The city of Lugano, Switzerland, is to designate bitcoin as legal tender, allowing citizens to use it to pay for public services and taxes, according to city director Pietro Poretti, who co-announced the news alongside mayor Michele Foletti and Tether’s CTO Paolo Ardoino in a live-streamed event on Thursday. Over 200 merchants have already partnered with the city to promote bitcoin and Lightning payments.
Lugano has forged cooperation with stablecoin issuer Tether to establish bitcoin, Tether, and Lugano’s own LVGA Points cryptocurrency as essentially legal tender in the city, with the goal of becoming Europe’s Bitcoin capital.
The measure goes well beyond the actions of a number of other Swiss municipalities that have been taking cryptocurrency for tax payments for quite some time. Lugano, like El Salvador, wants all of its businesses to be able to utilize crypto for everyday transactions in addition to taxes (in El Salvador, only bitcoin qualifies).
“This is probably the most important thing of this project,” Ardoino said, referring to “Plan ₿,” a city initiative being sketched and worked in collaboration with Tether to attract wealth, smart minds, and opportunities. Tether’s stablecoin USDT will also become a legal tender in the city.
The move was termed as a “de facto” legalisation at the “Plan B” event, which was sponsored by Lugano’s mayor, Michele Foletti, because the Swiss franc will undoubtedly remain the true legal tender in Lugano and throughout Switzerland.
The plan also calls for the establishment of two investment funds. The first will spend up to $3.26 million to promote the use of bitcoin, USDT, and LVGA, Lugano’s stablecoin worth one-tenth of a Swiss franc that will also be legal money. The second is the establishment of a pool of money of up to $108.6 million for Bitcoin and blockchain firms wishing to relocate and establish headquarters in the city, as well as bring people to the Swiss town.
A tight engagement with academia is another part of Lugano’s Plan B. In collaboration with local colleges, it wants to develop a specialised curriculum on Bitcoin and Lightning to improve the skills of young pupils in these emerging technologies. In order to build a skilled and specialised workforce, Bitcoin and blockchain education efforts will also entail the creation of 500 student grants.
Ardoino and Poretti revealed in the event that the Bitcoin World Forum, a global event focusing on the acceleration of bitcoin adoption and advocacy for freedom of expression, will be held in Lugano in late October.