By Cliff Summerhill, Special for Wrangler News
A sign of the ever-changing technological times we live in, Chandler has introduced the ability for residents to pay their utility bills using cryptocurrency.
“We assumed that with so many tech companies within the city limits, their employees could dive into cryptocurrency with their strong technical skills,” said Dawn Lang, Deputy City Manager and CFO of Chandler. “So we wanted to be sensitive to that.”
Chandler is home to some of the biggest technology companies in the United States, including Intel, NXP Semiconductors and Microchip Technology. According to the city, there are more than 26,000 employees among 268 tech companies within Chandler’s boundaries.
Chandler joins a handful of municipalities across the country that accept cryptocurrency as payment for municipal services.
In February, Colorado was the first state to accept virtual currency for state-level fees and charges.
“It’s about customer service for our residents,” said council member Mark Stewart. “Digital currency and blockchain are advancing rapidly, and as an ‘Innovation Community’, we believe it is important to be at the forefront of this technology and offer it to our residents as a form of payment. for utility payments and other charges.”
Residents must have a PayPal account with Bitcoin, Litecoin or Ethereum linked to their virtual wallet in order to use the service. Those who use PayPal for payments can easily select cryptocurrency as the payment method when paying online.
Find out more on the city’s website: chandleraz.gov/utilityservices.
One of Chandler’s strategic goals is rooted in his continued development of technology, which led then-Deputy Mayor Stewart to establish a $5,000 budget amendment to research how the city could integrate crypto. -currency for residents of the city.
At the end of the research, the city found itself unwilling to invest in cryptocurrency because the current market is too volatile to pursue investments. However, it challenged its third-party payment provider, Invoice Cloud, to find a way to integrate cryptocurrency as a payment method.
The challenge resulted in the partnership with PayPal.
“PayPal takes the risk and does the market conversion, then simply sends the city of Chandler the cash payment for the utility, eliminating any risk of market volatility for Chandler,” Lang said.
While Chandler starts with paying utility bills, he hopes to expand into other services.
The city is working with PayPal to analyze cryptocurrency payments from other PayPal Checkout payments, which may include a bank account or credit card, to assess program usage and effectiveness.
Cryptocurrency is simply digital-only, encrypted, and decentralized virtual currency, according to Forbes. There is no central authority for cryptocurrency, which means its value and management belong to its online users. The lack of regulation and authority creates a volatile and difficult market for those unfamiliar with it.
“The easiest way to explain it is that it is a form of virtual currency and its price is based on the market at that time,” Lang said. “It is managed through a secure virtual wallet.”
Unlike physical currency, like the US dollar, the value of cryptocurrency changes constantly, much like stocks traded on Wall Street, but with even more risk.
There are several types of cryptocurrencies – over 18,000 worldwide as of April. Among the most popular are Bitcoin, Litecoin or Ethereum. These are the only ones accepted by Chandler for utility bills.
As for the city’s future in cryptocurrency investments, Lang said, “Anything is possible in the world of technology and innovation. As the use of cryptocurrency becomes more normal and policies, procedures and laws are put in place, anything is possible.