Is ERC-404 Not Aligned? Unlocking RWA Liquidity and Housing the Commons

I recently spent several days at the Hong Kong Web3 Festival. Waking up groggy from fatigue, I gazed at the seascape of Victoria Harbour. A thought struck me about the Summer of Protocols (SoP)—the deadline was only a few hours away. I immediately called my teammate who was abroad, and he readily agreed to proceed with our application.

While reviewing other proposals in the forum, we began to ponder:

  • What is the value of SoP in this bizarre world of crypto?

  • Which protocols are we truly interested in?

  • What kind of PIG proposals are genuinely valuable?

Then, the phone rang. It was the front desk reminding me to check out. I decided to extend my stay for another night to focus on the submission. However, the price had tripled to $300—a typical weekend rate for an average hotel in Hong Kong. As a student and an entrepreneur, this was a significant expense for me. Since venturing into the world of Web3, I’ve faced many awkward moments: project shutdowns, company acquisitions, layoffs, and attending global conferences on a tight budget.

The topics at the Hong Kong conference were buzzing: Vitalik’s unexpected visit, the Bitcoin ecosystem, Ton’s ambition.

I even heard a joke predicting a fierce competition among the BTC, ETH, and SOL ecosystems, describing their supporters as:

  • BTC—Purists and FOMO enthusiasts

  • ETH—Nerds and developers

  • SOL—Somewhere in between

Well, I am that nerd in their eyes.

In a bull market, everyone talks about making quick money; no one discusses Real World Assets (RWA) and NFTs, especially since there haven’t been any impressive price surges recently.

And certainly, there was no talk of public goods.

I believe the blockchain world needs more focus on humanism, addressing real issues, not just fluctuating coin prices. Of course, making money is essential, and profiting in a bull market is normal, but what remains after the hype dies down is worth contemplating. We can leverage people’s enthusiasm for speculation and hype to focus on things with long-term value.

Housing has always been a headache. So many homes are vacant, yet many people can’t afford to live in them, whether buying or renting. Homes have become more of a financial product than a shelter.

RWA was once a hot topic, with everyone excited about mapping real-world assets onto crypto, but it has recently cooled off. Major investment firms are gearing up in the RWA space, but normal people can do little because assets in the real-world are too expensive, whether properties or other valuable investments.

Last year, I was deeply moved by Singapore’s public housing values during my studies at NUS:

  • Minister of Ministry of National Development was struck by a poem by Du Fu, which he used to describe the mission of public housing - “安得广厦千万间,大庇天下寒士俱欢颜,风雨不动安如山", meaning: to build thousands of homes to shelter the scholars from the wind and rain, as stable as a mountain. It was in a piece of calligraphy hung in the former headquarters of HDB at Bukit Merah which has since been relocated to HDB Hub at Toa Payoh.

Singapore’s HDB policy carried out by the Housing & Development Board, helps locals, from the wealthy elites to the common vendors, afford homes. HDB prices are just around a quarter of many condos, and the government offers subsidies and favorable policies, making down payments and mortgages manageable.

My teammate is particularly interested in ERC-404, a protocol enthusiast who loves exploring new protocols and analyzing their interoperability and capital efficiency. We met at ShanhaiWoo, a pop-up city inspired by Zuzalu. I often discuss new protocols and market trends with him. He was one of the first to notice ERC-404 earlier this year and has continued to research related new derivatives. However, ERC-404 is not yet officially recognized by Ethereum, although many NFT enthusiasts are excited about it. Current practices include integrating ERC-404 into gaming and other virtual worlds.

ERC-404 could potentially integrate the advantages of both FT and NFT, breaking down barriers between them and enhancing ecosystem liquidity.

So far, I’ve mentioned these keywords:

  • The dilemma of housing

  • ERC-404

  • RWA

  • NFT

Let’s see what we can cook up with these points.

Could we use ERC-404 as a protocol to address the imbalances: Excess housing Vs. Poor rental market? Turning houses into ERC-404 rentable assets. By using RWA, we could unlock liquidity from financially-oriented vacant homes, turning them into ERC-404 NFTs onchain, for example, one 3-bedroom apartment could be fragmented into 3 rentable room NFTs, either bought by 2 regular tenants and 1 public goods applicant. This involves both general rental and welfare housing, helping those who can’t afford rent, like young people new to big cities, global digital nomads, and low-income groups, by providing rental subsidies and reductions.

OK, that’s the background. Let’s begin.


Our topic is: Is ERC-404 not aligned? Possibility of Unlocking Liquidity for RWAs and Housing the Commons.

I will delve into the following outlines:


A public good housing protocol featuring ERC-404 & RWA, unlocking the liquidity for Commons.

What is the existing target protocol you are hoping to improve or enhance?

  • Three target protocols combined together
  1. New protocol: ERC-404

  2. Soft protocol: RWA

  3. long-lasting protocol: Renting & Housing

What is the core idea or insight about potential improvement you want to pursue?

  • By combining and upgrading two new protocols, we aim to solve a longstanding issue in a traditional protocol—using the integration of ERC-404 and RWA to address the supply and demand contradictions in the real-estate market, unlocking the liquidity of vacant housing. This approach will help ordinary tenants, landlords, and disadvantaged groups gain access to the resources or benefits they need.

What is your discovery methodology for investigating the current state of the target protocol?

  • User Interviews, expert interviews, historical data analysis, failure event analysis:

  • Using on-chain data analysis and research tools, like Dune, to investigate the challenges facing NFTs.

  • Researching different RWA markets, such as Franklin versus Blackrock, to identify the issues within the fragmented behemoths of RWA.

  • Investigating and surveying the renting market to further uncover the truth and understand the contradiction between high vacancy rates and unmet rental demands.

In what form will you prototype your improvement idea?

  • Integrating multiple protocols, conducting top-level design, involving the coding aspects, integrating three protocols into code, and publishing it on GitHub as open source to attract developers to iterate the protocol together.

  • Consulting industry experts, including RWA practitioners, ERC-404 researchers, and traditional rental housing professionals.

How will you field-test your improvement idea?

  • Conduct experiments by recruiting a small block of tenants and landlords with vacant properties to facilitate their transactions. Manually simulate the matching of trades as done by exchanges.

  • Test to see if this is a genuine need.
    -Are users accepting of it?
    -Are landlords willing to list their vacant properties on the blockchain?
    -Are tenants willing to purchase NFT rooms?
    -Will people accept this as public goods?
    -What should be the ratio between normal rentals and public goods?
    -How can financial sustainability be achieved to ensure liquidity?

Who will be able to judge the quality of your output?

  • For ERC-404, engage experienced developers and previous EIP proposers for guidance and revisions.
  • For RWA, consult with experts who have hands-on asset management experience.
  • In the renting sector, collaborate with well-known rental entities like Airbnb, WeWork, and real-world rental agents, and include potential tenants, particularly from vulnerable groups.
  • Lastly, hire a compliance lawyer to ensure legal soundness and protect participant rights.

How will you publish and evangelize your improvement idea?

  • Submit the proposal to standards bodies such as the EF forum, RWA forum, digital nomad communities, and public goods communities.
  • Publish open-source code to attract more interested developers.
  • Produce and release a software development kit and participate in hackathons with the project.
  • Apply for various grants.
  • Engage with pop-up city related organizations.
  • Launch a social media campaign to recruit the first 1000 fans and volunteers to participate in the experiment, and live-stream the experiment worldwide.
  • Seek partnerships and attention from relevant government agencies, NGOs, and social welfare organizations.

What is the success vision for your idea?

  1. If our proposal succeeds, it can indeed address the current imbalances in the renting market by using this PIG to help tenants in need and vulnerable groups, matching them with suitable landlords.
  2. It introduces some new practices to RWA, allowing underutilized and wasted vacant housing to achieve liquidity release.
  3. Digital nomads and socially vulnerable groups actively participate in our experiment.
  4. We provide rental public goods to the target audience, establishing this as a newly recognized protocol.
  5. We have found a more practical application scenario for ERC-404, shifting its value focus from virtual world price fluctuations to tangible world solutions and addressing social welfare issues.
  6. We redefine the concept of blockchain-based renting and selling of housing:
    -renting as a temporary ownership of a room, like a year;
    -buying as the right to use and own a room forever, like N years.
    When the transaction involves N years, the system switches to a transaction mode of house ownership, meaning this protocol is not limited to renting but can also serve as an RWA trading platform.
  7. We expanded this experiment into building a Web3 version of Airbnb, essentially a dapp on this PIG protocol.

Team member names:
Valerie Shieh


Finally finished this application, this is the harbor view I mentioned first.


This is a highly exploratory protocol that provides new solutions for many projects involving NFT asset characteristics. The most basic ideas from this case can be extended to more traditional projects, bringing fresh vitality to them. Due to the features of ERC-404, it can even lead to the development of a reDEFI solution that avoids the risk of impermanent loss. This will attract significant capital attention and bring more development opportunities to the field.


Lookin forward your project! I think 404 has huge potentials in this cycle. RWA can be a great approach for web3 mass adoption. This would be a good combination between 404 and RWA. i‘m so curious how 404 and rwa will innovate renting market!

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  1. The biggest intrinsic connection between 404 and the rental market lies in the issue of liquidity. The biggest pain point in the rental market is asset turnover, and 404 addresses the liquidity issue. By tokenizing housing ownership and usage rights into 404 assets, this aims to solve the problems in leasing. I am very curious about how the mechanisms will be set up to align the 404 approach with the rental turnover logic.

  2. Will the subsequent design of this mechanism introduce more DeFi plays? For example, asset certificate pledging, farming, etc. If so, how are the tokenomics considered


This Innovative solution to address rental market imbalances.

Fractional ownership and tokenization unlock liquidity, enhance accessibility, and empower diverse renters.

Promising approach to create a more equitable and inclusive housing ecosystem.


Call me old-fashioned, but it feels like there are a couple “protocols” like tort, cadastre, sanctions-enforcement, and at the most basic level land rights guaranteed by a stable state actor that are being elided here, at the expense of a realistic scope for this program. Historically, attempts at using censorship-resistant rails to operate RWA markets have had to tack on a whole LOT of fine print to gloss over this basic jurisdictional sleight-of-hand; unless someone is underwriting all this decentralization theater publicly, it’s just financialization of real-world risk that someone else is holding.

For instance, I participated in an Odyssey hackathon once where the National Cadastre of the Netherlands was not just sponsoring the RWA track but mentoring and talking to each team to see if their projects were even realistic to seek funding for an operate as pilots in rental or construction ecosystems. Most weren’t. It was an informative experience for me!


Thanks for bringing that up. I agree with you; we haven’t discussed national land ownership, which is kind of a natural oversight. In many Asian countries, like Singapore and China, even when you buy a house, you only own it for a set period, like 99 years in Singapore and 70 years in mainland China. So, people don’t really own their homes indefinitely, just the rights to them for a while.Real estate is definitely a complex industry with lots of layers of interests and rights. For RWA to innovate in this space, we can’t ignore these real issues.But let’s stay positive, after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Let’s tackle the issues one by one, knowing it’s hard to start with a 100% perfect solution.


To give a somewhat imperfect analogy, even the so-called decentralized crypto exchanges, which boast decentralized operations, rely on centralized cloud computing power, like many using Amazon’s cloud services. There are proposals for decentralized clouds, but due to technical limitations and high costs, progress has been slow. However, this doesn’t mean we should give up on developing decentralized cloud technologies.

Similarly, RWA needs to grow through long-term exploration. After all, real estate is such an ancient industry; it’s hard to innovate overnight.

I’m thrilled to hear you participated in the Odyssey hackathon in the Netherlands—I have immense respect for hackers. I’m a hacker myself, and starting a new project at a hackathon can be both agonizing and exhilarating.

Perhaps, given its complexity, RWA isn’t quite suited for a short hackathon and is hard to showcase with just code and dapps—it’s more about redistributing rights. Forming a long-term research group and recruiting a small community to collaboratively explore new solutions in practice might be the way to go. And it aligns with this PIG proposal.

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Thanks for your reply

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We do have designed a detailed plan of how the value flow in and out, featuring ERC-404 and other classic & advanced DeFi protocols. Lets find a suitable way to showcase that, maybe a diagram would be better. The proposal sees a little wordy.

Sorry for late reply due to busy biz trip & thesis process, and this PIG is not perfect & more clarifications need to be done.

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Could you pls reply to Aria about the mechanisms? I am catching the ddl of my thesis…

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Your question is excellent, and it’s something our team has considered as well. The transition from off-chain to on-chain has always involved the issues you mentioned. Previously, I was biased against traditional RWA assets and did not recognize their potential until the solution proposed by Chainlink and Swift made me believe that RWA assets could have significant future development (for more details, see SWIFT on Chainlink Ecosystem | Every Chainlink integration and partnership). Therefore, we are currently focusing on discussing on-chain solutions to enable Web3 users to benefit from native blockchain technologies. :smiley:


Sure, I wasn’t trying to poopoo the whole field of RWA or disqualify the proposal, just pointing to where I think the scope maps somewhat roughly to the methods of this program specifically. Limiting scope, to, say, one or two jurisdictions where 99-yr-leases, rather than “ownership”, are what’s being fractionalized, and circumscribing it with the legal assumptions needed to make that work within those jurisdictions, would probably make this a more “SoP”-shaped research project. I think RWA has a much bigger legal and political backlog than sociological, business, or technological backlog.

The other elephant in the room is sanctions-- without some liable party ensuring that none of the fractions of a fractionalized RWA (even a 99-yr-lease asset) was sold to a sanctioned legal or natural person, none of these use-cases feel all that compatible with geopolitical reality in 2024, even in Riyadh or Singapore.

I think focusing on how RWA could be financialized and interface with DeFi is eating the ice cream first; I’d be more interested to see research into the interface with national authorities (like the Cadastre R&D dept that showed up to the hackathon I mentioned), or governance research into realistic ways to scale up trust infra that protects anonymity while delivering bare-minimum sanctions-accountability guarantees (KYCDAO is probably the best-known prior art in this direction).


Thanks for your insightful suggestions :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:. Indeed, we hadn’t considered the judicial aspects deeply enough before. A large part of the RWA really does involve legal issues. Like, how can we make sure that both buyers and sellers are not sanctioned by law and that the transaction complies with regulations?

Do you think this approach could work: Choose a small area, thoroughly research the local laws and policies, contact local government and judicial departments, propose a collaboration, and design a pilot project?

We welcome more of your suggestions. Let’s explore this together. :blush:


So, I shared this PIG on Twitter and got 7.9k reads so far, and some KOLs found it interesting and reposted it. It’s good to see positive feedbacks & attention from online. Some DM me with really insightful questions. Since those chats were private, you guys couldn’t see the discussion, so I’ve gone ahead and summarized it here for everyone.

Here are some of the key questions that came up:

  1. What’s the connection and need for 404, RWA, and renting scenarios? Like, how do they all link up?

  2. Why use ERC-404 instead of, say, the NFT’s ERC-721, or FT’s ERC-20 to tackle this issue?

  3. Are regular tenants really into this flexible renting thing? Or would they rather not share space with short-term digital nomads?

  4. What does the actual protocol design look like? Including details on the lease terms, penalties for breaking them,

  5. How do you swap FTs and NFTs with regard to RWA?

Actually, besides RWA, a lot of projects need to think about legal and compliance stuff.

Take a water selling project, for example. If you want to get water from all around the world, you’ve got to work things out with the local governments on how to build the infrastructure, set up transport routes, and all that, while also sticking to local laws. You need to consider all these things to figure out your plan. But if you’re just selling water, your main job is to get the water on the shelves. What customers do with the water after buying it, that’s their business. Of course, it’s best for the folks running the water project to make the whole water-getting process as transparent as possible.

The same goes for real estate. Issues of compliance with real estate and RWA are just like the compliance issues with selling water. You need to communicate with local governments and comply with local laws and regulations.


Sorry for the late replies, so many things happened IRL.

The answer for this could be:

Imagine turning a 3-bedroom apartment into 3 separate room NFTs which can be rent out. 1 room could even be split further into daily rental tokens, namely FTs, kind of like Airbnb but all onchain.

Meanwhile, these NFTs or FTs can be offered for free or at a discount to ppl in need, making them a kind of public good.

Here’s why it’s cool:

If you’re away for work or holidays, you can rent out your room by the day. It’s a smart way to make some cash instead of letting your room sit empty.

These empty rooms can also help out people who need a place to stay.

The big question is how to pick who gets to rent these rooms. We’re thinking about using a system where everyone in our digital nomad community gets a reputation score, not exactly like Gitcoin Passport giving precise numbers, but a credit score for trustworthiness.

Similarly, when move to a new place, we need places to rent. it also saves money for digital nomads and travelers looking for short-term stays, like what happened in Istanbul last year with the pop-up co-living spaces.

That’s a really great question and an important one too.

It’s all about why we’d use ERC-404 instead of ERC-20 or ERC-721.

If those standards could do the job, we’d probably already have a product out by now. The thing is, real-world assets (RWA) need to be both unique and liquid, and right now, neither ERC-20 nor ERC-721 alone can offer that. That’s why we’re thinking about using ERC-404 to handle it.

To sum up, ERC-404 allows us to split up NFTs and switch between FTs and NFTs easily.

The coolest part about ERC-404 is that it doesn’t rely on any third-party contracts. It’s totally native, which helps ensure liquidity—like swapping FTs and NFTs easily. This makes it way more versatile and meaningful in the long run compared to systems that depend on external support to function.