By Carlo Versano
Ohio wants to be the Silicon Valley of cryptocurrency, and it's putting its Bitcoin where its mouth is.
This week, the Buckeye State announced it would become the first state to allow businesses to pay their taxes in crypto, via a new web portal, OhioCrypto.com that accepts Bitcoin as a form of payment.
Josh Mandel, the state treasurer and brains behind the idea, told Cheddar: "This is about projecting to the rest of the country that Ohio is embracing blockchain technology."
It's also as simple as giving taxpayers more options to pay their taxes on time. Mandel said businesses should not worry about the risk of transferring funds to the state on the blockchain. The state will actually not ever hold any Bitcoin ー instead, it will be transferred to a third-party processor and then converted to U.S. dollars before it hits the treasury. That mitigates the risk for the government and provides an extra layer of security for taxpayers, Mandel said.
"We're used to keeping money safe and secure," the treasurer said. "That's what we think about when we wake up in the morning."
Mandel's move to accept Bitcoin isn't out of character. The 41-year-old former Marine gained notice around the country when he launched OhioCheckbook.com, which effectively put all of the state's expenditures, down to the office supplies, into an easy-to-read interface as a way to hold government accountable for its spending. "The politicians hated it but the taxpayers loved it," he said.
Mandel said the checkbook site, which is four years old, took time to gain attention and grow, and now has over one million users. He expects the crypto portal to follow a similar track ー slow at first, but with eventual widespread adoption, especially as the state opens it to personal taxpayers and incorporates other cryptocurrencies.
"I think that's where the world's going," he said.