In Brief

Why care homes are launching their own cryptocurrency

Bitcoin-like digital token intended to help residents invest in their rooms in ‘timeshare’-style scheme

A care home chain has launched a bitcoin-inspired cryptocurrency designed to let residents pay for their rooms without having to worry about carrying cash. 

Under the scheme, created by care services firm Carlauren Group, residents can buy “C-Coins” at a rate of £70 each, the price of one night in a Carlauren care home or resort, separate from the costs of care, the BBC reports. 

The company says it guarantees to buy back coins at £63 each, to avoid the usual risks associated with investing in a cryptocurrency. 

The scheme is being billed as a way for elderly residents and their children to invest in the rooms - “a kind of timeshare scheme which would then be tradable because the coins could be sold on an exchange”, the broadcaster adds. 

Residents can buy into the scheme with a minimum investment of 100 coins, equating to £7,000, reports cryptocurrency news site Coin Rivet. The maximum buy-in is capped at 500 tokens, or £35,000. 

Unlike major cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and Ethereum, which are purchased using public exchanges, C-Coins can be bought and sold only through the Carlauren Exchange online facility. 

Troup’s chief executive, Sean Murray, says he believes “that blockchain technology will revolutionise how the world will transact and exchange”.

“However, I am conscious that cryptocurrencies have received a bad press recently, so we have taken extensive measures to ensure the C-Coin is the best possible safe solution for all investors,” he added. 

But BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones argues that questions remain over the virtual currency’s usability.

Cellan-Jones claims that “anyone can sign up to buy coins, with no apparent checks”, meaning outside investors could buy several coins in the hope of turning a profit when all 500,000 of the tokens sell out. 

The Competition and Markets Authority also sounded a note of warning. The watchdog said it could not comment on any particular case but told the BBC: “Requiring care home residents to pay for goods or services in cryptocurrency may raise potential consumer protection concerns.”

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