Patrick Gower: Is the Kiwi blockchain company Centrality really worth $690 million?

OPINION: So Kiwi company blockchain company Centrality reckons it is worth $690 million.

 That would make it worth as much as companies like The Warehouse.

The question I had while looking into Centrality was: Is it really worth that much?

The answer is of course "no".

First of all, Centrality’s value is in the cryptocurrency Ethereum, and it would be virtually impossible to draw that down in good old US Greenbacks or the Kiwi dollar (for now at least).

 And the $690 million is a number being pumped by the company if all of its 1.2 billion "tokens" (like shares) were sold at the current market price.

That is a bit naughty because there are only about 700 million tokens out there at the moment, and releasing another 500 million would flood the market and the price would drop rather than hold.

But there is definitely some kind of value there, in the cryptoworld at least.

The main "market" for tokens, CoinMarketCap, puts it at $388 million (in Ethereum).

I got interested in Centrality when I learned it raised $100 million (in Ethereum) in six minutes when it listed in January.

I saw one of its footsoldiers, the 23-year-old wunderkind Liesl Eichholz, wow a crowd of businesspeople in Queenstown talking about how blockchain would get rid of banks.

And I learned that one of its major backers in Roger Smith - the former lieutenant to liquor baron and a respected figure in New Zealand business.

When I went to see its workplace in Auckland, there were all sorts of computer programmers banging away and something was definitely happening.

It has all sorts of ideas of how companies could use blockchain, although not many are real yet.

And there is no question that blockchain technology is where it is at right now - it is set to disrupt everything.

All the major banks are looking at it, the NZ Government, the big accountancy firms, Air NZ - you name it, they are into it.

Someone is going to make a killing out of it somehow.

But of course Centrality not worth $690 million like companies such as The Warehouse or Sanford Fishing - not in the way we think of money anyway.

The cryptomarkets are going nuts, no doubt there is "pumping and dumping" going on and there are no regulators out there. At the moment it is all crypto-types out there, there are no "Mum and dad investors" piling cash in.

But if you believe in cryptocurrency the answer to questions about Centrality’s value becomes a "maybe".

And if you believe that blockchain can change the world - like many of its disciples do - then the answer is yes, it just might be worth that much.

What is certain is that blockchain is exciting, it could change the world and someone is going to make some serious cash along the way - and Centrality is at least on the ground floor.

Patrick Gower is Newshub's national correspondent