A Caribbean housing developer is creating the world’s first bitcoin community, where residents will pay for property, goods and services entirely in cryptocurrency.
The first fully bitcoin-enabled community will be set in Bequia, an 18 sq km Caribbean island that is part of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The project is the brainchild of real estate developer Storm Gonsalves, who plans to build 39 luxury villas, shops, a clubhouse and buildings with his company One Bequia.
Residents will be able to pay for everyday essentials like groceries, restaurants and entertainment in bitcoin, as well as buying their property with the cryptocurrency.
The properties, ranging from £670,000 to £1.6m, can be purchased using cryptocurrency equivalents where prices are locked in to avoid fluctuations in price during transactions.
Speaking to the Express, Mr Gonsalves said that buying property in cryptocurrencies “will become a very normal thing in years to come”.
He said: “Right now we’re pioneering an alternative form of financing. We’re also pioneering a new way of marketing.
“There are over $1 trillion in the market cap of bitcoin alone, and many of these purchasers first bought it when bitcoin was only $1,000.
“So there is a lot of wealth in the cryptomarket that cannot be ignored any more – it’s just too large.
“It has really hit the mainstream so I think what we’re doing is going to become run of the mill in a few years from now.”
Cryptocurrencies could also provide a solution to financial challenges in the Caribbean, where island communities can be cut off from mainstream banking facilities.
Speaking to Euronews, Mr Gonsalves said: “Residents of small island nations are finding it increasingly difficult to send and receive money internationally because of ‘derisking’ by large international banks” – a practice of removing intermediary banking services from smaller community banks.
He said: “This prevents the island-based banks from transacting internationally. If this trend continues it means small island nations will be essentially cut off from international trade and commerce. For tourism-based economies, this will be devastating.”
Caribbean countries are adopting blockchain and cryptocurrencies more quickly than elsewhere as a result, Mr Gonsalves said. St Lucia, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, and St Kitts and Nevis launched DCash, the world’s first digital currency union in the world, which is backed by a central bank.
Mr Gonsalves believes the Bequia properties will attract those who already invest in cryptocurrencies. He told Euronews: “Not everyone understands the advantage of cryptocurrencies. People are still sceptical.”
“Early crypto investors are not your typical speculators and they believe strongly in the philosophy of decentralisation behind bitcoin/blockchain. They are not your typical speculator.”
However, the developer said those living in the community will also be able to use US dollars if they wish as the cryptocurrencies would be weighted against the American currency.