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Storage in the ether
First, let’s look to the future.
The year is 2050. Ethereum is a thriving network state, boasting tens of thousands of NFT collections, DeFi protocols, and vibrant Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs). Classic cars, rare paintings, physical and digital real estate, rare PFP collections, BTS autographs, and more are tokenized, then added to the world’s computer each day.
Having been split into thousands of discreet parts that are easily tradeable, granular indexing now makes these assets easy to explore. The transparency of the ecosystem standardizes prices and helps humans trade with confidence, unlocking liquidity and powering new paradigms of economic growth.
If you were Neo in the Matrix, you could peer through the smart contract code and visualize these varied goods ‘floating in the ether’, being freely and transparently traded across borders, languages, and cultures.
This is the future of ownership on the Freeport platform. But it’s a far cry from freeports of the past.
Neo in The Matrix: Reloaded (2004)
A controversial history
At their core, freeports are dedicated facilities located around airports, railways, or seaports that enjoy special tax and customs rules. They were designed by governments to store or process merchandise, and encourage trade of import-based businesses by lowering tax burdens.
In short, companies that operate in freeports:
Host large amounts of high-value goods — like watches, fine art, classic cars, precious antiquities, and even wine — in large warehouses, so their owners can;
Pay no customs duties on imports of these goods and enjoy simpler documentation when declaring their movements, and
Bypass tariffs on sales when the item in question is sold within the freeport.
In this way, items hosted in freeports can be safely stored and sold over and over effectively tax-free, without ever moving location.
Freeports are not new, even if their history has never been broadly understood. The concept originated with the Phoenicians around the ninth century BC, and developed in Italy in the late 1700s in cities like Genoa, Trieste, and Venice.
Special fiscal regimes not only elevated them as core trading hubs — always under the protection of powerful monarchs and emperors — but at times as pillars of freedom of speech, religion, and diversity.
The freeport of Trieste, ca 1800. Courtesy of: University of Helsinki (2018)
Over time, freeports’ concentration of wealth made them an object of controversy; rich magnates have found these high-security facilities an efficient way to hide their wealth via fine art, thus evading taxes and even helping launder dirty money.
These use cases helped popularize freeports across the globe, with thousands of locations across Europe and Asia — and notable modern hubs in Geneva, Singapore, Dubai, and Hong Kong.
Current European freeports, courtesy of: Springer Open (2017)
Towards brighter futures
While the historical use of freeports is spotty, their future need not be. Here’s how we’ll upgrade their architecture to guide us into modernity:
Democratize ownership of the great value contained within them, to offer accessibility beyond just the uber-rich.
Digitize and expand the value they store by leveraging the web3 economy and financial paradigms available today.
Allow ownership of their contents to be visually experienced, rather than perpetually hidden.
Make the inflows/outflows radically transparent, so as to avoid shady practices like tax evasion and money laundering.
At Freeport, these will be baseline tenets of our platform — one that will be transparent, accessible to all, and where the value of any asset, physical or digital, can be stored or traded. We’re committed to build this brighter future, using Web3.0 technology.
Stay tuned by joining our waitlist.