NEW YORK — Mayor Eric Adams will make good on his promise to convert his first paycheck to cryptocurrency tomorrow, he said in a press release.
The city cannot offer payment in cryptocurrency due to federal regulations, so the paycheck will be automatically converted into bitcoin and Ethereum coins, two leading cryptocurrencies, using the exchange platform Coinbase.
Adams has said that he wants to make the city a center of cryptocurrency innovation.
“We want this technology to be developed in New York City, and we really want to lean into innovation in the city of New York," Adams told NY1 on Thursday during an interview in Washington. "And now young people are asking me, 'What's bitcoin? What does it mean to get paid in it? Can they get paid in it?' We're going to excite of the imagination and the creativity and the innovation in our city.”
Adams will be buying the cryptocurrencies at their lowest prices since the end of September. One bitcoin is currently worth about $43,250, and one ether, the name of the Ethereum coin, is worth $3,250. Adams did not say how much of each cryptocurrency he will buy using his paycheck.
Adams' annual salary is $258,750, and he receives $9,924.66 in his bi-weekly checks, according to Jonah Allon, a spokesperson for Adams. Allon said that the administration had set up a system for Adams to have his paycheck converted directly into cryptocurrency through the Coinbase app, avoiding the added step of transferring the funds from his bank account.
"Federal law requires all public officials to be paid in nationally-recognized currency, but anyone who is paid in U.S. dollars can use a cryptocurrency exchange to have funds converted into cryptocurrency before funds are deposited into their account," Allon said in an email.
Adams has announced his intention to increase cryptocurrency literacy education in schools, but has not released further information about his plans for wooing the industry.
Cryptocurrency experts say in order to successfully do that he would have to convince the state government to loosen its stringent standards for issuing licenses to trade, buy and sell cryptocurrencies at large volumes. Other emerging centers of cryptocurrency technology, such as Wyoming, do not have New York’s license requirements.
While experts say that the blockchain technology that cryptocurrencies run on could offer significant benefits for city operations and data collection, they are skeptical that private cryptocurrencies could play a meaningful role in government.
For more context on Adams, cryptocurrency and the city, click here.
Adams has drawn scrutiny for touting cryptocurrency as he developed a relationship with Brock Pierce, a bitcoin booster who drew backlash in recent years for his efforts to make Puerto Rico a tax haven for cryptocurrency investors.
Pierce donated $2,000 to Adams’ mayoral campaign — a donation that the Adams campaign reported in recent filings that it returned. A representative for Adams’ campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Campaign filings also show that Pierce gave $100,000 to an independent expenditure group, A Better NY For All, LLC, that spent nearly $350,000 in support of Adams’ campaign.
Additional reporting by Gloria Pazmino and Kevin Frey.