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Blockcast.cc: We have Raul Vasquez, Co-founder and COO of PO8 with us this evening. Hi Raul, my name is Joann, editor of Blockcast.cc, can you give an introduction about yourself?
Raul: Well, first off thank you guys for providing us this platform to tell our story. We have a big community of supporters here in Singapore so it’s always nice to connect with the blockchain media in Singapore.
Currently I am co-founder of PO8 along with Matthew Arnett, our CEO. My role as COO is mainly to make sure PO8 is a fine-tuned machine. This means overseeing a lot of back end operations so it’s hard to get me away from the office. I’ve been in the blockchain and crypto space, now for 3 years. Previous to that I lived in Beijing for almost 10 years (大家好朋友们!), where I help launched operations for a popular U.S. wedding industry education brand in China.I also earned my internet 1.0 stripes in the late 90’s working for ecommerce pet supplies giant, PetSmart.com as part of their marketing team.
Blockcast.cc: Amazing Journey! Can you tell us more about PO8?
Raul: PO8 is a Bahamas based tech company tokenizing archaeological assets and democratizing access to artifact backed investments to a global community, while bridging gaps in conservation finance. Being a Bahamian company surrounded by pristine waters, it is only fitting that our primary focus lies in the recovery and tokenization of underwater cultural heritage assets mainly from shipwreck dating back to 500 years ago when the Old Bahama Channel was a popular shipping and trade route for the Spanish. It was very common in those days for the Spanish to have yearly treasure fleets full of silver, gold and rare gems from the Spanish Indies (present day Peru and Colombia), and travel back to the Old Spain through The Bahamas. The estimates of cargo size range from the hundreds of millions to the $1 billion-dollar mark. As far as history goes, many of those ships had an ill-fated ending. Some fell victim to bad weather, while others sufferedpirate attacks during the Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean.
Fast forward to today, The Bahamas has officially lifted an 18-year old moratorium on marine salvaging, paving the way for PO8 to become one of the first – if not the first – to be granted a salvage permit to begin recovering sunken artifacts and treasure, which we can then tokenize as Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT). The beautiful thing about NFTs are that we can effectively sell the digital ownership of these pre-restored artifacts into the market without sacrificing the actual physical artifact. In other words, the physical artifact is not going to an auction house or someone’s private collection. The revenues collected from the sale makes it possible for conservation projects to be funded and for the physical artifact to always remain in the custody of the PO8 Museum or its partner museums. A win-win for all – the salvage operators, the scientists and best of all, humanity gets to enjoy it all!
Blockcast.cc: I would love to find out more about your project privately with you later. Tell us more about your views on the blockchain and crypto market?
Raul: It provides real solutions to real problems. In our case it tackles four main problems.
The first, being trust and transparency. From 1972 to 1999, The Bahamas issued 71 permits for the search and recovery of shipwrecks. Only one (1) of those permits delivered a cash payout of $300,000 to the Bahamas. With no real advancement or sustainable gains, the country has not benefited from the shipwreck salvaging industry since its inception. For this reason, they decided to deter treasure seekers by enacting a moratorium.
The second issue is the lack of provenance in artifacts. The illicit trafficking and sale of artifacts globally is a $4.5 to $7 billion business annually, making it third only to the black market in narcotics and arms. Terrorist groups have made it common practice to sell smuggled ancient artifacts in the black market, generating billions of dollars to fund terrorist activities. Our solution is to create provenance the minute we unearth the artifacts with the help high-resolution scans and industrial-grade diamond dust. This will allow us to create a unique identifier number that can be embedded into each NFT smart contract. The result will be an established provenance, making it easier to confirm the authenticity and value of the artifacts. It will also make it easier to provide other ancillary services related to the artifact, such as crypto loans.
Third is access to artifact investments. We are introducing Non-Fungible Investment Vehicle (NFIVs), which are securitized NFTs with a store of value that provides financial benefits by generating possible earnings, hedges against inflation and currency devaluations. They areborderless, fractional and provide 24-hour global liquidity pools. Essentially this is giving the average person out there the opportunity to invest in an artifact at pre-restoration valuation and once the artifact is fully restored and ready for exhibit, the NFT owner can get a second appraisal of the artifact, reflecting a higher valuation and ROI stemming from its complete restoration.
With no minimum investment amount, NFIVs will break down barriers of entry, opening the door for many more newcomers especially Gen Zs. We want to give individuals the opportunity to invest in assets that expresses their individual identity and heritage and to provide investors with assets that retain their value in the longer term especially in a period of economic uncertainty. It is our goal for one day in the future when everyone all over the world will be able to own a Non-Fungible Investment.
Lastly, we deal with filling capital gaps in conservation finance through NFIVs. Traditionally, the scientific community relies on public or philanthropic funds to finance conservation projects, but as the number of conservancy projects increases and less funds become available, fewer projects are funded. Government funds have their limits, especially in times of budget cuts.
Filling this gap to finance conservancy projects will require an additional $200 billion to $300 billion in capitalinjection, much of that coming from the private sector. This an opportunity for investors to purchase NFTs knowing their contributions are going to conservation impact investments that can achieve substantial environmental and social impact together with financial returns.
Blockcast.cc: Please share an inspiring quote for our readers
“You know who loses, right? Those who stop.”
– Steve Babuljak
Friend and Commercial Photographer
Every entrepreneur should play this in the back of their minds, especially in those difficult times when you are getting ready to throw in the towel. You can’t stop. You can’t lose.
Blockcast.cc: Short and sweet, but very motivating. Thanks for your time Raul.