In the last few weeks, messages about all kinds of schemes involving the creation of new currencies and the exploitation of wonderful blockchain technology have appeared in my inbox.
The strangest of all was that of a company that planned for residents of luxury residences to pay for their rooms using a new cryptocurrency. Carlauren Group, which describes itself as the “UK innovation leader” in care services, was creating what it called C-Coin. In the next paragraph of the email, excitement rose: “This groundbreaking blockchain technology will provide all Carlauren Lifestyle Resorts and Care Homes residents with a secure currency, while eliminating the worry associated with carrying cash.
The plan involves residents buying C-Coins for £ 70 each, the price of a night at a Carlauren residence or resort, apart from the costs of care. The company says that what is unusual about the coins is that it will always guarantee to buy them back at £ 63, so the risk of investing in any cryptocurrency is largely avoided. This is painted as an innovative way of allowing wealthy seniors and their children to invest in their room for the long term, a kind of timeshare scheme that would later be negotiable because the coins could be sold on an exchange.
“I wanted to crystallize the room payment for the foreseeable future,” Carlauren CEO Sean Murray explained to me. He outlined a membership scheme whereby residents currently paying between £ 1,250 and £ 1,500 per week would buy their room with the tokens, and it would be an asset to their children after their death. We see an opportunity with family members who are obviously wisely aware of what is happening in the crypto market, which has intrinsic value.
But for that intrinsic value to exist, the C-Coin must be open to outside investors through an Initial Coin Offering or ICO. Carlauren is issuing 500,000 coins and raising £ 35m, although Murray insists his company needs no fundraising. There is a Carlauren Coins Exchange and a downloadable White Paper filled with purple prose on the wonders of blockchain technology, “possibly the greatest technological revolution since the internet,” albeit with little detail on the role it plays here.
We also learned that Carlauren wasn’t founded until 2015, but is now “one of the UK’s leading innovators in long-term residential living and care services. However, this business does not seem particularly lucrative. The very limited and unaudited accounts filed for the Carlauren Group at Companies House show that it had net liabilities in 2017 of £ 610,475, up from £ 141,898 the previous year.