Swiss city launches coronavirus relief programme supported by Tezos

The City of Wetzikon will use Blockchain technology for targeted local business support.

On Friday, the Swiss town of Wetzikon, formerly known for its idyllic pastures and churches, launched a blockchain-based programme to support local small and medium sized businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Valued at 250,000 Swiss francs (USD 280,000), the initial aid disbursement will be financed by a municipal credit line for the coronavirus and distributed to the approximately 25,000 inhabitants of Wetzikon in the form of an electronic coupon worth 10 Swiss francs.

Residents can access the disbursement through a smartphone application, “ecoo”, which will use the aid programme as a pilot for its platform.

According to its website, ecoo is designed to help entities such as governments and event organizers distribute allocated funds in the form of coins and points, and was built on the Tezos block chain through a collaboration between Swiss firms Papers AG and multiple subsidiaries of Farner Consulting AG.

In the application, residents will be able to convert their coupons into “WetziKoins” which they can then use to make purchases from local companies. Local business owners can convert the currency back into Swiss Francs from the municipal administration, also via the application.

Ruedi Rüfenacht, Mayor of Wetzikon, said about the programme: “Under the current circumstances, it is imperative for us to act in favour of the local economy in a sustainable way. With ecoo, we have found a viable solution to motivate the people of Wetzikon to buy from local shops instead of simply buying online or from wholesalers outside our town. ”

Wetzikon is not the only government that has explored the use of Blockchain technology in response to the Coronavirus. Bank of Canada executive Timothy Lane has previously called on central governments to prepare for digital currencies issued by a central bank (CBDC) in an effort to encourage digital cross-border payments.