As much as some like to sugarcoat it, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have seen minimal adoption. Use cases are limited, brick and mortar that accept digital assets are few and far between, and the public’s interest in this ecosystem is lackluster at best. But a small Canadian town, one that you likely haven’t heard of, is trying to change this through a newfangled partnership.
Innisfil, Canada Accepts Bitcoin
Located just 45 minutes north of Canada’s biggest metropolis, Toronto, the town of Innisfil might be the last municipality that you would expect to be forward-thinking. But a recent press release from the local government has made it clear that this is far from the case.
On Thursday, the municipal government of Innisfil announced that it, with the Toronto-based Coinberry as its partner, would be accepting cryptocurrency, namely Bitcoin, as a way for locals to fulfill their property tax dues. A vote was purportedly struck Wednesday night that allowed this move, which will take the form of a one-year pilot, to come to fruition.
Starting in April, mere days away, residents will see a crypto payment portal from Coinberry, a blockchain-centric fintech startup, that will allow for property taxes to be paid first in Bitcoin. Support for Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Ripple’s XRP could be added in the feature, as long as this pilot sees some semblance of success.
It is important to note that once Coinberry receives the funds paid, it will be converting the cryptocurrency instantly to Canadian Dollars for proper deposit in the town’s coffers. While this isn’t the direct adoption of cryptocurrency, presumably due to regulatory setbacks, Innisfil’s mayor seems hopeful for this partnership and this market’s long-term prospects, stating:
“There’s no doubt that cryptocurrency is growing in usage and popularity. By getting into this now, we are making sure our municipality is ahead of the game, and signalling to the world that we truly are a future-ready and innovative community.”
Coinberry’s C-suite, too, was similarly optimistic. Chief executive Andrei Poliakov remarked that this is the first step in getting governmental representatives en-masse to “recognize the benefits of the ‘new money economy.'”
Not The First Forward-Thinking Government
While Poliakov & Co. seemingly did make history, Innisfil isn’t the first jurisdiction in the western world to have agreed to accept Bitcoin or another digital asset as a payment mechanism for taxes. Late last year, Ohio’s state treasury, led by Bitcoin proponent Josh Mandel, set up a website with the domain Ohiocrypto.com, which allows businesses to pay a handful of taxes with Bitcoin through BitPay’s payment processor.
Businesses can now pay cigarette sale taxes to employee withholding taxes with the cryptocurrency, but the initiative’s leaders intend to eventually allow individuals to pay state taxes with the same system.
Speaking on why such an innovative system was created, Mandel noted that he “sees Bitcoin as a legitimate form of currency,” and thus wanted to spark adoption, especially from governmental agencies, through this play.
And while other states have yet to follow suit, some may be getting close. In February, a bill was introduced that would allow California-based cannabis businesses to pay their taxes in stablecoins. Bill 953, as it’s known, would also allow Californian state, city, and county tax offices to accept this form of cryptocurrency, starting from January 1st, 2020 onward.
This is far from full acceptance of Bitcoin, but it is an important step towards ensuring that cryptocurrencies have real-world use cases. And considering California’s startup, fun-loving culture, this may just be the right move to spark adoption.