Monday evening, a few dozen shopkeepers and businessmen gathered in the blue carpet room of a conference center in the Italian-speaking city of Lugano, Switzerland, to learn how to start accepting cryptocurrency payments. He addressed it, along with a number of accountants, businessmen and city officials such as Mayor Michele Foletti, Paolo Ardoino, the director of technology at Tether, the company behind one of the most popular stable currencies in the world. world (a kind of cryptocurrency whose price is linked to that of real world currencies such as the dollar). Lugano general secretary Robert Bregy says attending merchants were “much more interested in these new types of payments than we expected”.
The meeting is part of Lugano’s Plan B initiative, launched in March 2022 in collaboration with Tether, which aims to make the city a hub for cryptographic innovation. Aside from a series of investments in business and educational programs on blockchain technology and the organization of industry events, the most striking element of the plan is that the city will begin accepting bitcoin, tether and its own cryptocurrency. LVGA as payment of municipal taxes and access to some public services and events. The city also pledged to encourage and help local businesses voluntarily include these cryptocurrencies in their accepted payment methods (a difficult sale, amid the current monumental collapse in the price of bitcoin).
The movement is designed quite explicitly to attract technology talent, businesses and cryptocurrency owners to a city that, despite its stunning views and relatively mild climate, is still lagging behind other parts of Switzerland in terms of growth. economic. Bregy says the plan so far seems to have worked, as the city has been “besieged” by cryptocurrency companies, businessmen and students who want to move there. Lars Schlichting, a lawyer at the Swiss law firm Kellerhals-Carrard specializing in the crypto sector, says he currently works with “at least 10 companies, which is much higher than usual,” all of which want to move to Lugano.
Ardoino says Plan B is a way to put a “red carpet” for businesses and cryptocurrency enthusiasts who want to go to Lugano. But Tether himself will be at the forefront and center: since the plan was announced, the company has become the In fact Lugano’s cryptographic capabilities project manager, who exerts a significant influence on shaping the city’s digital fortunes.
Lugano is now in competition with the German-speaking canton (or state) of Zug, the Swiss region known for its cryptographic activity, which has eventually acquired the nickname “Crypto Valley”. Although small and dormant, Zug has some of the lowest corporate income tax rates in the country, a factor that has helped it attract several high-profile organizations to the cryptographic space, particularly the Ethereum Foundation. Zug also allows you to pay cantonal taxes in bitcoin or ether, Ethereum’s cryptocurrency.
Lugano’s plan seems to push the envelope further, extending the acceptance of cryptocurrencies to a wider range of utilities and, in general, integrating the cryptocurrency more deeply into its economic fabric. Bregy says that while Zug’s appeal is based primarily on tax reasons, Lugano’s presentation is “an ideal place to live, do crypto business and thrive”. He adds that the city’s tax rates will never fall to Zug levels in the foreseeable future.