Progressive cities throughout America are racing to develop into the subsequent sizzling spot for cryptocurrency and blockchain adoption. Miami was the primary metropolis to undertake its personal a part of CityCoins final yr, permitting it to implement its own cryptocurrency referred to as “MiamiCoin” for use for civic engagement. 

New York Metropolis has additionally made a reputation for itself as a crypto-friendly metropolis by implementing academic initiatives and with Mayor Eric Adams receiving his paycheck in Bitcoin (BTC) in January this yr. 

Austin takes a robust stance 

Most just lately, Austin — the state capital of Texas that goes by the slogan “Preserve Austin Bizarre” — has taken a robust curiosity in cryptocurrency and blockchain know-how. Whereas Texas’ want to paved the way for crypto innovation was established a few yr in the past when Governor Greg Abbot tweeted that he’s a “crypto regulation proposal supporter,” the town of Austin has taken extra measures to ensure the acceptance of cryptocurrency for metropolis providers.

On March 9, 2022, Austin metropolis council member Mackenzie Kelly put forth a decision to direct the Austin metropolis supervisor to explore attainable use circumstances of cryptocurrency to learn Austin and its residents. The decision particularly asks for the town supervisor to examine how the town might undertake Bitcoin and different cryptocurrencies for monetary transactions.

Kelly advised Cointelegraph that her decision directs the town supervisor to conduct a fact-finding research to find out what can be required for the town to simply accept Bitcoin or different cryptocurrency funds for metropolis providers:

“That is extra of a feasibility research. We at the moment don’t have sufficient data as council members to know if we are able to settle for crypto as fee for metropolis providers. We have to know extra about this earlier than we are able to resolve. In doing so, there’s safety data we have to have a look at to see if that is even viable or if we are able to maintain crypto on our books financially. We don’t know if we are able to invoice it as an asset — that may forestall us from having the ability to settle for crypto as fee. There’s additionally the monetary stability of crypto as a complete, and if we are able to even settle for it in that regard.”

Picture from Austin metropolis council assembly on March 24, 2022.  Supply: Austintexas.gov

Though questions stay, Kelly talked about that Austin has all the time been a forward-thinking and revolutionary metropolis, noting that many cryptocurrency buyers at the moment reside and work in Austin. Kelly added that Austin Mayor Steve Adler is a co-sponsor of her decision. Given this help, Kelly believes cryptocurrency funds will function a helpful various to permit people the flexibleness of paying for sure metropolis providers. She elaborated:

“If somebody will get a dashing ticket, for instance, and doesn’t have a checking account however has cryptocurrency, they may use crypto as fee. Or, in the event that they needed to pay their taxes or electrical payments utilizing Bitcoin or dedicate a park of their identify utilizing crypto. That is all a part of the evaluation for permitting the town of Austin to simply accept crypto funds.”

This might actually make a huge effect, as current information from Finder.com found that 8% of Texans already personal Bitcoin and that adoption within the state might hit 14% by the top of the yr. Austin, particularly, may benefit from crypto funds for metropolis providers, as Google information shows that Austin ranks on the primary metropolis in Texas that searches for the key phrases “Bitcoin” and “crypto.”

All issues thought of, it shouldn’t come as a shock that Kelly’s decision was approved throughout Austin’s metropolis council assembly that happened on March 24. Now that the decision has handed, Kelly defined that the subsequent step for approval will happen in mid-June when the Austin metropolis supervisor can decide if crypto can certainly be accepted as fee. This shall be primarily based on the town’s analysis relating to monetary stability, safety, fairness and inclusion and shopper advantages or dangers.

Along with Kelly’s decision, Adler’s decision specializing in blockchain know-how was additionally handed throughout Austin’s March 24, 2022 working session. In the course of the assembly, metropolis council member Sabino Renteria defined that Austin began exploring using blockchain 4 years in the past to ensure that the town’s homeless inhabitants would have management of their private data always. “The idea was what if we use blockchain know-how to have the ability to give people possession and entry to all of their data,” he remarked. Renteria added that he’s “excited on the prospect of what blockchain can do.”

Whereas each resolutions are revolutionary, some Austin metropolis council members expressed considerations through the assembly. Councilmember Leslie Pool mentioned that her single largest concern relating to blockchain implementation is its “lack of a government.” She added:

“It might be tamper evident and tamper resistant, however that’s all that it’s. It’s a digital ledger. So there could also be some distinctive makes use of for this or for the town to advertise its use, however at this level, given its comparatively current entry into information storage or different digital arenas, I’m actually cautious referring to the town diving into adopting or utilizing it. I very a lot wish to hear from our monetary workplace workers or consultants on these applied sciences earlier than taking selections to undertake this stuff.”

Concerning the cryptocurrency decision put forth, council member Pool added:

“I proceed to consider crypto is simply too risky, a type of forex to threat tax payer {dollars} or worker retirements. Crypto is unregulated. It isn’t simply unregulated. It is also unprotected. There’s a component for me of gaming concerned right here. THat leaves me actually uneasy. Crypto as a type of fee or funding is inconsistent with the position of a municipality in safeguarding the group’s income.”

Austin pushes ahead, regardless of considerations

Considerations apart, Austin residents stay constructive relating to cryptocurrency and blockchain innovation throughout the metropolis. For instance, Jesse Paterson, chair of the training committee at ATX DAO — a chain-agnostic decentralized autonomous group (DAO) in Austin — advised Cointelegraph that the group goals to function an area useful resource to assist educated metropolis council members and residents on the implications of the just lately handed resolutions:

“Some ATX DAO members have been at metropolis corridor exhibiting our help for the resolutions, but we nonetheless lent some warning as a result of we’re nonetheless within the early days of crypto. Due to this fact, it takes time to know the area earlier than diving into tasks.”

Ryan Harvey, ATX DAO group supervisor and long-time resident of Austin, added that, primarily based on the wording of each council member Kelly’s crypto decision and Mayor Adler’s blockchain decision, it’s clear that these are nonetheless fact-finding missions. Nonetheless, he famous it is a constructive step in the precise path:

“New data is all the time a very good factor. However, even past fact-finding, each resolutions present that Austin is open for enterprise and encourages innovation, which is improbable.”

In the course of the March 24 council assembly, Harvey took a couple of minutes to share his ideas with metropolis council members. He acknowledged that, “There are organizations right here on the town like ATX DAO — and I used to be excited to see DAOs talked about within the decision — that may be a degree of reference.”

ATX DAO group supervisor, Ryan Harvey commenting on the March 24 metropolis council assembly. Supply: Austintexas.gov

Along with efforts being made by ATX DAO, different Austinites are creating initiatives with crypto and Web3 components to present again to the group. For instance, Metropolis Magic is a mission aiming to deliver communities in Austin collectively by grants within the type of nonfungible tokens (NFTs). 

Metropolis Magic founder Raffi Sapire advised Cointelegraph that the mission awards $1,000 grants to these within the Austin group who wish to create a pleasant area or occasion for neighbors or for civic engagement. “Metropolis Magic is for civically-minded individuals and for many who care concerning the group. It additionally helps construct a bridge for individuals who could not have interacted with tokens earlier than. Grants are NFTs, and the associated fee to affix our committee is the same as one grant that may profit civic engagement.”

Adler just lately demonstrated his help for Sapire and different blockchain-focused Austin entrepreneurs and companies in a tweet that learn, “Austin is happy to help the companies and improvements that may flip the guarantees of Web3, cryptocurrency, and blockchain know-how into actuality.”

Furthermore, Austin could quickly be part of the ranks of Miami and New York Metropolis by implementing its personal CityCoin. A CityCoin group member spoke about how this may increasingly play out in a presentation conducted at ETH Austin, a two-day lengthy occasion that happened throughout South By Southwest. The group member shared that CityCoins’ predominant purpose is to work with the town of Austin to assist officers like Mayor Adler and council member Kelly higher perceive how Austin’s personal cryptocurrency might be profitable. “We have to outline this and ensure we do it proper earlier than we go about something. Ideally, we’d wish to have an announcement on this throughout Consensus 2022, set to occur on June 9.”

CityCoins group member presenting at ETH Austin. Photograph Credit score: Rachel Wolfson

When requested a few CityCoin being applied in Austin, Kelly remarked, “I’m open to the thought, however my monetary conclusion of that will depend on my decision passing and realizing that it’s possible for the town of Austin to simply accept crypto as a complete.”