City in North Dakota now accepts cryptocurrency for utility payments

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City in North Dakota now accepts cryptocurrency for utility payments

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.

Several states in the U.S. are currently considering crypto-friendly legislation. Earlier this week, Nebraska lawmakers favored an initiative that would allow state banks to handle crypto. The mayor of Jackson, Tennessee initiated a campaign to pay public salaries in Bitcoin and mine the cryptocurrencies for the city’s balance sheets, echoing similar proposals in Miami, Florida.

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.