Liquefy Builds Robust Security Token Offering Using AWS
Real estate is an attractive investment option for many, but the capital required to buy a property is often too high for an average individual or a small company. Liquefy is a fintech startup that aims to democratize investment through its security token offering (STO) platform, helping its corporate clients issue tokenized securities backed by real assets. Based in Hong Kong, the fintech began providing its platform as a service to clients in July 2019.
One of the startup’s first major clients was Stan Group, a leading local conglomerate rooted in property development. Stan Group partnered with Liquefy to launch Buy-a-Brick, an employee incentive program designed to motivate and reward staff engagement. To recognize contributions to corporate innovation, Stan Group employees earn digital tokens, or “bricks”, which represent future capital gains on selected buildings.
By building the blockchain on AWS, we have enhanced our overall system security and elasticity while reducing our maintenance cost.”
Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Liquefy
Improving While Migrating
Liquefy leverages blockchain technology as the foundation of its STO platform. The company started its development on Alibaba Cloud because of its low startup cost, but management noticed there were hidden costs. They reported a significant latency issue in accessing the web layer of the Liquefy platform outside of China, and extra charges would be needed to optimize connection speeds for users outside the country. Liquefy quickly realized it needed to move its platform to a different cloud provider and chose Amazon Web Services (AWS). “AWS was the right provider to help us successfully scale our company, because of its international reputation and reliability,” says Drey Ng, cofounder and chief product officer at Liquefy.
Migration from the Alibaba Cloud took less than three months, with frequent conversations between the startup’s AWS solutions architect and internal teams. Rather than a simple lift-and-shift approach, Liquefy consulted with AWS to incorporate new features and reinforce security during the process. The company took advantage of AWS credits to try out new services, something that its previous provider could not offer. “We received a lot of support from AWS in migrating our entire system gradually while improving our architecture. This included dedicated support from a Mandarin-speaking AWS solutions architect with a background in blockchain, which we found very helpful,” Ng says.
Security as a Top Priority
In Hong Kong, real estate conglomerates are typically conservative with technology; most have large server rooms and are managing projects on premises. The cloud—especially blockchain—is still very experimental. In the case of the Buy-a-Brick project, Liquefy’s application connects Stan Group’s HR system and Liquefy’s blockchain system through a set of RESTful APIs, so that Stan Group’s administrators can create real estate tokens for employees to purchase using internal credit.
Security is an utmost priority because Liquefy’s system is connected to sensitive personal data. Liquefy has set up an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) to isolate key programs from public view and uses AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) to control administrators’ access level.
Lower Costs with Decentralization
Blockchain reinforces the security of data through decentralized storage, with geographically distinct server nodes storing immutable records. The ability to set up server sites across the globe makes the AWS Cloud an ideal fit for blockchain projects. For the Stan Group solution, Liquefy is using AWS Regions in Singapore, South Korea, and North Carolina. The flexibility that AWS provides regarding infrastructure design reduces operating costs both for Liquefy and for its clients.
“Our clients are comfortable adopting a solution based on AWS because they don’t have to hire additional people to maintain servers and custom security groups in different countries,” Ng says. “By building the blockchain on AWS, we have enhanced our overall system security and elasticity while reducing our maintenance cost.” Ng says the AWS account rep offered guidance on the most cost-effective global server structure that would still preserve both the security and stability required for customer-facing financial platforms such as Liquefy. “The skilled advice AWS provides really gives it an edge over other cloud providers.”
Containers Standardize Deployment
In working with its AWS solutions architect, Liquefy identified containers as a way to improve deployment and simplify scaling. Its entire environment is now set up using Docker containers, which offer a standardized environment for deploying new Liquefy clients. Moving to containers has also reduced the configuration risk when setting up blockchain nodes. “Because blockchain is still considered an emerging technology, much of the work involved is quite manual. As such, errors or accidents can easily occur during deployment, which could lead to data loss,” Ng explains.
“Having containers saves us a lot of headaches when maintenance is required or unexpected incidents occur,” Ng says. Even for an experienced blockchain developer, he adds, configuration can take 4 hours. By using Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS), the process takes just 30 minutes.
Latencies of 100 Milliseconds or Less
By using the Amazon CloudFront content delivery network, Liquefy reports a consistent uptime of 99.99 percent for its application and website. Furthermore, since migrating to AWS, Liquefy has experienced consistent latencies of 100 milliseconds or less no matter where its website is accessed from. Ng says this level of performance is more than sufficient for the user experience.
At this stage, Liquefy is pursuing more AWS training and certifications for the team to advance its standing as a member of the AWS Partner Network (APN). Its blockchain developer has completed the associate level examination and mentioned how useful the course has been in his daily activities.
“The certification has been very worthwhile,” Ng says. “We plan to have more colleagues take the exams so they can better understand the service capabilities of AWS and innovate solutions for future clients.” Having an AWS certification has also boosted clients’ confidence in Liquefy. “For real estate conglomerates, the certifications and partnership with AWS is crucial for our success.”
To learn more, visit aws.amazon.com/blockchain.
Liquefy aims to bring liquidity to assets such as real estate and art through security token offerings, which enable individuals to buy a tokenized portion of such appreciating assets. Launched in Hong Kong in 2019, its platform is based on blockchain technology.
Benefits of AWS
- Improves latency to 100 milliseconds or less
- Reduces setup time from 4 hours to 30 minutes
- Gets blockchain support from an AWS solutions architect
- Reinforces security to protect financial data
- Lowers maintenance costs
- Boosts client confidence by working with AWS
- Ensures 99.99% uptime for platform
AWS Services Used
Amazon Virtual Private Cloud
Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) lets you provision a logically isolated section of the AWS Cloud where you can launch AWS resources in a virtual network that you define. You have complete control over your virtual networking environment, including selection of your own IP address range, creation of subnets, and configuration of route tables and network gateways.
AWS Identity and Access Management
AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) enables you to manage access to AWS services and resources securely. Using IAM, you can create and manage AWS users and groups, and use permissions to allow and deny their access to AWS resources.
Amazon CloudFront is a fast content delivery network (CDN) service that securely delivers data, videos, applications, and APIs to customers globally with low latency, high transfer speeds, all within a developer-friendly environment. CloudFront is integrated with AWS – both physical locations that are directly connected to the AWS global infrastructure, as well as other AWS services.
Amazon Elastic Container Service
Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) is a fully managed container orchestration service. Customers such as Duolingo, Samsung, GE, and Cookpad use ECS to run their most sensitive and mission critical applications because of its security, reliability, and scalability.
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