Plan B is accelerating, and Tether arrives in town
Plan B in Lugano has succeeded in accomplishing a rarity in recent politics: appealing to youth. So successful, in fact, that Lugano's youth political movements (progressive area excluded), which organized an information evening on the blockchain theme, had to upgrade the hall at the PalaCongressi to fit all of its three hundred or so members. And while the occasion was formally to explain about the world blockchain and the legal framework in Switzerland (speakers crypto entrepreneur Luca Ambrosini and lawyer Gianni Cattaneo), it was also a moment to review how the implementation of Plan B is going six months after the signing of the memorandum of intent with Tether, the principal private partner in this deal. Plan B, whose aim, as we recall, is to make Lugano a global hub for the adoption of Bitcoin and blockchain technology.
First in Cyprus
City representatives will attend the 8th International Smart Cities Conference hosted by IEEE in Cyprus. Lugano is among 15 finalists for the creation of the 3Achain city blockchain. Following that, they will fly to Ibiza in October, as the popular Spanish tourist destination is also considering whether to have its own virtual currency on blockchain technology, such as LVGA points. "The deputy mayor showed up and extended an invitation for us to present the project," said Foletti.
Coffee and taxes in bitcoin
Travel aside, a trial will begin shortly to provide the opportunity for merchants to pay in cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Tether, and LVGA Points) to those who so desire. Three million francs have been allocated by Tether to facilitate city adoption, and with this trial, it will begin to be rolled out. Essentially, the first "POS" (payment devices) will be distributed to selected merchants to see if it can work for them and their customers. There is particularly the question of how to reduce fees as much as possible.
Other financial issues, the payment of fees. Lugano intends to propose it as unlimited, and it would be a first. "Zug has a 150,000-franc limit and some entities complain that this way they have to pay partially in bitcoin, partially in francs," explains Foletti. Efforts are now under way to implement the system in city computer software programs. "There will be a system specifically for paying with bitcoin, Tether and LVGA Points. The city will then promptly convert the amount to francs-we have no intention of keeping a treasury in cryptocurrencies."
Next, we have a real estate issue. Among the goals of Plan B is to create a blockchain-related community through the establishment of a hub, a home base for start-ups. A place, that is, where industry insiders can meet. A physical, downtown place. Well, its realization seems if anything close to, if not around the corner. Tether - which will fund the operation - is indeed currently in what we might call advanced negotiations with a private party for the purchase of a building in downtown Lugano. Which one exactly, we could not determine, but if the negotiations go well, there will be no shortage of communication about it. "We had given ourselves four years to implement Plan B," says Foletti, "but in this world four years is an eternity.
Will it be worth it?
A fundamental question remains. Will it be worth it? People who attend the Plan B forum in late October - to be attended by "the crème de la crème" of the Bitcoin world, as was mentioned on Tuesday - are likely to come away convinced, since a large proportion of the speakers introduce themselves as Bitcoin "evangelists." By contrast, the most skeptical of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology ("a solution in search of a problem," in one of their most generous definitions) are organizing themselves and have held in recent days in London the first Crypto Policy Symposium, a conference "to foster critical discourse and multi-disciplinary collaboration in the analysis of the crypto ecosystem." In concrete terms: Lugano is the first progressive economy to propose Bitcoin adoption on this scale: is the rest of the world asleep or is the City taking a big risk? "There is an element of risk," says Foletti: -the advanced world has so far seen crypto as a tax and job creation opportunity, but not as a means of making payments. I'm thinking of Dubai, where taxation is very low or non-existent, but the banking system does not allow crypto to be exchanged. Compared to the rest of the world, we started earlier partly because the federal government has had a precise and well-regulated legal framework in place, and not just a few years ago." Is the recent collapse in the prices of major cryptocurrencies and the chain failures of several exchange platforms of concern? "We are at the dawn of a new technology and shocks are to be expected, like in 1995 with Internet 1.0 or the dot-com bubble at the turn of the century. As in all such technological developments those who are healthy and strong will endure, while those who have created purely speculative products are likely to jump."