New applications of blockchain technology continue to proliferate the news cycle. Among the latest sectors to enter the cryptocurrency market is the elderly care services industry. The Carlauren Group's recent C-Coin offering enables residents of Carlauren's Lifestyle Resorts and Care Homes to pay for their rooms and care services using a new cryptocurrency known as "C-Coin". The company claims that the C-Coins provide an innovative way for elderly residents and their children to invest in their care, with the ability to later sell the coins back to Carlauren or sell them on the internal Carlauren Coin Exchange if they are no longer required.
As with all new applications of cryptocurrency technology, participating in the Carlauren Coin Exchange is inherently risky. While the Carlauren Group claims that C-Coins can be sold back to the company at a guaranteed price of £63 (90% of the purchase price), this remains entirely dependent on the financial position of the Carlauren Group, which remains a small and relatively new company (having been founded in only 2015).
The marketing of cryptocurrency technologies to elderly residents may also raise ethical and consumer protection concerns. Are elderly residents - the target audience for this innovative technology - sufficiently aware of the risks associated with cryptocurrency investment and able to make informed decisions?
There is a tendency to want to embrace blockchain technology in every sector. However, in the case of the care services industry, it remains to be seen whether the application of distributed ledger technology is a positive step forward or a step too far.
[The Carlauren Group scheme] is painted as an innovative way of allowing well-off elderly people and their children to invest in their room for the long term - a kind of timeshare scheme which would then be tradable because the coins could be sold on an exchange. "I wanted to crystallize the payment of the room for the foreseeable future," Carlauren's chief executive Sean Murray explained to me. He outlined a membership scheme whereby residents who were currently paying between £1,250 and £1,500 a week would buy their room with the tokens, and it would be an asset for their children after they died. "We see an opportunity with family members that are obviously wisely aware of what's happening in the crypto-market - that has an intrinsic value."