Real estate platform partners with blockchain firm to add cryptopayments

By Espie Angelica A. de Leon

Global real estate platform AQWIRE has partnered with Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI), a local crypto-currency and blockchain firm, to add a payment gateway for crypto-currencies into the platform starting with Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Photo shows (from left) Miguel Cuneta, co-founder and chief community officer of SCI; John Bailon, CEO of SCI; Ray Refundo, CEO of QWIKWIRE; and Scott Dy, chief blockchain developer of QWIKWIRE at the contract signing and press conference held at Acceler8 Co-working Space in Makati city on June 26

The contract signing was held at the Acceler8 Co-working space at 111 Paseo de Roxas building in Makati City on June 26.

The first global real estate marketplace in Asia, AQWIRE services the various stages of a real estate transaction’s sales cycle via a single ecosystem powered by blockchain and smart contracts.

It connects developers, brokers, buyers, and travelers around the world by providing local and overseas residential and commercial listings in its platform. It also processes buyers’ payments via credit and debit cards, international bank transfers, SWIFT, and now using crypto-currencies made possible by SCI.

According to Ray Refundo, chief operating officer of property solutions provider QWIKWIRE which owns the project AQWIRE, many of their clients from Japan and South Korea requested for a system that will allow them to pay using Bitcoin, hence the collaboration with SCI.

Thus, the addition of a payment tool for crypto-currency into AQWIRE further boosts the platform’s capabilities. Refundo was quick to point out however that AQWIRE is not just about crypto-currency.

“This is blockchain application beyond crypto-currency,” he said, adding that blockchain technology enables validation of payments, listings, and clients, among others.

From the Philippines’ standpoint, AQWIRE also opens up local real estate companies and buyers to markets and investments overseas, thus enabling these firms to grow bigger and go global. In 2017, cross border real estate was a $400-billion market.

“We need to get a big chunk of that market,” said Refundo. “You go to Hongkong, you go to Bangkok, they also do a lot of cross border real estate. The difference is, [in] Philippines, most of the foreign payment that we receive from abroad are coming from overseas Filipinos also who buy properties in the Philippines.”

AQWIRE also aids buyers in their decision-making by publishing analytical data. With the platform, common challenges faced by property developers, brokers, and investors around the globe are hurdled. Foremost of these challenges is the fact that listings are not consolidated, making the search for the right property a bit difficult for buyers.

Another major challenge is the lack of a standard protocol for international real estate transactions.
There is also a lack of trust among entities, lack of real-time recording of transactions, as well as inefficiency in processing cross-border payments.

Asked if Filipinos are now ready to buy property using crypto-currency, Refundo answered in the affirmative. “Many of us already have a wallet, there’s a lot of interest in crypto. They’re ready to start, yes. Are they ready to start big? No. But they’re ready to start,” he revealed.

AQWIRE’s payment gateway for cryptocurrency will be launched in July 2018. Prices will not be based on the cryptocurrency. Instead, it will be pegged at the exchange rate at the time of payment.

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