A new £250 million ($325 million) Dubai development is billing itself as the "first major global development" allowing investors to purchase flats using bitcoin.
Aston Plaza and Residences will be developed by British entrepreneurs Michelle Mone and Doug Barrowman and was officially announced on Wednesday. Mone – dubbed a "bra tycoon" – is a British lawmaker and entrepreneur, who became a millionaire after launching underwear brand Ultimo with her ex-husband. Barrowman is a venture capitalist, and Mone's boyfriend.
"It's great to be partnering up together as well to launch this. And this is the first major global development where you can purchase in bitcoin," Mone told CNBC.
"Previously there's been an apartment here and there's been a house here and there, but never a £250 million development, so it's really exciting to be involved," she said.
Merging property and tech sectors
Mone's partner explained that he's been investing in cryptocurrency for some time now, inspiring him to create this unique opportunity through the new project.
"I've been invested in the crypto world for the last couple of years really, and it's a sector I've watched grow and emerge," Barrowman said, according to The Telegraph.
"The Dubai development is the pinnacle of design, architecture and commerciality. That said, I didn’t feel this was enough. I wanted to offer the property, tech and blockchain community a unique and exclusive opportunity by merging the property and tech sectors together in a true first for the industry," he said.
Want to invest? Here's the price tag
Studio apartments in the new complex start at 30 bitcoins ($133,000) and go up to 85 bitcoins for two-bedroom flats. The apartments have a view of Dubai Hills and the emirate's iconic skyline. Gym, swimming pool and residence lounge access will also be available.
The project aims for completion by September 2019 and will include 1,000 flats as well as a shopping mall.
However, the project's announcement comes as bitcoin has dropped 20 percent against the dollar in the last three days, according to The Telegraph. But the sharp dip comes after a record high last week, reaching $4,700 to one bitcoin. At the start of the year, the virtual currency hovered around $1,000 to one.
Governments have also expressed concerns about the future of cryptocurrency, with China clamping down on the new phenomenon of initial coin offerings (ICOs). Such moves by startups are used to raise funds by flogging off new digital tokens.
But Mone brushed aside doubts about the currency.
"It's the currency of the future," she said. "I wouldn't be getting involved in it if it was a kind of 'dodgy' industry."