The adoption of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency is undeniably gaining traction within businesses and personal uses, but adoption from national entities is still very slow. El Salvador is the first country in the world to adopt Bitcoin as a legal currency. Some initiatives are spreading in Brazil, Panama, the Central African Republic, and others to boost the adoption of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Nevertheless, these projects are still in development and are mostly not accessible to European investors. Except if we look in the heart of the most famous neutral country, Switzerland.

When people think about Switzerland cities, if they speak English or German they will think about Zürich, if they speak French, they will think about Geneve, if they come for fancy ski holidays they will think about St Morriz or Gstaad, but not many will think about Lugano.

Lugano is the capital of Ticino, the Italian-speaking canton, the 9th biggest city in Switzerland and is a popular tourist spot for nature lovers. Lugano or Ticino in general is not a big financial hub like other parts of Switzerland and therefore does not attract many foreign investments. Nevertheless, Lugano had a plan, and even better a Plan ₿.

The Lugano authorities decided in March 2022 to make BTC, USDT, and the local stablecoin LVGA, pegged to the Swiss franc, legal tender currencies in the city. Lugano became the first city in Europe to accept cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin to pay for anything, from coffee at the bar to expensive watches to even tax payments. 

Lugano has a plan B for everyone 

Lugano, the new Bitcoin city

The authorities of Lugano also understood that adoptions need to come with education and financial opportunities. Therefore, not only can you pay using cryptocurrency in the city, but if you are a student or have a crypto business you might want to move there.

Indeed, Lugano, Tether, and a group of committed partners started a 100M CHF Investment Pool for “startups to develop blockchain and Bitcoin-related projects, as well as to promote the relocation of existing businesses that will bring expertise, know-how, and people to Lugano.”

Additionally, more than 500 grants will be offered to students interested to learn more about blockchain, crypto, and industry opportunities in Web 3.0 within Lugano. Pushing adoption and knowledge for anyone.

Crypto businesses can also contact the blockchain Hub and Bitcoin Meetup, which will allow more than 300 blockchain experts and enthusiasts to interact and create the decentralized future.

These investments are crucial if any public entities wish to boost crypto adoption. Indeed, it’s not only a question of physical possibilities by being able to pay with crypto, but also a way to bring new students, businesses, investors, and experts into the field, in order to create a full ecosystem. El Salvador is using a pretty similar strategy, with different tools, like the volcano bonds or the creation of its own wallet.

Plan B Forum

Lugano, the new Bitcoin city

And it works! At the end of 2022, the city of Lugano attracted more than 1,700 to its city for the Plan B forum, a two-day conference focused on developing strategies for Bitcoin adoption.

This type of event is crucial to show that the crypto community is supporting the initiative, by paying for tickets, from €100 to €2,000, going to the city to stay at hotels, going to restaurants, and discovering how to pay for everything (almost) only in cryptocurrency without leaving Europe. 

Tether is also a big part of the success of Plan B, the company behind the world’s largest stablecoin USDT is pushing hard to support Lugano in order to prove that stablecoin can be a legal means of payment.  

Among the many topics discussed during plan B forum, we can highlight the real interest discussion “The Attack on Julian Assange is an Attack on Freedom of Speech” or “Bitcoin as a Tool for Financial Freedom”. These topics show that Plan B is not only a place to speak about the adoption of Bitcoin in Lugano but a significant forum to exchange ideas and visions around the decentralized future.

The city is already promoting the next Lugano Plan B forum that will happen on October 20-21 2023. The forum will be attended by big names such as Filip Karađorđević, the Prince of Serbia, or Paolo Ardoino, the CTO at Tether and Bitfinex.

Bitcoin is giving a new international dimension to Lugano  

Lugano, the new Bitcoin city

During the Plan B forum, the Salvadoran ambassador to the US announced a unique partnership between the Latin country and the Swiss city. The partnership, by taking the shape of a Memorandum of Understanding in Economic Cooperation, will focus on education, the adoption of Bitcoin, and exchange programs for students and talents. 

I am so pleased to have been able to announce this history-making partnership between the innovative city of Lugano and my beloved home country of El Salvador. We share a love for innovation and bold ideas, and this initiative will be a game-changer in the exchange of ideas and best practices in economic freedom,” said Milena Mayorga, Salvadoran Ambassador to the United States.

Lugano is therefore gaining international recognition and is working hard to become a European and international standard in Bitcoin and cryptocurrency adoption. Plan B, Plan B forum, and the collaboration with El Salvador are pushing Lugano into a new dimension of market leader and expert. In the near future, it could be possible that other countries will collaborate with Lugano and El Salvador in order to draft their regulations and understand what the pain points of such adoption are.  

Lugano’s adoption of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency has a double effect. On the one hand, it’s an excellent marketing ploy, bringing thousands of potential businesses, experts, students, and investors into the 9th city of Switzerland. On the other hand, this is a long-term project that will allow local regulators to bring their expertise worldwide when adoption will increase. On the other side, Lugano decided to not only adopt BTC but also USDT. Therefore, it will have to deal with the evolution of stablecoin and transparency around Tether, as their future could be bonded.

Author: Alexis Patin