Miami Mayor Pushes Crypto

In an interview with CoinDesk, Francis X. Suarez explains how he plans to attract the crypto industry to Florida.

Miami Mayor Francis X. Suarez wants his south Florida city to be a hub for crypto. Following in the footprints of crypto-forward pols in the U.S. states of Wyoming and New York, the Republican mayor is working on an ambitious set of rules and regulations to turn his beachside city into a teeming sandbox. A draft of these new rules could be revealed as early as next week, he told CoinDesk.

For months, Suarez has been courting the crypto industry as part of his larger call to attract technology firms and their capital to Miami. Faced with bloated rents but little city fun amid pandemic precautions, many white-collar workers in California’s Silicon Valley and in New York City have decamped to other cities across the country. Miami’s particular draw: sunshine, warm water, and – of course – lower taxes. Soon it will add a comprehensive crypto policy added to that list.

“We’re excited to be a trend‑setting city at the forefront of crypto and blockchain technology,” Suarez said over Zoom Tuesday, dialing in from his enviable ocean-view office. “We want to make sure that there is no city or state that has more favorable laws and regulations.”

This includes “making sure” there’s a regulatory environment for businesses to become chartered banks, like Kraken or Avanti, as well as welcoming crypto exchanges to operate in the city. Suarez said he’s looking at “Wyoming’s legislative structure” – he’s been in touch with Caitlin Long, that state’s pioneer – and “New York’s regulatory structure.”

“Imitation is the highest form of flattery,” Suarez offered, when pressed for details. The bill is still being written, though could be part of the legislative session beginning in March. That said, this type of regulatory broadside could be difficult to pull off in a month, even if sponsored by Senate and House representatives in the state. Suarez didn’t comment who these cosigners might be.

“Everybody has limited authority,” he said, adding, “I will meet with anybody. I will be happy to meet with [Florida’s] governor about it.”

At the city level, Suarez’s ambitions are equally ambitious. He’s “looking at” ways to pay municipal employees a percentage of their salary in bitcoin and allow residents to use bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for “payments and fees,” including taxes.

Miami wouldn’t be the first governmental body to accept crypto for taxes, though under Suarez’s tenure it could become the first city to place a portion of its treasury in bitcoin. Again, details were scant, though Suarez said it’d likely take the form of a public-private partnership.

“We want to be a city that is the most cutting edge,” he said.

While a firm believer in blockchain technology, Suarez admits these policies are a play to attract the high-growth tech and crypto sectors, placing the city at the forefront of “American innovation.”