On Friday, the Swiss town of Wetzikon – once best known for its pastures and idyllic churches – launched a blockchain-based program to support local small and medium businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Valued at 250,000 Swiss francs ($ 280,000), the initial disbursement of aid will be financed by a municipal credit line dedicated to the coronavirus and will be distributed to the approximately 25,000 residents of Wetzikon in the form of an eCoupon worth 10 Swiss francs.
Residents can access the disbursement through a smartphone application, “ecoo”, which will use the aid program as a pilot test for its platform.
According to their website, ecoo is designed to help entities such as governments and event planners distribute earmarked funds in the form of coins and points, and was built on the Tezos blockchain through a collaboration between Swiss companies Papers AG and several subsidiaries of Farner Consulting AG.
On the app, residents will be able to convert their coupons into “WetziKoins” which they can then use to make purchases at local businesses. Local business leaders can then convert the currency back to Swiss francs with the city administration, also through the app.
Ruedi Rüfenacht, Mayor of Wetzikon, said of the program: “Under the current circumstances, it is imperative for us to act in favor of the local economy in a sustainable manner. With ecoo, we have found a viable solution to motivate the people of Wetzikon to shop at local stores instead of just buying online or from wholesalers outside of our town. “
Wetzikon is not the only government to have explored the use of blockchain technology in response to the coronavirus. Bank of Canada Director Timothy Lane previously called on central governments to prepare for Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) in an effort to encourage cross-border digital payments.