What Are Real World Assets (RWA)?

What Are Real World Assets (RWA)?

Real world assets (RWAs) are physical assets that are tokenized and linked to the blockchain. The concept of RWAs has gained a lot of popularity in the DeFi sector due to its potential to bridge the gap between traditional finance (TradFi) and decentralized finance (DeFi). The involvement of major financial institutions in the RWA space further indicates its potential for expansion and growth.


The tokenization of real world assets (RWAs) has revolutionized decentralized finance (DeFi) on the blockchain. This process involves converting tangible assets like gold, real estate, and carbon credits into digital tokens, thus rendering them tradable on blockchain platforms. RWAs have become highly valuable in DeFi, exemplifying the seamless fusion of traditional financial assets with decentralized finance systems.

How Real World Assets Work

The process of incorporating real world assets  into decentralized finance involves several crucial phases to ensure their legitimacy. These phases include off-chain formalization, information bridging, and RWA protocol demand and supply.

  1. Off-chain formalization encompasses establishing the value, ownership, and legal status of the asset in the physical world before its integration into a digital ledger. This involves assessing market price, performance history, physical condition, and confirming legal ownership through documented evidence.
  2. Information bridging involves tokenization, where the asset's information is converted into a digital token with embedded metadata containing details about its value and ownership. Blockchain transparency allows for verification of the token's authenticity based on this metadata.

    In dealing with regulated assets or securities, compliance with regulatory technologies becomes crucial. This may involve working with licensed security token issuers, adhering to KYC (Know Your Customer) and KYB (Know Your Business) standards, and utilizing cleared security token exchanges.

  3. The final phase focuses on RWA protocol demand and supply within DeFi protocols. These protocols facilitate the creation of new RWAs and attract investors for buying and trading these assets.

Through these structured processes, RWAs transition from abstract concepts to practical and essential components of the DeFi ecosystem, bringing real-world valuation and legal frameworks into the decentralized digital realm.

The Impact of RWAs on DeFi: A Shift in Investment Focus

In the world of decentralized finance, the Total Value Locked (TVL) metric is a crucial indicator that represents the amount of capital locked within DeFi protocols. In November 2021, the TVL surged to approximately $180 billion during the "DeFi Summer" bull run. However, by June 2022, the TVL plummeted to $49.87 billion, marking a significant 72.3% decline over seven months. This downturn was attributed to the lack of real utility and unfavorable tokenomics in certain DeFi protocols, resulting in liquidity drain from the market.

Consequently, DeFi investors have shifted their focus towards stable, long-term investment opportunities, particularly evident in the growing interest in stable asset classes like RWAs post-2021. 

Here are key insights into the RWA market:

  1. RWA on-chain value (excluding stablecoins) experienced a $1.05 billion increase in 2023.
  2. Yield-bearing assets, including treasuries, real estate, and private credit, contributed $855.7 million (82%) to this growth.

Between January 1 and September 30, 2023:

  1. Active on-chain private credit loans increased by $210.5 million.
  2. Treasuries and other bonds saw a growth of $557 million.

The Role of RWA Issuers in Tokenization

RWA issuers play a crucial role in bringing real-world assets onto the blockchain through three main activities:

  1. Acquisition of tangible assets.
  2. Tokenization of these assets.
  3. Distribution of tokens within the blockchain network.

Notable players in the RWA issuance sector include:

  • Centrifuge: A prominent platform for on-chain credit loans.
  • Franklin Templeton: A well-established traditional finance giant managing over $1.5 trillion in assets, now venturing into tokenized treasury tokens.
  • WisdomTree: A leading provider of exchange-traded products, managing nearly $96 billion in assets under management.

Unlocking the Potential of RWAs in DeFi

Tokenizing Real World Assets (RWAs) offers significant advantages that revolutionize investment strategies and the crypto finance landscape.

  • Enhanced Liquidity: Transforming assets like real estate into tokens increases liquidity, enabling a broader investor base to participate.
  • Fractional Ownership: Breaking down assets into tokens facilitates fractional ownership, lowering entry barriers and enabling collective ownership among investors.
  • Transparency: The blockchain ensures transparent recording and verification of every transaction and ownership detail of RWAs.
  • Inclusivity: Tokenized assets in DeFi create new markets and financial opportunities, attracting both existing and new participants, fostering stability and growth in the financial ecosystem.

Challenges in Utilizing RWAs Within DeFi

While RWAs offer an innovative approach to merging physical assets with digital finance, they encounter various limitations and hurdles.

  • Regulatory Complexity: RWAs in DeFi face intricate regulatory requirements that can vary based on factors such as asset type, location, jurisdiction, and blockchain platform used.
  • Security Risks: Maintaining a secure connection between physical assets and digital tokens is crucial to prevent fraud and legal conflicts.
  • Scalability Concerns: Platforms facilitating RWA tokenization must possess the capability to manage high transaction volumes and data throughput efficiently.


The integration of RWAs into DeFi presents an intriguing advancement, expanding its potential and reach. This convergence promises a more interconnected financial landscape bridging traditional and decentralized finance. However, achieving this fusion requires addressing notable obstacles, such as regulatory compliance and maintaining market integrity.

Real World Assets (RWA)
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