NYC Mayor Promised to Get Paid in Bitcoin. Turns Out That's Not So Easy

Bitcoin is one type of digital currency, or “cryptocurrency” -- and NYC Mayor Eric Adams had to get a little creative in order to honor his promise to receive his first three paychecks that way

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Months after declaring that he would take his first three checks in cryptocurrency in an innovative bid to narrow digital and financial divides, New York City Mayor Adams now says federal law is kind of in the way of him keeping his promise.

Adams, then mayor-elect, made the "pay me in Bitcoin" pledge shortly after his November victory. It was in response to a tweet by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who said he would take his next paycheck entirely in Bitcoin, aiming to be the first politician to do so.

The New York Democrat sought to up the ante with his "first THREE" paychecks announcement.

On Thursday, though, a day before he's set to receive his first mayoral paycheck, Adams said his first check would automatically be converted to cryptocurrency (Ethereum and Bitcoin) before it gets deposited into his account because federal labor regulations don't allow New York City to pay its employees in cryptocurrency.

He still apparently plans to do the same with his next two checks, though his "Pay me in Bitcoin!" declaration now is a bit stunted. It's more like, "Pay me, then convert it to Bitcoin before you put it in my account!" It'll still be crypto, all the same.

Adams will have the funds converted using a secure online exchange platform before they are deposited, his office said.

"New York is the center of the world, and we want it to be the center of cryptocurrency and other financial innovations," Adams said in a statement, referencing the same drive that pushed him to make the pledge in the first place. "Being on the forefront of such innovation will help us create jobs, improve our economy, and continue to be a magnet for talent from all over the globe."

CNBC reported shortly before the mayor's November announcement that a war is brewing among states to attract Bitcoin miners, and new data showed that a whole lot of them were headed to New York, Kentucky, Georgia, and Texas.

New York City wants to welcome them with open arms, especially as it seeks to accelerate its post-pandemic recovery and address long-standing equity issues.

New York City Chief Technology Officer Matt Fraser underscored the point in a statement included in the Thursday release from Adams' office.

"From being the primary means by which we close both the digital and financial divide, technology continues to be the great equalizer," he said. "This step taken by the mayor provides a leading example of how we can empower people through tech with a more diverse set of options to manage their finances."

Adams was sworn in as New York City's 110th mayor on Jan. 1. The former NYPD officer and Brooklyn borough president is the second Black man to lead the city.

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