Bitcoin Weekly Recap 1-29-2016
Europol Reports Casts Doubt on Claims That Bitcoin Funds Terror
Many within the Bitcoin community were incensed late last year when various governments in Europe and elsewhere responded to the terror attacks in Paris by launching media campaigns against digital currency. At the time, those governments claimed that Bitcoin was being used by groups like the Islamic State to fund their terrorist activities. A new report issued by Europol acknowledges that those claims are apparently not supported by the evidence.
That report, Changes in Modus Operandi of Islamic State Terrorist Attacks, is based upon a review conducted by EU member states and Europol officials. It examines ISIS strategies, target selection, and financing methods, and concludes that the terror group is likely planning more attacks targeted toward so-called “soft targets.” The analysis also reveals that there is no evidence to suggest that ISIS financing methods have recently changed. And as for last year’s official claims that ISIS was using Bitcoin to fund its operatives:
“Despite third party reporting suggesting the use of anonymous currencies like Bitcoin by terrorists to finance their activities, this has not been confirmed by law enforcement.”
New Hampshire Legislators Fail to Obtain State Acceptance of Bitcoin
New Hampshire Representatives failed to pass a bill designed to make the state more accepting of Bitcoin. HB552 provided that the state’s government would have allowed residents to use Bitcoin to pay both taxes and fees. The effort failed in the House by a vote of 264 to 74, but legislators agreed to table the measure for additional study and a possible future vote.
BitMine Wins Prize at Miami Hackathon
At this year’s Miami Bitcoin Hackathon, a Bitcoin rewards app called BitMine managed to snare the $10,000 top award. The winning concept focused on using Bitcoin rewards to entice customers to shop at brick and mortar store locations, while providing those stores with access to shoppers’ customer information. In addition to that conceptual effort to bring customers back to physical store locations, other prize winners included a micropayments billing offering called WYNCOIN, and a Bitcoin invoicing enterprise, TXR.io.
UK’s SpectroCoin Releases New Bitcoin Debit Cards
UK-based Bitcoin exchange SpectroCoin is introducing a new Bitcoin card that can be utilized for payments in retail stores, or at ATMs. The new debit cards are being provided as a complement to the company’s current Euro-denominated debit card offerings, and now expand customer options to include both the pound and the dollar - all without any need for currency conversion fees.
Customers who want the cards can obtain them on the company website, where they can select their preferred currency, choose the amount, and opt for either Visa or MasterCard. After entering personal information, the card is shipped to the customer’s address and ready for immediate use.
Belgium Increasing Efforts to Counter Bitcoin Fraud
In Belgium, the last several years have witnessed a marked increase in the number of brick and mortar stores that accept Bitcoin. The government estimates that more than 70 of these shops now accept the cryptocurrency for payment, and the people of Belgium are gradually learning to use Bitcoin for everything from ordering food to paying for medical services. Naturally, the increased popularity of the currency has authorities concerned about the potential for various types of fraud - such as money laundering, and officials are now vowing to take action.
Tax officials are routinely investigating allegations of Bitcoin fraud, even as the government seeks to develop a more comprehensive approach to dealing with possible criminal activity related to cryptocurrency. At present, the nation has no existing legal or regulatory framework governing Bitcoin and other digital currencies.