Cryptocurrency has made a foray into public life in Canada, with its use and adoption to provide certain services to the residents of two municipalities there. The residents of Richmond Hill, Ontario will be provided with an alternate mode to pay property tax. Individuals and businesses will now be able to use Bitcoin to pay this tax. The city council has begun negotiations with a financial technology company to make provisions for this new service. The negotiations took off after the city residents voted in support of this arrangement and the council started talks with Coinberry, a company that offers a platform which enables sale and purchase of important cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Ripple (XRP) in lieu of Canadian dollars. It is a startup registered with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre or Fintrac, Canada and is based in Toronto. The feasibility of its solution to be used for processing of payments like city fees and other charges will be put to test by September 30 by the municipality.
The Canadian online edition of the Global News quoted the deputy mayor and regional councilor, Carmine Perrelli, saying that residents can pay using digital currency, but the crypto has to be converted to Canadian currency through the mediating company, which is Coinberry in this case. This will allow individuals who want to opt for payment through cryptocurrency to pay for various city fees and services very conveniently, without having to resort to regular tender. The mayor had also talked about how this payment option will enable citizens to pay through whichever mode they can, according to their ease, and hence it has already generated a good deal of curiosity if not very high demands yet. Although some skepticism was raised with regard to potential risks and cost which the municipality may have to incur, but the deputy mayor Joe Di Paola, in this context, has asserted, “ From our perspective, there is no risk, there’s no cost, and all we are doing is providing an extra layer of service. Whatever the currency is, we are not concerned about how it fluctuates”. He is also confident that the demand for adoption of cryptocurrency as a payment option will be on the rise especially among the young population of Richmond Hill.
Coinberry had also entered into a similar kind of agreement, earlier this year in March, with Innisfil, another Canadian town in the Ontario province, and thus it is their second of this kind. The CEO Andrei Poliakov has remarked, “ leaders of government organizations and enterprises are realizing that they can innovate with blockchain and digital currencies”. For instance, the residents of Innisfil town have already been utilizing the benefits of crypto payment methods as Coinberry has entered into partnership with the Innisfil local government for a one year trial that would allow residents to convert their property taxes into crypto coins. The town’s mayor Lyn Dollin has been reported saying that the new payment method has proven to be a very smooth one as the municipality receives Canadian dollars in its account as tax payments. She said, “It’s about being future-ready, and it’s about just providing that other option”.
Although cryptocurrencies and payment through them pose certain risks, like the rapid decline of cryptocurrency prices last year and fall of the cryptocurrency exchange Quadriga CX and its founder’s death, yet they are emerging as a popular alternative to “government-regulated tender”. With two Canadian municipalities following the footsteps of Brazil and allowing the use of cryptocurrency for city payments, the popularity of digital currency appears far from declining.