AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin city leaders are interested in letting people pay with cryptocurrency as virtual money looms large at this year’s return of South by Southwest.
At its March 24 meeting, Austin City Council will consider a pair of resolutions put forward by Mayor Steve Adler and Council Member Mackenzie Kelly.
Kelly’s resolution would direct the city manager to conduct a “fact-finding study” to develop policies that would allow the City of Austin to accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as payment for municipal taxes, fees and penalties.
The resolution points to cities such as Miami and New York, which have researched using digital currency in the same way along with payment of employee salaries.
“We want to be part of the cities that are thinking big and bold and attracting talent,” Adler said.
Adler’s proposal would push the creation of blockchain technologies that could be applied to a wide array of city services and functions regarding payment processing, smart contracts, fundraising and arts and music.
The mayor and Kelly were joined by members of the tech industry at a news conference Thursday where they highlighted Austin’s efforts to compete in the emerging digital arena.
UT Austin associate finance professor Cesare Fracassi told KXAN it wouldn’t take much for the city to set up its crypto system.
“Many different businesses accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as payment,” he said. “It’s just a matter of agreeing with a vendor.”
Fracassi added there aren’t many cities doing anything like this at the moment.
Cryptocurrency still has a way to go when it comes to the mainstream population, but the numbers are growing.
According to Finder.com data from this past December and January, roughly 8% of Texans own Bitcoin, specifically. Another 6% said they don’t own any now, but plan on buying in 2022.
Austin fitness trainer Ross Tschurin is among the early crypto adopters. He told KXAN he’s on board with the city’s plan.
“It would just be really progressive, and I know Austin is super progressive,” he said. “The city would be booming with this.”