PORTSMOUTH — Residents wishing to make payments to the city can now do so using cryptocurrency via PayPal, according to Mayor Deaglan McEachern.
“There are waves of new things that are going to affect us in terms of our future that use the kind of technology used in cryptocurrency,” McEachern said Monday. “I want to make sure Portsmouth don’t wait to see how this affects us in the future, because it is already affecting us.”
A cryptocurrency is a cryptographically secured digital or virtual currency, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double spend, according to Investopedia. They allow secure online payments without recourse to third-party intermediaries.
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Portsmouth residents cannot directly pay their property tax bills or make other payments to the city using cryptocurrency at this point, McEachern acknowledged.
Instead, people will have to use PayPal, which is a payment provider the city has accepted for months, according to Nancy Bates, the city’s revenue administrator/tax collector.
“Town customers who have cryptocurrency stored in their PayPal can now make payments to the city using this cryptocurrency when they choose PayPal as their payment method,” she said in a memo to City Manager Karen Conard. “This new payment method has no impact on the city’s financial practices because the cryptocurrency is converted to US currency by PayPal before being sent to our payment processor.”
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McEachern pitched the idea to city officials as a way to adopt “the underlying technology” used in cryptocurrencies.
“By creating more ways to pay the bills, we enable greater participation,” he added.
He requested that his one-time $500 bonus for being elected mayor be delivered in cryptocurrency so he would learn more about the process.
He hasn’t received it yet, but when he does, he’ll convert it to cash and donate the money, McEachern said.
“It’s something I’m interested in and because we’re a small town we can move quickly and try,” he said.
He thinks that ultimately cryptocurrencies will be “transformative for financial services,” but in the short term, they can help people “who are underbanked in America.”
“If we can take some of the friction out of that process, I’d like to be able to bring that to Portsmouth,” he said.
He noted that there are “already credit cards that give you access to cryptocurrency.”