Bitcoin, a decentralised digital currency created in 2009 by a pseudonymous programmer who called himself 'Satoshi Nakamoto', has been listed as the preferred currency for an Australian home up for sale.
Last month, a five-bedroom Perth Hills home made waves when it was listed for $1.4 million to be paid by bitcoin only, at the owners’ request. The sale would make the property the first in Australia to be sold for digital dollars.
The offer has shocked many in the digital community as the value of bitcoins, which can be exchanged between through a peer-to-peer network without the need for a financial institution, is known to fluctuate wildly.
The price per unit has surged tenfold since the start of 2013, growing to a high of more than AU$1000 in November, while December saw a single bitcoin valued at about AU$750. As well as being traded in online exchanges, new bitcoins can be created through a process of "mining", which involves computers carrying out complex mathematical operations.
Bret Treasure of the Australian Web Industry Association, and a board member of Bitcoin Australia, told local papers in Perth that the sellers must believe the value of bitcoin is going to appreciate, and that mining the desired amount of bitcoin “would need a bloody supercomputer”.
Bitcoins can be bought from currency exchanges for those who don't have computer hardware to mine for the currency, allowing users to buy and sell bitcoins for other real world currencies.
Digital currency is also becoming a welcome form of payment in the US with Manhattan-based real-estate broker Bond New York now accepting bitcoins in property transactions.