(Bloomberg) -- Osaka Digital Exchange Co. will begin Japan’s first trading of digital securities next month in the form of security tokens issued by real estate firms Ichigo Inc. and Kenedix Inc., tapping individuals’ demand for alternative assets that may offer better returns.
Tokyo-based Ichigo will sell about ¥3 billion ($20.1 million) of securities backed by property investments, and trading will start on Dec. 25, according to a filing to authorities on Monday.
Security tokens are digitally managed securities, and starting their trading on the exchange aims to increase liquidity and make it easier for individual investors to put their money in them. While the relatively small size of Ichigo’s sale suggests that market players are still testing out how much demand there will be for the unconventional securities, it’s one part of Japan’s drive to sell assets that are riskier but offer higher rewards to boost funds for a rapidly aging population.
Japanese households held more than 2,000 trillion yen ($13 trillion) in financial assets at the end of last year, but more than half of that was in deposits that usually offer interest rates that are close to zero, according to Bank of Japan data.
Other Asian markets are also pushing for rules that will open the door for more security token sales, with Hong Kong removing restrictions that limited their offerings to professional investors, and South Korea amending laws to allow their issuance and distribution.
Ichigo has structured digital securities in the past that invested in residential properties, but they were small lot deals to individual investors and business owners.
The scale of Japan’s security token offerings market is still not big, focused on securitization of real estate such as hotels, hot spring resorts, and logistics facilities. The outstanding balance of issuance is 127 billion yen, according to Progmat Inc., a digital securities issuance and management platform.
(Adds Kenedix security sale and background.)
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