City of Williston becomes first municipality in the state to accept cryptocurrency for utility bills

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 5:34 PM CDT
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WILLISTON, N.D. - Through a service called “Bitpay,” residents of the city of Williston will be able to use cryptocurrency to pay their utility bills.

Crypto has been around for a while, but it was the rise of Bitcoin that popularized the idea of virtual currency.

“Back in 2017 I was working at a poker table, and crypto was being talked about at the table and everyone was talking about bitcoin and the price of it,” said Colton Brown, a Crypto user.

Bitcoin has been the poster child for cryptocurrencies, but the market goes way deeper than just that. People who missed out on the rise of bitcoin are now searching for the next innovation in the market.

“Bitcoin and Ethereum are stable coins, but (I also have) Polkadot, Chainlink, Uniswap, Algorand. Just a few,” said Jacob Latuszek, a Crypto user.

Name brand and word of mouth advertising are ways cryptocurrencies is gaining notoriety. Businesses large and small have begun to take crypto as a form of payment, but it’s practically unheard of for local or state governments to try it. That’s why Williston is putting its foot in the door, becoming just the third municipality in the nation to do so.

“It just shows that Williston’s making a bold statement, showing that we do embrace these technological changes. We want to be a leader and position ourselves to be at the forefront of this emerging technology,” said Finance Director Hercules Cummings.

It’s always welcomed to see more openness towards crypto usage, but a potential problem in virtual currency is the supposed value of said coin.

“How much is it actually worth? The only reason they are worth all that right now is because that is what we’ve said it’s worth, but there’s no standard around it,” said Brown.

Finance Director Hercules Cummings says “Bitpay” converts the price immediately, protecting the consumer and the city from that volatility.

“The second you make that transaction... they instantaneously convert that price on the spot to fiat currencies, so that de-risks the consumer and the city,” said Cummings.

Cummings believes Cryptocurrency will only continue to grow in the coming years, all the more reason he wants Williston to pioneer the charge. He adds that the city is taking baby steps to make sure everything is in check before allowing crypto payments for other services like landfills, permits, and licenses.

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