A large slice of tropical paradise bordering the Coral Sea became one of the first properties in regional Queensland to go on sale for cryptocurrency.
Aquila Cove, 100 km south of Mackay, has been in the same family for generations and recently hit the market for 30 bitcoins or 440 ethereum.
John De Costa, the owner of the 162-acre land, said he had tried to sell the place on and off for five years for $ 2.2 million.
At the current market rate, 30 bitcoins equals approximately $ 2,040,013.
“We have had people who came in a few weeks ago and reviewed it specifically because they own bitcoin and believe in the philosophy of bitcoin.
“They were looking for a property that offered them and their families a safe haven from the world of COVID. “
Mr. De Costa is an account manager for a rural procurement company, and it was his son who introduced him to the world of cryptocurrency.
Last January, he said his son “got lucky,” investing a few thousand of his savings in bitcoin when it crashed, which tripled in value over the next month.
“He explained it to us, and we kind of agree with the philosophy of cryptocurrencies, and bitcoin in particular,” De Costa said.
A first for regional Queensland
Antonia Mercorella, managing director of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, said it was likely the first time she had seen a regional Queensland property being offered for sale in this way.
Ms Mercorella said the infrastructure in place for real estate transactions was clearly Australian dollar based.
“I don’t think any of these processes are in place to recognize bitcoin,” she said.
“I think a careful real estate professional if asked to market a property in this way, you would tell your seller to seek legal advice on this.”
Mr De Costa said he realizes that the use of crypto is not very common or widely understood in Australia, but he believes it is gaining momentum.
“All over the world there has been a lot of bitcoin sales,” he said.
Mr De Costa said he suspected that by using bitcoin he would be able to attract an international buyer.
“For them, transferring bitcoin to me is simple, inexpensive, almost free,” he said.
“The actual transfer of money is just instant and no third parties are involved.
“While for them to convert their currencies into Australian dollars and pay all the fees and charges that the bank will charge for transferring that amount of money, there is also this logistical advantage.”
But like any sale, this one will involve negotiation.
“If the price of bitcoin drops to $ 20,000, obviously our price of bitcoin will have to go up,” he said.
What is bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a decentralized digital payment method where transactions are not verified by a central bank or authority, but by a blockchain.
They’re stored in a digital wallet, and there’s a limited supply too.
Dr Christoph Breidbach from the University of Queensland Business School said that a digital wallet is basically like an app on your phone.
“It has a unique identifier, the public key, and then there is also a private key,” he said.
“With the keys you can control the transfer of digital currency from one wallet to another.”
Dr Breidbach said there is still a lot of novelty in transactions facilitated with cryptocurrency.
“It means in a way that you are protecting yourself against inflation.”
Dr Breidbach said one of the benefits of putting a property on the market for bitcoin was the publicity it generated.
“If I ever sell a property, I could do it myself,” said Dr. Breidbach.
He said the owner is fundamentally betting on the idea that the price of bitcoin will continue to rise. If that were the case, they would get a much higher monetary return than selling Australian dollars.
How does the operation work?
A record of the transaction is kept on the blockchain.
Dr Breidbach said that to his knowledge there are no legal restrictions on selling a property for bitcoin.
“I mean, if you own a house, you can sell it for cocoa beans if you want, or you can trade it for a grain,” he said.
Can the government regulate the unregulated?
Last week, the federal government announced its intention to investigate a custody regime to protect consumers who trade in cryptocurrency.
Dr Breidbach said conversations about decentralized finance are really about making the current financial system obsolete.
He said what could happen is the introduction of digital currencies issued by the central bank.
That’s something Treasurer Josh Frydenberg hinted at this week.
“That would essentially mean a centralized digital currency run by a government, and that, of course, creates a whole bunch of problems and challenges,” said Dr Breidbach.
“I hope we don’t go down this route.”