New York City mayor-elect Adams says he’ll take paycheck in Bitcoin

New York City mayor-elect Adams says he’ll take paycheck in Bitcoin
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(Nov 5): New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams said he would take his first three paychecks in Bitcoin when he takes over City Hall in January. 

“NYC is going to be the center of the cryptocurrency industry and other fast-growing, innovative industries,” he said on Twitter on Thursday. 

In New York we always go big, so I’m going to take my first THREE paychecks in Bitcoin when I become mayor. NYC is going to be the center of the cryptocurrency industry and other fast-growing, innovative industries! Just wait!

— Eric Adams (@ericadamsfornyc) November 4, 2021

Adams, a Democrat, has said he wanted to turn New York into a crypto-friendly city and that he wants to explore a NYC Coin similar to Miami’s. In an interview on Bloomberg Radio after being elected mayor on Nov. 2, he wagered a “friendly competition” with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who was the first to set up a so-called CityCoin cryptocurrency.

“He has a MiamiCoin that is doing very well -- we’re going to look in the direction to carry that out,” Adams said in a Wednesday interview on Bloomberg Radio. He vowed to “look at what’s preventing the growth of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in our city.”

The New York City Economic Development Corp. opened a Blockchain Center in Manhattan in 2019. The center’s website isn’t operating and the development agency didn’t immediately return a phone call Thursday asking about the status of the site. 

Adams is following in Suarez’s footsteps, quite literally. The tweet came as a response to Suarez’s statement, where he proclaimed he would be taking his next paycheck 100% in Bitcoin. The mayor also tagged Michael Sarasti, Miami’s director of innovation and technology, who has also tweeted about receiving his paycheck in Bitcoin.

Doing this may not be as complicated as it sounds. Suarez has insinuated he would convert his pay through payment provider Strike’s Pay Me in Bitcoin feature, a dollars-to-Bitcoin conversion mechanism. That’s different from having the city actually hold Bitcoin and handle payouts in the cryptocurrency. Instead, it is more akin to the way in which workers automatically have a portion of their dollar-denominated paychecks allocated to investment funds.

“Mayor Adams and I have become great friends and I welcome the friendly competition. I think it’s incredible that he’s joined me in leading American cities on cryptocurrency and helping democratize the financial system not just for New Yorkers and Miamians but for every American,” Suarez said in an email statement. 

While the budding Bitcoin romance is generating attention for Adams and Suarez, it remains to be seen if it advances the case for Bitcoin as a transactional currency.

In Suarez’s case, he has also proposed formalizing a mechanism by which the city would let employees take part of their salaries in cryptocurrency. But even then, Miami has explored doing so through a contract with a third party. Local governments in Florida are prohibited from directly holding or investing in volatile assets.