Dawn of digital dollars

  • Jessica Else / The Garden Island

    Bill Robertson and Jason Robertson are working together to open Princeville Botanical Gardens’ sale to cryptocurrencies.

PRINCEVILLE — One Kauai property is opening up its sale to digital currencies in the midst of a rapidly changing cryptoasset market that many are still trying to understand.

Ethereum. Bitcoin. Litecoin. Zcash.

The list goes on of digital currencies that all use blockchain technology to create a public ledger of transactions, making a system of payment and asset accumulation that is said by some to more accurate, more timely, and more safe.

“It’s a whole new era and it’s going to change how we transact business in the future,” said Bill Robertson, owner of Princeville Botanical Gardens.

The property is situated on 8.7 acres and has an extensive garden as well as a residence. It’s for sale for $7.9 million — in U.S. currency or in cryptoassets.

For a few years, Robertson said he’s heard about blockchain technology and digital currency from his son, Jason Robertson, and in 2017 he decided to open the property up to accepting things like bitcoin and ethereum as payment.

“It’s not really mainstream yet, but it’s barely a step beyond online banking,” Jason Robertson said. “I know people who are paid in bitcoin and in some places, like New Hampshire, there are brick and mortor business that accept that.”

Lunch. Movies. Clothing. The list goes on of items that can be purchased with cryptoassets, and online business like Etsy, Microsoft, Newegg, and Overstock all accept bitcoin as payment.

Even websites like OKCupid and WordPress are accepting bitcoin.

Real estate is part of that, and there are now platforms specifically for the exchange of real estate for cryptocurrency.

Neal Norman, Realtor on Kauai’s North Shore, said the Robertson property is the first he’s heard of on Kauai opening up to digital currencies.

“Although I have a lot of clients in the tech world, I have yet to see a transaction occur where cryptos were used for a purchase of any real estate,” he said, “but I think we’re not very far off from cryptocurrency and that being a way of acceptable compensation.”

Lenders in Hawaii say they haven’t had much experience with it either. Keri Shepherd from HomeBridge Financial Services said they don’t plan on working with it in the future — at this point.

Robertson said he’s had interest in the Princeville Botanical Garden Property, but is just launching his plan to include cryptoassets in payment methods and hasn’t had any interest in that yet.

He said the plan would be to agree upon a price and then a cryptocurrency equivalent, which would be converted into U.S. dollars in escrow.

“Doing an asset like real estate is a whole new future,” Bill Robertson said.

Both Bill and Jason said they heard about the recent $70 million NiceHash hack, but said they’re not concerned about wealth security when it comes to blockchain technology.

“Blockchain is the underlying technology for all these different kinds of currencies, and it wasn’t the blockchain that was hacked into, it was the layer on blockchain,” Jason Robertson said. “I can’t say with complete confidence that bitcoin will be around in 10 years, but without a doubt blockchain will.”

It’s not just the real estate transaction for which Princeville Botanical Gardens is accepting cryptocurrencies, either.

“We’ll be ready to accept bitcoin for members and admission, too,” Bill Robertson said.

  1. steve ball December 13, 2017 10:17 am Reply

    So when I am dead, I can pay them from my crypt?

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