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Cryptocurrency offers new way to pay the rent

Business

Adelaide-based serviced office provider Business Hub has launched a plan it says will make it the state’s first commercial property provider to offer tenants the option to pay rent using cryptocurrency.

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From the start of the next financial year in July, Business Hub will accept Bitcoin, Ethereum and several other cryptocurrencies as payment for its office spaces and business services.

While it will have the ability to convert the cryptocurrency into Australian dollars, it plans to hold the currency on its balance sheet and also offer it as a payment method to third-party suppliers.

Business Hub started in 2009 with a suburban serviced office in Seaton and has grown to 220 members across 12 sites.

Founder and CEO George Kipriz has developed a knack for purchasing out-of-fashion spaces and has converted Glenelg’s revolving restaurant, the former Zhivago night club in Currie Street and a former gym above Cotto Café on Prospect Road into serviced offices.

Kipriz said he was not aware of any other businesses in the sector in Australia accepting cryptocurrencies for rent payments.

He said had already had interest in the modern payment scheme from two members including cryptocurrency trader Ivan Vantagiato, who delivered a workshop on digital currencies to coincide with the launch at Business Hub’s Glenelg offices on Friday night.

“I am no expert in cryptocurrency – we’re real estate guys,” Kipriz said.

“But the more conversations we had with our members, the more I realised that people are starting to use cryptocurrency quite a bit, or they trade in it, so I started looking at the stats and apparently one in five Australians are involved in some way with cryptocurrency.

“It looks like it’s the way going forward, especially for commercial offices, and it makes sense to us.”

Business Hub will use the Australian platform CoinJar for currency exchange and as a cryptocurrency wallet.

Kipriz said he aimed to be at the leading edge of his industry and recently published a book about the changing aspect of the workplace environment called Tomorrow’s Work: Real Estate Strategies for Successful Serviced Offices.

He said the demand for Business Hub serviced offices had been strong, particularly among ‘hybrid’ members who mainly worked from home but used the offices to conduct meetings and presentations.

“Since COVID it’s becoming more of a lifestyle choice for people to mix working from home and an office in a hybrid model and our leads have increased,” Kipriz said.

“We are constantly evolving – when we first started there were no serviced offices in the suburbs and that was a bit of a gamechanger.

“Since then we’ve introduced a hybrid offer and now crypto.”

Kipriz said he planned to ramp up a marketing campaign for new members starting with Business Hub in the new financial year.

“On our invoices, it will be similar to asking if they will be paying by PayPal or credit card but it will be the option to pay by cryptocurrency or in Australian dollars,” he said.

“I think the commercial office space sector will start steering towards it … it might be early days but things evolve fast and Business Hub is about being innovative and we have to move with the times.”

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