With four percent of the UK population owning cryptocurrency, according to the FCA, it’s a payment trend that could apply to a “significant number of high net worth clients” and one that real estate businesses can’t afford to ignore, thinks Katharine Wooller, managing director UK & Ireland at Dacxi, a crypto wealth-building platform.
“Fans of crypto, such as myself, appreciate bitcoin as a faster, more efficient way of moving value. As long as the required AML checks are adhere to, it is a streamlined global system that will create borderless transactions at the touch of a button,” she says. “And blockchain technologies are an interesting solution to inefficiencies in property transaction, asset management and payment infrastructure, all of which are ripe for disruption.”
Crypto property buyers are certainly out there, too. Guy Meacock, director of Prime Purchase buying agency, is helping a wealthy Australian to spend £10m on a London property. “He has made all his money in cryptocurrency and has a similar budget to spend in a number of global cities,” says Meacock.
And Adam Deering, the Dublin-based head of Deerbank Capital, has recently helped one “high net worth investor from Surrey” buy land in Barbados with bitcoin. “I will take investors’ deposit in bitcoin and pay the vendor in US dollars, in the case of the Caribbean purchase, or in Sterling for three refurbished blocks of flats in Manchester that we have coming to the market in the next few weeks,” he says.
For Deering, bitcoin is preferable to conventional currency. “I can send it in seconds, whereas if I’m transferring large sums of traditional currency through a bank, I have to call or go in person. And it has the potential to go up in value.”
Charles Curran, chairman at Maskells estate agency in Chelsea, has yet to be convinced. “With the difficulties in proving the source of funds and the volatility, the question is really, why would a vendor go to that trouble? Let the buyer convert it first and then pay in cash.”
In the luxury property world, a new battle between old money and new is just beginning.
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