A Virginia senior living provider now is accepting Bitcoin as payment for services in response to a request from its families for the option.

English Meadows Senior Living CEO Mike Williams told McKnight’s Senior Living that a couple of families over the past few months asked about making payments via cryptocurrency. After thinking about it and doing some research, “We decided if people wanted to pay us that way, we would absolutely be able to do it,” he said.

“We are in the business of saying yes as many times as we can to our residents,” Williams said. “There are so many no’s to providing the proper and regulated care in our industry, so why would we ever say no to the things we can say yes to, whether it’s hospitality or payment related?”

Williams said the company, which offers assisted living and memory care throughout Virginia at eight locations, set up a digital wallet and supplied the information to those who were interested in making payments using Bitcoin. Williams equates the process to PayPal or Venmo.

“Essentially, someone could just pay our wallet instantly,” Williams said. “If you sent me $4,000 in Bitcoin, I could easily, instantly transfer it into dollars and have it deposited that day or the next day into our corporate account.”

Thirteen years ago, when English Meadows was founded, Williams said about 1% to 2% of its residents paid using automated clearing house, or direct payments, whereas everyone else paid by check. Today, 60% to 70% of residents pay via ACH.

“I could see 1% to 2%, or a little more, over time wanting to pay with Bitcoin,” he said. “It doesn’t cost us anything. It is an extra step, but we try those things we can do hospitality-wise and be accommodating.”

Williams said the company’s Blacksburg location in the New River Valley, near Virginia Tech and Radford University, also is home to a large population of people knowledgeable about cryptocoin.

“There are a lot of people sitting on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and they don’t have a lot of ways to spend them,” he said, adding that English Meadows just started accepting Bitcoin this month and has two to three families using the option. 

Bitcoin, Williams added, is accepted at about 2,300 U.S. businesses. Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently announced that it now is possible to buy Tesla vehicles in the United States with Bitcoin.

Williams said that by summer, English Meadows plans to expand into neighboring states and double its size. The company will serve 2,000 residents by the end of the year, he predicted. He would not be surprised if 20 to 40 families started paying by Bitcoin, he said.

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