The city of Williston of North Dakota has officially started accepting cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin for utility payments via BitPay.
A city in North Dakota is joining the cryptocurrency adoption race in the United States by starting to accept crypto payments.
Hercules Cummings, finance director for the City of Williston, announced Thursday that the city administration has partnered with crypto payment firm BitPay to start accepting cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) as payment for utility bills.
“We have partnered with BitPay, the largest virtual payment merchant whose partners include Microsoft and Facebook. We are the first municipality in the State of North Dakota, and the third in the nation, to offer this service,” the city executive stated.
Utility bill payments will be the only bills eligible for crypto payment initially, Cummings said, adding that the city will conduct quality assessments to expand the new payment method for bills like licenses, landfill and permits. The new payment method is in line with the city’s commitment to explore more payment methods to keep pace with existing payment alternatives and enable contactless payments.
“There are also a number of advantages to utilizing these online payment methods including security, convenience, and cost savings,” Cummings noted. According to the announcement, BitPay charges a 1% fee to pay utility bills online, versus a 3% commission for payments via services like Google Pay, Apple Pay and PayPal.
Williston residents can visit the official city website and provide their account information to receive a BitPay invoice. Individuals can create a digital wallet for payments directly with BitPay or other services like crypto exchanges, the announcement notes.
According to data collected by Newsweek magazine, as many as 46 million Americans, or 17% of all U.S. adults, own Bitcoin as of May 2021. A survey by crypto exchange Gemini previously estimated that just 14% of the U.S. population, or about 21 million adults, owned crypto as of late 2020.
The Spanish stock exchange is moving forward with further tests of its planned blockchain-based system to finance small- and medium-scale enterprises.
Spanish stock exchange Bolsas y Mercados Españoles, or BME is set to test its blockchain infrastructure for small- and medium-sized enterprise financing following a successful pilot run back in 2020.
According to Finextra on Friday, this next set of trials by the BME will involve businesses that are part of the country’s SME financing ecosystem under the aegis of a regulatory sandbox created by Spain’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation.
As previously reported by Cointelegraph, this sandbox is seen as an important step in promoting greater fintech development in Spain with a focus on improving greater competition while reducing entry barriers for participants.
The aforementioned pilot phase that occurred back in 2020 drew participation from investment servicing companies and business credit providers.
As part of the second round of tests, the BME will likely be looking to examine the suitability of the Ethereum-based system in raising capital for limited liability companies outside the usual traditional bank financing route.
Indeed, the BME’s blockchain platform aims to facilitate SME financing digital assets that represent funding avenues like convertible notes and participatory loans.
An increasing number of high-profile celebrities have continued to adopt the “laser eye” meme on Twitter in recent months.
Beams of light flashing out of a person’s eyes are not an uncommon sight in the world of comic books and superhero movies. In recent months, however, these so-called “laser eyes” have been making the news, not because of a movie or web series, but because of Bitcoin (BTC).
To be more specific, an increasing number of celebrities, tech entrepreneurs and media personalities have been adding laser eyes to their profile pictures. This is a symbolic way of showcasing their bullish outlook for BTC and the crypto market in general.
While the origin of the meme is unclear, most point toward the suggestion that the idea behind laser eyes, at least upon its inception, was to help spur the flagship cryptocurrency’s value all the way up to the $100,000 mark by the end of 2021. Since then, the meaning of the meme has changed, with it now being a way of showing one’s support for the crypto sector.
Below are some of the biggest names who have recently adopted this trend, increasing the overall visibility of the digital asset industry.
Who’s got the “eyes?”
Widely considered to be the greatest football player of all time, Tom Brady has continued to defy time while getting better with each passing year. At his ripe old age of 43, he just won his seventh Super Bowl, showcasing that age is really just a number.
In addition to his amazing sporting pursuits, Brady is also known to be an avid financial investor — something that recently led the legendary quarterback to adopt the laser eyes photo. As soon as he did this, many people claimed that the sports star had become the latest big-name celebrity to acquire a sizable sum of Bitcoin.
As the name seems to quite clearly imply, the project will serve as a marketplace where investors can buy officially licensed digital collectibles backed by some of the biggest names in the world of sports and entertainment.
Michael Saylor has got to be one of the most obvious names on this list. This is because as of May 14, his company MicroStrategy — an enterprise business intelligence application software vendor — has under its possession a total of 91,850 Bitcoins (acquired at an aggregate purchase price of $2.24 billion).
Upon changing his profile photo, Saylor went on to claim that by making the move, he was making his intentions clear that he sees Bitcoin as an instrument of economic empowerment and change. “Laser eyes proclaim a technology to guarantee the human rights of life, liberty and property,” he added.
Before Kim Kardashian came along, Paris Hilton was widely recognized as being the biggest celebrity on planet Earth. However, despite her popularity waning a little over the last decade or so, Hilton, who is an heiress to the Hilton hotel empire, still carries with her approximately 17 million followers on Twitter.
From minting nonfungible tokens to generally being quite active within the crypto sector, Hilton has pushed to become an unexpected flag bearer for this rapidly evolving industry. During the first week of April, she adopted the laser eyes meme as a means of showcasing her growing support for Bitcoin.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk broke many crypto-loving hearts on May 13 when he announced that Tesla would cease accepting Bitcoin for its cars due to the environmental impact from mining. But he was still a part of this bullish crypto trend.
On Feb. 20, Bitcoin was trading at a relatively stable price point of around $51,700, when Musk — aka “Dogefather” — changed his Twitter profile picture to the laser eyes meme, while adding the following note: “Just for a day.”
As expected, within just 48 hours of Musk making this move, the value of Bitcoin started soaring, climbing up to a relative high of around $58,000.
Earlier this year, Tesla announced that the company was going to invest some $1.5 billion into BTC. The result of this news sent shockwaves across the global financial landscape, helping spur the value of BTC from $38,000 to $43,000 within a matter of minutes.
Though criticized for being a bandwagoner when it comes to adopting crypto trends, the first woman to represent Wyoming in the Senate, Senator Cynthia Lummis tweeted in February that she was also going to be adopting the laser eyes photo for a day, showcasing her support for Bitcoin, which she referred to as being a “sound” form of money.
In recent years, Caitlin Long’s crypto resume has become legendary. From leading Wyoming’s Blockchain Task Force between 2018 and 2019 to being named the #8 person of the year in Cointelegraph’s top 100 in 2021, Long is widely considered to be a pioneer within the crypto industry, and the laser eyes on her Twitter profile indicate that she is indeed a believer.
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss
The founders of cryptocurrency exchange Gemini, both Tyler and Cameron have been quite vocal about their support for the crypto industry as a whole. The brothers recently changed their profile pictures to ones depicting the laser eyes meme earlier this year, adding more fuel to an already raging fire.
Will this make a difference?
Can this symbolic photo change actually help spur global crypto adoption? Nick Rose, CEO of Ethernity — a digital art marketplace designed to produce authenticated nonfungible tokens — told Cointelegraph that celebrities entering this space is fantastic for the market, adding: “Widespread adoption is still to come. I can’t wait to see the authenticated NFT market in five or even 10 years or more. I have already spoken to Tom Brady’s team — they are onto something.”
Similarly, Antoni Trenchev, managing partner for crypto lending platform Nexo, told Cointelegraph that crypto is currently the place for all major movers and shakers to “see and be seen” — much like how New York City was back in the 1960s, “ungovernable but never boring.”
Nick Spanos, co-founder of Zap Protocol — an open platform for creating, sharing and monetizing deterministic oracles from data feeds — believes that while in the past, crypto may have been viewed by many as being some nerdy, obscure kind of video game money. With more celebrities now endorsing this asset class, it can help in forging a path of financial liberation for many investors, he added: “Game-changing ideas spread today through TikTok, memes and profile photo frames — not just through traditional media on cable TV.”
Not everybody is sold on the laser
Though many are hyped about the fact that celebrities and influencers are showcasing their support for the industry with each passing day, Rick Heffernan, head of business development at the Utopia Genesis Foundation — a blockchain-powered music data platform — believes that celebrities dipping their toes in this space should be viewed with a certain degree of caution:
“It’s all product endorsement, which is typically designed to benefit both the product as well as their own platform simultaneously for a certain period of time. Genuine, sincere and long-term support is essential. At the same time, focus should also be placed on encouraging people to educate themselves on how [the] space works before investing.”
By and large, 2021 has been a pivotal year for crypto thanks in large part to all of the attention received by the NFT and decentralized finance markets. According to Heffernan, it now remains to be seen whether adoption will increase at a rapid rate in the near to mid-term, especially as many altcoins are continuing to garner an increasing amount of momentum, taking some of the spotlight away from Bitcoin.