Over the past few years, Bitcoin has emerged as a highly popular digital currency that allows consumers to pay for products and services without ever having to go through a third-party processing system or bank. While Bitcoin used to be relegated for internet-based exchanges, it’s now come to the forefront as a viable alternative to cash and credit for many major retailers. There’s even a New York City preschool that will accept tuition payments in Bitcoin. And now, you may be able to pay your rent — or even buy a home — using this cryptocurrency.
Considering that 58% of people research a product or service online before purchasing, it’s no surprise that Bitcoin has become a popular option for e-commerce ventures and other online transactions. But it wasn’t until recently that Bitcoin made the leap from the digital realm to the three-dimensional one. Due to the rising value of the currency, a lot of companies are starting to take notice and accept it as a payment option.
But the interest in Bitcoin isn’t limited to businesses. A few years ago, homeowners from Lake Tahoe, California sold their property for $1.6 million in Bitcoin, and the trend has found its way to the land Down Under. Rob Gadd, who owns a five-bedroom home in Melbourne, says he’s willing to accept partial payment for his home in Bitcoin, and another Australian seller in Victoria says they’ll accept $2.5 million worth of Bitcoin in exchange for their six-bedroom home situated on 3.9 acres of historic garden land. Given the state of the real estate market, the type of sale, the asking price, and the property itself, it can often take upwards of six months to sell a home, even with help from a real estate agent, so these sellers are trying to make their properties as enticing as possible.
There’s another way to use Bitcoin to pay for your home: many New York City landlords are now able to accept Bitcoin for rent payments. According to recent data, one out of five Americans say they had out-of-pocket medical expenses topping $2,000 in the past year. With so few Americans with savings in their accounts, that can mean falling behind on credit card payments or even rent. That is, unless you have a stockpile of Bitcoin and the market is favorable.
ManageGo, a Brooklyn-based rental platform, has just added Bitcoin to its roster. The platform allows tenants and landlords to make and receive payments and even schedule maintenance services. ManageGo coverts Bitcoin payments to dollars using a digital cryptocurrency broker called Coinbase, which then distributes the payment in dollars to the landlord. The value of Bitcoin is locked in at the time of payment, which is important to note for a currency that’s extremely prone to value fluctuations. Unlike regular currencies that maintain a flat value, the value of Bitcoin is based completely on supply and demand. As of late November 2017, one Bitcoin was valued at $9,550, but it hit a record high of $17,000 in early December before experiencing a sharp value decrease almost immediately after.
Although ManageGo admits that they’ve seen more interest from landlords than tenants so far, the company is optimistic that the payment method will catch on in the new year.
“We lead in innovation, so we saw bitcoin was something that’s going to happen and become a standing currency sometime in the future,” explained Chaim Lowenstein, ManageGo’s vice president of business strategy. “Right now there are types of clients we have, their tenants fit the profile, and we wanted to offer it as the new amenity beyond a fancy gym or a new couch in the building.”
While it’s still unclear as to whether many tenants will take advantage of the opportunity, the move shows just how prevalent Bitcoin has become. No longer is it limited to the purchases you make through a screen; now, it’s become very much a part of everyday life.