Jeff Bezos-backed Latin American real estate app to accept Bitcoin as payment
La Haus, a Latin American property tech startup backed by Bezos Expeditions, said it will accept Bitcoin for real estate transactions, adding to the region’s growing adoption of the cryptocurrency as a means of payment.
The company, which allows users to purchase homes through an app, will allow buyers to pay with the digital currency, starting with a housing development in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. It will eventually open the rest of its inventory of more than 80,000 properties to Bitcoin, according to the company.
“We think that Bitcoin will be the reserve currency of the future,” said Rodrigo Sanchez-Rios, president and co-founder of La Haus, in an interview. “At our core, we’re a tech company. It’s natural for us to be pioneers with this technology.”
The company is partnering with Los Angeles-based payment processor OpenNode to allow for transactions both on-chain and over the Lightning Network, which was designed to make purchases quicker and easier. La Haus will act as an intermediary, paying the sellers in fiat. The company has not decided how much Bitcoin it will keep on its balance sheets, he said.
Despite its notorious volatility, Bitcoin’s acceptance is growing across Latin America, adding legitimacy to the world’s largest cryptocoin, which boasts a market value of more than $1.2 trillion after a 20% rally over the last month pushed the price to record highs of above $68,000. El Salvador in September became the world’s first country to make it legal tender, sparking interest from other governments and companies in the region.
It is unclear if La Haus is the first so-called proptech to accept Bitcoin. Sanchez-Rios said the technology can ease the home-buying process in emerging markets by cutting down on the reams of paperwork and time needed to complete traditional purchases.
La Haus hired Jehudi Castro-Sierra, a former Colombian deputy minister and presidential adviser, to help spearhead the project.
Sanchez-Rios co-founded the company in 2017 with Jeronimo and Tomas Uribe, sons of former Colombia President Alvaro Uribe. It operates in 10 cities in Colombia and Mexico, focusing on new housing developments. More than $1 billion worth of annual gross transactions are carried out over its app, which has more than 1 million monthly users, Sanchez-Rios said.
It has raised more than $150 million of equity and debt from investors, including Jeff Bezos’s fund, Acrew Capital, Renegade Partners, Kaszek Ventures, Nubank co-founder David Velez, and TIME Ventures, an investment fund for Salesforce.com Inc.’s billionaire founder Marc Benioff. La Haus did not disclose its valuation.
Sanchez-Rios said La Haus is likely to raise funding again next year. It plans to expand to every major city in Colombia and Mexico by year’s end and across Latin America thereafter.