Cryptocurrency fail in Monaco – The disappearing Monaco Estate (MEST) tokens

 December 20, 2018



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The Monaco Estate (MEST) token was initiated by Monaco Estates. This start-up had plans to launch the first ever cryptocurrency real-estate investment fund with the project’s token sale pegged to begin on May 1st 2018. They even offered guaranteed buy back. However as it seems the concept had some major mistakes.

Everything started back in February 2018 when Monaco Estates announced the pre-sale of its cryptocurrency backed by real estate rentals in Monaco. (MWM remark:  Monaco Estates was not licensed to make business activities in the Principality.)

According to Monaco Estate’s press release, 60% of rental gains was planned to go to token holders in the form of ether and the other 40% was planned to be reinvested into the fund where it would have acted as a reserve. Additionally, another security measure was implemented to boost transparency – barring directors and shareholders from taking the company’s profits.

The concept seemed perfect since Monaco’s rental payments increased year by year, providing a sort of compounding effect. Therefore Monaco Estate co-founders Daniel Golding (CEO) and Charlotte Golding (CFO) decided to leverage the good brand name of Monaco.

The Monaco Estate Token sale was also working on complying with Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering regulations to ensure a smooth transition to fiat post-Token Sale.

The first Ethereum profit share payout to token holders was expected in December 2018.

However as it is today, the official website, the Twitter account and the official Facebook page are not available anymore. They have been all deleted!

The promise

“Monaco Estate is a cryptocurrency real-estate investment fund focusing on high end apartment rentals in Monaco and utilizing blockchain smart contracts to allow token holders to receive a monthly profit share via Ethereum payments.

Rental payments for all properties owned by Monaco Estate will accept BTC/ETH/EUR. Making Monaco Estate the only real estate rental service in Monaco accepting cryptocurrency.

Monaco Estate is one of the best real estate agencies that know how the business works.”

(MWM remark: Monaco Estate never had a business operation license in the Principality of Monaco.)

Did they raise any funds?

OH YES. Based on Etherscan more than 94.000 Monaco Estate (MEST) token were traded with an estimated total value of over 61 million Euro.

Monaco Estate (MEST) Token Tracker by Etherscan

61 million Euro within a few months is a pretty impressive income for any start-up venture. One thing for sure the name “Monaco” gained the trust of the investors.

The raised 94.000 ETH was valued at 61.5 million Euro in 4th May 2018, during the period of the Monaco Estates Token ICO.

Today the 94.000 ETH still has a value of 7.5 Million Euro. So what went wrong?

Was the Monaco Estate (MEST) token reliable?

For people who only saw the brand “Monaco”, yes.

However for all those who understand the Principality of Monaco and its most basic principles, NO.

There were three major issues (at least) with the concept:

  1. Since 2012 no one can use the word “Monaco” in product names. It is protected by the Government of the Principality of Monaco. As a matter of fact the Monaco Estate token was never authorised, so it was an immediate trademark infringement.
  2. The concept never had a real chance to work, since in the Principality of Monaco you need to require a Government authorisation for all business activities. This authorisation process takes usually up-to 6 months. Such application was never initiated by the founders of Monaco Estates.
  3. It is OK if an ICO fails but one should expect a small explanation. Deleting all the social media accounts is not a good one.

What went wrong?

Monaco Estates founder Daniel Golding believes that two factors played a role in the fail:

  1. The timing (MWM remark: we would remind that 94.000 ETH (61.5 million Euro) was raised)
  2. The inexperienced young ICO buyers

Daniel Golding highlighted that ICO investors are not professional investors and they are mostly inexperienced. 18-30 year olds who all believe the size of the team is what dictates a successful project.

“People really struggled with the concept that managing real estate properties can be done by one person or out sourced to a real estate rental agent.” – stated Daniel Golding

The team size of Monaco Estates was only 4 people. The two founders Daniel Golding and Charlotte Golding and two external advisors Edwin Van den Berg and Olivier Laurent. However we assume that Van den Berg and Laurent are both victims of this project.

It is all about the intentions

The whole thing questions their three most basic promises:

  1. Quarterly investor reports will also be available detailing income/expenditure and operating updates.
  2. Transparent accounting ensures investors are fully informed on their investment finances.
  3. Allegedly a security measure was implemented to boost transparency – barring directors and shareholders from taking the company’s profits.

The topic is getting more scary when people realise that the LinkedIn profiles of Monaco Estates’ two founding members were also deleted (Daniel Golding and Charlotte Golding).

On the positive side Monaco Wealth Management could reach out to Mr Olivier Laurent, one of the named advisor on the Monaco Estate (MEST) token. Mr Laurent confirmed that his trust was misused and he expressed his bitter surprise on how the Monaco Estates founder just disappeared from the online world.

“I’ve met the founder (Daniel Golding) in Athens in 2017 while I was in meeting with my dev team for my own startup. He convinced me to be ‘advisor’ to basically use my network as a share of voice. Unfortunately I was not really informed about the evolution…” – says Mr Olivier Laurent

Following their meeting in Athens Mr Laurent and Monaco Estates founder Mr Golding only communicated via e-mail.

Mr Laurent also explains that based on his opinion Monaco Estates was specifically the kind of project for which you do not need to use blockchain. No real added value in this specific case.

“I think the founder tried to surf of a trendy topic to raise funds. Most of the people who are involved in ICOs think blockchain will bring easy money easily. These people are real entrepreneurs but opportunists without real business and strategic vision.” – remarks Mr Laurent

This month, December 2018 is the expected date for the payments for the token holders, however as it seems someone cleared out the web.

“No single mention of Monaco Estate anymore… That speaks for itself.” – remarks Mr Laurent

So we can conclude that in the Principality of Monaco all that glitters is not gold.

It is obvious that “Monaco” and “Monte-Carlo” are names which have been a magnet for the prestigious and luxury brands. However the Principality of Monaco protects its name as a brand, therefore it is not easy to use the word “Monaco” or “Monte-Carlo”.

Notably there was another cryptocurrency, the Monaco Token which tried to capitalise the Monaco brand since 2017, but based on the pressure from Monaco Brands, they had no other choice than rebrand their token.

Important note: Monaco Brands; “Brands of the State of Monaco” is a Monaco-based limited company created on 6 April 2012, for the purpose of protecting, promoting and defending the entire portfolio of brands of which it is the owner or licensee.

Verdict

Real-estate is always a very attractive investment for people and Monaco is always a good place for real-estate investment. However before you invest into any Monaco related business it is good to consider the followings:

  • In every case a Government authorization is required for any kind of business activity in the territory of the Principality of Monaco.
  • Since 2012 Monaco also protects its name as a brand, therefore it is not easy to use the word “Monaco” or “Monte-Carlo” in your company, brand or in your product name anymore. Therefore once you use Monaco as a company or commercial name, or as a product name you breach international trade mark rights.
  • Also this is a great reason to consider to utilise our Who is Who in Monaco and the Trusted businesses in Monaco database.

Monaco Estates had a great potential, they also raised a very significant amount of funds. Yet, the founders of the Monaco Estate (MEST) Token vanished before the first Token holder payouts would be due. We let you draw the conclusion.


 

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