December 3, 2021

Trading in Code

Florida's bid for bitcoin

Amy Keller | 8/31/2021

Miami’s Play

When President Joe Biden signed a $1.9-trillion COVID-19 relief bill last March, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez put some of his own money (he hasn’t said how much) into bitcoin and ethereum, two of the bestknown cryptocurrencies. He expects others to follow suit. If lawmakers “spend another $2.2 trillion on an infrastructure bill, I don’t think people are going to want to stay in dollar-denominated currencies,” Suarez told crypto news site Decrypt in a May interview when bitcoin was trading for nearly $59,000. “One bitcoin, this digital asset, this digital currency, this thing we all agree has value, has already surpassed the dollar in value by a large amount.”

The Republican mayor has also hung out repeated welcome signs for crypto-related businesses and investment. “The city of Miami believes in #Bitcoin, and I’m working day and night to turn Miami into a hub for crypto innovation,” Suarez tweeted on Jan. 27, the same day the city uploaded a copy of the original 2008 bitcoin white paper.

The Miami mayor is also pushing to pay city workers a portion of their salaries in bitcoin if they choose — and allowing residents to pay city fees or property taxes with digital currency. He also wants the city to invest public funds in cryptocurrency. In June, he told CNBC the city would welcome bitcoin miners from China. “The fact that we have nuclear power means that it’s very inexpensive power,” he told CNBC, referencing Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point Nuclear Plant on Biscayne Bay.

Industry insiders, however, say South Florida isn’t a good spot for bitcoin mining — electricity is still too expensive compared to other parts of the country and world — but cryptocurrency’s digital format gives it affinity with other companies in Miami’s growing tech hub.

London-based Blockchain.com, which facilitates crypto transactions, announced in June that it was moving its U.S. headquarters from New York to Miami and plans to hire 300 workers through 2022. BlockTower Capital, a cryptocurrency and blockchain investment firm, relocated from the Big Apple to the Brickell financial district around the same time, and eToro, an Israel-based cryptocurrency platform, plans to open a Miami hub with 50 workers. FTX — a 2-year-old, Hong-Kong-based company that operates the fourthlargest trading platform for cryptocurrency — also plans to open a Miami office and recently inked a 19-year, $135-million deal for the naming rights to the arena on Biscayne Boulevard where the Miami Heat play.

Sam Bankman-Fried, the 29-year-old billionaire founder and CEO of FTX, told Miami’s local NBC station that his firm’s investment in Miami is aimed at getting the company’s “name out there” and getting more people to try crypto — “having this be a real option, and a real alternative for people for whom the current options aren’t serving them well.”

Tags: Feature, Bitcoin

 

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