The small Swizz town of Chiasso with a population of just above 8,000 at the border of Italy is to start accepting up to $265 worth of bitcoin for tax payments starting January 2018.
“There is an internationally recognized community that proposes as the epicenter of a technological and economic growth movement for the Canton and Switzerland as well. In the last 8 months, 8 start-ups have chosen Chiasso to carry out their business and further negotiations are under way with other realities from all over Europe,” the town said in an announcement according to a rough translation.
Mayor Bruno Arrigoni stated that the municipality is evaluating the possibility of participating as a founding partner in the formation of a non-profit foundation, which will involve some of the top experts of Chiasso’s Blockchain/Bitcoin technology.
“The council will regularly host meet ups on this topic, which will be attended by international representatives from October 2017,” the announcement stated.
This is the first time any governing authority is to accept tax payments in digital currencies. It follows CryptoValley’s Zug announcement they were to accept bitcoin in payments for local services, which apparently has been a success.
40 such payments have been made since, exceeding their expectations and further strengthening the valley’s claim to being business friendly towards blockchain companies.
It appears Chiasso wants a bit of that success too, with the town so strategically placed just next to Italy, thus potentially attracting Italian based blockchain businesses.
“Chiasso is recognised internationally as an epicentre of a growing technological and economic growth for both the canton and in Switzerland,” the Mayor said.
It’s unclear whether the local authority will actually keep whatever bitcoin it receives or whether it will convert it into fiat.
Bitcoin’s high volatility might make any decision to hold them risky, but that volatility has tended to be upwards in a longer time-frame since bitcoin’s invention.
Whether that trajectory will continue in the future remains to be seen, but the currency asset can act as a hedge, especially if Francs fall in value against the Euro.
Moreover, the sums are likely to be small, so capped at just $265, so the town could perhaps treat the asset as a digital gold of sorts useful to weather storms.
The move, however, is probably more symbolic than actually practical, although, who knows, they may actually want the bitcoins. But it is probable they are trying to signal friendliness to this space as Switzerland begins to position itself as far as digital currencies are concerned.
The neutral country at the heart of Europe bordering Germany, Italy and France, while not far from London, has been judged as optimal location for many blockchain based entities, including the Ethereum Foundation.
Moreover, their political system is the most decentralized in the world. So offering some sort of regulatory protection to these cutting edge inventions.
Its only downside is the lack of English as an official language, thus creating some sort of barrier, but the country is one of the few in the world that stands out considerably, alongside Estonia and Britain.