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Swiss firm introduces ‘boat-swapping’ business model

BoatAffair “swap” boat in Spain

BoatAffair “swap” boat in Spain

A Swiss company has developed a new addition to its peer-to-peer business model — boat swapping. BoatAffair.com has adopted the Airbnb-style model that U.S.-based firms such as Boatsetter and Boatbound have pioneered by connecting boat owners with interested parties who want to rent their boats.

But BoatAffair.com has added an extra component by allowing its members to trade boats without exchanging cash. The company instead uses a block-chain system with Bitcoin-style coins as the common currency.

“We started the business in Europe but do have yachts for charter in Miami and Los Angeles,” Adrian Walker, the founder of the company, told Trade Only Today. “People have also started to list their boats for swapping. We have three going on now. It’s a low-cost option. In fact, if the two owners come to an agreement, they stay on the others’ yachts free of charge.”

Walker said that when a boat owner lists on BoatAffair.com, he or she receives 500 Boataffair coins. These coins can be used by an owner who wants to do an “indirect” swap for a larger boat or as payment to another owner who does not want to do a swap but wants to charter the boat. In cases where there is a “direct” swap, no coins change hands. The owners trade boats for an agreed-upon time period.

“The coins do not translate to real money,” says Walker. “The owners decide how much value a coin has according to how they see the value of the boats in terms of the size, age of the boat and so on. It has been used successfully with home-swap models. The market will determine who gets more coins for each swap.”

While only about a half-dozen boats are listed, they are spread out around the world, from Croatia to Tasmania. Walker has high hopes for the swap model. “Right now, we’re seeing a sailboat owner in the Netherlands planning to swap with another owner in Croatia,” he said. “There are others in the works. We expect this part of our business to grow over the next few years.” Unlike the charter part of the business, owners speak directly to each other about potential swaps via the company’s Messenger tool.

Walker says that BoatAffair.com will make most of its revenues through chartering yachts to non-boat owners for real money. The startup has a team that reviews each yacht listing to make sure it reflects the details of the listing, as well as providing insurance information. “We use a secured payment system just like Airbnb,” says Walker. “It’s a traditional model that most people would recognize.”

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