Bitcoin revolution: Cryptocurrencies are now being used to but luxury properties
Manhattan’s fast-paced property development market is now targeting tech-savvy millennials who have benefitted from the bitcoin boom.
Ben Shaoul, of Magnum Real Estate Group, is hoping to capitalise on the cryptocurrency’s success and allow people to purchase “competitively priced condos” in Manhattan’s East Village.
Liberty Toye at 2 Avenue B, is one of the very first properties in the heart of New York, which can be bought with bitcoin.
The crypto token, which entered 2017 at less than £761.21 ($1,000) per token, is now priced at more than £4,956.91 ($6,500).
Mr Shaoul told Express.co.uk: “We were approached by a buyer who has been collecting bitcoin for many years and was interested in using it to buy property.
“He said he really wanted to buy with bitcoin, so I spoke to my lawyers and the powers that be, and they said yes.”
Since then, the developer was approached by two to three customers who “believe in bitcoin” enough to cash it in for a luxury condo.
The condos in question are priced in the region of £533,820 ($700,000) to £1.1 million ($1.5 million).
Mr Shaoul is now looking into expanding this avenue by advertising the opportunity to potential customers.
He said: “We are even thinking about advertising this now.
Luxury condos: Liberty Toye condos in Manhattan’s East Village can be bought for bitcoin
“We were just shocked to find out how many people have bitcoin.
“I bought some myself last summer, and now I wish I bought more – who knew how this would explode?”
We were just shocked to find out how many people have bitcoin
But there is a clear risk in trading bitcoin at large sums, due to the token’s inherent volatility.
This weekend alone, bitcoin was struck down with a 22 per cent drop after what was so far an exceptional month of performance.
The token fell as low as £4,236 ($5,555) after analysts warned the token is stuck in a bubble about to burst.
But the developer who intends to hold onto the tokens as a long-term investment, sees the inherent risks in bitcoin as part of the game.
He said: “Sure its volatile, but so are the stock markets.
“Would you stop investing in stock markets? No, you wouldn’t.
“Each person is going to have a risk assessed judgement on whether or not they want to invest in bitcoin.
“We’ve always been innovating in the housing market. We’ve never played safe.
“I started the company when I was young and I’ve always played aggressive.
“We always try to push the boundaries while many others are very old-school in the way they do things.”
The estate mogul argued that growing awareness of cryptocurrencies will help them break out into the mainstream of everyday finances.
Bitcoin has moved from being an experiment on the fringes of online forums, to a genuine source of discussion over dinner between Mr Shaoul and his friends.
But Mr Shaoul thinks it will still take time for the digital token to reach the widespread recognition it is aiming for.
Bitcoin rising: Mr Shaoul is certain bitcoin will grow in mainstream appeal
He said: “Right now America is somewhat lagging behind in adopting these technologies.
“It’s in its infancy stage at the moment, but I think it’s going to grow.”
“Why would you turn down the payment if it’s a recognised currency? It’s liquid – you can cash it in.
“It’s thinking outside of the box.”
The number of businesses open to bitcoin payments across the United States is limited, but the number is slowly growing.
Several eateries in Manhattan, such as ice-cream shop Melt, let you purchase goods for the crypto token. Tech giant Microsoft allows its customers to purchase games, films and apps with bitcoin.