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Miami to Study Bitcoin for Employee Salaries, City Payments

Should the city approve a contract down the road, employees would have an option to receive all or part of their salaries in bitcoin, and the public would have a bitcoin option while paying for city services.

by Joey Flechas and Rob Wile, The Miami Herald / February 12, 2021
(Shutterstock) Shutterstock

(TNS) — Miami City Hall could begin conducting some of its financial transactions in Bitcoin.

City commissioners voted late Thursday night at the request of Mayor  Francis Suarez  to study the use of the cryptocurrency and look for a vendor to help with transactions. Should the commission approve a contract down the road, employees would have an option to receive all or part of their salaries in Bitcoin, and the public would have a Bitcoin option while paying for city services.

Suarez, who has marketed Miami as a burgeoning tech hub, said the vote represented a step in the right direction.

"It's wonderful to be a very 'crypto-forward' city in the city of Miami, and I want to thank my commission colleagues for allowing that to happen," he said.

Suarez wanted commissioners to vote to begin using Bitcoin without hesitation. But after a long discussion where commissioners raised several questions about moving into the world of cryptocurrency, they agreed by a 4-1 vote to require an analysis before the city hires a company to process transactions.

Commissioner  Joe Carollo , who voted no, said he was skeptical of Bitcoin.

"I think the mayor has done a fabulous job with that, and his intentions are coming right from the heart," Carollo said. "Having said that, I can't drink the Kool-Aid on this one."

The city will launch education campaigns in English, Spanish and Creole to inform people about cryptocurrency, and encourage the Florida Legislature to pass laws that would allow the city to invest public funds in cryptocurrency.

The price of a single Bitcoin now stands at more than $47,000, though anyone can buy fractions of a Bitcoin. Despite its overall price growth — one Bitcoin was worth $10,000 a year ago — day-to-day price swings of the cryptocurrency continue to remain large, with gains and losses of thousands of dollars in just 24 hours.

Still, swaths of the technology industry remain convinced of its utility, importance — and long-term value. On Feb. 8Tesla, the electric car company owned by tech titan  Elon Musk , disclosed it had purchased $1.5 billion in Bitcoin, sending the cryptocurrency's price soaring.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television this week,  Michael Novogratz  — the billionaire former president of Goldman Sachs Latin America, former Fortress Investment Group executive and current CEO of cryptocurrency firm Galaxy Digital — said many believers see Bitcoin as a hedge against inflation or a falling dollar. He also said Bitcoin could prove the currency of choice for younger generations. He predicted it would hit $100,000 by the end of the year.

"You're going to see every company in America do the same thing," Novogratz said Monday of Tesla. He continued: "It doesn't have to be a lot. It's the messaging that matters, you're seeing the herd here, and it's coming."

(c)2021 Miami Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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