Oli Stastny has traveled the world – from Switzerland to Hawaii and Alaska to Whistler, Canada and back again. As a professional windsurfer and snowboarder, a real estate entrepreneur as well as a crypto and blockchain enthusiast, he has seen it all, while always pushing forward to the next big thing. Oli’s company, Peakside Property Management (PPM), offers exclusive homes, chalets and properties for rental in St. Moritz and Switzerland’s Engadin Valley and in the years since he founded the company, Oli has built a prominent business around the full life-cycle of real estate in eastern Switzerland.
In cooperation with Bitcoin Suisse, PPM began accepting cryptocurrencies as payment for rentals in November 2020, making it another one of the pioneering firms helping to bring blockchain and crypto to the wider world.
How did you come to be a real estate and blockchain/crypto pioneer?
When I was in Whistler, I realized that in Switzerland, we are way behind with our ski resorts and the services we provide. In Whistler, I had the idea of one day starting a service company in the Engadin. So I came home… And I ended up in the real estate industry, doing basically everything connected to real estate: running private homes, building them, selling them, and managing six-star hotels. I do the full package.
And do you remember the first time you heard about Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies? What were your thoughts?
It was probably around 2010 or so. Back then, I looked at it kind of like ‘digital monopoly money’ for gaming sites. I had no clue what it was. I thought ‘This is not real. This is just something in the internet – some money that you can use to get into ‘the next level.’ I must have just read something somewhere and read the word ‘token.’ That word alone made it sound ‘gaming-like.’
What do you think of first when you hear the word “Bitcoin” or “cryptocurrencies”?
Back then, I was not that interested in Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies at all. It was just like a game. Then I started get more interested in 2016 or 2017 when clients of mine started talking about it. I became more interested in the potential of blockchain for the business side of things. At that time, blockchain was a big topic with my clients.
And after that, I found this course from Oxford University and I started to learn about cryptocurrencies in general.
And with this blockchain course at Oxford University – what did you do there?
Bitcoin will be great to use for payments. But what really interested me was to focus more on smart contracts. Smart contracts are something that have huge potential for the future. When I think about the luxury rental industry, if you had the whole rental contract on Ethereum with a smart contract, it would make my life a whole lot easier.
What you could do is put the whole terms of payment in a smart contract. Then I do not have to call the client and say ‘Oh, your second payment is due, please send me the money.’ Then I would not have to run after the payment, when clients tell me ‘But it was sent yesterday, from somewhere in the world.’ But they didn’t actually send it – and so and so forth.
If you have the whole rental contract on a smart contract, you click the button, you agree on the terms and the money flows when it should flow. At the end of the rental term, you tick a box, and the deposit is returned. So that is what really impresses me today with cryptocurrencies. It’s not about having a logo on the website, “We Accept Bitcoin” – I see the technology making our lives much easier in the future.
In the Oxford course, I did my final thesis on the process of putting the whole construction permission on the blockchain. There are so many steps in the construction process, and you can take all of it, all the little steps, and put the parameters, even the parts of local construction law into the blockchain. And then there is no way around facts. It all has to be done according to the law – no more ‘I helped you, so you should help me now.’ It does not matter who you are – you either have a construction permission or not.
Few people would imagine that cryptocurrencies are a ‘hot topic’ way out in the mountains of eastern Switzerland – how is it that crypto has become popular in such a place as St. Moritz?
St. Moritz is probably the smallest international city in the world. What we find here is many top people from all around the world – a lot of our clients are from the tech industry, investors in the tech industry. It is a perfect base in the middle of Europe – a trendy place to live. Especially now when many people do not want to live in cities anymore. That is why St. Mortiz is so open to new technology.
Why have you decided to start accepting crypto payments for Peakside Property Management?
It is just the time for it. Hardly anyone uses cash anymore. People pay with their Apple Watch or whatever. And we are now at the point that the technology works quite well for digital payments. If I pay with my Apple Watch in Swiss francs or Bitcoin, it does not matter. That step is not very big anymore.
And I am sure that it is easier for my guests to pay in Bitcoin than in Swiss francs. If I have a hundred Euro in my pocket, I am much more likely to spend it than 100 Swiss francs – because Swiss francs are my cost base; that is how I pay my invoices. And I think it is the same with Bitcoin.
If I offer people to pay in Bitcoin, I am pretty sure that the spending, when they are on-site, will be higher.
They have these Bitcoins, and they can spend them. If they want the better champagne or a massage or something else, they think ‘Well, I have this stock of Bitcoin, why not?’
The other side is, maybe someone will eventually come along and want to build the smart contract system together with me so that we can run that luxury rental on an Ethereum smart contract. It would be way more secure for someone who rents and for the owner like me. It would make our lives, as the agency that rents, way easier.
As we look ahead to 2021, what do you see for cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin in particular?
I think Bitcoin can go to $25 000. I really think it can. I really see it going further up – the time is right. And more and more people will start to realize that the volatility is fading. And when people see that this is not just like gambling, but this is an actual currency, that is when the volatility will fade. I think this could definitely be the year!