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Billionaire Rick Caruso's real estate firm announced that it will start accepting bitcoin as rent payment — a first within the global residential and retail space.
Caruso, one of the largest real estate companies in the US, is the latest in a growing list of major institutions from Tesla to PayPal that have begun to accept the digital asset as a form of payment, subject to applicable laws, the company said on Wednesday.
The Los Angeles, California-based company also announced that it invested part of its treasury management in bitcoin, similar to what Jack Dorsey's Square did in October last year, and partnered with Winklevoss-founded Gemini, a cryptocurrency exchange and custodian.
This partnership intends to bring cryptocurrency, non-fungible tokens, and blockchain applications to Caruso properties as a way to engage their millions of visitors, the company said,
"I believe bitcoin and cryptocurrency will play an important role in our collective future," Caruso said in a statement.
The executive also said that he hopes to enhance the experience of his guests by introducing blockchain-enabled rewards and enabling cryptocurrency payments.
Bitcoin has risen to record highs due in large part to support from major institutions. The cryptocurrency has thus far soared more than 100% year-to-date and 600% in the past 12 months.
While bitcoin's rally has stalled in the past days, it tested the $60,000-level record last week after Visa enabled the use of USD Coin and CME Group revealed expanding its suite of crypto offerings with micro bitcoin futures.
As a whole, cryptocurrencies have seen their market capitalization double to $2 trillion in just three months.
There's a "growing shift for companies to accept this digital currency as a form of payment," Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said. "Bitcoin mania is not a fad in our opinion, but rather the start of a new age on the digital currency front."
However, the analyst added that only less than 5% of public companies will invest in bitcoin over the next 12 to 18 months as regulations are fleshed out.
Caruso, a privately held company, owns and operates a diverse portfolio of retail, residential and mixed-use properties. Included in its portfolio are The Grove and The Americana at Brand; luxury residential building 8500; and The Masonic Temple.
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