The Curious Case of Unconventional Money Transfers

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Property transactions are synonymous with money transfers, however the UK property market has witnessed some peculiar alternatives to cash that have been used to secure a property.  

While these cases are rare and often require special agreements between buyer and seller, they certainly add a touch of intrigue to the property world.  

Viewed with a mix of curiosity and scepticism when Bitcoin emerged in 2009, cryptocurrency has since evolved into what looks set to become a dominant future asset class. Over 40 per cent of American adults now own cryptocurrency and, as we all know, the UK is never far behind US trends.  

The acceptance of cryptocurrencies by brands including PayPal and Visa is further accelerating their widespread acceptance.  Indeed, even conventional banks have shown a sharp increase in institutional interest in digital assets, committing capital as a sign of mounting trust in their long-term viability.  This is rendering the ability to identify and assess funds deriving from cryptocurrency and other digital assets increasingly critical for the legal sector.  As crypto beds in for the long term, it is imperative legal professionals embrace this new era of financial transactions while ensuring robust risk management practices to safeguard transactions.

Keeping abreast of the latest developments within the crypto sector is not easy.  The Law Commission is seemingly working overtime to ‘create a clear and consistent framework for digital assets that will provide greater clarity and security to users and market participants’. You can keep track of its progress and latest guidance for professionals here: Digital assets – Law Commission

Here are some of the most unusual items that legal professionals have also had to navigate for financial transactions:


Bullion, typically in the form of gold or silver bars, coins, or ingots, is a traditional and tangible asset that can be used in property transactions. The value of bullion is based on its weight and the current market price of the metal.

Precious Stones

Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and other precious stones can sometimes be used as a form of payment, provided they have been properly appraised and their value agreed upon by both parties.

Art and Antiques

High-value art pieces or antiques can also be used as payment, assuming both parties agree on the valuation, and the items have verifiable authenticity and provenance.

Luxury Items

Luxury items such as high-end watches, cars, or yachts can also be considered for property transactions. Their value would need to be assessed by experts in the field.


Although not a physical asset, cryptocurrency is a digital alternative to traditional bank transfers and has been used in some property transactions. This modern twist on property deposits reflects the evolving nature of assets and wealth.

Stocks and Bonds

While not as strange as other items on this list, using stocks and bonds is still unconventional. This method requires careful consideration due to the fluctuating nature of the market.

Intellectual Property

While using IP rights as a deposit for property is rare, it showcases the versatility of IP as an asset. For those who own valuable IP such a patents, copywrites or royalties from creative works, it opens new avenues for leveraging their intellectual assets in significant financial transactions. 

While these methods are all far from the norm, they highlight the flexibility and creativity that can come into play in property transactions.  More difficult to quantify than cold hard cash, all require careful legal scrutiny and must comply with anti-money laundering regulations.  

English detective novelist Agatha Christie perhaps summed up the wisest approach to money transfers when she advised in the pre digital age that: ‘where large sums of money are concerned, it is advisable to trust nobody.’  Indeed, even the esteemed Hercule Poirot would struggle to keep up with the intelligence and diligence required of today’s conveyancing professionals!