Virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are actively used to buy goods and services including real estate. Dubai has gone further than the majority of countries and has become the first country to introduce the option to buy/sell properties using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. For instance, the largest transaction using Bitcoin took place in 2019 when a community by Emaar Properties with a price of USD 180М was sold.
Emaar Properties isn’t the only regional developer that is interested in introducing modern technologies and such payment services to purchase real estate. Among other developers who offer the possibility to buy properties with the help of virtual currencies are; Select Group, Dubai Properties, DAMAC Properties and Meraas. The digital currency market is however exposed to risks, therefore, a great number of crypto investors are thinking about transferring their funds to a more reliable investment such as real estate.
In this article, you will know what is cryptocurrency and what are its special features, as well as which steps you should take to obtain property in Dubai with digital currencies. Also, we will tell you how the government of Dubai is developing this method of investment.
What is Crytocurrency and How Does it Work?
As of the end of June 2021, 10.6К types of digital currencies were registered around the world. The capitalization was over a whopping USD 1.26Т and cryptocurrency can be built by anyone interested in it.
Cryptocurrency is a digital currency, created on binary data and working as a medium of exchange. This currency is almost impossible to counterfeit and data on cryptocurrency emissions is limited. In the majority of cases, cryptocurrency isn’t regulated by banks, tax or legal authorities, and it also has no interference from governments as well. Moreover, all data concerning available funds and completed transactions are saved only on the user’s cryptocurrency wallet.
Digital currency is divided into coins and tokens. The coin is mined by computer systems that are equipped with specialized chips competing in solving puzzles, then the coins can be used to make all kinds of purchases.
Every project is provided with token(s) which is a virtual payment system, that is the main driver of the network. For example, before becoming a utility cryptocurrency that operates as a payment method, Binance Coin (BNB) was a token on Ethereum used for trading operations. A token by Defi called Uniswap (UNI) can be received as an exchange of collectibles on the platform as well.
Taking everything into consideration, cryptocurrency is a digital version of money based on cryptographic technology or a code that can’t be changed. Cryptocurrency works on blockchain technology which is essentially a decentralized database that cannot be changed or hacked.
Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Regulation in Dubai
Cryptocurrency and blockchain projects in Dubai are regulated by the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) and the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA). Being the independent regulator of financial services in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the DFSA’s regulatory mandate includes asset management, banking and credit services, securities, collective investment funds, custody and trust services, commodities futures trading, Islamic finance, insurance, international equities exchange and an international commodities derivatives exchange.
Therefore, on October 25, 2021, the DFSA launched its regulatory framework for investment tokens. This structure shows the proposals from Consultation Paper 138 which was issued in March 2021 and was considered the first phase of the DFSA’s Digital Assets regime. The regulatory framework applies to those who are interested in marketing, trading and obtaining investment tokens as well as their holding in or from the DIFC territory. Moreover, the new legislation is applied to authorized companies who will provide financial services relating to investment tokens, including trading, consultation on arranging transactions in the investment sphere and insurance issues. In addition to that, the DFSA is working on the development of proposals that will be connected with exchange tokens, also known as cryptocurrencies, utility tokens and several stable coins. It’s planned that the second consultation paper will be published in Q4 2021.
The UAE government has launched several governmental blockchain projects, including the Dubai Blockchain Strategy in 2016 and the Emirates Blockchain Strategy two years later which is supposed to work until 2021. The project should have 50% of transactions go through the blockchain platform. New technologies help to save time and resources, including AED 11В (USD 2,99В), 398М documents annually and 77М working hours a year. Blockchain is going to be used for digital transactions which will help to protect the transmitted data.
Due to these types of projects, the country should advance governmental efficiency, industrial development and international leadership. Blockchain strategy initiatives led by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum will help make Dubai a prosperous city.
The cryptocurrency system and blockchain are implied actively through economics and will help to conduct business without any bureaucracy. Blockchain is going to be used in real estate to create a register of all Dubai real estate, which will be developed by the Dubai Land Department (DLD).
Additionally, in 2017 the government had announced the news regarding emCash cryptocurrency which is going to be created by Credit and Jbject Tech companies. It’s also planned that the emPay app where residents will be able to pay with cryptocurrency for public utilities and other services will be launched as well.
Among successful blockchain initiatives the most interesting ones are:
Smart Dubai, a project which aims to make Dubai the city of the future where blockchain, artificial intelligence, interactive dashboards, big data and smart contracts are ubiquitous.
Blockchain System, used by several Dubai banks – Emirates NBD and Mashreq Bank. New technologies are used to improve the security of clients and reduce fraudulent cheques and create an intellectual platform.
Dubai Pay app allows Dubai residents to pay for governmental services online. The app was launched in 2013 by the Smart Dubai organization and is under the control of the Dubai Smart Government.
The biggest world air company Emirates Airlines is going to use blockchain technology for its Skywards app, which was launched in 2019. This will help make payment safer and reduce fraud.
DP World is an international logistic and navigation company. The blockchain system helped to advance several processes such as digitalization and protection of documents, simplification of registration and elimination of duplicate processes.
The Process of Buying Properties With Cryptocurrency in Dubai
When you are planning to obtain, sell or rent real estate in the UAE with the help of cryptocurrency, you are advised to work with companies who have already successfully worked with such transactions. Moreover, the company must have a license from the Dubai Economic Department (DED) to be able to provide customers with financial intermediaries. The company should also have a flawless reputation in the digital market sphere.
The operation can be carried out in any cryptocurrency you want such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Usdt and other digital currencies, at the rate which was fixed during the transaction at the central office of the trading company. The price of a transaction will be formed according to the current cryptocurrency rate and the commission amount can be discussed with the company beforehand.
The process of obtaining cryptocurrency is quite easy. The buyer should open a cryptocurrency wallet in case he/she doesn’t already have one. The registration of the wallet can be done by an individual or a legal entity. A real estate purchase transaction usually starts from the choice of the property and then the discussion of terms and conditions, no matter what payment method was chosen. At this stage, a buyer and the seller discuss the key parameters of the transaction which later will be written in the purchase and sale agreement. The price of the chosen property in AED is converted into cryptocurrency, for example, Bitcoin. The sum is written in the agreement and cannot be changed. The seller and the buyer are not responsible for possible changes in the exchange rate.
After this, the buyer should send the agreed cryptocurrency amount to the digital wallet of a trading company and pay off the commission amount. Then the buyer is given a cheque-in AED so he/she can transfer the needed amount of money to an escrow account of the chosen property, if the transaction is for an off-plan property, or transfer the funds to the seller’s account. In case you are planning to make a direct purchase from the developer, you will need to sign a special form of agreement about the transaction from a third party. The cheque is then given to a developer and a buyer receives a notification regarding the transfer of money. If a buyer is interested in a completed property, you can pay for the unit after receiving the cheque-in AED. After that, the real estate agent will work on the transaction and help with obtaining the Title Deed.
Even though you are obtaining property with a cryptocurrency, you will not be able to pay for it directly. The Central Bank of the UAE requires that all transactions on the territory of the country should be made in the national currency – AED (dirhams). Therefore, you need to transfer your digital currency to the trading company and then wait to receive a cheque with the agreed amount of money with which you can pay for the property.
It’s worth noting that due to rate fluctuations the transaction of either the purchase contract or the rental contract can become unprofitable for one of the parties and the agreement can then be dissolved. Apart from the commission to the trading company for their services, a buyer should pay a registration fee to the DLD, which is 4% of the total cost of a property and a commission for real estate agent services (2%).
What Documents Do You Need to Obtain Property With Cryptocurrency?
While buying a property with cryptocurrency, you will need the same documents that are required for a usual monetary transaction. First of all, a preliminary agreement is written in English or Arabic. It is then important to use the services of a professional real estate agent who will help you to choose the property, collect and prepare documents and fill the contract correctly. It should be noted that Arabic terminology is quite difficult to understand by people who have never used or spoken the language before. In this case, a specialist can explain the nuances that might confuse a buyer. For instance, while buying or renting a property, it’s important to discuss such aspects as the correct address, payment plans, responsibilities of each party, etc.
You will need the following documents to make the transaction:
Identity document (ID)
Proof of a residential address
A power of attorney, if your representative conducts the transaction
Dubai is one of the first places in the world that introduced the opportunity to buy, sell and rent real estate with the help of Bitcoin, Ethereum, USDT, Litecoin and other digital currencies. The largest transaction of this type was made in 2019 with the price of the obtained property being USD 180M.
Emaar Properties isn’t the only Emirati developer which takes digital currency as payment for real estate. Developers such as Select Group, Dubai Properties, DAMAC Properties and Meraas also offer projects where you can invest using crypto.
It’s worth noting that for making such a transaction you should work only with licensed real estate agencies, real estate agents and cryptocurrency transaction management companies with an ideal reputation.
Among the successful governmental Dubai blockchain initiatives, it’s important to highlight Smart Dubai, the Dubai Pay app, DP World and the blockchain system used by banks such as Emirates NBD and Mashreq Bank.
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