A tax collector in Florida has announced today that his office will begin accepting bitcoin and bitcoin cash through payment processor BitPay starting this summer, making it the first U.S. government agency to do so.
In order to pay taxes with a debit or credit card, the use of a third-party processor has been required, which often incurs high fees. Yet for Joel Greenberg, Seminole County Tax Collector, the use of the blockchain enables the tax collector to remove many of those fees, at the same time as improving payment accuracy, efficiency, and transparency for Seminole County tax payers.
“We live in a world where technology has made access to services on demand, with same-day delivery and the expectation of highly efficient customer service and we should expect the same from our government,” Greenberg said in an announcement. “The aim of my tenure in office is to make our customer experience faster, smarter, and more efficient, and to bring government services from the 18th century into the 21st century and one way is the addition of cryptocurrency to our payment options.”
Greenberg, who was elected Tax Collector in November 2016, took office in January 2017. Since then he has directed his office to introduce new technologies such as artificial intelligence, the adoption of the blockchain technology, and other improvements throughout his team.
Now, in a further bid to serve the residents of Seminole County, Greenberg’s office will be using BitPay, the largest global blockchain payments provider. Founded in 2011, the organisation enables businesses to send and receive cross-border payments. It also provides a platform for consumers to manage their digital assets via its BitPay Wallet. In April, it was reported that the payments processor had closed its Series B funding round with a total investment of $40 million, bringing the total capital raised for BitPay to $70 million since its founding.
As the first U.S. government agency to use a blockchain platform it will allow the Seminole County Tax Collector to accept bitcoin and bitcoin cash for services such as driver licenses, property tax, ID card fees, and tags and titles. Through BitPay, Greenberg’s office will receive settlement the following business day, which will be directed into its bank account in U.S. dollars. According to the announcement, there is no risk or price volatility to the Florida County.
By sending the exact amount of bitcoin or bitcoin cash required to pay the bill it removes credit card fraud and identity theft risks that are common with credit card transactions. Additionally, compared to the high fees associated with credit cards, BitPay charges one percent to approve the bitcoin or bitcoin cash transaction and settlement. By enabling transactions via a computer or mobile device BitPay is ensuring that the process is easy and convenient for Seminole County residents.
“BitPay was started because we recognised the potential for blockchain to revolutionise the financial industry, making payments faster, more secure, and less expensive on a global scale,” said Jeremie Beaudry, head of compliance at BitPay. “With the Seminole County Tax Collector’s office, we have engaged our first government agency to accept bitcoin and bitcoin cash by making it easy and seamless for them.”
In October, Tony Gallippi, co-founder and executive chairman at BitPay, said that ATM fees in Las Vegas were getting out of control, charging users nearly $125 in transaction fees for withdrawals with debit cards.