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At the end of March, PayPal announced that its checkout will allow cryptocurrency like bitcoin, ether, bitcoin cash, and litecoin to be converted into U.S. dollars or other fiat currencies when making purchases. Also in March, an affiliate of Fidelity Investments filed with the SEC for approval for the “Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust.”

As blockchain technology gains speed, there is a company in Covington that is already ahead of the game. CPROP is a thought leader in blockchain-enabled data applications in real estate. On April 1, CPROP and seriesOne announced a venture to build and operate digital asset securities exchanges.

Cincinnati Future spoke with CPROP’s founders—Sanford Selman, Adam Koehler, and Luke Sestito—about the company, the tech, and where things are heading.

Tell us about your company.

CPROP: Our backgrounds are in marketing, technology, structured finance, and we have deep sector experience in commercial real estate. We formed CPROP when we became aware of the emergence of blockchain technology. Obviously 2017 was a heady time for people getting into crypto. That’s what sparked the initial interest.

Then we got interested in the underlying technology with blockchain. We thought to ourselves, based on our experience, this blockchain technology has a lot of practical use cases in the real estate industry, particularly in the commercial real estate industry. It had to do with the way the data is managed and the way the data is archived and making things more secure and more transparent.

This idea of digitization of all of the financial markets is cutting across almost every financial sector in the financial services industry you can think of, from brokerage management to retail banking to wholesale banking to insurance – anything that involves the transfer of money, the whole payment system.

Talk about digitization in terms of real estate.

CPROP: A real estate investment trust is essentially a basket of property. It could be 1,000 properties in New York, Los Angeles, and other places, and there are funds that invest in all these things. When you put your money into it, you get a return. You get some sort of a dividend based on the incomes that those properties are earning. It’s like a stock. It has a regular stock symbol; you can buy and sell it on Fidelity or wherever. But you’re investing in 1,000 properties. You don’t know where any of those properties are.

One cool thing about crypto, tokenization of crypto assets is, I’ve got a building here, say it’s worth $15 million. I could actually digitize ownership of this building. I can break it up into two million tokens. And then you, if you live in this community or even if you don’t live in my community, you can invest in my building. I can put it on an exchange that only trades tokens in property. I can release those two million tokens on an exchange and say I want to hold on to 50% of them. Covington is pretty involved in digitization.

In 2017, Sandy, Luke, and I put together the first-ever blockchain crypto conference in the Midwest in Covington, KY, at the Covington Convention Center. In attendance were a lot of the big companies in the Cincinnati area, as well as people just interested in what the blockchain and crypto can do. We were trying to bring attention to this sector back in 2017. I think we were pretty successful at that.

Covington has become crypto-central. We have had a lot of startups in the blockchain space. Many of them are still doing well. Northern Kentucky was one of the first movers in the U.S.

The other day that Emilio Estevez said that Cincinnati is the Paris of the Midwest. We think now it’s safe to say that Kentucky can take its place as the crypto-capital of the South or the Midwest.