Miami votes to study offering Bitcoin option for city government transactions amidst moves designed to attract tech companies to the area
The city of Miami has voted to explore making some of its transactions in Bitcoin, a move designed to lure tech companies to the area.
The move is the latest to bring Bitcoin toward the mainstream, amidst astronomical rises in value over the past few years.
Miami city commissioners voted 4-1 late last week to study the use of the cryptocurrency and to look for a third-party vendor to handle transactions.
The plans could eventually give city employees an option to receive all or part of their salaries in Bitcoin, while members of the public could be given a Bitcoin option for paying for city services.
Mayor Francis Suarez, who initiated the vote, said he is looking to turn Miami into a tech hub.
“It’s wonderful to be a very ‘crypto-forward’ city in the city of Miami,” he said following the vote, according to local media reports.
Suarez had wanted the city to vote to begin using Bitcoin right away, but after questions were raised commissioners instead moved to require a study of the issues involved before hiring a transaction-processing firm.
Commissioner Joe Carollo, who voted against the plan, said he was sceptical of Bitcoin.
“I can’t drink the Kool-Aid on this one,” he told the Miami Herald.
The city is to launch informational campaigns in English, Spanish and Creole around Bitcoin and plans to lobby the state legislature to allow the city to invest public funds in cryptocurrency.
One Bitcoin is currently valued at more than $47,000 (£33,900), rising from $10,000 a year ago and less than $1,000 in January 2017.
However, the cryptocurrency remains subject to heavy volatility, with a huge surge during 2017 followed by a crash in early 2018 that caused cryptocurrencies across the board to lose 80 percent of their value from January to September 2018.
Central banks and financial regulators around the world have consistently voiced their scepticism on cryptocurrencies, while exploring efforts at variations on the technology that could offer greater stability.
However, Bitcoin also has vocal advocates in the tech industry, with Tesla earlier this month saying it had purchased $1.5bn in Bitcoin and would accept the cryptocurrency as a form of payment, an announcement that caused a further price rise in the virtual asset.