A tiny Missouri town could become the first in the country to put Bitcoin in the hands of every resident, but there is a catch: they can't sell it for five years.
Jayson Stewart, the Mayor of Cool Valley says he is raising funds to give each of the town’s roughly 1500 inhabitants a piece of the digital currency according to KSDK.com. Following in the footsteps of El Salvador - which recently became the first country in the world to make Bitcoin it's legal tender in hopes of protecting the country’s economy from hyperinflation - Stewart thinks holding the digital currency could be transformational.
“I have friends whose lives have been completely changed, like going from working a regular nine to five job to being worth over 80 million dollars in a matter of a few years,” said Stewart, who calls himself an Entrepreneur and Environmentalist.
Stewart said most of the money to fund the plan will come from several unnamed Bitcoin investors.
“I have some very supportive donors who have agreed to match any money that I raise up to several millions of dollars,” said Stewart. “I'm trying to get a few government funds as well to go along with that. Or potentially some of the relief money that comes in from the Covid relief."
But Stewart isn’t ruling out using city funds, saying “It's possible. We'll see how it goes. We'll see how it goes.”
Source of funding aside, Stewart said the generous Bitcoin handout will come with strings attached: he doesn’t want residents to sell for a few years.
“We're putting in place like a vesting schedule for Bitcoin. The idea is that maybe you don't touch it for five years before you really get full access to it. We're working on ideas like that because that's my number one concern. Someone just sells their bitcoin to pay their car note. And then when Bitcoin is sitting at like $500,000 all these years later, they're going to really regret that,” said Stewart.
Roughly 1500 people live in Cool Valley. The dozen or so the I-Team spoke with seemed receptive to the plan.
“With cash people have bad habits and they buy things they shouldn't be buying. But with Bitcoin, maybe you can give it to your kids. My daughter is going to college next year. I could give [the Bitcoin] to her,” said Nickels.
“Putting money in my pocket! Sounds pretty good to me,” said Cornelius Webb, who lives in Cool Valley.
As for Stewart, he is looking with optimism to the future, and all because of bitcoin: “I believe that Cool Valley is going to get wealthier and wealthier , not just our city, but the actual people who live here."
Stewart said the city is also going to take proactive measures to off set the environmental impact Bitcoin mining is known to have.
“We're giving away Bitcoin and at the same time we're converting our entire city to solar, like all of the government lights and things like that,” said Stewart.
Details about how Bitcoin will be distributed are still unclear. Stewart said it will involve door knocking and offering free classes to residents about how to use and securely store Bitcoin. He hopes to kick things off by the end of the year.
While it remains to be seen if the experiment to make the residents of a small Missouri town rich will succeed, we are confident the local residents will be much more inclined to open the door to unknown people handing out bitcoin - metaphorically speaking - instead of the state's surveillance agents doing their door-to-door vaccine checks.