Connecting state and local government leaders
The program, the first in the country, starts this week.
Governments don’t really like cryptocurrencies. India wants to ban them. Following its own ban, China censored news about them. Many countries, including the United States, have taken it upon themselves to warn citizens against investing in currencies like bitcoin.
Ohio is trying a more welcoming strategy. Starting this week (Nov. 26), businesses in the state will be able to pay taxes in bitcoin through a new platform, OhioCrypto.com, a first in the U.S.
For many enthusiasts, part of the appeal of crypto has been the very fact that these currencies are not backed by governments. That makes it harder for politicians to manipulate currencies to their own ends, they say. But for the same reason, states have sought to sideline cryptocurrencies, comfortable to dismiss bitcoin as a passing fad.
So Ohio, and its treasurer Josh Mandel, see embracing them as a way to signal that the state is tech-savvy and forward-thinking. “I do see [bitcoin] as a legitimate form of currency,” Mandel told the Wall Street Journal.
OhioCrypto.com will only accept bitcoin for now, but its website adds that it “looks forward to adding more cryptocurrencies in the future.” All of the payments are handled by BitPay, a third-party service for blockchain payments. Only businesses operating in Ohio are able to pay taxes through the site for now, but it will eventually include individuals as well, the Journal reported.
That is a bit of good news for the crypto world as the value of bitcoin hits new lows and these newfangled currencies continue to fight their reputation as being useful primarily for speculation and buying drugs.
Nikhil Sonnad is a reporter at Quartz, where this article was originally published.