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Bahamas Warned: Prepare For Bitcoin 'Game Changer'

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

A prominent realtor yesterday warned the Bahamas to prepare for Bitcoin and other digital currencies, describing it as a potential "game changer" for conducting real estate deals.

Mario Carey, principal of Better Homes and Gardens MCR Bahamas, told Tribune Business that his firm had already been analysing how it could facilitate Bahamian property purchases made via cryptocurrency. "We now have to see if we can use Bitcoin to do deals down here," he said. "We have people trying to facilitate that ability. We're trying to figure out how to do cryptocurrency transactions with certain clients. "Once we get facilities in place it's a game changer. It's a paradigm shift in the way we do business. At some point we'd better be ready for the cryptocurrency."

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are a form of digital money which, using the Internet, are designed to provide a secure and anonymous form of payment for numerous types of transaction.

While Bitcoin has produced tremendous volatility in global markets in recent weeks, Mr Carey said he and his firm were already in discussions to determine how they could handle cryptocurrency deals.

"We've been in discussions with different suppliers and lawyers on how we'd be able to handle that," he told Tribune Business. "Cryptocurrency should definitely be in the discussion in the real estate industry. It's there. It's real."

Mr Carey warned that the Bahamas may also have to adjust its laws and regulatory regime to account for Bitcoin and its fellow cryptocurrencies, warning that their arrival could prompt a shake-up where exchange control and taxation - and the Government's collection of the latter - were concerned.

"When we do cryptocurrency transactions, does that mean we're still charging Stamp Duty [on real estate purchases]?" he asked. "I guess so. How is the Government going to regulate that? What changes does it mean for the way we do business now?

"The cost should be the same. It's the manner in which payment is made that could be a lot easier, where you're not having to rely on exchange control and wire transfers. Whatever questions come up with regard to cryptocurrency, they need to be looked at."

Mr Carey, meanwhile, expressed optimism that real estate would enjoy "a very good season" in 2018 due to improved confidence and growth in the US economy.

He added that the surging Wall Street stock market was enhancing Americans' wealth and providing them with the confidence, and capital, to invest in foreign second home markets such as the Bahamas.

The devastation inflicted by hurricanes Irma and Maria in the southern Caribbean was also driving real estate purchasers towards the Bahamas and other destinations that had not been impacted, Mr Carey said.

"Money is still affordable in US currency, and we're still an attractive place to business," he told Tribune Business. "We're still benefiting, unfortunately, because of the hurricane damage that was done.

"People view Nassau as not really being in the hurricane belt; New Providence itself and even the Bahamas in general. We're seen as a 'relatively safe' hurricane prospect, and the market is gaining momentum."

Mr Carey was backed by Mike Lightbourn, Coldwell Banker Lightbourn Realty's president, who told this newspaper: "We're optimistic for this year. What's encouraging to us is that the US economy seems to be getting stronger so farm and we follow them.

"If they continue to strengthen, that helps us, and we're going to benefit from it. If the US economy gets stronger, the Bahamian buyer market and the foreign buyer market will strengthen.

"In the real estate market, we expect a better 2018. Assuming natural catastrophe-type events don't happen, I think we should have a very strong year."

Comments

proudloudandfnm 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Man. Bitcoin is a fad. Leave it alone. If the money has no backing it aint money. If you can't take a bitcoin down to Super Value to buy a 50 cent pack of matches it aint money. Listen to Warren Buffet.Taint a lot of folk out there know more about this stuff than Mr. Buffet. Listen to the man. And folk who say bitcoin is the next currency. How? When bitcoin itself can only describe its own worth in values of actual dollars? Will it ever be a dollar is worth so much bitcoin? Seriously seriously doubt that. Stay away from fads...

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OldFort2012 3 months, 2 weeks ago

You say that if the money has no backing it aint money. What do you think backs the B$, or the US$ for that matter? Absolutely nothing. Money used to be convertible, into gold. That is why it was a Pound: you could convert it into a weight of gold. You could go to the Bank of England, hand over your 1 Pound note and get gold. Stopped a loooong time ago. Since then, nothing backs your paper money, that is why it is called fiat money. Now, imagine if you could have an unhackable wallet, so no one can steal your money. Imagine if no government could confiscate your money. Imagine if there were no banks. Imagine if no government could devalue your savings. Imagine if you could transfer money to anyone on the planet instantly and for free. Those are aspirations, not fads. Cryptocurrencies bring us a step closer. Within 20 years there will be no Bank of the Bahamas, no currency controls, no theft, no RBC charging you to cash cheques. Freedom.

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realitycheck242 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Mr Carey is on the right track. Every Bahamian business sector needs to prepare. Cryto curencies are sweeping the world. Its just a matter of time before it reaches the Bahamas. If not Bitcoin then another version, maybe a Bahamain crytocurency. In the far east retailers have already began to accept Bitcoin for purchases. Cryto ATM machines are becoming common place. Regulation has started in the far east and a limited amount of exchanges are beginning to trade this and other cryto currency.This year.a number of Hedge funds have seen the wisdom and are adding Bitcoin to ther portfolios. Nicola Tesla correctly predicted the invention of the cell phone from 1926 and today our live would not be the same with out one.(See attachment) Crypto currencies are going to revolutionize the way people use money. Someday cash will be useless. The crypto Idea has been birth. Their will be growing pains, bubbles. crashes and hacks but just like every thing new, human ingenuity will solve them all and the cryto currency system will be perfected in every modern country once govenrments get on board.

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realitycheck242 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Comrade Stillwaters .... it will all be in your cell phone. There will be devices you swipe your phone in front of and the electronic crypto currency will be transfered from your phone to the Device just like the machine you swipe your credit card in.

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TalRussell 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Comrades! The world currently recognizes 180 different currencies but in Bahamaland only the US dollar is in use. There are currently over 1,000 cryptocurrencies out there, including the best-known -- Bitcoin -- along with other competing players such as Ethereum, Litecoin, and Ripple and hosts of smaller alternatives, dubbed "altcoins."
Why jump into a difficult to cushion high risk game of accepting the cryptocurrencies out there when we have so many other 'zero to near zero risk' ways for our government and hotels to market tourism that have never been given the slightest light of consideration?

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John2 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Comrades .....Crypto currencies are here to stay. Rodert F Kennedy once said "Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things the never was and ask Why not" Thats what a visionary does, They see things far into the future. If Bitcoin dies there will be a successfull replacement. Kids in the future will only learn about what cash is by seeing them in pictures. and they will be laughing at us because we used them..

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Emac 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Why the hell is everybody catching Talrytus with this "Comrade" greeting...Lol

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ohdrap4 3 months, 3 weeks ago

he forgot to take his medicine and had a Tal moment.

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banker 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Comrades, the future is here quicker than you think. The Bahamas will have its first cryptocurrency in the March timeframe. And there are at least two more on the way after that. That is great news comrades to stick it to the capitalist pigs and their counter-revolutionary money controls.

At the Grand Bahama tech summit held in November, there was a very interesting talk about another Revolutionary cryptocurrency as well, called Conch Coin. If it is implemented, it will be the most prominent cryptocurrency in the Bahamas and the most useful one for the bourgeoisie comrades in all of the islands.

Here is the Conch Coin proposal: https://www.gbtalks.com/2017/12/03/kimberley-king-burns-diversifying-the-economy-with-the-blockchain/ Around the 9 minute mark, you will hear about Conch Coin and its benefits to the proletariat.

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John 3 months, 3 weeks ago

The bitcoin is trading at 15,000 (Fifteen Thousand Times) it’s original value. It was created tongue in cheek as toy money to pay’fun’ debts one incurred over the internet. Of course it climbed off the computer and intermingled with true currency and real trading. Persons have become filthy rich trading in the bitcoin. The wiser have converted their gains to real currency. So while one cannot ignore the existence of the bitcoin and other crypto currencies these have no value backing them. Take a chance if you want but many iare going to be left holding empty bags. Remember that boomerang game where you wound up this ‘bomb’ and passed it from person to person until it exploded..there you have it

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marrcus 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Bahamas need to focus on keeping the bank tellers at their stations when the line is 40 deep. I watched scotia Bank open its doors recently. Staff had a prayer meeting, some encouraging words for tellers, applause, accolades etc. The manager then went to each teller, smacked his hand down on the counter and asked each teller. "You ready?" He did this 9 times..... I counted 9 tellers. 3 minutes later when we the public were let in, only 3 tellers were at their stations. Boy Bahamians know how to disappear that is for damn sure. Shameful lack of pride in ones work. What a joke.

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