Updated: Feb 19
EVEN as the overall property market in Malaysia remains sluggish, prime land and assets in Kuala Lumpur are selling like hot cakes — well, at least in the virtual realm. Investors are buying “land” and “buildings” like Suria KLCC, The Pavilion Mall, The Exchange 106, Merdeka 118 and the Bukit Jalil Stadium, as well as the surrounding parcels of land, in the hope that these assets will have utility in the future and like tangible property assets, will one day appreciate in value.
One such investor is Leo Tan, who is in the property and construction industry. Last week, Tan, who uses the name Cryptorigs on these platforms, purchased the Tun Razak Exchange land — minus the skyscraper — from a platform called Next Earth. “I bought the TRX land, but I was not able to buy The Exchange 106 or the land it sits on as someone else had already purchased it,” Tan tells The Edge.
“Being in the property development and construction industry, I always had the dream of owning prime plots of land in Kuala Lumpur. I chose the TRX parcel for sentimental reasons. Construction jobs I secured for projects within TRX provided the big break I needed for my then new bored piling business,” he explained.
The Exchange 106 has been purchased by someone who goes by the name of “ironman” and Tan hopes he will eventually be able to buy ironman’s plot.
Next Earth describes itself as a blockchain-based metaverse community where you can buy and sell land parcels on a virtual Earth. Tan, who describes NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, as a new asset class, purchased his parcel for US$115.
“I missed the previous two ‘land sales’ held a few years ago,” he says. This time, he wants to be an early investor. The price of “land” sold previously by two earlier platforms (The Sandbox and Decentraland) — which are not based on a virtual map of the Earth — are today worth many times over, he asserts.
Meanwhile, The White Paper issued by the Next Earth developer reads: “The idea of a truly decentralised virtual world and economy that is based on a copy of the real world has never been attempted. The goal of this project is to create a transparent virtual land platform, governed by a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO), which allows for the purchasing and trading of virtual land NFTs (non-fungible tokens) without a middleman.”
“One NFT will represent one hundred sq m of the Earth’s surface. Users can purchase the NFTs only via a crypto gateway in order to foster the broader adoption of cryptocurrency.”
Simply put, it is like a parallel earth, and land on this earth is being traded as NFTs.
Tan observes that much of New York has already been sold, including The Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island, as well as The White House in Washington DC and even Buckingham Palace in the UK.