The Swiss city of Lugano began its Bitcoin journey in March 2022, when it unveiled its Plan ₿ initiative and stated its aim to become the ‘European Bitcoin capital’.
At the time it promised a push for crypto acceptance in local merchants and for municipal payments, and a cashback scheme for those who used it. It backed this up with a program of events and blockchain education schemes, along with certain benefits for companies who chose to start up in or relocate to the city.
We Observed the adoption of the scheme by merchants, with even international corporations such as McDonalds accepting payments for Big Macs in bitcoin, tether and the project’s own LVGA token. Citizens who paid for their fast food using crypto were rewarded with further LVGA tokens, and were promised that they would soon be able to pay municipal taxes and fees using crypto too.
We Observed Tether restate its commitment to the scheme by becoming a major validator on the city’s local non-profit 3Achain blockchain. The ‘triple-A’ chain is permissioned to enable greater scaling, with partners including institutional bodies, international companies and universities. It also aims to onboard other organizations to blockchain technology, offering a quick and inexpensive route to those who wish to explore it further.
We even Observed the recent integration of the Polygon blockchain into the local crypto payment wallet. This allowed users to venture out of the walled garden where they had been gently introduced to cryptocurrency, and out into the wider world of multichain wallets, DeFi and Web3.
Each time we were reminded of the impressive merchant adoption of crypto payments and promised that citizens would (at an unspecified point in the future) be able to pay municipal taxes and fees by the same method.
The future is now
According to a recent press release from Bitcoin Suisse, whose involvement we shall get to shortly, as of 5 Dec, citizens are now able to make payments for “tax invoices and all other community fees” in bitcoin and tether. It was not made clear whether LVGA or any other tokens would also be accepted for these purposes.
Infrastructure provider Bitcoin Suisse is involved in supporting the technical side of the ‘integrated payment solution’. All invoices issued by the municipality will feature a QR code which can be scanned to enable payment via their preferred mobile wallet. Chief Product Officer Armin Schmid said of the development:
“We are delighted to support the City of Lugano in accelerating the use of Bitcoin technology as the foundation to transform the city’s financial infrastructure. It is great to see that more and more Swiss municipalities are offering payments in cryptocurrencies as an option available to both citizens and companies.”
While cryptocurrency payments were previously accepted for invoices settled through the city’s online portal, this has now been extended to all invoices for services of any nature and value. It will be interesting to Observe whether the delay affects the take-up of the new service.