While Bitcoin’s volatility and sustainability may put investors at risk, it's publicity is at an all-time high. And one Bay Area company is not only taking notice, but implementing it into its website.
This month, RealtyShares -- a San Francisco-based real estate investment platform -- announced that it will accept Bitcoin as a form of online payment. The benefits of adopting the digital currency into the real estate investment market can help satisfy a young, savvy customer base.
“Real estate is a difficult asset class to access, is capital intensive and a single transaction can take weeks or months to complete,” said RealtyShares CEO Nav Athwal. “Accordingly, most individual investors get exposure to stocks and bonds but not real estate despite real estate being important for portfolio diversification. With RealtyShares, we’ve created a streamlined and online solution to make real estate investing much simpler than it is today.”
Accredited and foreign investors can purchase shares in single-family homes, apartment buildings and office buildings by visiting its site. And investments can be as low as $1,000 -- or a few bitcoins.
So far, the local startup has helped raise close to $2 million for properties worth a total of over $50 million since its inception, according to Athwal, and is currently listing about 3-4 properties per week for a combined worth of $2-3 million. That’s a hefty chunk of change for a company that just emerged from beta last November.
As for Bitcoin, the digital currency offers a cost-cutting benefit to those who adopt it. Typically, non-US investors pay various transaction, wire transfer and currency conversion fees which can tack on 4-7 percent to your total investment cost. Not to mention the processing time can take up to a full week to resolve. Meanwhile, by accepting Bitcoin, RealtyShares only charges 1 percent in fees and the processing time is almost instantaneous.
But what about the risk of adopting Bitcoin? It's a currency riddled with insane price fluctuations, hackers and scandals, isn't it? So couldn't that put RealtyShares in jeopardy?
Athwal reasured us that Bitcoin’s volatility does not put its business or its investors at risk. In fact, it uses Coinbase’s merchant API to convert the bitcoins into US dollars almost immediately, thereby protecting the company if the value of the digital currency ever falters. But Athwal doesn’t see that happening anytime soon.
“I definitely think it’ll be around and its reach will continue to expand,” said Athwal, regarding Bitcoin’s sustainability. “With more and more merchants accepting the virtual currency and with lawmakers both domestically and abroad focused on how to regulate it, Bitcoin will continue to gain legitimacy, which I think is key to its sustainability and continued mainstream adoption. We’re excited to be the first crowdfunding platform to help further that mission.”
With the adoption of Bitcoin, RealtyShares hopes to become a pioneer in the investment real estate market. If it does, we may be crediting the digital currency as its turning point.
Let us know what you think about Bitcoin's volatility and sustainability in our comments section.
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