These are the most popular cryptocurrency-related stories from social media in 2015. Between Russia’s negative attitude towards cryptocurrency, to cryptocurrency improving lives, to eBay filing cryptocurrency patents, to bitcoin becoming VAT exempt in Europe and the Golden State becoming more “bitcoin friendly,” 2015 was an up-and-down year, with some great things and a few misfires. Let’s take one last look at 2015 and try to remember its relationship with cryptocurrency as a positive (and realistic) one.
Read the full story below.
Russia Likes the Blockchain, Just not Bitcoin
Russia has not been bitcoin’s biggest fan. 2015 was a year of turmoil between the Red Country and the globe’s favorite cryptocurrency. Anyone caught using bitcoin in Russia was set to be subjected to punishment, including fines and even prison time.
However, despite Russia’s opposition to bitcoin, the country has made it clear that it feels the blockchain is important to the world of business and technology. It’s strictly bitcoin that Russia is against. The country’s fear that bitcoin is used by terrorists to fund and commit acts of malice has long been its reason for wanting to ban it. However, Russia did make it clear that it isn’t against the idea of looking into bitcoin further and studying how it can be regulated. Russia’s government and financial experts are looking at areas such as the U.S. to see how bitcoin and cryptocurrency is being monitored in the hopes that they can learn a thing or two. In the meantime, Russia’s central bank, along with its leader Vladimir Putin have expressed that they do not wish to ban the digital currency altogether, but admit that it may need some “special oversight.”
Can Cryptocurrency Improve Lives?
Some sure think so, and here are a few ways how:
5. It offers privacy to users. One of the major problems with credit cards and similar payments is that using them sends private information back to databases, making one’s identity vulnerable to hackers. Cryptocurrency specifically aims to solve this problem and provides users with the privacy they wish for.
4. It offers more financial power. Traditional banking institutions have limitations; sometimes they’re unable to pay back depositors, or they lack liquidity in times of strife. This is where cryptocurrency comes in. Once you receive your coins, that’s it. The transaction’s done and they’re yours. On top of that, digital currency is harder to steal than regular cash, so if more control is your game, cryptocurrency may be the route for you.
3. It invokes freedom of speech, and some cryptocurrencies were invented specifically for this purpose. DigitalNotes for example, acts as a notary to its users, allowing citizens in repressed countries to use its digital currency to communicate with each other freely without having to worry about tracking and prosecution. Those living in free expression zones using the currency are required to aid these citizens.
2. Two words… Immutable records! Many times in third world countries, government officials have not managed to successfully sustain or keep records, and malicious actors have been able to steal property with little effort. Cryptocurrency is changing that through companies such as Factom, which has recently entered an agreement with Honduras to maintain the land title registry, assuring that no one is ever stolen from again.
1. It removes the middle-man. With remittance programs for example, several banks often charge workers hefty fees to send money back to their families. Most cryptocurrency platforms don’t invoke third-party approval, thereby eliminating high fees and reducing the time it takes to convert and send funds.
Two Cryptocurrency Patents Filed by eBay
2015 was the year when businesses began getting in with bitcoin and the blockchain, so when online retailer Overstock.com announced that you could now pay in 1s and 0s rather than cash or credit cards, bitcoin enthusiasts were over the moon. Later down line, e-commerce giant and Amazon competitor eBay made headlines when it announced it had filed two cryptocurrency-related patents in late October.
The company stated that it wanted to patent a “distributed cryptocurrency unauthorized transfer monitoring system” and a “distributed cryptocurrency reputation system.”
Prior to eBay’s venture in the digital currency arena, Coinbase had filed patent applications for a whopping nine bitcoin-related products, and 21 Inc. had also filed for a digital currency mining circuitry patent.
Executives at eBay were also hinting that PayPal would be integrating bitcoin as a potential payment method.
Bitcoin Transaction VAT Exempt in Europe
The European Court of Justice has labeled bitcoin transactions as VAT (Value Added Tax) exempt. The ruling came in October following an opinion document published in July by Advocate General Juliane Kokott. The European Court first looked into taxing bitcoin in the summer of 2014, but was ultimately challenged by Sweden, which put the notion of bitcoin taxation to the legal test.
California Embraces Bitcoin in New Bill
A new finance bill ratified in California now allows the purchase of goods and services with bitcoin in the Golden State. In a country that is heavily polarized regarding the state of bitcoin and its usage, California now stands as one of the more “friendly” areas towards digital currency and its respective users. To add frosting to this digital finance cake, the Silicon Valley currently boasts over 30 bitcoin businesses alone.