NY councilman sends ‘powerful message’ with proposed bitcoin payments

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New York City councilman Mark Levine has proposed that the city’s residents be allowed to pay parking tickets, fines and other city fees with bitcoin.

The democrat has introduced a bill to colleagues that is intended to save the city money in the long run thanks to the lower transaction fees associated with bitcoin. New York currently spends a significant amount on processing credit card payments, collecting more than $30 billion in revenue from parking tickets alone.

Levine proposed that New York City be allowed to enter agreements with “one or more financing agencies” to help the city process bitcoin payments, exchanging the crypto-currency for US dollars once a transaction has been completed.

While people paying fines in bitcoin would be subject to the exchange fees imposed by the payment processor, the fees would be lower than what is currently paid to make a credit card payment, Levine said.

Now, New York citizens are charged a ‘convenience fee’ of 3-4 per cent when paying fines or tickets with a credit card. If citizens were allowed to make these payments with bitcoin, the miner’s cost and exchange fee would add up to just 1 per cent of the transaction, the councilman added.

There are already several initiatives in place to explore the possible use of bitcoin in New York and the wider US. New York’s Department of Finance issued a Request for Information on bitcoin and other mobile payments methods in December, while Superintendent Ben Lawsky has released a revision to the original BitLicense proposed cryptocurrency regulations.

The growing interest in bitcoin surrounding Lawsky’s proposed Bitlicense regulations prompted Levine to act on his own bill.

“It [the bill] sends a very powerful message to the whole world that New York City’s on the cutting edge of technology and finance,” Levine told Inside Bitcoins.

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