Funding real estate transactions with bitcoin has already become an accepted practice in the US, so it's unsurprising that it's begun to take root in Japan, the only developed country that has explicitly legalized cryptocurrencies as legal tender.
CCN reports that a Tokyo-based real estate firm is selling a commercial building for 547 bitcoin, or $6 million. It is said to be the first building in Japan to be sold using bitcoin.
The company's CTO, Yokozawa Yuske, said a growing number of investors in the local cryptocurrency space have started to eye the country’s real estate market, primarily to spend profits they had amassed from their cryptocurrency investments over the past few years.
Yuske noted that there are also many investors in the local real estate market looking to sell multi-million dollar properties in exchange for bitcoin, chiefly because it's easier to sell a large asset than to cash out a massive chunk of bitcoin: Most cryptocurency exchanges would make users undergo a vigorous verification process.
A Yitanzi spokesperson noted that a property in Tokyo will be sold for bitcoin in the upcoming weeks and that other properties listed by the startup will also be sold for bitcoin. For now, the company is only accepting bitcoin: Other cryptocurrencies may be added in the future.
Normally, purchasing properties through banks and third party service providers lead to significantly high fees, especially if several millions of dollars have to be transacted between two separate banks. As such, to circumvent the inefficient global banking system, many realtors in London and the United Arab Emirates have started accepting bitcoin for large payments.
In September 2017, British entrepreneurs Michelle Mone and Doug Barrowman disclosed that their $356 million real estate project will accept bitcoin from clients and buyers. Each apartment in the complex costs 30 bitcoins, around $330,000.
While the fees associated with small Bitcoin transactions can be disproportionately high, especially when network congestion causes them to spike, on a transactions worth more than $100,000, a $10 fee is substantially lower than bank wiring fees.
Barrowman said at the time:
"I’ve been invested in the crypto world for the last couple of years really, and it’s a sector I’ve watched grow and emerge. So I see it coming to that stage where the early adopters are giving way to a more mainstream application of cryptocurrency, and therefore it’s a logical extension to take land and buildings and effectively offer people the opportunity to pay in cryptocurrency or bitcoin rather than just fiat currency."
Japanese businesses - including airlines, electronics manufacturers, budget hotel chains and retailers - have been accepting bitcoin for payment since immediately after the Japanese government legalized bitcoin and regulated its cryptocurrency exchange market early last year.
Bic Camera, the country’s biggest electronics retailer, and Peach, Japan’s most widely used budget airline, have been accepting bitcoin payments for more than six months. The acceptance of bitcoin by influential conglomerates has increased the awareness of the Japanese people regarding cryptocurrencies, leading to a surge in interest and demand for bitcoin.
This month, MUFG - Japan's largest bank - announced its plans to launch a cryptocurrency exchange to address growing demand from institutional and retail traders.