Ray Sturm is the co-founder of RealtyShares, a company that allows accredited investors to crowdfund real estate transactions. The company is also one of the first in the real estate space to accept bitcoin as a currency for purchases.

Bitcoin is a virtual “cryptocurrency” that has its own valuation and exchanges. Tech pundits have debated the value of bitcoin, with some calling it a revolution in monetary exchange, while others have questioned its legitimacy and potential for widescale adoption.

At Real Estate Connect San Francisco, Sturm will talk about the rise of bitcoin, and its potential impact on real estate. With the recent resurgence of the currency, this is sure to be a discussion not to be missed.

Inman: What’s the most disruptive force changing the economy and consumer behavior and why?

Ray Sturm

Ray Sturm

RS: The emergence of a true sharing economy is in the midst of completely changing the way both businesses and consumers think about the world. From Uber X to Airbnb to crowdfunding platforms like RealtyShares, technology has reduced transaction costs to a degree that makes sharing (selling) assets and services easier than ever.

Inman: Every day there are more services described as “Uber for X.” Do you think this trend will continue? If so, what’s next? If no, why not?

RS: It will absolutely continue, as incumbents in a number of fields are challenged by new entrants who expose subpar products in services. These traditional powers are going to face a choice in the old saying of, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” They’ll have to get better or eventually get out of the way.

Inman: What’s the one trend you’re keeping an eye on for 2015 and why?

RS: With so many great technologies coming to market that help change real estate, I’m keeping an eye on how many of these companies will start to be acquired vs. trying to build great companies on their own. Some fields are getting very competitive, which naturally leads to consolidation. Will one of the traditional names in real estate make a splash with a big acquisition that demonstrates a desire to be more forward-thinking? I’m curious to see it play out over the next year or so!

Inman: What is the one thing real estate needs to do to innovate on the consumer experience?

RS: While there has been a proliferation of great sites like Zillow and Trulia, I’m not sure the real estate world appreciates how much smarter and more knowledgeable the consumer has become as a result of all the new information out there today. Big data has brought transparency to many industries, and real estate is no exception. I constantly have customers who work in completely different fields now pulling their own comps and asking great questions about valuation, etc. The customer is getting smarter, and in order to continue to attract them as (paying) customers, we all need to get smarter and more knowledgeable, too. I think this is good for everyone.

Inman: What’s the most important takeaway of your talk at Real Estate Connect?

RS: While they may seem like fads at first, new technologies like bitcoin that didn’t at first apply to real estate have had and will continue to have a significant impact on the industry. I’ll tell you why.

Ray Sturm will talk about the rise of virtual currencies on Thursday, July 17, at Real Estate Connect San Francisco. See the complete event agenda.

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