Friday, May 27, 2022

Is Austin the next US crypto hub? Officials approve blockchain resolutions

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Progressive cities throughout America are racing to turn into the following sizzling spot for cryptocurrency and blockchain adoption. Miami was the primary metropolis to undertake its personal a part of CityCoins final 12 months, 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 instructional initiatives and with Mayor Eric Adams receiving his paycheck in Bitcoin (BTC) in January this 12 months. 

Austin takes a powerful stance 

Most lately, Austin — the state capital of Texas that goes by the slogan “Hold Austin Bizarre” — has taken a powerful curiosity in cryptocurrency and blockchain expertise. Whereas Texas’ need to cleared the path for crypto innovation was established a few 12 months in the past when Governor Greg Abbot tweeted that he’s a “crypto legislation proposal supporter,” the town of Austin has taken further 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 doable use instances 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 informed Cointelegraph that her decision directs the town supervisor to conduct a fact-finding research to find out what could 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 info as council members to know if we will settle for crypto as fee for metropolis providers. We have to know extra about this earlier than we will resolve. In doing so, there may be safety info we have to have a look at to see if that is even viable or if we will hold crypto on our books financially. We don’t know if we will invoice it as an asset — that will stop us from having the ability to settle for crypto as fee. There’s additionally the monetary stability of crypto as an entire, and if we will 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 progressive metropolis, noting that many cryptocurrency buyers at the moment dwell and work in Austin. Kelly added that Austin Mayor Steve Adler is a co-sponsor of her decision. Given this assist, Kelly believes cryptocurrency funds will function a helpful different to permit people the pliability 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 wished to pay their taxes or electrical payments utilizing Bitcoin or dedicate a park of their title 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 tip of the 12 months. Austin, particularly, may gain advantage 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-about, it shouldn’t come as a shock that Kelly’s decision was approved throughout Austin’s metropolis council assembly that came about on March 24. Now that the decision has handed, Kelly defined that the following 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 based mostly on the town’s analysis relating to monetary stability, safety, fairness and inclusion and client advantages or dangers.

Along with Kelly’s decision, Adler’s decision specializing in blockchain expertise 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 expertise 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 progressive, some Austin metropolis council members expressed considerations in the course of the assembly. Councilmember Leslie Pool mentioned that her single greatest 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 regarding the town diving into adopting or utilizing it. I very a lot wish to hear from our monetary workplace workers or specialists on these applied sciences earlier than taking selections to undertake these things.”

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

“I proceed to consider crypto is simply too unstable, a type of forex to danger tax payer {dollars} or worker retirements. Crypto is unregulated. It is not 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 function of a municipality in safeguarding the neighborhood’s income.”

Austin pushes ahead, regardless of considerations

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

“Some ATX DAO members had been at metropolis corridor exhibiting our assist for the resolutions, but we nonetheless lent some warning as a result of we’re nonetheless within the early days of crypto. Subsequently, it takes time to grasp the house earlier than diving into initiatives.”

Ryan Harvey, ATX DAO neighborhood supervisor and long-time resident of Austin, added that, based mostly 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. Nevertheless, he famous this can be a optimistic step in the best course:

“New info is all the time an excellent 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 said 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 some extent of reference.”

ATX DAO neighborhood 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 parts to present again to the neighborhood. For instance, Metropolis Magic is a undertaking aiming to convey communities in Austin collectively by grants within the type of nonfungible tokens (NFTs). 

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

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

Furthermore, Austin could quickly be part of the ranks of Miami and New York Metropolis by implementing its personal CityCoin. A CityCoin neighborhood member spoke about how this will likely play out in a presentation conducted at ETH Austin, a two-day lengthy occasion that came about throughout South By Southwest. The neighborhood member shared that CityCoins’ principal objective 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 prefer to have an announcement on this throughout Consensus 2022, set to occur on June 9.”

CityCoins neighborhood 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 depends upon my decision passing and figuring out that it’s possible for the town of Austin to simply accept crypto as an entire.”