The Swiss town of Zug has decided to continue accepting bitcoin payments for municipality services following a pilot that launched in July 2016.
First announced in May, the picturesque lakeside town of Zug, also known as “Crypto Valley” for its embracive approach to Fintech, revealed a pilot program wherein it allowed bitcoin payments from its public for city services. A payment of up to 200 Swiss francs ($195 USD) in bitcoin was to be allowed. The pilot launched on July 1 and was scheduled to last until the end of 2016. At its conclusion, the City Council was to decide if Bitcoin or other digital currencies were a feasible, attractive payment option for its citizens.
“With Bitcoin, we’re sending a message,” said Zug mayor Dolfi Müller in July after the program began. “We win Zug want to get out in front of future technologies.”
Now, the city authority has revealed that it will continue to accept bitcoin payments beyond the pilot program that ends in December 2016. The decision was made at a City Council meeting last week.
In roughly translated statements, Müller said:
It was an important experience for us to install and test the technology for bitcoin payments. We were able to put a sign for Fintech companies to express that they were welcome herein Zug. We have [also] triggered an international media frenzy which lasted until last week.
The media coverage had been significant in May. It made for a telling example of open-minded acceptance of the innovation. Quite possibly for the first time ever, the administration of a town of nearly 30,000 inhabitants, was to begin accepting bitcoin as a currency for payments for city services.
How successful was the pilot? Only a dozen customers wanted to pay with bitcoin since the commencement of the pilot in July, the Zug authority said. However, the attention and press coverage garnered from around the world was a “positive experience” for the City Council, noting that the pilot, despite its low turnout in participants, was entirely “worth it.”
As a result of the significant coverage, the council is also looking into other electronic payment platforms such as ApplePay and Swiss-based digital wallet, Twint.
Furthermore, blockchain applications will also be explored for the public sector, the municipal authority stated, continuing to roll out the welcome wagon for bitcoin- and blockchain-related companies.
The announcement also stated:
In addition, digitization and e-government will be central issues for the city administration in the coming year.
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