A few months ago, a family member needed to rent an apartment in New York. I offered to help out and decided to use Bapple Real Estate as our broker since they were the first brokers in New York to accept Bitcoin.
For those who have not had the pleasure of renting an apartment in Manhattan in 2015, it is something like applying to an elite university, but more expensive. In this case, after an extensive application, we had to produce 6 (six!) certified checks (!!) to, among others, our broker, the landlord, the condo board and so on. Bapple was willing to receive their payment via Bitcoin so this was the interesting part.
This is what the process looked like.
The Payments Made By Bitcoin
- Bapple sent me their address
- I sent them some bitcoins from my computer
Total Time: 5 minutes for me; 2 minutes for Bapple
The Payments Made By Certified Check
- Bapple sent me the list of check recipients
- I went to the bank branch during business hours
- I waited in line for 35 minutes for certified checks
- I realized the checks given to me mixed up the notes and the recipients
- I stood in line again for 30 minutes
- I had the checks re-issued
- I called the broker
- She came to Midtown to meet me at the bank branch
- She wrote out a receipt on paper for the certified check
Total Time: 90 minutes for me; 90 minutes for Bapple
Now, what is interesting is that both processes have one flaw. Most of the payments were refundable in case the condo board rejected the tenant. But in both cases, I was relying on Bapple and the other parties to behave correctly.
Bitcoin has the ability to do better than that. The money could have been sent to a multi-signature (2/3) address with an independent arbitrator. If both the landlord and the tenant agreed that all conditions were met, they could release the money by themselves. If there was a dispute, the arbitrator could be brought in to break the tie. This is how things should work in 2015...
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