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Cryptocurrency could become an Edmonton election issue

Click to play video: 'Cryptocurrency could become an Edmonton municipal election issue' Cryptocurrency could become an Edmonton municipal election issue
As the 2021 municipal election race gets closer, cryptocurrency is becoming a talking point in at least one ward in Edmonton. As Breanna Karstens-Smith explains, other jurisdictions accept Bitcoin for payment and the argument is, Edmonton could save money by doing so as well. – Aug 29, 2021

From potholes to taxes, there are issues Edmontonians expect to be raised every municipal election.

As the 2021 municipal race gets closer, cryptocurrency is becoming a talking point in at least one ward.

Read more: Bitcoin price soars past US$50,000 after months-long slump

Lana Palmer is running for a council seat in Ward Dene.

As she knocks on doors, she’s promising voters to make Edmonton a cryptocurrency-friendly city.

“I think most people are interested in that discussion,” Palmer told Global News.

“They want to know more about it, especially if it doesn’t cost us anything.”

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Palmer’s first step would see the city declare itself as a municipality that embraces the high-tech currency.

Adam O’Brien believes that would go a long way in boosting the industry in Edmonton.

O’Brien is the founder and CEO of Bitcoin Well. The Edmonton-based company is the world’s first publicly traded Bitcoin ATM machine.

Read more: Push to keep tech business in Edmonton prompts program to support potential startups

He thinks having a city publicly support the industry would break down some of the stigmas around it.

“We call them FUD in the industry. Fear, uncertainty and doubt. I think there’s a lot of FUD around Bitcoin,” O’Brien said.

Edmonton would not be the first in Canada to do so.

In 2019, Innisfil in Ontario became the first municipality in the country to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment for property taxes.

Read more: Amazon denies reports that it may accept bitcoin as payment by end of 2021

O’Brien explained that could save the city the processing and transaction fees it currently pays every time a citizen submits a credit card payment online.

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He believes Edmonton could benefit by using Bitcoin to pay for projects.

“The provinces and the federal governments don’t quite get hit with inflation as hard because they’re the ones who print money. They can go into a surplus if they want, but local communities can’t,” he said.

Click to play video: 'El Salvador 1st country to make Bitcoin legal tender' El Salvador 1st country to make Bitcoin legal tender
El Salvador 1st country to make Bitcoin legal tender – Jun 9, 2021

El Salvador has gone further, voting to make Bitcoin a legal tender. Similar to bilingualism, stores and businesses will have to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment.

Read more: Why the COVID-19 pandemic highlights Canada’s need for a digital currency

In April, governor of the Bank of Canada Tiff Macklem told reporters the pandemic has accelerated the digital economy and “the case for a digital currency becomes more compelling.”

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Palmer agrees. She said cryptocurrency is already quickly gaining popularity around the world and Edmonton should jump in as soon as possible.

“I think it is volatile, but at the same time, we don’t need to make any radical investments. We don’t need to go all in,” she said.

Read more: Edmonton municipal election draws out candidates half a century apart

Edmonton does have interest if Bitcoin Well is any indication.

The company, which started in 2014, is about to go through a major expansion, going from an estimated 60 employees to about 200.

It has 160 Bitcoin ATMs across the country and is getting into the United Kingdom.

Whether that sort of success will translate to the election will be determined when Edmontonians go to the polls on Oct. 18.

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