FILE - Bitcoin, cryptocurrency

Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague announced a temporary suspension of OhioCrypto.com, which allows businesses to satisfy some tax obligations with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

Although the Ohio Department of Treasury does not hold any cryptocurrencies, the state contracts with a third-party payment processor called BitPay, which converts the currencies to U.S. dollars and then submits them to the treasury. Sprague announced the temporary suspension because he said he does not think his predecessor properly followed Ohio law when approving the contract.

“It is vital that Ohio explores innovative, new technologies and processes that continue to drive Ohio into the future,” Sprague said in a news release. “However, we must make sure any new processes that are implemented, such as OhioCrypto.com, are established in accordance with Ohio law.”

Sprague said BitPay would be legally classified as a financial transaction device, which Ohio law requires to be selected by the Board of Deposit through a competitive selection process. Because the contract was not set up through these means, he ordered the suspension of the website until Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost can issue a formal opinion.

“As Ohio Treasurer, it’s my job to provide trusted stewardship and protection of Ohio’s tax dollars, and to follow the laws of this state,” Sprague said. “Until a formal opinion is issued by the Attorney General, I feel it is prudent to suspend the website.”

The cryptocurrency payment option was not heavily used. According to the Department of Treasury, fewer than 10 businesses used this service in the 10 months that it was operational.

Sprague’s office did not answer questions from The Center Square on whether he intends to relaunch the program or a similar program after the opinion is issued. Rather, they referred to a fact sheet that states that Sprague is “committed to embracing innovative new technologies and processes that will continue to advance Ohio into the future.”

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Ohio for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.