A Swiss City Plans for a Massive Crypto Adoption

With crypto adoption in focus, a group of about a dozen shops and businesses met in the blue-carpeted auditorium of a conference center in Lugano, Switzerland, to learn how to accept Bitcoin payments.

Paolo Ardoino, the chief technology officer of Tether, the business behind one of the world’s most popular stablecoins, spoke to them alongside a lineup of accountants, entrepreneurs, and city leaders like Mayor Michele Foletti (a kind of cryptocurrency whose price is pegged to that of real-world currencies like the dollar).

The merchants in attendance, according to Lugano’s general secretary, Robert Bregy, were “far more interested in these new sorts of payments than we expected.”

The event is part of Lugano’s Plan B program, which was established in March 2022 in collaboration with Tether with the goal of making the city a crypto innovation center.

Aside from a slew of investments in blockchain-related businesses and educational programs, as well as the hosting of industry events, the plan’s most eye-catching feature is that the city will begin accepting bitcoin, tether, and its own LVGA cryptocurrency as payment for municipal taxes and access to certain public services and events.

The city also pledged to encourage and assist local companies in voluntarily accepting such cryptocurrencies as payment methods (a difficult sell given bitcoin’s current massive price drop).

The initiative is clearly intended to entice technological talent, businesses, and wealthy cryptocurrency investors to a city that, despite its beautiful scenery and pleasant climate, nonetheless lags behind other parts of Switzerland in terms of economic growth. According to Bregy, the idea appears to have worked so far, since the city has been “under attack” from cryptocurrency companies, entrepreneurs, and students interested in relocating there.

Lars Schlichting, a cryptocurrency lawyer at Swiss law firm Kellerhals-Carrard, says he is presently dealing with “at least 10 organizations, which is substantially higher than typical,” all of whom are trying to relocate to Lugano.

Plan ₿, according to Ardoino, is a means to roll out the “red carpet” for enterprises and cryptocurrency enthusiasts who wish to visit Lugano. Tether, on the other hand, will take center stage: Since the plan’s announcement, the firm has acted as the de facto project manager for Lugano’s crypto capabilities, holding tremendous influence over the city’s digital fortunes.

Lugano is currently competing with Zug, the German-speaking canton (or state) in Switzerland, which is known for its crypto activities and has earned the moniker “Crypto Valley” over time. While small and sleepy, Zug benefits from among of the country’s lowest corporate income tax rates, which has helped it attract several high-profile crypto groups, like the Ethereum Foundation. Zug also accepts bitcoin or ether, Ethereum’s cryptocurrency, as payment for cantonal taxes.

Lugano’s plan appears to push the boundaries even farther, allowing crypto payments to be accepted across a broader range of public services and, in general, integrating crypto more thoroughly into the economic fabric of the city.

While Zug’s attractiveness is primarily based on tax considerations, Lugano’s pitch is as “a perfect environment to live, do crypto business, and grow,” according to Bregy. He goes on to say that the city’s tax rates would never fall to Zug’s levels in the near future.

As Nasdaq mentioned in of their posts, In late October, the city of Lugano will host the Bitcoin World Forum, a global event focused on the acceleration of bitcoin adoption and the advocacy for freedom of expression, Ardoino and Poretti announced in the event.

The speakers also announced the intention to have Lugano start mining bitcoin as Plan ₿ researches strategies the city could leverage to employ renewable energy sources to yield BTC.

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