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

Modern cities throughout America are racing to develop into the following 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 personal cryptocurrency known 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 not too long ago, 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 cleared the path 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 further measures to make sure 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 discover potential use circumstances of cryptocurrency to profit Austin and its residents. The decision particularly asks for the town supervisor to look at 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 examine to find out what could be required for the town to just accept Bitcoin or different cryptocurrency funds for metropolis providers:

“That is extra of a feasibility examine. We presently don’t have sufficient data as council members to know if we will settle for crypto as cost for metropolis providers. We have to know extra about this earlier than we will 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 will hold crypto on our books financially. We don’t know if we will invoice it as an asset — that may forestall us from having the ability to settle for crypto as cost. There’s additionally the monetary stability of crypto as a complete, and if we will even settle for it in that regard.”

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

Though questions stay, Kelly talked about that Austin has at all times been a forward-thinking and revolutionary metropolis, noting that many cryptocurrency traders presently stay 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 different to permit people the flexibleness of paying for sure metropolis providers. She elaborated:

“If somebody will get a rushing ticket, for instance, and doesn’t have a checking account however has cryptocurrency, they may use crypto as cost. Or, in the event that they wished 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 just accept crypto funds.”

This might definitely make a big impact, as latest information from discovered 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 gain advantage from crypto funds for metropolis providers, as Google information reveals 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 accredited throughout Austin’s metropolis council assembly that befell 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 cost. This can be primarily based on the town’s analysis concerning monetary stability, safety, fairness and inclusion and client 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. Throughout the assembly, metropolis council member Sabino Renteria defined that Austin began exploring using blockchain 4 years in the past to make sure that the town’s homeless inhabitants would have management of their private information always. “The idea was what if we use blockchain know-how to have the ability to give of us possession and entry to all of their information,” 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 issues through the assembly. Councilmember Leslie Pool talked about that her single greatest concern concerning blockchain implementation is its “lack of a government.” She added:

“It could 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 latest 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 need to hear from our monetary workplace employees 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 just too risky, 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 cost or funding is inconsistent with the function of a municipality in safeguarding the neighborhood’s income.”

Austin pushes ahead, regardless of issues

Issues apart, Austin residents stay optimistic concerning 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 a neighborhood useful resource to assist educated metropolis council members and residents on the implications of the not too long ago handed resolutions:

“Some ATX DAO members had 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 initiatives.”

Ryan Harvey, ATX DAO neighborhood 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. Nevertheless, he famous it is a optimistic step in the proper route:

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

Throughout 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:

Along with efforts being made by ATX DAO, different Austinites are creating initiatives with crypto and Web3 parts to provide again to the neighborhood. For instance, Metropolis Magic is a undertaking aiming to convey communities in Austin collectively by means of grants within the type of nonfungible tokens (NFTs). 

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

Adler not too long ago demonstrated his help for Sapire and different blockchain-focused Austin entrepreneurs and companies in a tweet that learn, “Austin is worked up to help the companies and improvements that may flip the guarantees of Web3, cryptocurrency, and blockchain know-how into actuality.”

Furthermore, Austin might quickly be a part of the ranks of Miami and New York Metropolis by implementing its personal CityCoin. A CityCoin neighborhood member spoke about how this may increasingly play out in a presentation performed at ETH Austin, a two-day lengthy occasion that befell throughout South By Southwest. The neighborhood member shared that CityCoins’ foremost 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 will 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 neighborhood member presenting at ETH Austin. Picture 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 just accept crypto as a complete.” 

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