North Texans banking on bet that Bitcoin has a bright future

Twenty-five stories above Victory Park, a condo at the W is for sale. It has a million dollar view…and just over a million-dollar price tag. “$1,049,000,” says Brandt Barham, Co-Founder of Nail & Key Realty.

Barham says the condo can be bought with regular money or with Bitcoin, “I think the demographic for people who would want to buy in the W is the same as the demographic that would typically invest in Bitcoin…late 20’s, early 30’s professional.”

If you’re not into Bitcoin, here’s a bit about it: Unlike traditional currencies, it’s not owned or controlled by a government. It’s easily sent across borders–person to person–each transaction recorded on lots of computers. Since banks aren’t involved, you can conceal your identity as you send and receive.

Early on, Bobby Sharp saw big potential and co-founded Coinsource, “We’re in 14 states and have about 200 machines right now. We plan on doubling that by the end of 2018. There’s a lot of demand”. The Fort Worth-based company operates special ATMs where you can buy and sell Bitcoin. Sharp gave us a demonstration using a five dollar bill, “I put my 5 dollar bill in…keep in mind a Bitcoin right now is $11,045. So you are buying a fraction. I am going to buy .0041648 BTC (an abbreviation for Bitcoin).”

That $11,045 valuation for Bitcoin is not a set value. The price of Bitcoin changes constantly, like a stock. Ten minutes after Sharp bought that fraction of a Bitcoin for $5, it could still be worth the same amount, it could be worth one dollar, or it could be worth one-hundred dollars.

Bitcoin is volatile. And it isn’t backed by anything—like gold reserves or a government’s reputation. Its worth is determined by supply and demand. In January of 2017, people paid about $1000 for 1 Bitcoin. By December of 2017, they were paying more than 19,000 dollars for one.

Ron Meade enjoyed that climb. He owns Seal Heating and Air Conditioning in Tarrant County, which accepts payment in cryptocurrency. He also owns some Bitcoin, which he has held onto for years as it has exploded in worth. Meade was introduced when a former boss gave Bitcoins as bonuses, “That’s when it was $200.”

Now Meade wonders which of Bitcoin’s competitors might be the next big thing. More than a thousand different coins have sprung up. Some investors simply see this as the future of money. For others, cryptocurrency’s allure is its independence from banks and governments. Meade explains, “It really is a movement that a lot of people are getting into.”

Websites show computer currencies are accepted at a growing number of places in North Texas. And Brandt Barham thinks his Dallas condo listing will be the first of many properties he’ll market to Bitcoin’s believers, “It opens up the possibilities.”

Even though critics argue cryptocurrency is over-valued and under-regulated, many people, including Coinsource’s Bobby Sharp, are banking on its potential to grow in acceptance and worth, “I have heard it could go as high as $100-thousand per Bitcoin. Now I don’t know that. Don’t invest in it based on Bobby Sharp is saying it’s going to go to 100 thousand. However, I do think this is around for the long term.”

© 2018 WFAA

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