Retail investors can invest in multi-million-dollar — and sometimes even billion-dollar — buildings because of REITs. When placed in a portfolio and structured as a listed property trust or REIT, these buildings become “unitised” or divided into units. Before the inception of REITs on the Singapore Exchange (SGX), buildings were held by companies, tycoons and subsequently private funds. In a way, REITs democratised property investment. Now anybody, including retail investors, can invest in properties such as Raffles City or VivoCity through a REIT.

Eng-Kwok Seat Moey, managing director and head of equity capital markets at DBS Group Holdings, is often seen as the mother of S-REITs. Late last year, she embarked on a new journey to fractionalise assets, which includes investment property, on a distributed ledger such as blockchain.

The DBS Digital Exchange (DDEX), which was implemented at the start of this year, provides the platform for a fully integrated digital ecosystem. DDEX — which already has 400 members — lies somewhere between private equity and a public exchange such as SGX or Hong Kong Exchange.

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