokenized assets are both forms of digital assets that utilize blockchain technology, but they have some key differences.

Nature of Ownership

  • NFTs: NFTs represent ownership or proof of authenticity for a unique item or piece of content. Each NFT is distinct and cannot be exchanged on a one-to-one basis. Moreover, NFTs are indivisible and cannot be substituted with another token.
  • Tokenized assets: Tokenized assets represent fractional ownership or a share of a real-world or digital asset. They can be divided into smaller units and are interchangeable. However, tokenized assets allow for shared ownership of assets.


  • NFTs: NFTs are not interchangeable. They cannot be exchanged on a one-to-one basis.
  • Tokenized assets: Tokenized assets are fungible and can be exchanged one-to-one.

Value and Utility

  • NFTs: NFTs derive their value from the perceived uniqueness, scarcity, or desirability of the associated digital item or content. They are often bought and sold in marketplaces using cryptocurrencies. NFTs can have additional utility, such as granting access to exclusive content or experiences.
  • Tokenized assets: Tokenized assets derive their value from the underlying asset they represent. They can include real estate, artwork, stocks, commodities, and other assets. Tokenized assets may offer additional benefits, such as dividends, voting rights, or other financial incentives.

Use Cases

  • NFTs: NFTs are becoming increasingly well-liked in the art field since they let creators tokenize and sell digital artifacts or artwork. NFTs give artists new ways to monetize their creations.
  • Tokenized assets: Tokenized assets have various applications, such as fractional real estate ownership. They can be used to tokenize securities, allowing for more accessible and liquid investments. 

How Can Banks Benefit From Tokenization?

Asset tokenization has various advantages for banks. First off, by generating marketable digital assets, tokenization can improve liquidity by enabling banks to access new markets and draw in a wider spectrum of investors. 

Second, tokenization can automate and streamline complicated operations like settlement, cutting costs and improving efficiency. Tokenization can also make fractional ownership possible, enabling banks to provide investment options to a larger spectrum of clients. 

Utilizing the immutability and auditability of blockchain technology, it also improves compliance, eliminates fraud, and increases transparency. In general, tokenization offers banks chances to be innovative, diversify their revenue sources, and offer value-added services to their clients in the digital world.


Asset tokenization is a revolutionary idea that has recently attracted a lot of attention and momentum. It describes the practice of converting physical assets, such real estate, works of art, or commodities, into digital tokens that are stored on a blockchain or distributed ledger.

This technology has the potential to revolutionize traditional financial markets, offering increased liquidity, accessibility, and efficiency. Through asset tokenization, barriers to entry for investors are lowered, enabling fractional ownership, and unlocking new opportunities for financial inclusion. Although there are difficulties and legal issues, asset tokenization has many advantages, and it is anticipated that this trend will continue to change the financial landscape.


What is the meaning of Asset tokenization?
The act of turning physical assets into digital tokens on a blockchain or distributed ledger is known as asset tokenization. These tokens, which can be sold or transferred using smart contracts, represent ownership or a portion of ownership in the underlying asset.

What are the advantages of a tokenized portfolio for investors?
Increased liquidity, chances for fractional ownership, and access to a wider variety of assets are all benefits of asset tokenization for investors. It also lessens the need for middlemen, lowers the cost of transactions, and makes it possible for people to trade internationally.

What are the disadvantages of asset tokenization?
Regulatory ambiguities, cybersecurity risks, potential market manipulation, and a lack of defined frameworks are a few hazards. The authenticity and provenance of the underlying assets may also provide difficulties.

What sectors stand to gain from asset tokenization?
Real estate, fine art, commodities, intellectual property, and even private assets like vehicles and collectibles can all benefit from asset tokenization. Markets that have historically been illiquid may become more liquid due to tokenization.


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