Miami Tech & Startup News

Set up your Bitcoin wallet! Miami mayor announces cryptocurrency dividend for citizens

Set up your Bitcoin wallet! Miami mayor announces cryptocurrency dividend for citizens

Today, Mayor Francis Suarez announced that the City of Miami will be giving its citizens a so-called ‘Bitcoin yield.’ 

The city will send Miamians dividend payments derived from the city’s cryptocurrency, the MiamiCoin. The cryptocurrency has provided the city with over $21 million since inception earlier this year.

“We’re going to be the first city in America to give a Bitcoin yield as a dividend directly to its residents,” Suarez said in an interview with CoinDesk TV.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez wants to transform Miami in the the Capital of Capital and is a huge advocate for cryptocurrencies.

The mayor said that payments would be made through digital wallets, and that his team plans to work with a handful of cryptocurrency exchanges to enable residents to get set up on a platform that fits their needs.

It’s unclear how much Bitcoin Miamians would net from this initiative, or when exactly it will be rolled out.

According to the Mayor, it’s not out of the question that the dividend from MiamiCoin revenue could offset any taxes locals pay to the city. That would be “revolutionary,” said Suarez.

Patrick Stanley, Community Lead for CityCoins, called it “incredible” that Suarez “just turned his city into an oil-producing country that gives Bitcoin yield to its citizens.”

The idea of citizens reaping the rewards of public assets is nothing new. Since the 1970s, Alaskans have received yearly dividends from its Permanent Fund. The state-run program aims to build long-term wealth for citizens off the back of the state’s vast – but not unlimited – oil reserves. The Permanent Fund currently has $80 billion in assets. Last year, each citizen of Alaska received a dividend payment that was just shy of $1,000. 

From the forests of Finland to the deserts of Dubai, sovereign wealth funds work to make the most out of public sector assets. The idea of a sovereign wealth fund for the U.S. is not novel, as can be seen from one think tank’s in-depth proposal.

Furthermore, over the last few years a small but growing subset of politicians, including 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang, have begun to advocate for universal basic income (UBI). In its simplest form, UBI is a government program where citizens receive a certain amount of money on a regular basis. One way to pay for a UBI program could be through a sovereign wealth fund.

What is special about Mayor Suarez’s proposal is that, based on Refresh Miami’s in-house research, this is the first state dividend program based on a cryptocurrency. 

Not everyone is a fan of the proposal, however. In a tweet, economist and vocal Bitcoin skeptic Peter Schiff called the move “incredibly foolish,” arguing that ultimately “all of this must be paid for by local taxpayers.”

This news comes on the backdrop of rapidly increasing inflation, with the latest figures from the Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index standing at 6.2%. Certain assets have soared even further: a 50% increase for gasoline, 26% for used cars, and 20% for eggs. Meanwhile, average hourly wages for US employees actually dropped 1.2% compared with October 2020.

South Floridians are feeling the economic pain even more than most Americans. Analysts estimate that the cost to rent an apartment in Miami increased 20% between August 2020 and August 2021. The median listing home price in Miami-Dade County increased 12.5% from September 2020 to September 2021.

In this context of rapidly rising prices, perhaps this Bitcoin yield is more necessary than nice-to-have. As Mayor Suarez put it himself: “Miamians get ready!

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Riley Kaminer