COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague suspended a program Wednesday that allowed the use of cryptocurrency, bitcoin, for business tax payments.
Sprague, a Republican, said an internal review determined the third-party payment processor for the OhioCrypto.com website, Atlanta-based BitPay, may be functioning as a “financial transaction device.” If so, the company should have been chosen through the competitive selection process.
“It is vital that Ohio explores innovative, new technologies and processes that continue to drive Ohio into the future,” he said in a statement. “However, we must make sure any new processes that are implemented, such as OhioCrypto.com, are established in accordance with Ohio law.”
The Board of Deposit asked Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost on Wednesday for a formal opinion on the matter. Sprague’s review, which commenced when he took office in January, also determined that the deposit board’s approval was required before the program’s launch.
Then-Treasurer Josh Mandel launched the program in November, just before leaving office. Messages were left with him and with BitPay’s corporate headquarters on Wednesday.
Mandel, a Republican, said at the time that Ohio was the first state to accept tax payments via cryptocurrency and that it would help Ohio become a leader in embracing blockchain technology.
Sprague said in the 10 months since the website launched, fewer than 10 business have chosen to pay their taxes using cryptocurrency. He said he was unable to provide specifics on those payments because of confidentiality protections.
A “financial transaction device” is defined broadly under Ohio law to include a credit or debit card, an e-check entry, various automated financial transactions, such as internet-initiated or telephone-initiated applications _ “or any other device or method for making an electronic payment or transfer of funds.”