An underappreciated component of the recent meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is economic opportunity. Theoretically, if the two sides can achieve a lasting peace deal, the hermit nation opens itself to business. That’s exactly what Sharing Economy International Inc. (NASDAQ:SEII) has in mind. Plus, the surge in SEII stock suggests Wall Street approves.
But let’s back up for a second. If this is the first time you’re hearing about Sharing Economy International, I’m sure you’re not alone. Previously known as Cleantech Solutions, SEII stock was once a textile investment. According to the company’s website, management focused on developing and distributing proprietary dyeing and finishing machinery.
On a surface level, Sharing Economy’s interest in North Korea is understandable. When the rogue state isn’t busy threatening a nuclear holocaust on its neighbors, it encourages its robust textile industry. Of course, I use the term “robust” loosely and relatively, but nonetheless, North Korea makes suitable winter wear. After all, the country is a frozen tundra during the winter.
However, that’s not why SEII stock jumped over 16% recently. Textiles is yesterday’s business for Sharing Economy. Today, it’s all about the blockchain; hence, the name change. According to Sharing Economy’s website:
The company’s vision is to create a reliable, user-friendly and secured ecosystem so that autonomous applications will allow users to efficiently share both public and private resources along with goods and services.
If you’re rolling your eyes at this point, I don’t blame you. Sharing Economy doesn’t explain what the connection is between textiles and the blockchain, if any.
From what I gather, the move is a hard transition. And while nothing prevents such hard cuts, credibility is a major issue. Still, SEII stock did move 16%.
Is Sharing Economy International Being Serious?
You lost me at North Korea. That’s what I would say if management pitched me on buying SEII stock. I appreciate the company’s entrepreneurial moxy. Plus, I even wrote extensively about investment implications regarding the Trump-Kim meeting.
However, I referred to the economic impact toward normal countries. Doing business inside North Korea? That’s a whole new ball game.
But before you dismiss SEII stock as a high-level joke, you should know that Sharing Economy’s venture is centered on a licensing agreement. Specifically, SEII reached a deal with sharing platform Ecrent Capital Holdings, in which the former entity will setup an Ecrent website in North Korea.
And what exactly is Ecrent? It’s an all-in-one sharing economy platform: think Uber but on a much wider scale. If you have anything lying around, whether it’s a bicycle or a Halloween costume, you can rent it out.
I must admit, the concept is a very intriguing one. Like Ecrent states on their website, we live in a disposable society. We accumulate so much stuff, only to toss it a few months later for the next greatest gizmo or gadget. This over-consumption is simply not sustainable. But rather than beat people over the head with environmental concerns, Ecrent lets you profit from your “green initiative.”
Their marketing team raises a great point: why buy something on Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) or Best Buy Co Inc (NYSE:BBY) that you’re going to throw away quickly? Instead, just rent what you want from a fellow Ecrent member.
Sounds great. But again, you lost me at North Korea.
This is the country that routinely competes for worst human-rights violator. A peace agreement is a much better alternative than nuclear warfare. However, let’s not pretend that business ventures are a cure-all.
SEII stock Suffers From Blockchain Ignorance
I’m going to be blunt: you should avoid SEII stock. It’s a confused organization trying to make money in the worst country in the world. If that doesn’t scare you, Sharing Economy is entirely dependent on a madman with a nuclear warhead.
Let this also sink in: the only person that can stop said madman is Donald Trump.
But a bigger issue is that Sharing Economy suffers from blockchain ignorance. I genuinely believe that desperate companies are simply using the term “blockchain” to drum up investor sentiment and dollars.
In April, I had harsh words for Overstock.com Inc (NASDAQ:OSTK) CEO Patrick Byrne. He claimed that the blockchain could eradicate world poverty. I beg to differ. Ultimately, a blockchain is a fancy database where data is entered via consensus, not administrative centralization. I don’t see a connection between databasing and poverty.
Nor do I see a connection between that same database and achieving peace in the Korean peninsula. No country in the world is like North Korea, and I don’t mean that in a good way. With so many ways a business venture can go wrong, I don’t see any direction but down for SEII stock.
As of this writing, Josh Enomoto did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.