Real Estate Brokerages And Retailers Worldwide Now Accepting Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin)
Bitcoin is an experiment for real estate brokerages looking for a competitive edge for their listings. Take a look at the brokerages who are paving the way to a cryptocurrency-ready real estate market.
Who Is Using Cryptocurrency In Real Estate?
Bitcoin usage is still in its initial phases and cryptocurrencies make up only a fraction of real estate sales in the United States. In 2017, Redfin reported about 75 listings nationwide accepting Bitcoin. This year, Realtor.com® has listed 37 single-family homes across the country accepting Bitcoin. The properties range from $114,000 or the equivalent in Bitcoin for a home in Kansas, all the way up to a Hawaiian mansion listed at $7,920,000.
Although real estate Bitcoin deals currently make up a small percentage of the market, brokerages who offer the option of Bitcoin operate in some of the country’s largest real estate markets. New York, Florida, and Texas have all seen cryptocurrency transactions.
So who is currently accepting Bitcoin in the industry? Good question. Though the acceptance of cryptocurrency within the market is still rare, the number of players is growing every day. Here are just a few of the trailblazers.
Listing agent Stephan Burke, of Brown Harris Stevens, reported that the seller of a 9,500-square-foot Miami mansion is accepting Bitcoin. The home is worth approximately $6.5 million. The seller has also reportedly said he will accept either Bitcoin or Zcash, another type of cryptocurrency. Burke had this to say about the transaction:
Industries, businesses, and careers are being affected by this dramatic globalization and modernization, and real estate is no different. It seems clear to me that banks and title companies will be doing everything in a crypto-recorded fashion within the next decade, and our transactions will eventually become faster — and safer — under this system.
A Clearwater, FL mansion, designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, is also available to be purchased with Bitcoin. Nehad Alhassan is marketing the sale of the 4,000-square-foot home. Alhassan noted that since there are so few agents working with Bitcoin, a close relationship between buyer and agent is vital. He went on to say:
I think the seller has to grasp and understand it, and be comfortable in doing the transaction with me. You have to have that trust.
Magnum Real Estate Group believes the use of Bitcoin in real estate is linked to a younger group of home buyers — those who have invested in cryptocurrencies and are searching for alternative forms of payment. Ben Shaoul, President of Magnum, spoke to CNBC about his company’s use of Bitcoin and the relationship of cryptocurrency to the overall global market:
I think the demographic of the crypto user is a younger millennial, but, that being said, you have a lot of people coming over from other countries, who are buyers from different places, who like to trade in different types of currency. Not everyone wants to trade in dollars or yen or euros.
According to Blooming Sky, a New York City brokerage also dealing in Bitcoin, the majority of transactions require cryptocurrency to be exchanged for USD. Blooming Sky works with a team of real estate lawyers to help their prospects navigate the Bitcoin exchange process. Bernard Klein, Co-Founder of Blooming Sky, explained the practice this way:
We will help clients facilitate transactions with [cryptocurrency]. Underwriters who review the sources of a down payment tell me they increasingly see transferring Bitcoins into cash as similar to transferring stocks into cash.
Blooming sky has also published a guide on how to buy a NYC apartment with Bitcoin.
The first real estate transaction involving Bitcoin in Texas was brokered by Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty, a real estate brokerage firm operating in Central and South Texas. The broker associate, Sheryl Lowe, who represented the buyer remarked on the seamlessness of the Bitcoin process:
I honestly couldn’t have expected something so unique to go so smoothly. In a matter of 10 minutes, the Bitcoin was changed to US Dollars and the deal was done!
What Else To Know About Bitcoin In Real Estate:
- The U.S. government may recognize cryptocurrency as property in 2018. This leaves some interesting loopholes involving taxes on real estate transactions.
- Not all Bitcoin transactions go as smoothly as planned. A Bitcoin investor made an offer on a luxury home in California that was contingent on the sale of his cryptocurrency. Although the offer was accepted, the buyer had to back out of the deal when he couldn’t sell his cryptocurrency.
- Redfin recently published an infographic showing the dramatic change in the number of bitcoins needed to buy the typical American home.
What Is The Future Of Cryptocurrency In Real Estate?
At this point in time, brokerages are still learning a lot about the role of Bitcoin in real estate transactions. The real estate brokerages dealing in cryptocurrency today are pioneers in the market and are paving the way for the future use of digital currency. The real estate industry has been heavily influenced by the use of technology over the past decade, and cryptocurrency will be no exception. Brokerages who leverage information on technology trends like Bitcoin will help determine its impact going forward.
Educating the public has been part of the job for Michel Triana, founder and CEO of Intelerit, a Fort Lauderdale-based predictive real estate analytics platform for U.S. investors. The vast majority of sellers still want payment in dollars, he said. For some portions of a deal, that may not change soon, Triana acknowledged.
That includes the title and escrow process, said Marlen Rodriguez, president of the HomePartners Title Services, an affiliate of the Keyes Company real estate firm. Major insurance underwriters only accept dollars, she said.
As long as buyers convert their Bitcoin or Ethereum to cash for the title and escrow process, there would be no problem.
Once the seller converts the digital currency to dollars to pay the title company, “there’s nothing unique about that transaction moving forward,” said Andrew Hinkes, a partner at the law firm Berger Singerman.
Pay The Necessary Parties In Dollars
Some attorneys, real estate agents, title and escrow agents will require you pay them in dollars. For that, you would need to convert your Bitcoin to dollars. Services like Bitpay or Changelly can convert the digital currency to cash.
What About Title?
The seller may have liens on the property or an unpaid mortgage. If a seller has $500,000 left on his or her mortgage, they would convert that portion of cryptocurrency into dollars and pay the mortgage. “The title work is exactly the same,” Kakon said. But, he added, “you need somebody who really understands cryptocurrency.” Because most title and escrow companies aren’t set up to accept Bitcoin, “They just might not be sure,” added Lifthrasir.
Recording The Deed
In the future, cryptocurrency supporters hope that recording deeds will be done with blockchain. The startup Propy recently launched a pilot program in Vermont to use blockchain technology to record real estate deals. Velox.RE created a similar program in Chicago’s Cook County.
Propy CEO Natalia Karayaneva said the technology could be replicated in South Florida. For now, deeds are recorded with each county’s property appraiser.
Fascinated By Cryptocurrency And Real Estate? Here Are A Few Resources You Can Leverage:
- Bitcoin Magazine offers a collection of articles from some of the top minds in the cryptocurrency space. We recommend starting with their article on how the blockchain will transform the real estate market. Subscribe to their email alerts to stay on top of the latest Bitcoin news.
- Inman’s technology section stays current on the latest Bitcoin trends in the real estate market. We recommend the article: 2018 real estate: Bitcoin bets, mega brokerages and VR.
Retailers Around The World That Accept Crypto, From Pizza To Travel
Earlier on, when Bitcoin (BTC) arrived on the scene, most cryptocurrency enthusiasts held on to their coins, as there were only so many places they could be spent. Nowadays, the list of marketplaces and retailers accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is significantly larger, providing crypto enthusiasts with more options for making real-world purchases.
After all, with recognizable organizations like Microsoft and Wikipedia now accepting Bitcoin as payment, conversations about Bitcoin and the power of cryptocurrencies are becoming more prominent.
Currently, several fast-food restaurants and coffee shops have started accepting Bitcoin as payment.
This will likely provide traction for mass adoption as cryptocurrency payments become increasingly commonplace in day-to-day purchases.
Granted, there are some jurisdictions that do not consider Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency as legal tender. Despite this set back, even big tech companies like Facebook are coming up with payment systems that mimic cryptocurrencies.
Here are some of the leading retailers, merchants and companies that will let you book flights and hotels, buy coffee or pizza, or even go to space with crypto.
Pay For A Burger In Germany With Crypto
The German branch of fast-food restaurant chain Burger King now claims to accept Bitcoin as payment for its online orders and deliveries, but this is not the first time Burger King has warmed up to Bitcoin as a form of payment.
The company, headquartered in Florida in the United States, had its Russian branch announce in 2017 that it would start accepting Bitcoin payments, but it ultimately did not take off. The global fast-food retailer reports an annual revenue of about $20 billion and serves about 11 million customers around the world. If all its outlets move to accept Bitcoin as payment, cryptocurrency adoption would inevitably spread.
Spend Crypto At Starbucks And Other Places
For crypto payments to gain traction, merchants need to implement systems that enable swift and easy cryptocurrency spending. Starbucks is one of the companies taking advantage of this concept through Flexa, a U.S.-based payment startup that is helping the cafe giant, as well as dozens of other companies, accept cryptocurrency payments.
The company developed an app called Spedn that enables crypto holders to make purchases with merchants like Starbucks. The company’s CEO believes that by making cryptocurrencies spendable in the mainstream, commerce will realize the full benefit of blockchain technology all over the world.
Crypto enthusiasts in Silicon Valley’s Palo Alto might already be familiar with Coupa Cafe for other reasons apart from its coffee and food. Through its partnership with a Facebook software developer, Coupa Cafe has been accepting Bitcoin as payment since 2013.
Reports show that the cafe received a steady stream of Bitcoin revenue as soon as they started implementing crypto payments — a clear sign of how eager its customers were to pay in Bitcoin. Coupa Cafe is among the few physical businesses in Palo Alto that accept Bitcoin at the moment. The cafe owners believe that their collaboration with the Facebook software engineer will create more traction in terms of Bitcoin adoption.
Buy Food With Crypto
With over 50,000 takeaway restaurants listed on its United Kingdom-based site, OrderTakeaways is one of the surest ways to get a pizza paid for with crypto delivered to your doorstep. The company has been accepting Bitcoin payments for online takeout orders since 2018. And other similar services include the Korean platform Shuttledelivery as well as German-based service Lieferando and its subsidiaries in several other countries.
Related: Blockchain for Food, How the Industry Makes Use of the Technology
Apart from online orders, crypto can also be spent at a regular Subway restaurants. As early as 2013, several Subway branches started accepting Bitcoin as payment. Now, for a fraction of a Bitcoin, a Subway sandwich can be purchased at select restaurants.
Pay With Bitcoin To Tour Space
Besides buying food and inexpensive, day-to-day items with crypto, a trip to space can now be bought with Bitcoin. That’s right. Richard Branson’s space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, started accepting Bitcoin as payment as far back as 2013. Although Branson’s predicted date for the first commercial flight has been pushed back several times, the company achieved its first suborbital space flight last year. Perhaps soon, people will be able to tour the moon on crypto’s dime.
Buy Jewelry With Bitcoin
A brick-and-mortar American jewelry company called Reeds Jewelers accepts Bitcoin for both its physical and online stores. What’s more, if a purchase is worth more than $25,000, the company provides free armored delivery for safety. Other jewelry companies accepting Bitcoin include Blue Nile Jewelry, Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry and Coaex Jewelry, to name a few.
A big advantage of purchasing large ticket items — like a diamond — with crypto is that it makes moving around large amounts of money cheap and effortless. Reports show that more Silicon Valley investors are buying jewelry with Bitcoin. Last year, Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry reported a 20% growth in crypto transactions, leading to a boost in the company’s sales. The company has been accepting Bitcoin since 2014.
Send And Redeem Gift Cards With Bitcoin
Gyft, a digital platform that allows users to buy, send and redeem gift cards, was one of the first merchants enabling cryptocurrency adoption to gain traction in the real world. The mobile gift card app allows Bitcoin to be used to purchase gift cards from several retailers, some of which include Burger King, Subway, Amazon and Starbucks. The company has also partnered with popular crypto exchange Coinbase to enable users to buy gift cards from their Coinbase wallets.
Travel And Pay In Bitcoin
If a traveler only has Bitcoin at their disposal, the following merchants will gladly offer services in exchange for it. TravelbyBit, a flight and hotel booking service, accepts cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Binance Coin and Litecoin (LTC) as payment. Also, major travel company Hotels.com allows you to book vacation stays using Bitcoin.
With a network of over 300 crypto-friendly merchants, the platform is one of the biggest supporters of crypto adoption.
TravelbyBit can also alert you to upcoming blockchain events in order to interact with other crypto enthusiasts from around the globe. Other platforms to book flights with crypto include Destinia, CheapBizClass, CheapAir, AirBaltic, Bitcoin.Travel and ABitSky, among others.
Use Crypto To Book A Five-Star Hotel In Zurich
If ever one finds themselves traveling to Zurich Switzerland, either BTC or Ether (ETH) can be used to pay for a stay in a five-star hotel in Zurich. In May 2019, five-star hotel and spa Dodler Grand announced that it will start accepting Bitcoin and Ether as payment.
The hotel has partnered with a fintech firm Inacta as well as Bity (a Swiss-based crypto exchange) to facilitate the payment and conversion of crypto to fiat money. The hotel boasts an amazing view of the Swiss landscape among other enticing amenities that come with a five-star hotel.
Norwegian Air May Allow Customers To Pay With Crypto As Soon As Spring
Travelers on Norwegian Air, one of the largest airlines in Europe, will soon be able to pay for flights using cryptocurrency.
In an interview with a local business newspaper, Norwegian Block Exchange (NBX) CEO Stig Kjos-Mathisen said his crypto trading platform had successfully developed payment infrastructure that will allow customers on Norwegian Air to purchase tickets with digital assets.
“Everything is ready to go from our side”, Kjos-Mathisen said in the interview. NBX aims to roll out the new feature to Norwegian customers sometime later this year, possibly as early as the spring.
Kjos-Mathisen is the son-in-law of Bjørn Kjos, the founder and CEO of Norwegian Air, who has been involved in NBX since it launched in 2019. The plan has always been to use the exchange to offer cryptocurrency support for airline ticket purchases.
In September, one of the oldest banks in Norway acquired a 16.3 percent in NBX for a reported $1.6 million. The exchange opened for beta users last September and is now accepting general customers.
Founded in 1993, Norwegian Air Shuttle is the largest airline in Scandinavia and the third-largest low-cost airline in Europe. It flies to destinations all across Europe and North Africa, as well as selected cities in the Americas.
Following extensive cost cuts, the company reported its best-ever quarterly result last October, with a pre-tax profit of 2.2 billion Norwegian kroner (roughly US$215 million). The airline carried over 37 million passengers in 2018, its highest ever figure within a single year.
It is unclear so far which digital assets will be supported on NBX or for ticket payments. The founder’s son, Lars Ola Kjors, is believed to have bought 3.5 million NOK ($404,000) worth of bitcoin (BTC) in 2017 before the cryptocurrency hit its all-time high of around $20,000.
Cryptocurrency Adoption: How Can Crypto Change The Travel Industry?
If government corruption affects the stability of the national currency, it’s only natural that citizens will turn to gold or other assets like Bitcoin (BTC) to invest their savings. It offers them a sense of financial control in an otherwise unstable market.
And it’s not just investing that is feeling the impact of crypto. This technology has the capacity to change the way we live. The freedom to travel and transact is a fundamental right everyone should have, and cryptocurrency adoption is all about providing freedom.
The world is becoming easier to navigate, and people are increasingly traveling to parts that are not equipped to deal with tourism. Often travelers can be caught out in less developed countries with no access to ATMs and a shortage of reliable ways to pay for goods. The use of digital currencies and smartphones could become the best solution.
Imagine not having to search for the best exchange rates or having to carry the local fiat currency around in a wallet. This is freedom. Paying for goods and services on a mobile phone — and even a watch — has been an increasing phenomenon with services like Apple Pay and Google Pay on Android.
According to research, the amount of people who own mobile phones around the world is on the rise. Ownership levels in developing economies are highest in Vietnam, where 97% of adults own a mobile device, although about 90% or more also own one in Jordan, Tunisia, Colombia, Kenya, Lebanon and South Africa.
Ownership is lowest in Venezuela, India and the Philippines, but even in these countries, about 70% of adults own a mobile device.
In the future, more hotels, restaurants and shops will be set up with crypto wallets on a smartphone or similar device to accept global payments in seconds — and this may happen in the developing world faster than the developed world.
The travel industry is one of the biggest industries in the world with around $1.7 trillion expected to be spent this year alone, making it the world’s second-fastest-growing industry. Now, crypto travel companies are making global crypto travel a reality.
As with all technology development, government and community help are paramount. The state government of Queensland in Australia is committed to technological innovation within the travel industry.
They have helped to make the Brisbane airport the first in the world to have 30 merchants accept cryptocurrency. In fact, Queensland is trailblazing crypto tourism with the regional town of Agnes Water, located at the southern end of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
Here, travelers can find more than 40 businesses that accept crypto, allowing them to pay with Bitcoin for their accommodations, meals and even a day tour to the reef.
Additionally, travel giant Expedia is now back in the crypto game, having stepped out of it in 2018 when they stopped accepting Bitcoin payments directly through their platform. Now, they are offering cryptocurrency holders the ability to book their travels and holidays through the site and giving them access to thousands of hotels around the world.
Helping The Unbanked
The figures speak for themselves. Globally, there are around 1.7 billion adults who are unbanked, mostly in developing countries like India, Egypt and parts of Africa. Without a fiat bank account, people from these countries can struggle to participate in the global economy. This affects many of the developing countries and their ability to trade in the world market. Crypto adoption can help change that.
It is important to understand that while it is still in the very early stages of adoption, crypto is much more than just a speculative asset, but it also has the ability to be used in the same way as any currency.
However, problems do exist. For example, many businesses that accept crypto for their services will charge users a high premium, which poses a barrier to adoption. This must be addressed and changed. Crypto must be usable, which is why it is important to provide incentives for early adopters.
Visa debit cards that convert crypto into fiat are becoming more common and are helping to grow the ecosystem. Allowing users to use cryptocurrency anywhere that accepts credit card payments will broaden adoption and take off.
Enticing users into the space with incentives will also help drive adoption, and as with credit card payments, more competition in the marketplace will help drive down fees. As crypto becomes more widely used, it will become more attractive to those who have never experimented with it and will lead more individuals to “give it a try.” This can only be a good thing for the wider crypto travel industry.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Caleb Yeoh is the CEO of TravelbyBit, an Australia-based company that has been instrumental in driving crypto adoption in Australia. Its travel booking platform was launched with the help of Binance, and lets travelers book their flights and hotels with cryptocurrency and earn rewards by doing so.
Pay For Electronics And More With Crypto
For all the gadget lovers, there are a bunch of platforms that allow electronic purchases with cryptocurrency. Newegg, for instance, is an electronic retail giant that uses BitPay to process payments made with digital currencies. Even though one cannot get refunds for Bitcoin purchases, Newegg has a good reputation for quality items.
Plus, the company boasts its being among the first merchants to support cryptocurrency adoption. Other platforms for gadget junkies include Eyeboot (a platform that sells crypto mining rigs in exchange for crypto), Microsoft, FastTech and Alza (a U.K.-based online store that sells phones and beauty products).
An Ever-Expanding List
It seems clear that more retailers are warming up to the idea of accepting cryptocurrencies. There is still a long way to go before full adoption can be achieved, but many companies have nevertheless benefited from being early adopters. Despite the volatile price movements of cryptocurrencies, all evidence points to a future cashless society that uses digital currencies, and crypto is leading the way.
France: 25,000 Major Retail Stores To Accept Bitcoin In 2020
By early 2020, support for Bitcoin payments will be launched at over 25,000 sales points for 30 French retailers, including sportswear giant Decathlon and cosmetics store Sephora.
French crypto news outlet Cryptoglobe reported the development, announced during Paris Retail Week, on Sept. 24.
25,000 Retailers To Enter Economy 3.0 Via Bitcoin
The new cryptocurrency payments system is launching via a partnership between point-of-sale technology provider Global POS, the EasyWallet application and payments platform Easy2Play.
While payments will be made in Bitcoin (BTC), funds will be automatically converted into euros at the moment of sale.
Conversion services are to be provided by two partners, Deskoin and Savitar, both of whom are currently applying for Digital Asset Service Provider accreditations under France’s PACTE Act.
Alongside Decathlon and Sephora, well-known retailers signing on to the initiative include Boulanger, Foot Locker, World House, Intersport, Cultura, Maisons du Monde and Norauto.
Stéphane Djiane, CEO And Founder Of Global Pos, Has Given A Statement Proposing That:
“This is an important symbolic step in the evolution of payment methods in France. However, more than a symbol, what we bring to 25,000 outlets is the ability to safely enter the world of Economy 3.0.”
After Bitcoin, Altcoins Could Be Next
By enabling consumers to use their cryptocurrency holdings at physical retail locations within a legalized and regulated framework, the initiative aims to broaden adoption beyond the currently estimated 4 million French crypto owners.
While Bitcoin remains the sole cryptocurrency on the cards for now, Dijane has indicated the platform intends to roll out support for altcoins in the future.
In January of this year, a handful of tobaccos shops in Paris started to sell Bitcoin, notwithstanding mixed messages from local regulators and the central bank.
5,200 Tobacco Shops In France Now Selling Bitcoin
French crypto startup Keplerk has relaunched its service to accept Bitcoin (BTC) payments in over 5,200 tobacco shops in France starting from Oct. 10.
Service First Launched In January
After suspending the service in less than two months after launch in January, Keplerk says that its customers will be able to buy Bitcoin from tobacconists in coupons of 50, 100 or 250 euros, France’s top news channel BFM TV reports Oct. 10.
According to the report, Bitcoin payments in all 5,200 locations will be feasible through Keplerk’s partner Bimedia, which will provide payment terminals.
As previously reported, Keplerk’s initial launch in January 2019 of the service reportedly involved just six tobacco shops, while other publications reported there were as many as 24 shops participating in the program. At the time, Keplerk co-founder Adil Zakhar stated that the firm was planning to expand the project to 6,500 tobacco shops by February despite the reports that France’s central bank did not endorse the initiative.
Bitcoin Adoption Surges In France
Meanwhile, France is apparently seeing a surge in cryptocurrency adoption. In late September, Cointelegraph reported that over 25,000 points-of-sale of 30 French retailers including sportswear giant Decathlon and cosmetics store Sephora will start accepting BTC payments by early 2020. As reported earlier in September, the French unit of Domino’s Pizza launched an ordering competition with a prize of $110,000 in Bitcoin or cash.
On Sept. 12, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire claimed that French authorities do not plan to tax crypto-to-crypto trades, but rather will consider taxation when crypto is sold for fiat money.
Millions of Online Retailers Can Now Accept DAI On Coinbase Commerce
Coinbase Commerce, a platform that supports cryptocurrency payments for internet retailers, has added MakerDAO’s DAI stablecoin as a supported payment method this week.
This integration will let merchants around the world accept the USD-pegged stablecoin as payment for goods and services without Coinbase Commerce taking any extra fees.
Merchants can add a “pay with crypto” button to their checkout process, or choose to accept DAI only. Shop owners can also currently earn a DAI savings rate of 7.5%.
This could open doors to over 800,000 stores and 3 million web shops on Shopify and WooCommerce, as well as anyone else seeking a way to accept decentralized stablecoins as payment. It also introduces merchants to a growing segment of the cryptocurrency market, letting them bridge the gap between DeFi app developers and their own businesses.
DeFi (decentralized finance) is a popular movement sparked by cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies, bringing conventional financial services to the crypto sector.
Rune Christensen, CEO of the Maker Foundation, told Cointelegraph a few months ago that:
“DeFi is a new generation of products that are entirely transparent, where users can see exact cash flows while achieving greater levels of trust and security that can be audited in real time. DeFi also incorporates the global nature of blockchain and its advantages, making these more efficient systems with lower fees and higher yields.”
Las Vegas Luxury Auto Dealership Rakes In Bitcoin Payments
Vegas Auto Gallery has seen an influx of Bitcoin payments amid the bull market.
A luxury auto dealership in Nevada has reported a steady increase in Bitcoin (BTC) payments, a testament to the bull market currently underway as more investors convert their holdings into high-end sports cars.
Vegas Auto Gallery, whose inventory includes makes and models from Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari and Lamborghini, recently sold two high-end sports cars to customers who paid more than $6 million in BTC. As the Wall Street Journal reports, owner Nick Dossa says that roughly 3% to 5% of the dealership’s revenue comes from Bitcoin transactions.
The dealership isn’t accepting Bitcoin payments outright, but through BitPay, a third-party payment provider. BitPay transactions settle BTC payments in U.S. dollars upon receipt. In the case of Vegas Auto Gallery, a 1% fee is applied to all Bitcoin purchases, which is equivalent to BitPay’s transaction fee.
Dossa told the Journal that his dealership isn’t exposed to any additional risk by accepting Bitcoin payments. “It’s a very easy transaction,” he said.
Although Bitcoin has been criticized for lacking payment channels, BitPay has onboarded hundreds of thousands of merchants worldwide, giving Bitcoin buyers plenty of ways to spend their BTC.
The Lamborghini became the ultimate status symbol during the 2017 Bitcoin bull market. The recent foot traffic into Vegas Auto Gallery suggests that wealthy Bitcoiners are already splurging following the latest surge in price.
Bitcoin returned to record highs on Wednesday after clearing the $28,500 hurdle. The cryptocurrency’s market capitalization passed $500 billion last week for the first time in history.
Rakuten’s Customers Can Now Use Bitcoin For Shopping
Japanese retail giant Rakuten has integrated its crypto wallet with its payment app, enabling consumers to directly load and convert their Bitcoin holdings for use in everyday spending.
Crypto-friendly Japanese retailer Rakuten is now enabling users of Rakuten Wallet, its crypto exchange subsidiary, to easily spend their cryptocurrency holdings in everyday transactions.
According to an announcement published on Feb. 24, users are now able to load up their Rakuten Pay accounts seamlessly with their wallet holdings of Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Ether (ETH). Rakuten Pay is a mobile payment app that is operative nationwide and supported at a wide range of large and medium-scale retailers.
Back in 2019, Rakuten had already enabled consumers to convert their Rakuten Group loyalty points to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Now, a deeper integration is being implemented, tying together Rakuten Wallet, Rakuten Cash (Rakuten’s e-money service) and Rakuten Pay together to support cryptocurrency spending at retailers such as McDonald’s, Seiyu and FamilyMart.
There will be no conversion fees between fiat, e-money and crypto holdings, although there is a minimum spend amount of 1,000 yen (roughly $9.40) and a monthly upper limit of around 100,000 yen (roughly $940).
To make use of the integration, users will need to be a Rakuten member and have a trading account set up for Rakuten Wallet. The company is also offering a small bonus of Rakuten points to incentivize the new service.
You Can Now Buy A Used Hyundai, Not Just A Lambo, With Bitcoin
Practical use cases for cryptocurrency payments are popping up all the time. Now, crypto holders in North America will be able to purchase their next vehicle with BTC.
HGreg, a Quebec-based vehicle superstore with 30 North American locations, will begin accepting cryptocurrency payments for new or preowned vehicles this month.
The auto dealer, which has locations in Quebec and Florida, is becoming one of the first large automotive groups to accept digital asset payments in its day-to-day operations. The company claims to have sold 500,000 vehicles over the past 25 years and maintains a warehouse in Miami that’s stocked with over 1,000 cars.
“A portion of the revenue from sales made in cryptocurrency will be kept in this format by the company,” HGreg said, indicating that it plans to hold digital assets like Bitcoin (BTC) on its balance sheet.
In Terms Of Accepting Crypto Payments, The Dealership Said:
“We’re pleased today to be at the forefront of technology, giving our customers another payment option. We also believe it will be advantageous to keep some of our assets in cryptocurrency.”
The dealership sells a wide variety of used cars, from Hyundais to Lamborghinis. Crypto users can therefore use their funds to buy practical cars in addition to luxury vehicles. HGreg claims to have the largest inventory of vehicles in Canada.
HGreg’s decision to accept cryptocurrency payments comes on the heels of Tesla’s entry into the Bitcoin market. As Cointelegraph reported last month, the electric vehicle maker allocated 7.7% of its gross cash position to Bitcoin. In the process, the company announced it will begin accepting BTC for payment.
While cryptocurrencies remain largely within the domain of investments, payment infrastructure is increasingly integrating digital assets. OLB Group recently enabled crypto payments for thousands of United States merchants, allowing businesses to accept Bitcoin, Ether (ETH), USD Coin (USDC) and Dai.
A car enthusiast who spent 37 BTC on two used Hondas in 2017 might wish he had waited…
Thailand’s Largest Movie Theater Chain Accepts Bitcoin
Major Cineplex Group is starting to accept Bitcoin as part of a crypto pilot project.
Major Cineplex Group, the largest operator of movie theaters in Thailand, has reportedly enabled some of its customers to buy tickets with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC).
According to a Thursday report by local news agency Siam Rath, Major Cineplex has announced the launch of its cryptocurrency payment pilot project in a move to support innovation and new technologies.
In order to unlock the new payment option, the company has partnered with local crypto exchange Zipmex and lo digital payment startup RapidZ.
Major Cineplex debuted the new feature at Bangkok’s Major Cineplex Ratchayothin movie theater on March 4, allowing customers to buy tickets with Bitcoin via RapidZ by scanning a QR code. Major Cineplex expects to extend the pilot to 39 more of its movie theaters across Bangkok by the end of 2021.
The news apparently marks the first time in history that Thai movie theater has accepted crypto as payment.
Narut Jiansanong, a spokesperson for Major Cineplex, said that the new initiative intends to attract more customers that invest in crypto. He said that Thailand is now estimated to have up to 1 million Bitcoin holders, accounting for 2% of the country’s total adult population.
In mid-February, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand proposed to adopt specific requirements for people willing to invest in crypto, reportedly planning to require investors to have an annual income of at least $33,250. The authority subsequently appeared to back off some of its proposed requirements, stating that its initial proposals intended to gauge investor sentiment.
US Luxury Hotel Brand To Begin Accepting Bitcoin Payments
Bitcoin penetration in the hospitality industry is set for another expansion as a U.S. luxury hotel chain adopts cryptocurrency as a payment option.
The Kessler Collection, an American luxury hotel brand, has begun accepting Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrencies as a payment option.
According to a press release issued on Tuesday, the hotel chain has partnered with crypto payment gateway service BitPay to begin accepting Bitcoin.
Other cryptos adopted include Ether (ETH), Dogecoin (DOGE) as well as four stablecoins — USD Coin (USDC), Paxos Standard (PAX), Binance USD (BUSD), and Gemini dollar (GUSD).
The Kessler Collection now becomes the latest luxury brand to partner with BitPay to enable crypto payments for their products and services.
For Fravy Collazo, the company’s chief financial officer, adopting crypto payments will also help to reduce the forex burden on international guests. Commenting on the move, the firm’s CEO Richard Kessler stated:
“This is one of the most innovative concepts in the hospitality industry right now. I believe cryptocurrency is only going to gain acceptance, and partnering with BitPay allows us to offer more choices in the payment process.”
Indeed, from airlines to travel agencies, several facets of the tourism and hospital industries have been quick to adopt cryptocurrency payments.
The onset of the coronavirus and its impact on global travel has also likely accelerated the pivot towards virtual currency payment channels amid the emerging digitization of the industry and the prioritization of contactless protocols.
In its February 2020 report, crypto travel agency Travala revealed that 68% of all bookings for the month were with virtual currencies as the company recorded its largest monthly revenue figures.
Apart from utilizing crypto payments, airlines and other stakeholders are also exploring blockchain in fighting the spread of COVID-19.
Back in February, Air France announced that it would be testing a blockchain-based system to verify COVID-19 test results for passengers.
Caruso Properties To Accept Bitcoin For Rent, Allocates 1% of Treasury To Asset
The move makes Caruso the largest real estate manager to accept bitcoin for payment.
California real estate stalwart Caruso properties will now accept bitcoin for rent on all its properties.
In a partnership with Gemini Exchange, Caruso will now let tenants of its retail and commercial properties pay their rent in bitcoin. This makes Caruso the largest real estate manager in the United States to accept the digital asset as a form of payment.
Additionally, Caruso has allocated roughly 1% of its treasury into bitcoin, according to the LA Times.
Caruso’s crypto ambitions may not end at bitcoin, though. A press release shared with CoinDesk signals interest in other aspects of the crypto economy as well, like the hottest segment of the market right now – NFTs.
“This partnership marks the beginning of a holistic, long-term relationship intended to bring cryptocurrency, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and blockchain applications to Caruso properties as a way to engage the millions of visitors throughout their ecosystem,” the release reads.
Bitcoin continues to make its way onto the balance sheets of prominent firms in the U.S., a trend that MicroStrategy kicked off last year when it converted most of its cash holdings into bitcoin.Since then, Square, Tesla and other publicly traded companies have added bitcoin to their balance sheets, as well.
Developer Rick Caruso is known for his lavish outdoor malls, luxe seaside resort near Santa Barbara and stewardship of USC as chair of the board of trustees. Next up: He’s planning to make a splash in cryptocurrency.
In what may be a real estate industry first, bitcoin will now be accepted for retail and apartment rent at the Grove shopping center and other properties owned by Caruso. The Los Angeles real estate magnate is planning other digital efforts such as using blockchain technology to support a new rewards program for shoppers.
One of his first tenants to pay in bitcoin may be Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla Inc., who operates a store selling Tesla electric cars at Caruso’s the Americana at Brand center in Glendale.
Caruso announced Wednesday that his company had invested in bitcoin as part of a partnership with Gemini, a cryptocurrency exchange founded by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. The twins gained fame for suing former Harvard classmate Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing their idea for a social network that became Facebook.
As a result of the deal, about 1% of Caruso Properties’ treasury is in bitcoin, Caruso said, although he declined to reveal the dollar value.
“I believe it’s a good hedge” to diversify the company’s finances, Caruso said, “and has already proven to be a good investment for us.”
The operator of nine outdoor malls acknowledged that there hadn’t been a clamor from tenants to pay rent in bitcoin, but Caruso said he wanted to be prepared as cryptocurrency grew more widely accepted.
The volatile digital asset has appreciated at a furious rate and has reached a point — trading roughly between $50,000 and $60,000 apiece in the last month — where it’s seen more as an investment, albeit speculative, than something to spend on everyday expenses such as rent.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell last month described bitcoin and its crypto cousins as “not really useful stores of value. And they’re not backed by anything.” Still, several big banking names, including Goldman Sachs and Mastercard International, have been making cryptocurrency moves.
Caruso compared bitcoin to credit cards, which started in the 1950s as odd rarities before becoming mainstream.
“I believe bitcoin and blockchain are going to be doing the same in the future,” Caruso said. “We want to be ahead of the curve.”
Blockchains are used for recording transactions made with cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, and have other applications Caruso may use in his planned rewards program.
Tesla announced in February that it had purchased $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin and would start accepting it as payment for its products, which include cars, solar panels and batteries.
Tesla said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that bitcoin would provide “more flexibility to further diversify and maximize returns on our cash.”
Musk has been a strong proponent of bitcoin on Twitter and elsewhere. But would he use the currency, which quadrupled in value in 2020, to pay the rent on a Tesla store?
“I haven’t talked to Elon about it,” Caruso said. “He may be the first, as a pioneer, to pay his rent in bitcoin.”
Shoppers have returned to his malls as officials have eased coronavirus restrictions, and some retailers are seeing sales revenue at pre-pandemic levels or above, Caruso said.
“There has been so much forced savings in the economy,” he said, “people are out spending money and doing it gladly because they have been cooped up for so long.”
In addition to accepting bitcoin from retailers for rent, Caruso will now take bitcoin rent payments for his apartments. He has a combined 350 units for lease at the Americana, at Palisades Village in Pacific Palisades, and at 8500 Burton Way, a luxury complex near the Grove.
Gemini, which is based in New York, will administer Caruso’s cryptocurrency operations.
“We are thrilled to partner with Caruso as they continue to push the real estate sector to new heights by embracing cryptocurrency for the benefit of both their customer experience and their own business operations,” Gemini Chief Executive Tyler Winklevoss said in a statement. “We are excited to help them execute their digital asset treasury strategy and advise them more broadly throughout their cryptocurrency journey.”
Caruso’s new loyalty rewards program is still being developed but may become a widely used element of his cryptocurrency program and is intended to hold particular appeal for younger customers, he said.
Shoppers may accumulate points on a blockchain-based credit card that could be redeemed in fairly conventional ways, such as paying for visits to Caruso’s Rosewood Miramar Beach resort in Montecito, where rooms go for more than $1,000 a night, or for more unusual rewards such as non-fungible tokens.
NFTs, as they are known, are a type of cryptocurrency that represents a unique digital asset, like a piece of art. An NFT version of Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet sold for $2.9 million in March.
A blockchain-based system gives customers flexibility to redeem rewards in ways they find most appealing, Caruso said.
“There are billions of dollars worth of unredeemed rewards programs around the country because they are not engaging,” he said. “People are quite engaged when it comes to cryptocurrency.”
Nasdaq-Listed Insurer Metromile Plans $10M Bitcoin Purchase
The company will soon accept BTC payments for insurance premiums as part of a broader embrace of digital assets.
Metromile Inc., a digital insurer headquartered in San Francisco, is making Bitcoin (BTC) a core part of its business operations, offering further evidence of the growing mainstream adoption of digital assets.
The company announced Thursday that it will soon give policyholders the option to pay for insurance and receive payment on eligible insurance claims in BTC or dollars. That makes Metromile the first insurance company to both accept premiums and pay insurance claims in cryptocurrency.
Equally as notable, the company said it will allocate $10 million toward Bitcoin in the second quarter. Although it didn’t specify an exact date, a $10 million purchase equates to roughly 175.4 BTC at current price levels.
The company said it believes that accepting crypto payments “will support its commitment to fairer insurance and promote financial resilience for policyholders as cryptocurrency becomes mainstream and a more significant portion of consumers’ assets.”
Dan Preston, Metromile’s CEO, Further Explained His Company’s Rationale:
“Supporting decentralized finance and adding bitcoin as a new payment option is the next logical step for our digital insurance platform and end-to-end AI claims automation. The result is fairer insurance for all.”
Metromile is a pay-per-mile auto insurer that calculates premium payments and coverage based on miles driven as opposed to approximations. The company claims that its insurance coverage produces an average savings of 47% per year.
The company held its fourth-quarter earnings call on March 30, during which it reported a sizable increase in policies in force. Insurance revenue was down slightly compared with 2019, which was a big year in terms of growth.
Metromile shares, which trade under the Nasdaq ticker symbol MILE, closed 2.1% down at $8.81 on Wednesday. At current values, the company has a total market capitalization of $1.11 billion.
MoneyGram To Allow Retail Bitcoin Buying In The US
MoneyGram customers in the United States will soon be able to buy Bitcoin in the country’s retail outlets across the country.
Crypto adoption among mainstream payment service companies continues to grow, with MoneyGram set to join the list.
In a release issued on Wednesday, the global payment service announced a partnership with crypto exchange and Bitcoin (BTC) ATM operator Coinme Inc., to allow United States customers to withdraw their cryptocurrency holdings for cash across its point-of-sale outlets in the country.
As part of the announcement, MoneyGram also revealed that customers will be able to buy BTC and crypto in an expansion of the existing crypto-to-cash model pioneered by the almost 20,000 cryptocurrency ATMs around the world.
Commenting On The Development, MoneyGram CEO Alex Holmes Remarked:
“This innovative partnership opens our business to an entirely new customer segment as we are the first to pioneer a crypto-to-cash model by building a bridge with Coinme to connect bitcoin to local fiat currency.”
For MoneyGram, the ability to buy Bitcoin across its brick-and-mortar retail outlets might be a significant development for would-be first-time crypto users daunted by interacting with online cryptocurrency exchanges.
MoneyGram’s announcement also likely offers another indication of the potential for a unified money transmission licensing regime, especially for cryptocurrencies.
Back in September 2020, 48 U.S. states agreed to establish a single regulatory framework for money transmitters — a move with significant implications for 78 fintech businesses like MoneyGram, with an annual turnover above $1 trillion.
MoneyGram debuting physical Bitcoin-buying across its locations in the U.S. is also another example of fintech and payment service firms warming up to cryptocurrencies. From stables like PayPal to Visa and Mastercard, debuting some form of crypto-related feature is becoming a norm across the industry.
Back in March, PayPal began allowing U.S. customers to pay with Bitcoin across millions of online merchants on the platform. In April, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman said the company’s crypto commerce was on course to reach $200 million in volume within a few months.
Luxury Yacht Club Accepts Bitcoin
The company said it expects to see 40% growth from Bitcoin payments in the first year.
A luxury yacht firm has announced it will begin accepting cryptocurrency for its services and expects to see an immediate 40% growth increase from Bitcoin (BTC) payments in the first year.
In addition to accepting Bitcoin payments, the firm also announced that it would base its web and mobile services on blockchain technology as it provided more transactional security than any other system.
The firm stated that it expects to see $6.5 million in revenue in the coming year, primarily from its yacht charter service and the bespoke experiences it hosts for clients.
Co-founded by two Colombians and operational in North America, Prime Experiences has apparently ear-marked Miami as a possible future source of collaboration. The company’s president, José David Tobón, said the firm was already in talks with Miami’s crypto-friendly mayor, Francis Suarez, who has previously pushed for progressive cryptocurrency laws, and recently suggested Miami’s citizens should be able to receive salaries in Bitcoin.
“With this type of currency many doors have opened, we are currently in talks with the Miami Mayor, who is interested in expanding bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the city. Miami could be the next Silicon Valley as most of the large companies such as Tesla, Facebook and Google are looking to enter the city,” said Tobón.
The range of services opting to accept cryptocurrency as a means of payment has grown more varied in recent years. Once largely the currency of choice for mostly web-based services, more and more physical establishments have started to accept crypto of late, including real-estate firms, auction houses, music schools, and baseball teams.
American Convenience Store Chain Now Accepts Bitcoin Payments
Mid-Atlantic convenience store giant Sheetz is set to accept Bitcoin and crypto payments across its outlets.
Retail crypto payment acceptance in the United States continues to grow as Sheetz announces plans to allow the use of digital currencies in its outlets across the country.
In a release issued on Thursday, the convenience store chain announced its partnership with digital payments provider Flexa to enable customers to pay for products and services with cryptocurrencies.
As part of the announcement, Sheetz revealed that the crypto payment option was for both in-store items and gas pumps at their over 600 outlets across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia.
Cryptocurrencies that will be accepted by the convenience store chain include Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Dogecoin (DOGE), among others.
The company’s crypto payment adoption move is also an extension of its business relationship with point-of-sale payment provider NCR.
Apart from enabling Bitcoin and crypto payment, Sheetz also plans to allow customers to link their Flexa-enabled payment apps with the company’s loyalty reward program.
Indeed, crypto is seeing significant adoption in the rebates and loyalty rewards arena, with digital currencies being seen as viable for rewarding patrons.
The Sheetz announcement now adds convenience stores to the growing list of businesses accepting crypto payments in the United States. Back in March, luxury hotel brand The Kessler Collection debuted crypto and stablecoin payment options for guests.
As previously reported by Cointelegraph, a Mastercard survey from earlier in May revealed that up to 40% of respondents across the globe expressed interest to use crypto for payments in 2022.
Indeed, retail crypto payment adoption has been on the rise in recent times, with payment giant PayPal entering the fray back in 2020. In March, the company began allowing U.S. customers to pay with Bitcoin for online shopping.
By April, PayPal was forecasting its crypto commerce revenue exceeding $200 million in only a few months of deploying cryptocurrency payment solutions.
Miami Real Estate Firm Accepts Crypto Deposits For Condos After Conference
Driven by momentum from the Miami Bitcoin event, luxury condo development E11EVEN Hotel and Residences has already secured its first crypto deposit.
Miami-based E11EVEN Hotel and Residences is claiming to be the first real estate company to allow deposits for property purchases in the form of cryptocurrency.
Speaking to Fox Business, company and condominium project co-founder, Marc Roberts, stated the enthusiasm for crypto has been “really astounding”.
Roberts noted that local interest in crypto assets had piqued amid the recent Bitcoin Miami conference — which took place earlier this month and drew crowds of approximately 50,000 according to its organizers.
He noted there has been a “tremendous response” to E11EVEN’s announced support for crypto, adding it had already collected its first deposit in crypto before officially announcing it would accept digital assets.
Roberts added that E11EVEN is now roughly one month away from collecting its second crypto deposit, predicting the down payment will be worth between 10% and 15% of the property’s sale price.
The company offers plush high-rise residences in Miami’s Park West district. Prices for the lavish units start at $377,400, according to real estate agent Miami Residential. The 65 story condominium has 375 units, with the penthouse expecting to fetch as much as $10 million.
Roberts described supporting crypto as one the firm’s “greatest decisions,” warning: “those that don’t embrace [crypto] will be left behind:”
“I think the whole movement is trending towards more buyers paying in crypto and we are very excited to be the first people to take cryptocurrency for deposits on real estate.”
The real estate mogul acknowledged the volatile nature of digital assets, but was confident that the younger generation is unperturbed by price fluctuations and have already embraced digital assets.
When asked if he immediately liquidates crypto deposits to eliminate the volatility, Roberts offered little clarity, stating: “It’s all so new and we’re studying and we’re trying to embrace the movement.”
In mid-May, Cointelegraph reported that investors could buy luxury apartments in Portugal using Dogecoin among other digital assets.
Also in May, it was reported that Miami’s Arte Surfside luxury apartments, home to Ivanka Trump, were accepting payment for real estate in multiple cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Canadian Property Firm Buys Bitcoin In Hopes Of Eventually Scrapping Condo Fees
The firm bought 0.4 bitcoin and plans to buy more every month. Canadian Property Firm Buys Bitcoin In Hopes Of Eventually Scrapping Condo Fees
Saskatchewan-based Thornton Place Condominium Corp is hoping to eventually do away with condo fees by investing in bitcoin.
* In an announcement, Thornton Place in Regina said it has purchased 0.4 bitcoin with CAD$25,000 (US$20,050) through the exchange Kraken at an average price of CAD$62,500 (US$52,104) per bitcoin including fees and expenses.
* The buy is the first of an ongoing series of planned purchases, the company said, with Thornton Place having allocated an added CAD$700.00 per month to the purchase of bitcoin going forward.
* The company said it has taken direct physical custody of the bitcoin purchased instead of using a custodial service or exchange-traded fund with a management fee.
* Thornton Place Condominium said it sees a 10-year time horizon for the investment and it has “taken the first steps” which it hopes will lead to the elimination of fees for residents.
* “Our board determined that a small investment of approximately 5% of the overall reserve fund and 6% of the monthly operating fund contributions into bitcoin will permit Thornton Place to gain a limited exposure to a high-performing asset class without jeopardizing any of the long-term goals of the corporation and its owners,” said the firm.
Tokenized Real Estate Inches Forward Despite Legal, Technical Hurdles
A rowdy virtual panel showcased the hurdles and promise of real estate on chain.
An unusually rowdy (and informative) virtual panel at the Security Token Summit yesterday reveals the fractious difficulties of bringing regulated assets on-chain — as well as the promise and progress of the tokenized real estate use case despite those hurdles.
Michael Flight of the Liberty Fund, Jude Regev of Jointer.io, and Mohsin Masud of AKRU spoke for 30 minutes on the state of securitized real estate in a free-flowing and often-contentious discussion that highlighted the complexities that arise when decentralized finance and stringent governmental oversight meet. Host Kiran Arif of AKRU seldom spoke.
When asked why tokenized real estate is so exciting, Flight pointed to the size of the market and to how few investors can gain exposure to it.
“You’ve got 280 trillion dollars of real estate assets, and tokenized real estate is gonna let all investors into that asset class,” he said.
Mohsin concurred, noting that high prices and regulations have traditionally kept average investors out of the real estate market, aside from purchases like homes.
“We want to offer these securities, these asset-backed securities, to people who traditionally haven’t had access.”
While the promise of the use case is significant and has been pondered over for close to a decade, aside from a handful of experiments there has been little significant traction.
Part of the reason, according to Regev, is the friction from bringing a regulated asset to a decentralized system.
“It can’t work,” he said.
He compared current digital real estate to “digital paper,” saying that all of the legal requirements and barriers surrounding real estate remain functionally identical regardless of whether its a digital or physical format, and as a result unaccredited investors still can’t have access.
Likewise, he expressed doubt that such tokens would ever be listed on exchanges or achieve any significant liquidity, rendering the use case useless.
“You remember the days of timesharing, it sounds so good? And when you’re into it, you can’t get out? That’s pretty much what it is,” he said, comparing tokenization to a “magic word” with little substance.
Something Is Better Than Nothing
Mohsin rejected many of these points, pointing out that REITs and other real estate-backed products have managed to achieve significant liquidity. Moreover, he noted that there are 12.5 million accredited investor households in the US who could benefit (more recent data suggests there are 13.6 million), even if tokenized real estate doesn’t fully “democratize” the market.
Flight also pointed out the significant advanced in utility that can be made with tokenized real estate. He said that Liberty is working with centralized crypto lender Blockfi to allow real estate-backed security tokens to be used as collateral, and even to earn interest as a yield-bearing asset.
While he remained suspicious regardless of these points, Regev also made a stirring call for platforms and issuers taking responsibility for users if the use case is ever to gain significant traction.
“We need to protect the simple person who is busy, busy to survive, and wants their money to work for them.”
Nasdaq-Listed Canadian Firm Mogo Launches Bitcoin Cashback Mortgage Program
Canada’s residential mortgage market is estimated at C$1.7 trillion.
Mogo Finance Technology Inc., a Canadian fintech firm listed on Nasdaq (NASDAQ:MOGO) and Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX:MOGO), is now giving its members who take out a new mortgage or refinance an existing one the chance to earn cash to buy bitcoin using its bitcoin (BTC, +2.35%) rewards account.
In an announcement on Monday, Vancouver-based Mogo said the cashback rewards program now includes “MogoMortgage” and will give users up to C$3,100 (US$2,461) in cashback rewards. The rewards are distributed in dollars into clients’ accounts which, in turn, allows clients to buy bitcoin through the MogoCrypto program within the Mogo app.
Canada’s residential mortgage market is estimated at C$1.7 trillion (US$1.35 trillion). According to the company, this new scheme allows Canadians to get a mortgage while earning a cash reward to purchase bitcoin.
“Given the volatility and speculative nature of bitcoin, there’s an increasing number of Canadians who are looking for ways to participate without risking their own money, and our bitcoin rewards program meets this demand,” said David Feller, CEO of Mogo.
MogoMortgage is currently available to Mogo Members in a number of selected provinces including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
The rewards program already applies to the Mogo Visa Platinum prepaid cardholders, allowing users to earn 1% cashback on purchases in Canada and 2% for foreign transactions, which can then be exchanged for bitcoin within the app.
In February, Mogo announced it would acquire a 19.99% stake in the Canadian cryptocurrency exchange Coinsquare with the rights to increase ownership up to 40%.
Mogo was founded in 2003 and had an initial public offering on the TSX in June 2015 and has a market cap capitalization of over CA$500 million.
In December, the company announced its plan to make a corporate investment of up to CA$1.5 million (US$1.19 million) in bitcoin and said it will consider additional purchases throughout 2021.
At the time of publication, Mogo shares listed on the Nasdaq were trading up 4% at US$8.82 and up 2.63% at CA$10.91 on the TSX.
Beauty And The Bitcoin: Female-Focused Brands Accept Crypto Payments Driving Adoption
Will beauty brands drive female adoption by accepting cryptocurrency payments and is there even a demand to pay with crypto besides stacking stats?
While Bitcoin (BTC) may be considered as a store of value for many, some consumers across the globe may be thinking otherwise. Recent data has revealed that 46 million people in the United States plan to use cryptocurrency to pay for things such as groceries or real estate.
Payments giant Visa further revealed in July that its crypto-enabled cards processed over $1 billion in total spending during the first half of this year.
As such, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that major brands like Starbucks, Home Depot and Target have started putting Bitcoin on their balance sheets. Yet, as crypto payments gain popularity and become easier to incorporate, smaller brands — specifically those geared toward women — are starting to accept crypto to help drive female adoption.
Beauty Industry Bets On Bitcoin
For example, the billion-dollar beauty industry has taken a recent interest in Bitcoin. Ann McFerran, CEO and founder of Glamnetic — a magnetic eyelash beauty brand — told Cointelegraph that the company now accepts Bitcoin, Ethereum (ETH) and Dogecoin (DOGE) through a recent partnership with Bitcoin payment provider BitPay. According to McFerran, Glamentic is one of the very first female-founded beauty brands to support crypto payments.
McFerran shared that she started investing in cryptocurrencies in 2017, yet noticed that the space was heavily male-dominated.
To McFerran’s point, research firm BDC Consulting found that only 8% of all crypto users were women in 2019. After launching Glamentic in July 2019, McFerran was determined to incorporate crypto payments into the brand to encourage women to use cryptocurrency:
“The beauty industry is a sector where crypto payments aren’t widely accepted. I wanted Glamnetic to be one of the first brands to support crypto payments since I’m a huge believer in cryptocurrency and because I want to bring more women into the space.”
McFerran further mentioned that she believes there is still a lot of stigma associated with how crypto is being used today. “It was certainly not a secure payment method to begin with,” she remarked. McFerran noted that events such as Silk Road and Mt. Gox have further resulted in women’s disinterest in crypto: “Even to this day, women are not fully educated when it comes to crypto. I want to educate others so they can understand the risks and what they are potentially missing out on.”
Although transacting with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for beauty products may encourage women to become interested in cryptocurrencies, this is just one part of the equation. Sanja Kon, CEO of Utrust — a banking system for crypto payments — told Cointelegraph that educating women around crypto depends heavily on a brand’s ability to reach their consumer base with the correct educational tools:
“More beauty brands adopting cryptocurrency payments can increase awareness, but not necessarily usage. Women need to feel comfortable using cryptocurrency as a payment method. In order for that to happen, brands should provide support and educational content to advocate adoption.”
According to Kon, Utrust is facilitating this movement by investing resources into educational plans with the company’s merchants. McFerran also noted that Glamnetic has started creating TikTok videos to educate consumers on cryptocurrency, which can make a big impact given the notion that younger consumers are more likely to own crypto. PYMNTS.com found that 27% of all millennials either own or have owned one type of cryptocurrency.
McFerran further remarked that Glamnetic will be releasing a magnetic eyelash collection inspired by Dogecoin to help drive adoption: “I think people will be more open to the idea of crypto if you turn that concept into an entire beauty product.”
While Glamnetic may be one of the first female-founded beauty companies to accept crypto payments, a handful of larger cosmetic brands have also started incorporating crypto in other ways to drive female participation.
Aubrey Strobel, head of communications at Lolli — an online Bitcoin rewards platform — told Cointelegraph that the company works with leading retailers including Sephora, Ulta, EM Cosmetics and Glossier. According to Strobel, women make up 30% of Lolli’s user base. “Historically, women have lagged behind men in the space, but lead a vast majority of many households’ purchasing decisions,” Strobel said.
Strobel explained that companies offering Bitcoin rewards to consumers are attractive to many shoppers, especially women who want to “stack sats” when making purchases online.
This notion is highlighted in a recent report from The Defiant, titled “Global Report on Women, Cryptocurrency and Financial Independence.” In this document, a woman named Christine noted that she occasionally learns how to manage cryptocurrency by practicing with small transactions.
She stated that she has been stacking sats to accumulate small amounts of Bitcoin over a long period of time. “When I travel, I like to buy coffee and other things with it,” Christine further remarked.
Will Bitcoin Catch On In The Beauty Industry?
While it’s too soon to tell if crypto payments for beauty products will drive female participation within crypto, a small impact is already being exhibited. McFerran shared that Glamnetic has already processed a handful of crypto transactions from women consumers.
Yuvi Alpert, founder and CEO of Noémie — a jewelry company that also recently incorporated crypto payments — also told Cointelegraph that the brand has currently only seen crypto sales with their female customers.
Although this may be the case, findings show that the top products females are likely to spend cryptocurrency on are travel and leisure, real estate and furniture or appliances. Yet, while crypto payments may be slow to catch on in the beauty industry, brands incorporating cryptocurrency transactions will likely gain a competitive advantage.
According to Kon, more brands, in general, are starting to understand the advantage of accepting cryptocurrencies as a payment method:
“They will be able to drastically reduce their payment processing fees, as blockchain allows to cut all the traditional intermediaries, such as banks, payment processors and credit card schemes. Additionally, these brands will be able to eliminate chargebacks and fraud, as well as increase their revenue by reaching out to new customers.”
Bitcoin Payments For Real Estate Gain Traction As Crypto Holders Seek Monetization
Could crypto payments for real estate become another notable way for people to invest their BTC, or is the learning curve too steep for wider adoption?
Crypto investors are betting big on real estate this year as the cryptocurrency market continues to grow. New York Digital Investment Group (NYDIG) recently conducted a survey that found that 46 million Americans own Bitcoin, equating to 22% of all adults. While optimistic, some cryptocurrency investors have expressed concerns regarding the security, custody and volatility of digital assets.
For example, Nickel Digital Asset Management, a regulated European investment manager dedicated to the crypto market, surveyed institutional investors and wealth managers from the United States and Europe who collectively have $275 billion in assets under management. Findings show that 76% of these individuals are concerned about the security of their digital assets. The same percentage said this about the size of the market and liquidity, followed by 71% who see the regulatory environment for the crypto market as a major issue.
This in mind, many crypto holders have started investing Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies into less risky assets such as real estate. Ben Shaoul, managing partner of Magnum Real Estate Group, told Cointelegraph that the company has recently been receiving more requests to sell real estate to cryptocurrency holders. According to Shaoul, Magnum began conducting crypto for real estate transactions about three years ago:
“We hadn’t tackled this before since most real estate developers didn’t understand crypto paymements. But we understood what it meant and how we could structure a sale for cryptocurrency. With the help of our legal team, we figured out how to conduct crypto transactions with the consent of regulators. We first sold a few residential units and then we sold a retail condominium in New York about three years ago for cryptocurrency.”
Eric Hedvat, chief operating officer of Jet Real Estate and a special consultant for Magnum, further told Cointelegraph that given the fast-paced growth of today’s crypto market, BTC payments for real estate is more important than ever before since it offers crypto investors an opportunity to grow with cash flow: “The cryptocurrency market has created a vast network of new wealth that wants to find traditional assets to invest in like real estate. There also aren’t many commercial properties for sale to buy with Bitcoin.”
Specifically speaking, Shaoul noted that the income generated from the retail condominium building that Magnum sold for $15.3 million in BTC during 2019 is all credit. “M&T bank has been a tenant in this building since it was built. They are a multi-billion-dollar bank.” This is an important detail, as Shaoul further commented that individuals who have created new wealth with cryptocurrency don’t have a way to monetize it or create a steady income stream:
“This property has over a million dollars a year of free cash flow. This is a very attractive offering for someone sitting on wealth they’ve created in cryptocurrency. This gives them an opportunity to monetize and effectively collect a bond moving forward.”
This has especially become the case due to interest rates in the United States. To put this in perspective, a recent survey conducted by the Financial Times and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business found that elevated inflation may make the Federal Reserve raise U.S. interest rates at least twice by the end of 2023.
“In an environment where interest rates are where they are now, you can’t monetize into cash and leave your money in the bank and convert,” Shaoul said, adding that as a result, Magnum has been seeing a lot of cash move out of both the crypto and equities markets into hard assets such as real estate.
Piper Moretti, CEO and founder of The Crypto Realty Group, told Cointelegraph that crypto for real estate transactions is indeed becoming more common. Moretti shared that her firm currently has real estate listings available for Bitcoin in Tulum, Uruguay, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica.
Although this is the case, Moretti mentioned that many buyers purchasing real estate with crypto are taking loans out against their cryptocurrency.
“Because of capital gain issues and the belief that Bitcoin’s price will reach $100,000 by the end of this year, people are taking loans out against their crypto. This way, they can keep their crypto and still monetize,” she remarked.
Joseph Kelly, CEO of Unchained Capital — a Bitcoin financial services company — confirmed this, noting that the firm has seen about 30%–40% of its loan originations go toward real estate.
But Cash Is Still King For Sellers
While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are being used to purchase real estate, it’s important to note that, oftentimes, sellers prefer cash to crypto when dealing with these transactions. Moretti explained, “If a seller receives multiple offers, 99% of the time they’re going to push the cash offers to the top of the pile, even if it’s a crypto conversion because more likely than not they will be receiving the cash at closing.”
To put this into perspective, Sonny Singh, chief commercial officer of BitPay — a Bitcoin payments processor — told Cointelegraph that BitPay has facilitated $100 million in real estate transactions in the past five years. Singh mentioned that crypto transactions can easily be converted to U.S. dollars:
“The first thing that needs to happen is for the title or escrow company to be on board with this process. Sellers can also use the companies BitPay already works with. Buyers can then pay in Bitcoin, and we exchange that to cash. The escrow company now gets the Bitcoin at a cash-pay spot rate immediately. The entire process takes one day, and there is a 1% fee to initiate the transaction.”
Although this is typically the case, Shaoul shared that Magnum keeps a percentage of cryptocurrency obtained through real estate transactions in the company’s treasury. “We keep a portion of this to maintain the same percentage of crypto we’ve been balancing for the last six to seven months.” In order to do this, Shaoul shared that the firm is working with the crypto investment company Galaxy Digital to help manage cryptocurrency gained from real estate transactions.
Are Bitcoin Payments For Real Estate Just Hype?
While it’s certainly notable that crypto holders have been seeing more opportunities to purchase real estate with digital assets, some industry experts believe that this recent trend has become overhyped.
For instance, Natalia Karayaneva, CEO of Propy — a real estate transaction platform powered by blockchain technology — told Cointelegraph that many of the stories in the media today focus on crypto payments for real estate as if this is a new development. But to Karayaneva’s point, accepting crypto payments dates back to 2014, when BitPay helped facilitate the sale of a Lake Tahoe property that sold for $1.6 million in BTC. In 2014 , a tech entrepreneur also listed his Tiburon, California home for sale for $3.6 million, which was payable in Bitcoin.
Karayaneva believes that blockchain technology being leveraged to facilitate crypto-to-crypto transactions will be the real game-changer for the real estate industry. It is possible to close a real estate transaction entirely in Bitcoin, without any cash conversion involved. Karayaneva explained that conducting transactions this way saves time for both the buyer and seller:
“This saves up to 1% of exchange fees, and blockchain crypto transactions are 100% transparent and immutable. They also allow for smart contracts that let a user create, audit and authenticate documents from any point of the world, in real-time. This eliminates the need for middlemen and minimizes the risk of any payment disputes, as the transaction is completed only if all requirements are met.”
Karayaneva further mentioned that many escrow companies today still don’t want to be involved with crypto transactions, which is why a smart-contract framework is a more attractive option.
Moretti, however, begs to differ, noting that using a blockchain to conduct real estate transactions can be difficult since it doesn’t go through the normal escrow process. “I know this can be done, but it’s clunky. There are also good funds laws we adhere to in California, and it may be hard to get regulators on board with such a solution.”
While it’s too soon to tell whether blockchain technology will be the missing link for real estate transactions, it’s clear that more crypto holders are using Bitcoin to purchase properties today. “People are looking to move unstable assets to a stable asset. And what’s more stable than real estate?” Singh remarked.
Unique Bitcoin-Backed Home Loan Refinancing Deal In California
Glen Oaks Escrow has made its first BTC-backed refinancing of a property in San Diego.
One of Southern California’s largest independent escrow companies, Glen Oaks Escrow, has announced its first property refinancing with a Bitcoin-backed loan.
The company stated that this is the first time a refinancing has been completed using Bitcoin as collateral. In the July 28 announcement it added that it has previously facilitated a number of real estate transactions that used BTC as the form of payment.
Glen Oaks Escrow, which started accepting Bitcoin payments in 2018, views the transaction as proof that Bitcoin’s value proposition is becoming clearer to debtors and creditors. Company Chief Operating Officer Joe Curtis commented:
“Seeing a lender use cryptocurrency for a refinance shows us that this payment method is continuing to grow in how it’s used and who it’s used by.”
He added that seeing the lender rather than the home buyer using BTC in a real estate transaction “tells us that this technology has the potential to continue becoming more prominent, even if it is still considered new to our industry.”
In another crypto related real estate development, a Dogecoin aficionado from the U.S. state of Utah has offered a 10% discount on his property if the buyer pays in DOGE.
On July 27, a local TV station reported that the owner listed the $389,000 home for sale and will accept seven cryptocurrencies but prefers Dogecoin due to his belief the 10% discount would quickly be made up for by Dogecoin price appreciation. After applying the discount, the amount of DOGE required to make the purchase would be around 1.7 million tokens at current prices.
Way back in 2017, Cointelegraph reported on the first-ever BTC real estate transaction which occurred in Texas.
These two new stories are the latest positive developments in the real estate sector. On July 23, Cointelegraph reported that an increasing number of real estate firms are accepting payments in cryptocurrency.
CEO and founder of The Crypto Realty Group, Piper Moretti, told Cointelegraph that many buyers purchasing real estate with digital assets are taking loans out against their cryptocurrency, so they can still benefit from holding coins while putting the value to work.
In May, it was reported that buyers could even use Dogecoin to make a property purchase in Portugal. FNTX Capital Suisse partnered with Portugal-based property developer 355 Developments to offer condos for crypto in the capital, Lisbon.
New Spanish Bill Aims To Enable Mortgage Payments In Crypto
The draft bill intends to allow property owners to pay mortgages with crypto and authorize the real estate sector to use their own crypto for mortgage purchases in Spain.
Spanish lawmakers are backing a new legal initiative to legitimize the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry by proposing a new bill on digital transformation.
The new draft bill was introduced by Spanish political party the People’s Party (PP). It aims to drive innovation in multiple industries through regulating emerging technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC).
As part of the draft bill, the PP proposed to legalize the usage of cryptocurrency and blockchain tech for mortgage and insurance purposes. Specifically, the proposal aims to allow property owners to pay mortgages with crypto and authorize the real estate sector to use their own cryptocurrency for mortgage purchases.
The draft law also calls Spanish banks to deploy blockchain tech for managing mortgage and insurance by automating related processes using smart contracts.
The draft bill proposes establishing major tax breaks and patent benefits for companies involved in the crypto and blockchain industry in Spain. The bill specifically suggests that local tech innovation startups should have a 90% reduction on the cost of the national patent and registration fees in the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office.
Additionally, the new initiative also proposes to create the National Crypto Asset Council for public advising purposes, bringing together representatives from the Directorate General of the Treasury, the National Securities Market Commission and the Bank of Spain.
The news comes soon after the Spanish parliament approved a new law requiring residents to declare their crypto holdings as part of the country’s efforts to combat tax evasion and fraud in early July. The law intends to extend the scope of regulating the Spanish crypto market, establishing major new requirements for holding and trading cryptocurrencies.
Cinema Operator AMC Plans To Accept BTC By 2022
AMC chairman and CEO Adam Aron revealed the American cinema giant is looking to accept Bitcoin payments for movie tickets in response to customer demand.
American cinema operator AMC Entertainment is aiming to accept Bitcoin (BTC) payments for movie tickets by 2022.
Speaking during a Monday conference call regarding the firm’s Q2 results announced earlier the same day, AMC chairman and CEO Adam Aron revealed that the cinema chain intends to have the infrastructure ready to accept BTC payments for online movie tickets by the end of 2021.
While details regarding AMC’s plan to accept Bitcoin are scant, Aron reported strong demand for buying movie tickets with crypto from the firm’s customers.
AMC’s Q2 results showed significant improvements compared to last year, reporting $444 million in revenue compared to Q2 2020’s $18.9 million in revenue. Net losses also declined from $561 million or $5.38 per share to $349 million or $0.71 per share year-over-year.
Along with adopting BTC payments, AMC also announced plans to open more than a dozen locations across the United States, Europe and the Middle East this year.
The chairman also made the unlikely claim that he had first learned about crypto assets after being elected to the board of Centricus Acquisition on May 6 — one week before Centricus acquired blockchain technology firm Arqit.
AMC’s impressive Q2 results come just one year after the firm appeared destined for bankruptcy, with the cinema operator being forced to close venues as the global coronavirus pandemic spread.
Amid the pandemic, notorious Reddit-based pump-and-dump group r/Wallstreetbets converged on AMC shares to drive a 900% gain in its stock during January. According to data from TradingView, the price of AMC stock is up 1,200% year-to-date after rallying from roughly $2.60 to $34 as of this writing.
Billionaire’s Swiss Luxury Hotel To Accept Bitcoin Payments
The Chedi Andermatt, a luxury hotel controlled by billionaire Samih Sawiris, said it will allow guests to use Bitcoin to pay for their stay in the Swiss Alps.
The hotel will accept both Bitcoin and Ethereum and will consider taking other cryptocurrencies in the future, it said in a statement.
A top-end suite at the five-star Chedi Andermatt, about a 110 kilometers (70 miles) drive from Zurich, can cost thousands of dollars per night, according to the hotel’s website.
The resort began considering taking cryptocurrencies as a payment option about four years ago, but waited until it was able to ensure transactions would be secure and price fluctuations could be avoided.
It’s partnering with payment-service provider Worldline as well as Swiss crypto service provider Bitcoin Suisse for the endeavor. Payments by cryptocurrency will be immediately converted into Swiss francs once they are confirmed, the hotel said.
Cryptocurrencies have surged in popularity and interest over the past two years even as valuations for the digital money have swung wildly and their everyday practicality as a payment system has remained challenging.
The Chedi opened in 2013 as the cornerstone of a Sawiris-led redevelopment of Andermatt, a ski resort that had fallen out of favor. Sawiris, whose fortune comes from Egyptian real estate, teamed up with other investors to spend more than $1 billion to revive the town.
“We are making a clear statement to our hotel guests that we are open to new technologies and at the same time offer a new payment experience as an additional service,” Jean-Yves Blatt, general manager at the Chedi, said in a statement.
Switzerland has been among the most enthusiastic European countries in embracing cryptocurrencies. Zug, known for its low corporate taxes and home to commodities traders, said last year it would begin accepting Bitcoin as payment for taxes. Also a hub for cryptocurrency firms, Zug has accepted Bitcoin as payment for some services since 2016 and inspired the ski resort of Zermatt to do the same.
Chicago Animal Shelter Now Accepts Bitcoin
“We are eager to connect with the growing cryptocurrency community, who can help sustain the future of animal welfare in Chicago and save animals’ lives,” said PAWS Chicago CEO Susanna Homan.
PAWS Chicago, an animal rescue organization in the midwest city aiming to have shelters stop using euthanasia for its resident cats and dogs, is now accepting crypto donations.
In a Tuesday announcement, PAWS Chicago said it would be accepting Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Dogecoin (DOGE), and other tokens to support its operations ahead of its new hospital for homeless cats and dogs.
The organization is hoping to target “a tech-savvy demographic of potential donors,” promoting crypto donations with digital billboards featuring a dog shooting lasers out of its eyes.
According to the organization, crypto donations may be used to further its goals of reducing the number of shelter animals euthanized in the United States by spaying and neutering cats and dogs. PAWS Chicago said it has provided 300,000 such surgeries in its 25 years of operation, helping reduce the number of homeless animals killed in the Chicago area by 91%. The new medical center aims to improve its efforts to save animals.
“We are eager to connect with the growing cryptocurrency community, who can help sustain the future of animal welfare in Chicago and save animals’ lives,” said PAWS Chicago CEO Susanna Homan.
Shop.com Now Accepts Bitcoin Payments After Partnership With BitPay
The e-commerce portal offers the option to pay with Bitcoin, Ether and Dogecoin as well as several major dollar-pegged stablecoins.
United States-based e-commerce platform Shop.com is the latest site to adopt cryptocurrency payments.
The company, which is owned by Market America, announced its partnership with crypto payment service provider BitPay, which will allow it to accept payments in several cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC).
The new partnership enables Shop.com users to select the BitPay option during checkout to pay via their crypto wallets. Currently, users have the option to pay with Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ether (ETH), Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC), Dogecoin (DOGE) and Litecoin (LTC), as well as five U.S. dollar-pegged stablecoins.
Describing the partnership as the next chapter in doing business, Shop.com president and chief operating officer Steve Ashley said that the BitPay integration is available in all the countries in which Market America operates, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Malaysia.
BitPay is used by companies that usually deal with fiat currencies to act as a gateway for crypto payments. Businesses such as Las Vegas Auto Gallery and American luxury hotels The Kessler Collection signed a deal with BitPay to accept Bitcoin payments.
A recent study by the crypto payments provider revealed that both crypto holders and non-owners show clear interest in crypto payments.
As Cointelegraph reported, as many as 93% of responding crypto users indicated that they would consider making purchases in crypto in the future, while 59% of consumers who have never held crypto are interested in using it to make purchases.
Verifone To Enable Crypto Payments At Major Retailers Through BitPay
One of the world’s largest point-of-sale providers has partnered with BitPay to allow U.S.-based merchants to accept crypto payments.
Crypto payments are becoming increasingly popular as Bitcoin (BTC) and other digital assets continue to go mainstream. This has become the case for both crypto holders and non-crypto owners who are primarily interested in the concept of using cryptocurrencies for payments.
Recent data has found that 93% of crypto users surveyed would consider making purchases in crypto. The report further revealed that 59% of consumers who don’t hold crypto would be interested in using it to make purchases in the future.
As such, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that major payment providers like Mastercard have been ramping up their efforts to support crypto payments moving forward. In addition, social media giants such as Twitter are also working to enable cryptocurrency payments through mechanisms like tipping.
Verifone Launches Crypto Payments
It’s important to point out that online merchants and physical retailers must begin accepting crypto payments to ensure mainstream adoption. According to findings from Fundera, only about 2,300 businesses in the United States accepted Bitcoin payments at the end of 2020.
In order to advance this, Verifone — one of the largest point-of-sale providers in the world — announced today that the extension of BitPay’s blockchain payment technology will enable cryptocurrency transactions.
Mike Pulli, CEO of Verifone, told Cointelegraph that by the end of this year, merchants leveraging Verifone’s in-store and eCommerce Cloud Services platforms in the United States will be able to accept cryptocurrency payments. Pulli added that Verifone has been seeking alternative payment methods recently, and will now support crypto transactions due to the mainstream’s rising interest in cryptocurrency:
“We feel that having crypto available on our terminals will open up more options and opportunities for consumers, which is what Verifone aims to do. This opens up a currency that has never before been seen on a terminal and we want to be at the forefront of this trend.”
Although Pulli was unable to reveal which online and physical merchants will begin to support crypto payments, the company’s reach is substantial and will therefore likely have an impact on crypto payment adoption. To put this in perspective, Verifone operates 36 million point-of-sale, or POS, devices and has processed over 10 billion transactions, generating over $350 billion in volume per year.
Stephen Pair, CEO of BitPay, told Cointelegraph that while BitPay regularly enables merchants to process crypto transactions, Verifone is by far the biggest partnership to date: “Verifone customers are requesting to have crypto payments. This has become the case as there are millions of crypto users today that have blockchain wallets on their phones that they want to leverage.”
To Pair’s point, head of alternative payment methods at Verifone Jeremy Belostock told Cointelegraph that the company is witnessing a major shift in consumer behavior due to reasons such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically speaking, Belostock noted that, more than ever before, consumers are trusting mobile wallets, looking at these as quick and easy payment methods:
“There has been a shift from having a credit card to having a trusted mobile app that consumers want to leverage for spending. We are tapping into this market to make crypto mainstream.”
As Easy As Using Venmo Or Paypal, But For Crypto Transactions
Belostock explained that Verifone’s advanced payment engine designed to support crypto transactions functions the same as its terminals that accept Venmo or PayPal payments. The only difference is that both physical and online merchants will now be able to accept Bitcoin, Ethereum (ETH), Dogecoin (DOGE), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC), Litecoin (LTC), and five USD-pegged stablecoins Gemini dollar (GUSD), USD Coin (USDC), Pax Dollar (USDP), Maker DAO (DAI) and Binance USD (BUSD).
Moreover, the solution will initially support major wallets including Blockchain.com, BRD, Metamask and BitPay. Belostock further mentioned that when paying with crypto via a Verifone device, consumers will go through an easy process, similar to using a credit card:
“When a consumer goes to pay at a physical store, they will see the amount due and the screen will give them the different options for which crypto wallet to use. They will choose a wallet and a QR-code will surface. They will then scan the QR-code directly from their blockchain wallet and choose the cryptocurrency they want to pay with.”
From the merchant’s perspective, Pulli explained that accepting crypto payments via Verifone is the same as accepting another form of tender, noting that there is no added risk involved: “All that’s required from our merchants is a software update since they are connected to our cloud platform. Even though consumers are sending crypto from their wallets, merchants will only see their local currency.”
This is an important point, as Belostock shared that many of Verifone’s merchants have expressed concern about exposure to crypto’s volatility.
“The big question here is if there is any risk involved,” he remarked. Yet, unlike other solutions that allow merchants to decide whether or not to accept crypto after transactions are settled, Verifone’s merchants must accept the U.S. dollar.
“This is mainly because of the refund aspect, but it also protects against volatility,” said Belostock. He added that in the case of a refund, consumers will get their crypto back for the amount of their original purchase.
Will Mainstream Adoption Follow?
While it’s clear that crypto payments are on the rise, some concerns remain that may hamper mainstream adoption in the United States.
On Sept. 24, for example, the People’s Bank of China, or PBoC, published guidelines to crack down on crypto activity throughout the country. These measures intend to “cut off payment channels, dispose of relevant websites and mobile applications in accordance with the law.”
Although this may impact crypto’s reach, Bill Zielke, BitPay’s chief marketing officer, told Cointelegraph that it’s too early to tell what effect China’s measures may have in the U.S. or globally: “We do see positive growth and huge potential with the Verifone announcement today in the U.S. as another way for merchants to accept Bitcoin and 10 other cryptos, as well as for consumers who have crypto and are looking to spend.”
In addition to China’s recent crypto ban, both consumers and merchants could face a number of challenges when it comes to spending cryptocurrency. For example, accounting challenges tend to be a major concern for U.S.-based users. Yet, Pair mentioned that no tax implications will be present if users convert crypto to stable coins that can be spent on Verifone devices.
He further pointed out that companies offering crypto conversion software like TaxBit are helping users report gains and losses directly from their wallets.
Moreover, accessibility could also create challenges for both merchants and consumers, as some crypto payment solutions require a number of steps in order for purchases to be made. For instance, Belostock mentioned that Verifone has seen competitive solutions where crypto must be transferred from multiple wallets and then converted to a gift card to be used for payments.
While this may be, he remarked that the product that Verifone and BitPay have built should turn out to be simple and intuitive.
AMC Theatres Debuts Crypto Payments For E-Gift Card Purchases
The major American theater chain wants to let customers buy movie tickets with crypto by 2022.
American cinema giant AMC Theatres is steadily approaching its goal of accepting cryptocurrency payments by year-end, now debuting crypto purchases for electronic gift cards.
AMC customers can now buy digital gift cards with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) directly through the AMC website, mobile app and theaters, CEO Adam Aron announced on Tuesday.
The new payment option was enabled through major crypto payments processor BitPay, allowing consumers to purchase e-cards of up to $200, Aron noted.
The CEO paid special attention to Dogecoin (DOGE) among the digital assets accepted for AMC e-card purchases. Aron hinted in September that AMC will include DOGE in the list of cryptocurrencies accepted for tickets by the end of 2021.
Aron had conducted a poll of 140,000 people on Twitter, asking the community whether AMC should accept DOGE payments for tickets. “It’s clear that you think AMC should accept Dogecoin. Now we need to figure out how to do that. Stay tuned,” Aron said at the time.
As previously reported, Aron announced the company’s plans to accept Bitcoin payments for movie tickets in August, expecting to have rolled out the new payment option by 2022. The movie chain also plans to support four other cryptocurrencies — the aforementioned DOGE, Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).
Earlier this year, Major Cineplex Group, the largest movie theater operator in Thailand, launched a payment pilot allowing customers to buy tickets with cryptos.
Subsidiary Of Mexican Airline Volaris To Accept Bitcoin Payments
El Salvador’s Bitcoin adoption agenda continues apace, this time extending to a local airline.
As a result of El Salvador’s mainstream Bitcoin (BTC) adoption, Volaris El Salvador, a local subsidiary of budget Mexican airline Volaris, will accept Bitcoin as payment.
The Bitcoin move comes a month after Salvadoran aviation authorities gave Volaris’ local subsidiary permission to operate in the country.
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele took to Twitter to announce that the airline would accept Bitcoin.
In a recent Volaris event hosted on Twitter, President Bukele highlighted that the ability to pay with Bitcoin and the state-run Chivo wallet “allows us to increase the offering of flights for Salvadorans.”
Bukele’s government continues to incentivize citizens to use Bitcoin for payments and has even offered fuel subsidies. The country had previously reinvested $4 million worth of unrealized Bitcoin gains to fund infrastructure development projects such as a veterinary hospital.
Following in El Salvador’s footsteps, authorities from a Venezuelan airport plan to start accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as payment for tickets and other services.
As Cointelegraph reported, Simón Bolívar International Airport, in association with the National Superintendence of Crypto Assets and Related Activities, wants to enable crypto payments as a means to comply with local industry standards.
According to airport director Freddy Borges, the airport will accept payments in Bitcoin, Dash and the Petro, a government-issued oil-backed token. Signaling a commitment to drive cryptocurrency adoption, Borges said, “We must advance in these new economic and technological systems to be accessible.”
Wharton Accepts Crypto Payments For Blockchain Program Tuition Fees
The six-week program costs $3,800, and the Ivy League university expects to attract thousands of students each year.
Crypto adoption scores another win with the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania, but there’s a catch.
The Wharton School, one of the premier business schools in the United States, will accept Bitcoin (BTC) and other forms of cryptocurrencies for tuition fees, Bloomberg reported. However, the adoption is limited to its new online blockchain and digital assets program scheduled to start in January.
Titled “Economics of Blockchain and Digital Assets,” the six-week program costs $3,800, and the university expects to attract thousands of students each year. The Wharton School will use Coinbase Commerce, the e-commerce platform of the U.S.-based crypto exchange, to accept crypto payments.
Wharton is currently offering an introductory class to crypto and blockchain via the online education platform Coursera, which is part of a more extensive course about financial technologies or fintech.
The business school made news earlier this year when it received a generous $5-million gift in Bitcoin. An anonymous benefactor gifted $5 million, roughly translated to 118 BTC, in May. The Wharton School reportedly exchanged the donation to fiat immediately, which would be worth more than $7 million at the time of writing.
As Cointelegraph reported, the World Economic Forum recently partnered with the Blockchain and Digital Asset Project at the Wharton School. Led by Professor Kevin Werbach, the project aims to address the business and regulatory aspects of distributed ledger technology.
Burger King Serves Up Free Crypto With Meal Purchases
For the next three weeks, BK customers can enjoy a side of BTC, ETH or DOGE with their Whopper, thanks to a partnership with Robinhood.
Fast-food chain Burger King has partnered with Robinhood to give away free cryptocurrency to its customers — offering a compelling sign that appetites for digital assets are growing.
From Nov. 1 through Nov. 21, Burger King customers in the United States who spend $5 or more will be given free crypto, primarily in the form of Dogecoin (DOGE), the company announced Monday. A few lucky customers will have the opportunity to win a whole Bitcoin (BTC) or Ether (ETH). Users must register with Robinhood Crypto to receive the reward.
To receive the reward, users must make their purchase on the BK app, website or in-store using a code at participating locations.
The crypto rewards will be drawn from a total prize pool of 2 million DOGE, 20 BTC and 200 ETH. Customers can only claim one prize per day.
From a business perspective, cryptocurrencies are becoming too big to ignore, with several corporations experimenting with digital assets and nonfungible tokens, or NFTs. The fast-food sector has been especially receptive, with the likes of Burger King, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell launching their own NFT collections. As Cointelegraph reported, NFTs are becoming an important marketing medium for major brands.
Assets such as Dogecoin have also been instrumental in onboarding new users to the cryptocurrency market. The memecoin experienced a parabolic surge in the first five months of the year and created thousands of new millionaires in the process. The memecoin hype has since migrated to Shiba Inu (SHIB), which recently fetched a new all-time high and joined elite company as a top 10 coin.
Landry’s And NYDIG Announce Bitcoin Loyalty Rewards
The partnership is the first bitcoin program in the hospitality industry and yet another pioneering move for Tilman Fertitta chairman, CEO, and owner of Landry’s, Inc.
Landry’s today announced a partnership with NYDIG, a leading bitcoin company, to power a bitcoin loyalty rewards program for the millions of customers in Landry’s loyalty program – Landry’s Select Club.
This partnership will allow Landry’s Select Club members to earn bitcoin points when dining at any of its 500 locations nationwide, with the potential benefit of realizing better buying power for the customers’ points based on bitcoin appreciation over time. The offering will be powered by NYDIG’s secure, regulated, full-stack platform.
The Landry’s Select Club program currently offers one point back for every $1 spent, with 250 points translating to a $25 reward. Customers that opt into the new bitcoin loyalty program can receive points that track the value of bitcoin and can be redeemed in $25 reward increments based on the market price of bitcoin at the time they redeem.
All bitcoin loyalty points may only be redeemed for Landry’s Select Club rewards and will not be transferrable outside of the Landry’s Select Club.
To support the program, Landry’s will invest in bitcoin through NYDIG’s institutional-grade custody solution. Beyond managing the program, Landry’s also announced its intention to hold a portion of its treasury reserves in bitcoin through NYDIG.
Landry’s restaurants include more than 60 award-winning brands ranging from casual dining at Saltgrass Steak House, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Rainforest Cafe to the fabulous waterfront locations of Chart House, the unique Aquarium Restaurants and fine dining options such as Morton’s The Steakhouse, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, and The Oceanaire Seafood Room.
“Hospitality is the core of what we do, and offering great new options is an essential component of hospitality. We view bitcoin as a good choice for a portion of our own treasury, so we want to offer that choice to our customers as well,” said Trey Zeluff, Director of Digital Asset Strategy at Landry’s. “We’re proud to pioneer this concept for the hospitality industry in partnership with NYDIG.”
“We are thrilled to partner again with the Fertitta family to bring our bold vision to life,” said Patrick Sells, Chief Innovation Officer at NYDIG. “Fundamentally, this partnership represents a huge milestone towards making Bitcoin more accessible to all and allows for everyone to benefit from this asset class in more ways.”
The partnership extends an existing relationship between NYDIG and Tilman J. Fertitta chairman, CEO, and owner of Landry’s, Inc., following the launch of bitcoin-backed loans at his Houston-based luxury automobile dealership, Post Oak Motor Cars.
Ready to start earning bitcoin loyalty rewards? The new program will be available to current Landry’s Select Club members soon. Use the link below to enroll now and start enjoying the great benefits of the traditional loyalty program today. The link will add you to our list of interested members, helping us ensure you are one of our earliest participants invited to join the bitcoin loyalty program.
Bezos-Backed Real Estate App To Accept Bitcoin As Payment
La Haus, a Latin American property tech startup backed by Bezos Expeditions, said it will accept Bitcoin for real estate transactions, adding to the region’s growing adoption of the cryptocurrency as a means of payment.
The company, which allows users to purchase homes through an app, will allow buyers to pay with the digital currency, starting with a housing development in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. It will eventually open the rest of its inventory of more than 80,000 properties to Bitcoin, according to the company.
“We think that Bitcoin will be the reserve currency of the future,” said Rodrigo Sanchez-Rios, president and co-founder of La Haus, in an interview. “At our core, we’re a tech company. It’s natural for us to be pioneers with this technology.”
The company is partnering with Los Angeles-based payment processor OpenNode to allow for transactions both on-chain and over the Lightning Network, which was designed to make purchases quicker and easier. La Haus will act as an intermediary, paying the sellers in fiat. The company has not decided how much Bitcoin it will keep on its balance sheets, he said.
Despite its notorious volatility, Bitcoin’s acceptance is growing across Latin America, adding legitimacy to the world’s largest cryptocoin, which boasts a market value of more than $1.2 trillion after a 20% rally over the last month pushed the price to record highs of above $68,000. El Salvador in September became the world’s first country to make it legal tender, sparking interest from other governments and companies in the region.
It is unclear if La Haus is the first so-called proptech to accept Bitcoin. Sanchez-Rios said the technology can ease the home-buying process in emerging markets by cutting down on the reams of paperwork and time needed to complete traditional purchases.
La Haus hired Jehudi Castro-Sierra, a former Colombian deputy minister and presidential adviser, to help spearhead the project.
Sanchez-Rios co-founded the company in 2017 with Jeronimo and Tomas Uribe, sons of former Colombia President Alvaro Uribe. It operates in 10 cities in Colombia and Mexico, focusing on new housing developments. More than $1 billion worth of annual gross transactions are carried out over its app, which has more than 1 million monthly users, Sanchez-Rios said.
It has raised more than $150 million of equity and debt from investors, including Jeff Bezos’s fund, Acrew Capital, Renegade Partners, Kaszek Ventures, Nubank co-founder David Velez, and TIME Ventures, an investment fund for Salesforce.com Inc.’s billionaire founder Marc Benioff. La Haus did not disclose its valuation.
Sanchez-Rios said La Haus is likely to raise funding again next year. It plans to expand to every major city in Colombia and Mexico by year’s end and across Latin America thereafter.
How To Bank Your Digital Coin From Crypto To Cash
Cryptocurrency, the blockchain-based digital currency that has captured the interest of investors and financial service firms alike, has a challenging problem. It can be hard to actually spend this currency like you would regular money. But there are new services on the horizon that could help people use bitcoin and other digital coins in more mainstream ways for their day-to-day finances.
Here’s a look at how to use these banking-style services for cryptocurrency, as well as their benefits and barriers.
What Is Cryptocurrency Banking?
The term cryptocurrency banking could be considered a misnomer, since the exchange companies and firms that offer these services aren’t technically banks, but it generally refers to the ways in which consumers can manage their cryptocurrency balances. At this stage, this kind of banking mostly just allows people to hold their funds in a digital wallet or spend it like they would spend traditional money.
Benefits Of Cryptocurrency Banking
At this time, the main benefit of this kind of banking is cryptocurrency debit cards. They allow you to use your digital coin balance like any other currency to make everyday purchases or withdraw it as cash instead of keeping it as an investment.
Before these debit cards were available, you could spend your cryptocurrency only at retailers that chose to accept it directly or sell it in exchange for dollars.
Now, financial technology firms are partnering with chartered banks and/or debit card issuers to offer these cards, using their partner’s logistical and regulatory framework to automatically sell your cryptocurrency behind the scenes, converting it into dollars and allowing retailers to accept it. This means that your digital funds are accepted wherever many regular debit cards are.
Barriers Of Cryptocurrency Banking
Perhaps the biggest barrier to lending and spending cryptocurrency is how volatile it is. It’s the same barrier to investing in it: To hold cryptocurrency, you have to accept that “if your coin falls, you could lose a lot of money,” says Francisco Alvarez-Evangelista, a research associate at the Aite-Novarica Group, a financial services analysis firm.
Many banks rely on the stable value of currency in order to lend, borrow or earn interest on money, but it’s not possible, at this time, to do those things with cryptocurrency in a way that’s as stable or safe as with traditional currency.
And to spend your digital coin, you have to accept the risk that its value could go up after you spend it, since your transactions are based on the real-world value of your coin as it exists at that moment. For example, if the value of your cryptocurrency doubled after you bought a $5 sandwich, that means it effectively cost you $10. But the value could also go down, making previous purchases a good deal.
Another barrier to consider is that regulators are still evaluating cryptocurrency fintechs. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recently announced that it was going to potentially sue Coinbase, one of the most well-known exchange firms, for offering a new lending product, and Coinbase has since canceled the product launch.
Consumers should also know that using a cryptocurrency debit card is considered a taxable event by the Internal Revenue Service, since the cardholder is technically selling cryptocurrency as they make transactions with their debit card. Some card issuers may automatically generate 1099 forms for their customers to use when filing taxes, but the consumer is still responsible for keeping track of their tax liability.
How To Try Cryptocurrency Banking
To start using these kinds of banking services, you must first purchase cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin, litecoin, ether or any other currency that you would like to invest in. Cash App, Coinbase and PayPal are just a few companies with apps that have made it easier to purchase and sell cryptocurrency, even in small amounts, and store it in a digital wallet.
If you want to spend your balance easily, you’ll need to open an account with a firm that offers cryptocurrency debit cards and uses the kind of digital currency you own. Coinbase, for one, has a special debit card that lets customers spend any Coinbase assets they own and earn cryptocurrency rewards, but there’s currently a waitlist for new customers.
BitPay, another firm, offers a prepaid Mastercard debit card that customers can use to spend their digital currency. There are others, but it’s not a widespread bank offering.
In the future, cryptocurrency could have the potential to be a source of peer-to-peer loans, where individuals can quickly and securely process loans to each other , according to research from CB Insights. It’s a huge area of untapped potential but for right now, the world of cryptocurrency banking is limited to a small pool of players with some very new products and services.
Latin American Proptech La Haus To Accept Bitcoin For Property Purchases
The company plans to expand cryptocurrency acceptance soon to more properties in its inventory of more than 80,000 listings.
La Haus, a Latin American proptech company, is now accepting bitcoin for home purchases through on-chain transactions and the Lightning Network, the company announced Wednesday.
Payment with bitcoin will be available for investing in condominiums in Kahaal, a luxury housing development in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, the company said, adding that it plans to soon expand cryptocurrency acceptance to more properties in its inventory of more than 80,000 listings.
“As we expand across Latin America, bitcoin can solve some of the problems that come with buying a home with local currencies. The bitcoin and real estate worlds have excellent synergy,” Rodrigo Sánchez-Ríos, president of La Haus, said in a statement.
La Haus, with presences in Colombia and México, facilitates more than $1 billion in gross transactions per year, with more than one million monthly users, the company reported.
Launched in 2017, the company has raised over $150 million in venture capital funding from firms such as Acrew Capital, Bezos Expeditions, Kaszek Ventures and TIME Ventures.
The company has also recruited Jehudi Castro-Sierra, former advisor to the Colombian presidency on digital transformation issues, as vice president.
“Bitcoin enhanced by Lightning allows instant, global settlement in a more efficient way,” said Castro-Sierra, who added that the company will explore initiatives around Web 3, tokenization and disintermediation.
In April, the largest e-commerce player in Latin America, MercadoLibre, unveiled a bitcoin-only real estate section within its platform for the purchase and sale of properties with that cryptocurrency.
AMC Theatres Debuts Online Bitcoin Payments After Months Of Teasing
AMC Theaters now accepts online payments in Bitcoin, Ether, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin, with Dogecoin coming next.
American cinema giant AMC Theatres is finally adopting cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) for online payments following months of teasing the new payment option.
AMC CEO Adam Aron announced Thursday that the company now proudly accepts four major cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ether (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Litecoin (LTC) for online payments.
The new payment method already accounts for 14% of AMC’s total online transactions, Aron said, adding that cryptocurrencies join traditional payment options like Apple Pay, Google Pay and PayPal.
Dogecoin (DOGE), a popular meme cryptocurrency that has skyrocketed 9,000% over the past year, will be the next digital currency accepted for online payments at AMC, Aron noted. He previously promised that AMC will support DOGE payments for tickets after his 140,000-voter Twitter poll convinced the company to accept the cryptocurrency as payment.
Aron eventually conducted a similar poll for Shiba Inu (SHIB), another popular meme cryptocurrency that overtook Dogecoin in market capitalization in late October.
The latest news is part of AMC’s plans to debut Bitcoin payments for movie tickets by the end of 2021. The company announced the plan in August, eventually expanding the list of supported cryptocurrencies to coins like ETH, BCH, LTC and DOGE.
AMC has been steadily approaching its goal of accepting cryptocurrency payments by year-end, debuting crypto payments for digital gift card purchases in early October.
The firm did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.
Bitcoin At Starbucks Is More Meme Than Money
The ability to trade cryptocurrency for coffee is no justification for market froth.
It’s not often you hear someone brag about buying coffee with “money” — unless you’re moving among Bitcoin circles.
Being able to use the cryptocurrency at chains like Starbucks Corp. and Pizza Hut is being touted as a payments revolution by the looks of various selfies and videos coming out of El Salvador. President Nayib Bukele established Bitcoin as legal tender in the country (alongside the U.S. dollar) in September as a bid to lure digital wealth.
Buying coffee with crypto is also getting attention in the U.S., where it’s been hailed as a driver of digital-asset adoption by wallet app Bakkt Holdings Inc., majority owned by Intercontinental Exchange Inc. The app’s ability to convert Bitcoin balances into U.S.-dollar Starbucks rewards (with average fees of 2%) is, in the firm’s view, a self-sustaining “flywheel effect” that justifies its lofty digital-economy goals and valuation.
This hype over rather mundane electronic transactions — is anyone bragging about paying for Starbucks with ApplePay and PayPal? — is a sign of how badly evangelists want to promote Bitcoin as more than a speculative, gold-like asset that currently trades at $65,000.
But it’s not representative of a self-sustaining crypto boom. Paying for a cold brew with Bitcoin is more meme than reinvented wheel.
Despite Bitcoin’s initial ambition as a peer-to-peer payment mechanism designed to avoid middleman fees, the cryptocurrency is still overwhelmingly traded and hoarded like a speculative commodity. The artificial restriction of Bitcoin supply (capped at 21 million) made the token valuable as an asset long before it could establish itself as a payment method.
The price booms (and busts) that have made Bitcoin a rollercoaster ride for traders are precisely what hinders its broader adoption as a means of payment. When Bitcoin’s price doubles in six months, the dollar amount spent on yesterday’s latte can suddenly feel like splashing out on a Lamborghini. (Remember 2010’s infamous pizza order for 10,000 Bitcoin?) When it tumbles by almost half in a few weeks, there’s a dash for cash, not cappuccinos.
Some fans recognize this. Earlier this year, crypto billionaire Mike Novogratz compared buying a Diet Coke with Bitcoin to “paying for it with gold … That won’t happen.” Longstanding scalability issues such as transaction processing, fees and energy consumption — not all of which have been solved by the Lightning Network on display in El Salvador — even make Bitcoin look “laughable” as a serious payment alternative, as private-equity investor Chris Flowers put it.
What about Bakkt’s flywheel effect? Can creating apps to buy coffee with digital currency help pave the way toward widespread crypto adoption? The firm’s recent quarterly loss suggests that’s a long road ahead, at least in the U.S.
Jefferies analysts estimate the firm’s average marketing spend per user at $12, while estimated average revenue per user is around $10. The Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) seen in crypto markets doesn’t seem to be plaguing Bakkt, which says it had 1.7 million transacting accounts year-to-date, below its initial projections of 9 million active users by end of 2021.
Bakkt Chief Executive Officer Gavin Michael said via email that the company is “just getting started” and points to new partnerships such as the one with payments giant Mastercard Inc.
Peter Garnry, a strategist at Saxo Bank, tells me that the last quarter of 2021 will be crucial for Bakkt to show a significant rise in people using the app for real purchases like coffee.
Maybe it’s not so surprising that gaining traction in a mature market like the U.S. is slow-going. Advocates say paying for Starbucks in El Salvador is the real starting gun. Still, Bitcoin faces competitive pressure everywhere as new payment tokens and stablecoins keep multiplying. Talk of coffee is a pretty handy distraction for an asset class that’s also known for scams, speculation and ransomware, with regulators keen to act.
Given Bakkt’s centralized, regulator-friendly structure, its broader vision as a digital wallet for everything from air miles to video-game items, not just Bitcoin, might pay off. Maybe there is a future for monetizing small pots of illiquid assets that can’t be easily spent. “I bought coffee with air miles” is far less exciting than Bitcoin — but right now, it’s just as realistic.
Regal Cinemas To Accept Crypto For Tickets, Concessions
Moviegoers will be able to use bitcoin, dogecoin and other digital currencies.
Movie theater chain Regal will accept cryptocurrency as payment from customers through a partnership with digital payments firm Flexa, according to a statement Tuesday morning.
Regal said it will accept cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, ether, litecoin and dogecoin as payment for tickets and at its concession stands.
The company will also allow customers to pay with digital dollars and stablecoins, including USD coin, dai and Gemini dollar. In addition, tokens such as LINK, ATOM and BAT will be accepted.
Regal follows AMC Theatres, the largest movie theater chain in the U.S., which earlier this month said it would accept bitcoin, ether and other cryptocurrencies for online payments.
Regal, a U.S. subsidiary of U.K.-based Cineworld Group, has 6,885 screens in 514 theaters in 42 states along with Washington, D.C., and Guam.
“This exciting partnership enables us to easily and seamlessly accept digital currencies – including dogecoin, stablecoins and bitcoin – across our theatre footprint in a simple and completely contactless way,” Regal Chief Marketing Officer Ken Thewes said.
Croatia’s Largest Supermarket Chain Now Accepts Crypto
While it now accepts crypto online, Konzum plans to expand the new payment option to its physical chain stores soon.
Konzum, the largest supermarket chain in Croatia, is keeping up with the times by debuting payments in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC).
The company officially announced on Monday that it now accepts nine cryptocurrencies for payment in its online store, allowing customers to use crypto to buy groceries, hygiene products and household supplies.
According to the announcement, the supported cryptocurrencies include Bitcoin, Ether (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), EOS (EOS), Dai (DAI), Ripple (XRP), Stellar (XLM), as well as stablecoins like Tether (USDT) and USD Coin (USDC).
To enable the new crypto payment option, Konzum partnered with a local crypto payment processor, Electrocoin, to implement PayCek, a system that allows merchants to accept cryptocurrency payments.
Taking into account the high volatility of crypto prices, the PayCek system guarantees buyers a fixed exchange rate at the start of the transaction, providing enough time for successful execution, the announcement notes. Electrocoin is regulated by the Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency, a spokesperson at Konzum told Cointelegraph, adding that Konzum will not hold any crypto as part of the initiative:
“When it comes to crypto payment, Konzum doesn’t have any interaction with cryptocurrencies, we receive only FIAT into our bank account. Electrocoin does the payment processing from crypto to FIAT through their cryptocurrency exchange platform in a simple and secure way.”
The representative said that Electrocoin plans to activate three more cryptocurrencies into PayCek by the end of the year, which would enable Konzum to also support payments in Solana (SOL), Litecoin (LTC) and Dogecoin (DOGE).
While Konzum only accepts crypto online at the moment, it plans to expand the payment option across its supermarket chain in the near future. The retailer runs over 700 stores in Croatia and has more than 10,000 employees. “Payments in physical stores are planned to be available shortly,” the spokesperson added.
According to Konzum board member Uroš Kalinić, the introduction of crypto payments shows the company’s commitment to global trends and innovations in the retail sector.
“As the largest retail chain in Croatia, which in its history of almost 65 years is a continuous leader in the domestic market in terms of business results and technological achievements, we are proud to be leaders in another area that is rapidly developing and forming the future,” he said.
Ledger’s Crypto Life Cardholders Able To Pay Cryptocurrency To Over 50 Million Retailers And Online Stores
Ledger, which is best known for its hardware wallets, is introducing a crypto debit card called the Crypto Life card, the company announced Thursday.
Card users will be able to pay cryptocurrency to more than 50 million retailers and online stores, Ledger said in a press release.
The initiative is the latest among crypto companies looking to meet growing demand and move the needle on cryptocurrency as a medium of exchange rather than as a store of value.
Cardholders will be allowed to open a line of credit to get cash to spend on the card, using cryptocurrency as collateral, with rates starting at 0%.
Rates will vary by region.
Ledger raised $380 million earlier this year in a Series C funding round, saying at the time that it would expand its services.
The card will be available to customers in the U.K., France and Germany in the first quarter of 2022, and for U.S. customers in the second quarter. Crypto Life will initially support BTC, ETH, USDT, EURT, USDC, XRP, BXX, BCH and LTC, the company said. A wait list is now open to obtain a card.
Ledger Chief Experience Officer Ian Rogers told CoinDesk that the company began as an option to “HODL,” but that users “increasingly want to do more and more with crypto.”
Rogers added that Ledger’s card and its capabilities are also a step toward replacing traditional bank accounts.
Fintech company Baanx will provide program management and infrastructure for the card.
Milo Launches First U.S. Crypto Mortgage
Milo, a financial technology company that is reimagining the way global consumers access financial solutions, today announced its new crypto mortgage. This is the world’s first crypto mortgage offering that makes it easy for crypto investors to utilize their digital assets to purchase US real estate. The digital banking leader will now expand its offerings to serve the rapidly growing crypto segment.
Milo launches first U.S. crypto mortgage that makes it easy to utilize digital assets to purchase U.S. real estate.
Milo’s clients will be able to pledge their Bitcoin to purchase property and finally qualify for a low interest rate 30 year crypto mortgage. This solution will allow clients to continue to own their bitcoin and diversify into real estate, all while keeping the potential price appreciation of both.
Clients will be able to finance 100% of their purchase with no dollar down payments required and do this faster than a conventional mortgage. By combining the security of real estate with the liquidity of digital assets, Milo is able to bridge both the crypto and real world.
Milo has been developing this innovative mortgage since 2021 and expects it to be available to most applicants in early 2022. The company has a large waitlist where clients have been granted early access to qualify for loans.
“The world is changing rapidly, with how consumers make and invest their $2 trillion in crypto wealth,” said Josip Rupena, CEO and Founder of Milo. “Clients expect us to come up with innovative solutions to extend credit to millions of great consumers. The existing ways for crypto consumers to access home credit has left them with unintended tax liabilities of selling for a down payment or worse the opportunity cost of seeing their crypto increase in value. There are countless stories of people buying property with bitcoin proceeds only to see it increase in value and be worth millions more.”
The company’s other mortgage solution for foreign nationals has originated millions of dollars in loans already and has seen applicants from over 63 countries. As a direct lender that is already licensed, audited, and insured, Milo is able to stand behind its commitment to lend its clients.
“This is an exciting time for the crypto and mortgage industries,” said Rupena. “With our new crypto mortgage, we can expand our offerings to consumers that were previously denied by other banking firms just for having crypto. We have an opportunity to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore and their bitcoin wealth can now help them buy a property.”
“Milo’s decision to expand their financial flexibility with crypto mortgages is a groundbreaking achievement for advancing the United States’ dominance in crypto. To become the Capital of Capital, Miami needs companies like Milo who are willing to innovate and ideate.” said Mayor Francis Suarez.
Milo is a financial technology company reimagining the way global and crypto consumers access financial solutions to ‘Unlock what’s possible.’ By building a proprietary technology stack from the ground up and bringing on a world-class team, the company has enabled millions of dollars in US home loans. Milo is passionate about driving digital transformation of financial services, solving real problems, and making a meaningful impact in people’s lives.
For more information visit www.milocredit.com or email email@example.com
Upcoming Apple iPhone Feature To Give Merchants A Way To Accept Crypto Payments
Apple Pay users will technically be able to use iPhone’s Tap to Pay feature to make crypto payments across mainstream merchants and businesses.
Apple announced plans to launch Tap to Pay for its iPhone, a new feature that effectively turns the smartphone into a point-of-sale device for businesses and merchants. So, what’s in it for crypto?
The announcement explains that with Tap to Pay, iPhone-owning merchants receive contactless payments by using their mobile devices as a point-of-sale machine thanks to the near-field communication technology, or NFC.
According to Apple, the soon-to-be-launched Tap to Pay feature will extend support to “Apple Pay, contactless credit and debit cards and other digital wallets.” It basically means that unless Apple places a direct barrier for it, customers who are using Coinbase Card, Crypto.com Visa Card or a similar payments card would be able to use their cryptocurrency holdings to make payments via Tap to Pay.
We just introduced Tap to Pay on iPhone, a great way for millions of small businesses to accept contactless payments right from their iPhone. It’s easy, secure, and will be coming out later this year. https://t.co/w6P6oS7grm— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) February 9, 2022
While Apple has announced Stripe, an Irish-American fintech, as the first platform to offer the Tap to Pay feature on the iPhone, the company clarified that “additional payment platforms and apps will follow later this year.”
Back in August 2021, major crypto exchange Coinbase integrated with Apple Pay and Google Pay, allowing users to purchase crypto assets on its platform. As Cointelegraph reported, the move allowed United States-based customers to purchase crypto using bank-issued debit and credit cards via mainstream payments platform Apple Pay.
In June 2021, Coinbase launched Coinbase Card, enabling users to spend cryptocurrencies across mainstream avenues:
“Coinbase will automatically convert all cryptocurrency to US Dollars and transfer the funds to your Coinbase Card (less conversion fees) for use in purchases and ATM withdrawals.”
Following suit, crypto exchange Crypto.com launched a similar offering named Crypto.com Visa Card, which can be added to Apple Pay and other major digital wallets. Apple said in the announcement:
“Tap to Pay on iPhone will work with contactless credit and debit cards from leading payment networks, including American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa.”
Considering Coinbase’s capability to convert a user’s crypto holdings to fiat in real-time for payments, Apple Pay users will be able to use iPhone’s Tap to Pay feature to make crypto payments across mainstream merchants and businesses.
While Apple Pay will most likely not allow direct purchase of goods and services via Bitcoin (BTC), it will convert the user’s crypto holdings to match the dollar amount requested by the merchant’s point-of-sale machine to make the purchase.
Let’s also not forget that in November 2021, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed the personal purchase of cryptocurrencies as “part of a diversified portfolio” while highlighting no immediate plans to accept crypto as a means of payment for Apple products.
Apple intends to roll out the Tap to Pay feature on Apple Stores, iPhone XS and later devices.
Cash App, a mobile payments service developed and owned by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s Block, announced compatibility with the Bitcoin Lightning Network for BTC transfers.
Lightning Network is now available on Cash App. It’s the fastest, free way to pay anyone in bitcoin.— Cash App (@CashApp) February 7, 2022
Buy tacos, tip your favorite Twitter comedian, or send a friend money abroad—anywhere that accepts lightning. pic.twitter.com/65TXSJ6yL6
With the launch of the new feature, Cash App users can make faster BTC transactions across mainstream businesses. As Cointelegraph reported, the company has made the feature available everywhere in the United States apart from New York.
NFTs And DeFi Are Revolutionizing Real-Estate Investing And Homeownership — Here’s How
NFTs, DeFi, crypto-backed mortgages and fractionalized ownership are the new trends set to alter the face of real estate investing in 2022.
Nonfungible tokens (NFTs) continue to make an impact on multiple sectors, and this mainstreaming is opening up new opportunities and revealing new trends for blockchain technology.
Recently, the real estate sector has shown interest in blockchain technology because it opens up the potential for fractionalized ownership, cryptocurrency-backed mortgages and other unique ownership, financing and payment models.
Here’s a look at a few real estate-oriented blockchain projects that are to integrate decentralized finance, cryptocurrency payments and nonfungible tokens (NFT) to the sector.
Propy is the largest real estate-focused protocol in the cryptocurrency market, and it’s focused on automating home buying and making the closing process faster and more secure.
After becoming the first company to launch a real estate NFT in 2021, Propy made waves for the recent real estate NFT auction in the United States after selling a home in Tampa, Florida for 210 Ether (ETH) worth roughly $650,000.
It’s a wrap!— Propy (@PropyInc) February 10, 2022
The first real estate NFT auction in the US is history now. Thank you so much to everyone who participated and to those who cheered us on. Congratulations to the lucky winner, we can’t wait to see what you do with the #PropyNFT next! What a blast! pic.twitter.com/LHfZrNSwTN
In addition to providing proof of ownership to the holder, real estate NFTs created through Propy can also be used as proof of collateral for crypto-based borrowing and lending.
Milo Offers Crypto-Based Mortgages
When it comes to paying for a mortgage, crypto holders currently have to grapple with choosing which of their tokens they are willing to cash out and also incur a taxable event because there are few options for paying a mortgage with cryptocurrency.
Milo is a Miami-based fintech startup that claims to offer the world’s first “crypto mortgage” by allowing customers to use Bitcoin (BTC) as collateral to qualify for a 30-year loan.
Once launched, the service will be open to American and international customers looking to purchase real estate in the United States.
The company has already processed a few loans during the ongoing early-access stage, but interested parties are encouraged to sign up for a waitlist.
Home Equity Goes DeFi
Evidence of the growing popularity of real estate-focused projects in the blockchain ecosystem can be found by looking at several projects that have emerged onto the scene in 2022.
Vista Equity is a recently launched project with the goal of becoming the world’s first peer-to-peer marketplace for real estate-backed NFT assets.
WE HAVE LAUNCHED! A home can now be fully tokenized giving consumers new financial freedoms. Investors can now buy real estate backed NFTs as securities. Read our press release https://t.co/x7WKKyiCnH. Share, like & follow. @Algorand @wsford @silviomicali #realestate #blockchain pic.twitter.com/IiCDfv6034— Vesta Equity (@vestaequityvpm) February 15, 2022
The goal of Vesta Equity is to allow homeowners who own their homes outright to tap into the equity in their homes through tokenization. According to the company, token holders would then be able to sell off a portion of it as a fractionalized NFT.
Typically, property owners tap into their equity by refinancing or selling, and tokenization remedies this problem by providing investors with a simplified way to invest in real estate.
QuantumRE is a similar project that is just getting started. Like Vista Equity, the goal of QuantumRE is to link homeowners with investors to help provide homeowners with access to debt-free financing, while investors get access to residential real estate.
To do this, QuantumRE helps with the process of originating Home Equity Agreements (HEA), a type of financial tool that allows homeowners to get a cash lump sum for the equity held within their home with no monthly payments, interest or added debt.
The agreement can be settled by selling the home, refinancing or renewing the agreement. By creating liquidity and a trading platform for HEAs, QuantumRE is supporting a secondary trading marketplace for HEAs, which can be tokenized and split into fractional units.
QuantumRE indicated that the first fractionalized HEAs will be offered on the platform during Q1 of 2022.
On an interesting side note, both Vista Equity and QuantumRE are launching their products on the Algorand blockchain, citing the network’s fast processing speeds and low gas fees when compared to the Ethereum network.
eBay To Add Crypto Payment Options Soon, Says CEO
The e-commerce giant aims to become the marketplace for Millennials and Gen Z, and given their rising interests in crypto, add new payment options to lure in the customer base.
Major e-commerce marketplace eBay could integrate crypto payments soon, said CEO Jamie Iannone in a recent interview.
The internet marketplace is among the oldest e-commerce platforms, now looking to become the go-to platform for Gen Z and Millennials. The CEO said in an interview with The Street that the firm has been looking to integrate crypto payment options for quite some time and an official announcement could be made during the upcoming investor’s day on March 10.
During his interview, Iannone revealed that the e-commerce giant is looking to transition to new payments modes as they are already managing $85 billion of volume on its platform directly.
Talking about eBay’s stance on emerging technology such as blockchain and cryptocurrencies, Iannone pointed toward the growing popularity of nonfungible tokens trading on its platform without making any official announcement regarding the same.
Iannone said that the company changed its policies last year to make the e-commerce platform a place to buy and sell anything, be it a physical or digital commodity. eBay didn’t respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comments at publishing time.
The rise in popularity and demand for cryptocurrencies has made several online platforms add crypto payments options. eBay, with its focus on capturing Millennial and Gen Z customers, aims to do the same. However, it won’t be the company’s first attempt at crypto payments — eBay first tried integrating BTC payments in 2014.
As Cointelegraph reported in May 2021, eBay was exploring Bitcoin payment integration last year as well along with NFT trading. The crypto payment integration plan now seems to be near finalized as crypto has become mainstream and more acceptable among the masses.
Web3 Solutions Aim To Make America’s Real Estate Market More Accessible
Web3 solutions may be the answer to America’s housing market, but will the mainstream want to use blockchain-based platforms?
America’s housing market may soon be facing its next bubble as home prices across the country continue to be fueled by demand, speculation and lavish spending that could result in a collapse. Moreover, many homeowners are opting to stay put due to climbing mortgage rates, creating a housing shortage.
Data from the Federal National Mortgage Association, commonly known as Fannie Mae, found that 92% of homeowners think their current home is affordable.
Yet, findings further show that 69% of the general population, consisting of both homeowners and renters, believe it’s becoming too difficult to find affordable housing.
Web3 And The Real-Estate Market
While the fate of the United States housing market remains unclear, the rise of Web3 business models based around nonfungible tokens (NFTs), blockchain technology and cryptocurrency aim to solve many of the problems currently plaguing America’s trillion-dollar real estate market.
Jerry Chu, CEO of tokenization platform Lofty AI, told Cointelegraph that although real estate is one of the best asset classes for wealth creation across the globe, most people can’t access it due to three main reasons:
“Real estate, especially today, is expensive. Even if someone could get a mortgage, many times a down payment requires too much cash. The real estate process is also frustrating, as mortgages need to be approved and a title escrow process could take up to 60 days. Finally, there isn’t much liquidity in real estate, therefore sellers will likely lose money if they wish to quickly liquidate.”
In order to make real estate attainable for the masses, Chu decided to create a platform that could fractionalize properties. Known as Lofty AI, Chu explained that the platform is built on the Algorand blockchain and consists of various turnkey rental properties that multiple investors can fractionally purchase for as little as $50.
“You can think of every property as its own mini blockchain on the Algorand network. Assets, or unique tokens, are created for every property listed. The token supply is different depending on how expensive the properties are,” said Chu.
While the concept of tokenizing real estate has become rather common — for instance, Cointelegraph research recently found that the real estate sector makes up 89% of all traded security tokens — Chu pointed out that Lofty is an active investing platform.
“Similar platforms invest in real estate and flip properties to customers, but we allow investors to manage these properties and continually earn rewards and income.”
Elaborating on this, Chu explained that Lofty is based on a co-ownership model where the deeds for each property listed on the marketplace are held and owned by a limited liability company, or LLC. When investors purchase tokens, they immediately become a member of that entity, meaning they own a percentage of that business.
Like other decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms, Lofty has a governance system that allows token holders to vote on how to manage the properties they own.
“Token holders need to reach a supermajority vote of 60% for decisions to be acted upon. The winning vote is then sent to the property manager to carry out. These decisions could include maintenance, rent changes, eviction decisions and more.”
Chu added that investors can also earn portions of rental income generated from tenants, which can either be withdrawn to a bank account or donated to Mercy Housing, an affordable housing organization.
“Most Lofty users care about the appreciation of their tokens on the properties they buy into, and, therefore, donate their earned income to affordable housing programs,” Chu mentioned.
While this may be, Chu emphasized that the goal behind Lofty is to make real estate investing more accessible simply. “This seems to be the case, as the platform launched last year and already has close to 4,000 users,” he said.
Takahito Torimoto, a solutions architect and Lofty user, further told Cointelegraph that he has been a real estate investor for a few years, but Lofty has been an ideal solution due to the platform’s liquidity and returns.
“There are no fees for users, and given the current real estate market, Lofty appears much better for a very big part of my ‘early retirement’ strategy,” he remarked.
In addition to Lofty, mortgage lender LoanSnap launched a mortgage-backed stablecoin on their Bacon Protocol at the end of last year. Karl Jacob, CEO of LoanSnap and co-founder of Bacon Protocol, told Cointelegraph that while a mortgage-backed token solves many issues associated with stablecoins, these digital assets also benefit current homeowners and buyers.
Technically speaking, LoanSnap has minted NFTs tied to individual mortgage liens, which are property ownership rights that collateralize mortgage loans. Those NFTs are then used to back LoanSnap’s stablecoin known as the “bHome token.” Jacob explained that this system is beneficial for a number of reasons:
“Mortgage-backed stablecoins are advantageous to homeowners and buyers because speed is everything in a real-estate transaction. This process works quickly since it leverages the Ethereum blockchain. You can see a loan getting closed and funded in a matter of 24-hours or less, depending on state compliance.”
In other words, wrapping an NFT around a mortgage lien and putting that asset on a blockchain network allows anyone access to those records. “We provide the minimal amount of data, so individuals can only see the address of a property, the lien size and property value,” said Jacob.
Jacob claimed that the bHome stablecoin also opens up access to the U.S. housing market. “Investors that buy into the bHome token are gaining exposure to the housing market without having to own a home.
This is simply a pool of mortgages across the country that offers a great way to participate without the costs associated with homeownership.”
While the platform is fairly new, Jacob shared that about 30 mortgages on LoanSnap are being used for its stablecoin pool, noting that the platform has lent out over $7 million against its $42 million home value on the platform.
Some U.S. real estate properties have also recently been sold as NFTs, a concept that seems to be attracting Generation-Z homebuyers. This is important, as data shows that Gen Z’s only made up 2% of all home sales in 2020.
Natalia Karayaneva, CEO and co-founder of Propy — a blockchain-based real estate platform — told Cointelegraph that Propy has recently sold three NFT properties: one in Kyiv and two in Florida.
“We are the first platform to sell real estate as NFTs, which has resulted in a number of benefits for first-time buyers and sellers,” said Karayaneva.
On a technical level, Karayaneva explained that Propy is able to do this by selling tokenized LLC properties. The purchase records for each property live on the Ethereum blockchain. Once a property sells, the ownership rights are transferred as an NFT to the homebuyer’s wallet address. Karayaneva elaborated:
“The most recent NFT property that sold in Tampa was purchased using the USD Coin stablecoin. Bidding happened in real-time and ownership was transferred in 15 minutes upon closing the sale, which simplifies and speeds up the entire traditional home buying process.
This is important because the U.S. housing market is so competitive today that people don’t have time to wait. NFT properties are also fully transparent, so prospective buyers can make informed decisions by seeing any appraisals, contingencies and anything else up front.”
Given the transparency and fast-paced nature of NFT home sales, Karayaneva mentioned that the concept is particularly appealing to the younger generation. “The two properties we sold in Florida attracted many Gen Z’s since you can now buy a house with the click of a button,” she said.
Karayaneva added that older clients have expressed interest regarding how secure this process is since everything is recorded on an immutable blockchain ledger.
Giving Homeowners Access To Their Data With NFTs
Blockchain Home Registry (BHR) is yet another Web3 project using NFTs to represent homeownership. BHR is a DeFi platform built on the Ethereum blockchain that allows homeowners to claim a verified NFT of their property, giving them access to a permanent, transferrable historical record of their home.
James Rogers, CEO of Torii Homes — a real estate technology company that developed BHR — told Cointelegraph:
“While people today own their homes, they don’t own the data associated with it. For example, a title company often knows more about an owner’s home history than they do.There is an opportunity for the entire real estate industry to collaborate with homeowners to make sure individuals own the data associated with their homes.”
Rogers explained that BHR allows homeowners to claim their home as a verified NFT upon completion of a thorough Know Your Customer (KYC) process. Once verified, homeowners’ NFTs are placed on the BHR platform, which then allows for organizations across the real estate industry to build services by consuming data from the platform. This allows both organizations and homeowners the ability to monetize their data.
Zach Gorman, co-founder of Torri Homes, told Cointelegraph that homeowners are able to see all their home documents in a dashboard on the BHR platform. “Homeowners can add and maintain their records over time and can then choose to monetize that data by letting other organizations access it.”
For example, Gorman explained that an insurance company could more efficiently quote policies using data about homes listed on BHR:
“At the same time, the data added would inform homeowners about risks such as fire or flood that they could face. And, when another insurance company builds an integration on top of the data added, they would compensate the first company for their data. Even if the homeowner chooses to work with the latter company, the former still wins, as well.”
Gorman added that although BHR just launched on April 26, a number of homeowners and service providers have expressed interest in using the platform. “The power of data has never been put on the table before for homeowners, so this is a huge opportunity to democratize that and put power back into homeowners’ hands.”
Challenges May Hamper Adoption
While Web3 solutions may help solve many of the challenges currently facing homeowners and buyers, it remains questionable as to how the mainstream will react to these innovations.
For instance, Karayaneva shared that properties sold as NFTs through Propy must be purchased using the USD Coin (USDC) stablecoin, yet this may be challenging for non-crypto natives. Even though Karayaneva mentioned that Propy helps facilitate the transfer of fiat to USDC, users who wish to buy an NFT home may also find it difficult due to the fact that loans cannot be taken out.
“Currently, we are only accepting full cash offers, but we are working on incorporating a solution to get crypto enabled mortgages on the spot,” said Karayaneva.
Moreover, getting the mainstream to adopt blockchain solutions may also be complicated. For instance, Rogers explained that BHR is initially launching with MetaMask. Although it’s notable that MetaMask’s monthly average user base is growing, MetaMask and other popular crypto wallets are vulnerable to malware attacks and hacks.
From a technical perspective, it’s important to point out that most of the Web3 solutions mentioned are based on the Ethereum blockchain, which is infamous for high gas fees. Jacob shared that, while using the Ethereum network has been beneficial for Bacon Protocol, the team behind the project has worked hard to hide high gas fees from bHome purchasers.
On the other hand, Chu said that he chose to build Lofty on the Algorand blockchain due to its low gas fees. “Lofty sends small transfers to user’s wallets regularly, so if this was built on another chain with high gas fees that would cost much more,” he said.
Finally, it’s important to point out that legal issues may arise when applying NFTs and DeFi standards to real estate transactions. With this in mind, Jacob shared that LoanSnap conducted massive amounts of research when considering the regulatory components associated with a mortgage-backed stablecoin.
“LoanSnap is regulated and audited by the state, so we already have regulations in place. The question people ask is if this is a security, but the interesting thing about mortgages is that they are not securities.”
Challenges aside, Rogers said that homeowners and buyers using Web3 solutions like BHR don’t need to fully understand the components behind the platforms, they just need to know that they work. “When I explain BHR, people are interested even if they don’t know much about NFTs and blockchain.
The idea here is to onboard new users to the Web3 space and transform the traditional real estate industry. That is what excites us.”
Crypto Mortgages Let Homebuyers Keep Bitcoin, Put Down Nothing
New home loans are deepening the role of volatile digital assets in the real estate market.
It took Vincent Burniske months to get a seven-figure loan to buy two small apartment buildings in a coveted Miami neighborhood. The sports-media consultant had money — but much of it was tied up in crypto.
Digital wealth meant little to banks when it came to a mortgage. And Burniske, 63, wanted to keep his coins rather than trade them for dollars.
“If you cash out, you have to pay sizable tax and you’re leaving a lot of upside on the table because you’re getting out early,” he said.
Then came an option that wasn’t available when Burniske found the properties late last year: a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage secured by part of his Bitcoin and Ethereum holdings. He nailed down the loan from Milo Credit, a Miami-based startup that’s seeking to tap into the burgeoning pool of crypto loyalists who want to diversify their wealth while hanging on to their tokens.
Crypto mortgages are the latest example of the deepening role of digital coins in the U.S. real estate market, with property buyers and lenders alike embracing the volatile currencies to underpin deals for hard assets. Last year, Fannie Mae started allowing borrowers to use crypto for their down payments.
New buildings going up in tech hot spots like Miami are accepting digital tokens for deposits on condos. A house in Tampa, Florida, even sold as an NFT earlier this year.
The home loans offered by Milo represent a new twist. Instead of simply paying for property with tokens, borrowers pledge their digital holdings as collateral, with no down payments necessary.
That enables the holders to keep their coins, avoiding taxes on capital gains and theoretically benefiting from rising values for both the tokens and the real estate. It also heightens risk by using a volatile asset to finance purchases at a time the heated U.S. property market faces a slowdown from the fastest jump in borrowing costs in decades.
Milo wants to make such loans a big business by pooling them and selling them to banks, asset managers and insurance companies, maybe even offering them as bonds in a securitization, according to founder Josip Rupena.
Wall Street’s financial engine is already looking at the novel mortgages.
“We’ve advised on several matters involving the origination of loans backed by crypto and NFTs for eventual securitization and similar concepts, said Steve Blevit, a partner at law firm Sidley Austin, who specializes in financing esoteric assets. “We see a lot of interest in this area and expect it will develop into a new asset class.”
Until now, those with large crypto holdings who didn’t want to sell were turning to companies like BlockFi, which offers collateralized loans that can be used to buy property. There’s also Austin, Texas-based Unchained Capital, which offers three-year loans with up to 14% interest rates.
Milo, which started originating home loans in 2019 for non-U.S. citizens, is offering a product that looks more like a traditional mortgage. If its wait list of more than 8,000 people ready to buy property in states such as Texas, California and New York is any indication, the company’s crypto offering may dwarf its $100 million of foreign national loans.
The company has issued pre-approval letters on $340 million of mortgages in the last 30 days. Milo recently received $17 million in Series A funding led by venture-capital firm M13 to help fuel growth.
“Were going to refine this and get it bigger,” said Rupena, 38. “Milo will be looking to provide other long-term solutions to those with crypto wealth — not just mortgages.”
It’s the type of lofty ambition rippling through the crypto economy and Milo’s hometown of Miami, where the culture of decentralized finance is fast taking root. In the city’s Wynwood neighborhood, Bored Ape NFTs, which grew in mainstream popularity with the help of Snoop Dogg and Justin Bieber, hang out on building facades and telephone poles.
Cranes dot the skyline in between old warehouses about to be inundated by employees of Blockchain.com and MoonPay.
Even as the value of digital assets has exploded over the last decade, standing now at about $2 trillion, it’s a big challenge to cross into the decades-old, highly regulated mortgage industry.
Skeptics point to cryptocurrencies’ volatility: Bitcoin infamously soared 305% in 2020 but is down more than 40% from an all-time high.
Ether and other altcoins have also suffered steep declines. Crypto has also attracted attention from government officials who have expressed concern about the lack of regulatory oversight and surveillance which can come with fraud and other problems.
“There are always early adopters out there trying new things,” said David Lykken, president of Transformational Mortgage Solutions, a consulting and advisory firm. “Cryptocurrency doesn’t have enough stability or the confidence of the broader investor community. Certainly not now — maybe never.”
Supporters remain steadfast, arguing the tokens will prove their worth in time. Bitcoin has still gained almost 500% since the end of 2019.
Milo is lending as much as $10 million on homes, and digitizing the process so closing takes two to three weeks. Borrowers must pledge at least the amount of the property, and the coins get transferred to a custodian for safe keeping.
The property seller gets paid in dollars funded by Milo. Borrowers can then make their monthly payments in either crypto or traditional cash. Rates are generally between 3.95% and 5.95%, which is in line with the average borrowing costs for a traditional 30-year mortgage.
To account for the volatility, Milo will ask the borrower to put up more crypto or cash if the crypto-to-loan amount drops below 65%. If that figure drops below 30%, the company liquidates the assets and stores them in U.S. dollars.
It’s an especially big risk to take for an asset as personal as a home, said John Kerschner, head of U.S. securitized products for Janus Henderson Investors.
“A crypto mortgage seems inefficient given the volatility,” he said. “People think Bitcoin will go to the moon but nobody thought the great financial crisis or Covid was coming. These things happen.”
Burniske, who used his mortgage to buy investment properties, already has tenants living in his four units, nestled between a 1920s Venetian pool and the Biltmore Hotel in what’s known as Golden Triangle of Coral Gables. For him, the crypto mortgage is just another example of a concept that quickly turns real.
“I was convinced I was going down the conventional loan path,” he said. “It’s comfortable. It’s what we know. But at any given moment there are better financing options and you really need to pay attention.”
Uncollateralized DeFi Mortgage Taken Out On Austin Condo Via Teller
An Austin resident is a proud homeowner after securing a loan denominated in USDC stablecoin over the Polygon network by using their credit score.
A new homeowner has bought an apartment in Austin, Texas, through a program that allows crypto holders to take out traditional uncollateralized mortgages based on their credit scores.
The USDC.homes crypto mortgages platform issued its first crypto loan to an Austin resident who bought a $680,000 condo with a $500,000 loan issued in USD Coin (USDC) stablecoin over the Polygon network.
This new platform combines practices from traditional lending markets such as leveraging a borrower’s credit score to determine eligibility with new decentralized finance (DeFi) innovations such as cryptocurrency staking to help pay off the balance.
Loans from the platform are issued in USD, but borrowers can make payments in Ether (ETH), Bitcoin (BTC) or USDC. It has been built using the Teller lending protocol and backed by the TrueFi project that issues uncollateralized crypto loans. USDC.homes can issue 30-year mortgages as large as $5 million at a 5.5% interest rate which require a 20% down payment.
Each borrower’s down payment is staked, not sold, and accrues interest over time that can be used to help homeowners pay off their loans. According to a Wednesday blog post from Teller, the traditional need to liquidate one’s crypto assets for fiat to secure a loan exposes American borrowers “to the damages of taxation, fees, and a loss of position.”
Real-world loan issuing is becoming a more common use case in the crypto industry. The LoanSnap platform expects to open its services to licensed mortgage brokers this year, according to a Tuesday report from Housing Wire.
By using an artificial intelligence (AI) loan origination system, CEO Karl Jacob told Housing Wire that LoanSnap has issued “billions of dollars” in traditional mortgages. His company’s services have also extended into the crypto space by working with DeFi lender Bacon Protocol to link mortgage values to a nonfungible token (NFT)
Bacon Protocol has been issuing NFT mortgages since last November, with lending rates ranging as high as 3.1%, far less than the 5.55% rate on a traditional 30-year mortgage, according to Investopedia.
Propy Partners With Abra To Provide Crypto-Backed Real Estate Loans
Cryptocurrency investors now have more options for purchasing property without having to sell their digital assets outright.
Blockchain real estate platform Propy has partnered with Abra to allow customers to obtain home loans using their cryptocurrency holdings, potentially widening the financial use cases of digital assets.
Propy customers can now put up digital assets as collateral for their real estate purchases through Abra Borrow, a cryptocurrency lending and borrowing service. Crypto collateral pledged on Abra is used to borrow United States dollars that can then be applied to home purchases.
The Propy blockchain records the entire transaction process, serving as the technical and legal framework for buyers and sellers. According to Propy, the blockchain records the transaction whether it’s made in crypto, nonfungible tokens (NFT) or traditional fiat currency.
Propy founder and CEO Natalia Karayaneva told Cointelegraph that access to DeFi and crypto mortgages is a “key component to making crypto and NFT property sales and purchases viable for a wider population.” As a next step, the company is planning a “real property NFT sale” with instant mortgage approvals.
Abra is a crypto-focused wealth management platform that has been around since 2014. The platform allows users to generate yield on their crypto, borrow dollars against their holdings and trade digital assets.
Abra has received backing from several major companies, including Amex Ventures, the venture capital arm of American Express, which contributed to its $55 million Series C funding round in September 2021.
While early crypto investors have generated significant wealth over the years, their access to traditional financial products such as mortgages remains limited. Decentralized finance, or DeFi, applications are attempting to fill the void. As Cointelegraph reported, a new homeowner in Austin, Texas recently purchased property through a mortgage obtained from USDC.homes, a crypto loan service based on Circle’s USD Coin (USDC).
If you’re buying a home in the future, you’ll probably be using NFTs. Here’s how crypto is changing real estate in the meantime. https://t.co/jiLT9Uojvd— Cointelegraph (@Cointelegraph) February 19, 2022
Fintech startup Milo is also offering crypto mortgages to homebuyers wishing to use their Bitcoin (BTC) as collateral. Meanwhile, decentralized mortgage lender Bacon Protocol launched a program in September 2021 that allows homeowners to exchange a lien on their property for an NFT that represents a percentage of the property they bought.
Colorful Billionaire’s Dubai Real Estate Firm Now Accepts BTC And ETH
“Offering yet another transactional mode is exciting, and we are glad to recognize the value this technology brings to our customers,” said DAMAC Properties’ general manager of operations Ali Sajwani
Multi-billion dollar Dubai-based real estate developer DAMAC Properties has started accepting Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) payments for its luxury abodes.
DAMAC Properties was founded by colorful billionaire Hussain Sajwani in 2002, and the firm has conducted business throughout the middle east, Canada and the United Kingdom. It also owns high-end fashion and jewelry brands Roberto Cavalli and De-Grisgono.
Sajwani is known for extravagant marketing tactics such as giving away free Lamborghinis to property buyers. He also teamed up with Donald Trump in 2013 to launch multiple Trump-branded golf courses in Dubai.
The firm, valued at roughly $2.1 billion, may be looking at crypto as a way to attract some attention after a couple of underwhelming years. DAMAC reportedly posted net revenues of $816 million in 2021 but overall saw a net loss of $144.6 million amid a year plagued by the global pandemic. The year prior, the firm’s losses also tallied $176 million.
According to a Wednesday announcement, alongside accepting payments in BTC and ETH, the firm will also facilitate the conversion to fiat for the seller if needed. DAMAC’s general manager of operations Ali Sajwani noted that the firm is paying particular focus to evolve technology such as crypto:
“It is crucial for global businesses like ours to stay at the top of evolution. Offering yet another transactional mode is exciting, and we are glad to recognize the value this technology brings to our customers.”
DAMAC also highlighted that Dubai is “becoming a crypto hub” thanks to the government’s crypto-friendly regulations and virtual asset licenses, with top exchanges such as Bybit, Binance and FTX Europe all recently setting up shop there. Kraken also obtained a license earlier this week.
The firm noted that it is keen on “fueling” Dubai’s ambitions by rolling out further crypto initiatives.
Sajwani also noted in February that the company holds ambitious plans to launch its own NFT-backed Metaverse platform.
“So, while most use the term Metaverse loosely we think it is much more and we have come up with a solution where we bridge the physical and digital assets to allow for cross-utilization.”
“We have formulated a solution to integrate the different platforms under DAMAC, whether real estate, fashion, jewelry bringing all onto the metaverse,” he added.
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