Thousands of Bitcoiners in June descended on Miami for Bitcoin 2021, a semi-religious event that celebrated all things related to the world’s biggest cryptocurrency. Speakers included Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, boxing champion Floyd Mayweather and ex-presidential candidate and firebrand libertarian Ron Paul.
It was the start of something big, crypto-enthusiastic Miamians hoped: Magic City would become the crypto capital of the world. And as from today, thanks to the city’s tech-obsessed mayor, Francis Suarez, Miami looks like it is one step closer to that dream. The city launched its own cryptocurrency, MiamiCoin, which claims to allow city citizens to earn Bitcoin “in their sleep.”
On Tuesday, Okcoin was the first crypto exchange to list MiamiCoin. The idea is to fill the city’s coffers via speculation. People can mine the coin (which is less difficult and thus less energy intensive than mining Bitcoin or Ethereum), and revenue from the coin will be diverted to the city’s treasury. As investors buy the coin, its value will ideally continue to go up, and that cash will be used to fund infrastructure projects or events in the city.
MiamiCoin, which is listed as $MIA on exchanges, is the product of CityCoins, a project that “gives communities the power to improve their cities, while providing crypto rewards to individual contributors and city governments alike.” MiamiCoin is the first CityCoin to be released, though a cryptocurrency for San Francisco is on the way, too, according to the website. The project works hand-in-hand with the Miami government.
Bitcoin comes into all of this because the blockchain MiamiCoin runs on, Stacks, is built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain. So, MiamiCoin miners are rewarded with small amounts of Bitcoin by inadvertently contributing to the Bitcoin blockchain.
Mayor Francis Suarez, who previously invited persecuted Chinese Bitcoin miners to Miami after the country cracked down on the industry, said that the coin could earn the city “millions of dollars” in an interview last week. Despite emphatically not being Bitcoin and having complex layers of mechanics, Suarez said that MiamiCoin was “like a Bitcoin.”
Not all Bitcoiners agree with that sentiment.
"Miami would be better off converting long term treasury holdings to Bitcoin. While MiamiCoin’s novelty will likely generate some traction after its launch, I think it will fade away. All the while Bitcoin will continue to grow faster than the internet itself,” said Brady Swenson, Head of Education at Swan Bitcoin, an app that automates Bitcoin purchases, and the host of podcasts Swan Signal Live and Citizen Bitcoin. "MiamiCoin will not benefit from Bitcoin’s global network effect, nor accrue the corresponding exponential gains in purchasing power.”
CityCoins told Motherboard in an email that MiamiCoin is “a project that aims to make citizens of any city stakeholders that are incentivized to participate in their city's success” and that the rewards earned are “really just the start.” This is because Miami’s government will have its own wallet, and a portion of the coins mined—30 percent—will end up in that wallet, which can then be used to improve the city.
As for what the money could be used for, Suarez told Fox Business that the funds could be used to help “eliminate homelessness completely” and “increasing our police force.”
The City of Miami didn’t immediately respond to Motherboard’s request for comment.