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By Karen Pierog
(Reuters) - The city of Miami is seeking to embrace bitcoin in its operations, a move that could bring dividends in terms of attracting technology companies, Mayor Francis Suarez said on Friday.
The city commission late on Thursday approved in a 4-1 vote a first step in the mayor's proposal to allow bitcoin to be used to pay city workers and for city residents and businesses to make fee and tax payments with the cryptocurrency.
"Cities like Miami, we're trying to attract tech town," Suarez said in a telephone interview. "It's part of a larger play if you will to position Miami as one of the most tech-forward cities in the country."
While an initial step involves finding a third-party vendor to facilitate bitcoin transactions, the mayor also wants the Florida city, which ranks as the 42nd-most populous city in the United States, to explore investing a limited amount of its funds in bitcoin as a long-term asset hedge.
"I firmly believe that when and if Amazon and or Apple adopts bitcoin as a payment structure the dam will essentially break because at that point you're talking about a very high volume of transactions being able to use bitcoin," Suarez said. "I just wanted us to be on the cutting edge and sort of ahead of the game."
Other U.S. local or state government have dipped their toes into cryptocurrency, including Florida's Seminole County, according to media reports. In 2018, the Ohio Treasurer's Office launched a cryptocurrency tax payment portal, which was suspended in 2019 over a legal issue.
(Reporting By Karen Pierog; editing by Diane Craft)