Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is on a mission to make Miami a cryptocurrency hub. His lofty idea is already gaining some traction. In the summer of 2021, the city unveiled “MiamiCoin”, a cryptocurrency operated by CityCoins, a nonprofit organization.
The 44-year-old mayor has garnered a reputation for attracting tech firms to the city. In June, Mayor Suarez was a featured speaker at the Bitcoin 2021 Convention. Over 12,000 attendees came to Miami for the conference, reputedly the largest bitcoin event on record.
Recently, Mayor Suarez announced on Twitter that he would take his next paycheck in bitcoin. H wrote his tweet in response to a tweet from crypto entrepreneur Anthony Pompliano, who prompted: “Who is going to be the first American politician to accept their salary in bitcoin?” Mayor Suarez also announced that Miami is creating a plan to pay some city workers in bitcoin.
The stack protocol powers CityCoins. It is an open network that facilitates smart contracts on the blockchain. San Francisco expects to be the next city on the list to get a CityCoins token. Other cities in contention include New York, Austin, Singapore, and Seoul.
Cryptocurrency Provides a New Way to Generate Profit and Fund Social Programs
Miami has framed token purchases as gift contributions to the local government. It has already raised over $7 million for the city. By framing the purchase of MiamiCoins as a donation to the municipality, this potentially allows Miami residents to avoid paying taxes. Mayor Suarez predicts these efforts could generate over $60 million for Miami in the next year. Some of the proceeds could benefit welfare and other social programs. MiamiCoin, which uses the symbol “$MIA”, trades on the exchange OKCoin.
“When you think about the possibility of being able to run a government without the citizens having to pay taxes, that’s incredible,” commented Suarez. He stated the partnership with the CityCoins nonprofit is a “counternarrative” to the concept of funding social welfare programs through higher taxes.
Cities Find Innovative Uses for Cryptocurrency
Other cities are looking for ways to innovate cryptocurrency use. In several cities around the world, bitcoin ATMs are sprouting up. Some cities already enable citizens to pay parking tickets in bitcoin. The city of Berkeley, California is contemplating issuing bonds on the blockchain.
In Seoul, South Korea, the mayor proposed the creation of a cryptocurrency for the city. Calling them S-coins, their key purpose would be to help fund social welfare programs. Countries including Nigeria and Sweden have launched central bank digital currencies.
The impact of cryptocurrencies is evident in Miami. The Miami Heat basketball team’s arena is now FTX Arena after the crypto exchange bought naming rights. FTX acquired the naming rights for $135 million in March 2021, and the arena adopted the name in June.
Crypto Startups Gravitate to Florida
Several crypto startups have established roots in Miami. Miami-based startup RECUR, a developer of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for sports fans, recently raised $50 million. QuickNode, a blockchain development platform headquartered in Miami, recently raised a $35 million Series A funding round led by Tiger Global Management.
Attracted to the business-friendly environment and open attitudes toward crypto innovation, crypto startups are increasingly gravitating toward Florida. In 2021, several blockchain and cryptocurrency companies relocated to Miami.
Two of these crypto startups include Novo and Blockchain.com. Novo is a fintech startup that aims for small business owners. The startup moved its headquarters from New York City to the Brickell neighborhood of Miami. Billionaire tech investor Peter ThielIt is a backer. Blockchain.com, a major U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, also relocated from New York City to Miami and announced plans to hire over 100 employees.
“Thanks to a strong relationship with the local government, we are honored to join the Miami business community,” said Peter Smith, the CEO of Blockchain.com. “The internet will be the biggest economy in the world by 2030, and crypto is the financial system built to support it. The City of Miami recognizes the industry’s potential, and we look forward to contributing to Miami’s rich innovation ecosystem.”
International and Latin American Roots Fuel Cryptocurrency Growth
Miami is also a major international hub, with strong roots to the Latin American market, which has a track record of innovation in the crypto space. Many Miami residents come from countries including Cuba and Nicaragua, where the government has confiscated the citizens’ wealth. Others have immigrated from countries with hyperinflation, including Venezuela, Argentina, and Brazil.
Miami residents with Latin American relations have an acute understanding of the power of bitcoin. “They are using bitcoin to empower themselves and their community. This is not just skin in the game. This is soul in the game for those who came to Miami to make a better life for themselves,” stated Andrew Barnard, the chief executive of the bitcoin ATM company Bitstop.