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Spanish City Bets on Crypto to Boost Economy and Attract Investment

The city of Torrevieja in the province of Alicante is betting on cryptocurrency to boost the local economy, preserve natural spaces and create new jobs.

Spanish City Bets on Crypto to Boost Economy and Attract Investment

The Chamber of Commerce in the Spanish coastal city of Torrevieja in Alicante has joined forces with the city's Association of Small and Medium Merchants (APYMECO) in an attempt to boost the local economy by creating what it claims will be the first 'crypto-friendly' city in Europe.

Let's hope nobody tells it about the City of Lugano in Switzerland, which has been laying claim to that particular accolade since the launch of its 'Plan ₿' in 2022.

Announced last week, the first phase of the initiative aims to encourage trade by popularizing crypto as a payment option for everyday transactions in exchange for products and services. This will involve the help of the University of Alicante in providing specific courses to the city's merchants on how to use and accept cryptocurrency.

The Mediterranean country has been accepting crypto as a legal form of payment since 2015, yet according to the president of APYMECO, Jorge Almarcha, there have been no "efforts to democratize its use" until now.

Phase two of the project will focus on sustainability, seeking the recovery of natural spaces and a positive overall effect on the environment. Finally, phase three will concentrate efforts on the financing of startups in the FinTech sector, attracting FinTech business and creating new employment opportunities.

However, despite claims that the partnership will make Torrevieja the first crypto-friendly city in Europe, in reality, it is already two years too late to snatch that particular title. 

The Swiss city of Lugano launched its aforementioned 'Plan ₿' project to become the "European Bitcoin Capital" in March 2022. So far, the city has developed a local crypto token and a 'MyLugano' wallet and app, which recently added functionality allowing residents access to dApps on the Polygon network.

The MyLugano app is currently being used by almost half of the city's residents who, besides being able to purchase goods and services with crypto from many local retailers, can also now pay their municipal taxes and fees. Lugano also has an annual conference and programs to promote blockchain education and attract crypto businesses to the city.

It is estimated that 7% of Spaniards have used or invested in cryptocurrencies in the past. However, Torrevieja's initiative is not solely aimed at local citizens, as it will also focus on increasing revenue from the tourism sector by providing a crypto-friendly destination to attract foreign spending. The region is already one of the top travel destinations in the world - last year, 85.1 million foreign visitors entered the country.

Spain has also recently been making news in the regulatory sphere, with the Spanish Treasury reportedly planning a tax reform to enable digital assets to be seized for tax debts and other financial obligations citizens might have to the central administration.

While Torrevieja's claim to be the first crypto-friendly city in Europe may be wishful thinking at this stage, there is certainly room for more than one, and Lugano should find itself in good (and more) company going forward.