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For This South Florida Investor, The Future Of Real Estate Is Through Cryptocurrencies

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A lot of the appeal, and most of the perceived value, of Bitcoin comes from its outlaw status. Bitcoin and its fellow digital currencies exist beyond the borders of central banks, government debt levels, and trade policies

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin continue to explode in popularity, with social media giants like Facebook and Twitter now expressing interest in getting involved in crypto platforms. Over the past year, Bitcoin has already gained 200% in value. The currency was valued at 3 cents on the dollar back in 2010 when it first entered the market and now it’s around 10,000.

Cryptocurrencies have also become popular in South Florida. From specialized conferences to a bitcoin ATM machine in Wynwood, they remain a valuable tool for the large community of Latin American investors here and technology innovators alike.

Aventura-based real estate developer Remy Jacobson was an early investor in cryptocurrencies back in 2011. He’s since developed a platform that allows anyone to invest in real-estate properties using cryptocurrencies. Called RealT , it currently hosts properties in Detroit and plans to expand to Atlanta and across South Florida. He spoke with Sundial Producer Chris Remington about how RealT works and the future of cryptocurrencies.

WLRN: What could people use Bitcoin for right now? What's available out there?

JACOBSON: You can buy everything from a car, a hotel room, to a drink in a restaurant and a T-shirt in a store. You could virtually buy anything with bitcoins today.

What's interesting for me too is seeing how popular cryptocurrencies have become in South Florida.  For example, you see conferences for cryptocurrencies down here. How has it become such a hub?

We are the center for Latin America. Latin America uses a lot of cryptocurrencies, not just Venezuela but many other countries. It is extremely easy to transact in cryptocurrencies. It's extremely easy to send a wire if you want to call it a wire. Bitcoin makes life very easy.

Explain the idea behind using cryptocurrencies as a way to invest in real estate.

Transparency, ease of transaction and speed of transaction is what is really key for real estate and cryptocurrencies.

So RealT is the first fractional, frictionless, real estate investing platform live today. We have some competitors coming live but they are not operational as we are. We've seen the value in fractionalizing real estate and opening real estate to the masses. Historically speaking, real estate is a very expensive and cumbersome investment for everyone. Today with $50 you could buy a piece of real estate and you could see the effect of passive income that real estate gives you over a year.  You're not going to get rich but you will understand that $50 could turn it into x amount of dollars just from the rent payment, not the intrinsic value of the asset that itself goes up every year. And that's what RealT gives. It's an access to safe passive income which is real estate to everybody, not just reserved for the wealthy of the world anymore.

One of the issues that often comes up with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is that they're extremely volatile. They can constantly change in value and, quite frankly, they have over the past several years. So I'm wondering when you're investing in these real estate properties, is that a concern that you're not sure how much money you're going to have after a couple months or after a year?

No it is not. There are tokens or security tokens and they are asset-backed tokens, which are backed by the intrinsic value of the asset itself. So if the house is worth one hundred thousand dollars, your general amount of token will be worth one hundred thousand dollars. As the House increase in value, the token will go up in value.

Where do you see the future of cryptocurrencies going? Could I for instance soon be able to pay my landlord in rent with cryptocurrency?

Absolutely. There is a platform called Kahuna, the Kahuna Token, which will allow you to do that in the next few months.

The question is not if cryptocurrencies has a future, it's which cryptocurrencies will be the future. I do not see us transacting in cash with paper bills in our pocket in the next 10 years. Today through paypal and cash apps you're already using a form of digital money which is more traditional. But the question will not be, "Is it crypto?" It's which crypto we will be using.

Chris knew he wanted to work in public radio beginning in middle school, as WHYY played in his car rides to and from school in New Jersey. He’s freelanced for All Things Considered and was a desk associate for CBS Radio News in New York City. Most recently, he was producing for Capital Public Radio’s Insight booking guests, conducting research and leading special projects at Sacramento’s NPR affiliate.