Bitcoin for city fines? NYC councilman says yes

A New York City councilman is introducing a bill to lay the groundwork for allowing bitcoin as a currency to pay city fines and fees.

The measure would allow New York City to "enter into agreements" with financing agencies in order to accept bitcoin, according to CoinDesk, an online news outlet focused on bitcoin.

ADVERTISEMENT

Author Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) said the move would put New York City on the "cutting edge" and save millions of dollars in credit card processing fees.

"Today you can buy almost anything with Bitcoin," Levine told the New York Post. "For young, internet-savvy people, it’s become the currency of choice."

If the bill was passed, it would make New York City the first major U.S. city to accept bitcoin for charges like parking tickets and court fees.

Officials in other regions — including Pittsburgh and the state of New Hampshire — have floated the idea of allowing bitcoin for public payments but have not implemented the policy.

New York state regulators have shown considerable interest in bitcoin and the cybersecurity risks involved with using virtual currencies.

In late 2014, the New York Department of Financial Services proposed stricter cybersecurity requirements on banks wishing to use bitcoin and the requirement that they obtain a "BitLicense" from the agency.

“We have to do our best to stay ahead of the curve to protect consumers and the financial markets from the types of devastating disruptions that could occur as a result of a debilitating cyberattack,” said Benjamin Lawsky, head of the department, during a Bipartisan Policy Center event on Dec. 18.