Brazil-based real estate developer Tecnisa has announced it is now accepting bitcoin, making the company Latin America’s largest cryptocurrency-accepting merchant by annual revenue.
Figures from the CoinDesk State of Bitcoin Q3 suggest that its revenue figures put Tecnisa among the top 10 largest bitcoin-accepting merchants globally. The publicly traded company boasted net operating revenue of 1.8bn reals in 2013 (approximately $728m).
Founded in 1977, Tecnisa has long been at the forefront of integrating new technologies into its platform, becoming one of the country’s first merchants to sell real estate online in 2000 and via Twitter in 2008. Tecnisa even sold apartments via the online virtual world Second Life in 2007.
In an interview, Tecnisa marketing and media manager Gustavo Reis, expressed hope that his company would encourage more widespread bitcoin adoption in a local market still seeking to overcome challenges.
Reis told CoinDesk:
“We believe that a R$1.8bn, open-capital company like Tecnisa, will push the adoption in all sides the counter: customers will have more options to use and merchants will have more volume of transactions to explore.”
Notably, the move represents a partnership between Tecnisa and local Brazilian bitcoin processor BitInvest, which launched its merchant processing services this summer. With the move, Tecnisa joins Argentinian e-commerce companies Avalancha and OmbuShop as the latest to add bitcoin as a payment option.
Headquartered in Sao Paulo, Tecnisa develops residential and commercial properties, handling all aspects of the process from construction to end delivery to customers.
Embracing new technology
Reis was also keen to note how Tecnisa’s use of new technologies has helped it to historically grow its business. Today, he noted, more than 40% of Tecnisa’s total revenue is completed through its online portal, but this wouldn’t likely have been possible without its early embrace of the Internet.
“In this context, it’s natural to keep updated about new technologies, trends and forms to enhance the user’s experience,” Reis said. “Bitcoin fits perfectly in this scenario, because it’s new, it’s growing fast and [has] potential to be a gamechanger in the payment system.”
Tecnisa, he added, has been following developments in the bitcoin ecosystem since 2013, but finally left comfortable with the service provided by BitInvest.
“BitInvest was the first player that combined a huge knowledge about local business with a consistent platform,” he said.
Reis went on to cite CEO Flavio Pripas’ established history as an entrepreneur, noting he was the founder of fashion-centric social network Fashion.me.
Promise of savings and returns
As with the Internet, Reis believes being early with bitcoin acceptance will position Tecnisa as the leader in the next big technology that could potentially transform commerce.
Still, he acknowledged that the option may now only appeal to early adopters of the technology.
“We believe that the adoption will be low today, but that bitcoin promises real return,” he said. “It’s important to us to be the first mover, putting the brand in line with new trends and bringing the opportunity to bitcoin buyers to find their new homes.”
To incentivize new users to both bitcoin and BitInvest’s platform, Tecnisa is offering a promotion that will give bitcoin buyers back 5% over the value they pay in bitcoins on purchases.
BitInvest’s big move
While the move is a boon for Brazil’s local ecosystem, it also casts BitInvest as an early market leader. BitInvest now provides bitcoin exchanges services and merchant processing in Brazil, and hopes to add a remittance feature soon.
Pripas explained that BitInvest’s solution provides a local alternative to US-based merchant processing providers. Like BitPay, BitInvest allows local merchants to either convert bitcoins to Brazilian reals or keep bitcoin directly, however, he said BitInvest has localized its solution.
“The advantage of what we are doing here is as we know the local market, we are following the local legislation and we are providing for our customers a very strong legal framework to support our businesses,” Pripas explained.
Pripas indicated that BitInvest intends to focus more on business-to-business partnerships as it grows its solution. In particular, he said it is in talks with local online payment processing providers in the hopes of striking a relationship similar to PayPal’s recent deal with BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoin in the US.
“It would give us much bigger distribution than going merchant by merchant,” he added.
Statements by Reis and Pripas have been edited for clarity.
Images via Tecnisa