Bitcoin Weekly Recap 10-7-2016
FBI Reportedly Investigates Theft of $1.3 Million in Bitcoin
While much about the recent Bitfinex hack and theft of tens of millions of dollars’ worth of Bitcoin remains a mystery, the exchange had claimed to be working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and various law enforcement authorities in Europe. When those assertions were first made on Reddit in August, many users openly mocked the company’s claims. This past week, reports emerged that may lend greater credibility to the suggestion that the FBI is actively investigating the case.
Apparently, a Bitfinex user whose identity has not yet been revealed, filed a report with the Cambridge, Massachusetts Police that alleged the loss of $1.3 million in Bitcoin funds during the exchange hack. According to the Cambridge Police, the case has been investigated at the local level and subsequently forwarded to the FBI. The official Cambridge Police incident report was reportedly filed on September 14, 2016, and can be read online. It is worth noting that there has not yet been any official statement by the Bureau about the case, so there is no way of knowing just how vigorously its agents might be pursuing any leads.
Bank of Japan Representative: Bitcoin Poses no Threat to Fiat Currency
While nations like Russia continue to fear that Bitcoin and other digital currencies might destroy national currencies like the Ruble and upset entire economies, at least one central banker is subscribing to the opposite viewpoint. A senior official at the Bank of Japan, Hiromi Yamaoka, has gone on record with his belief that the new technologies pose no real threat to those fiat currencies that central banks are charged with printing. Instead, he said, these new currencies simply provide consumers with another cash alternative.
Yamaoka also stressed that Japan’s central bank – where he serves as the head of the payment and settlement systems department – is focused on the need to work with the FinTech industry, to leverage its potential for revitalizing the nation’s economy. And while some have focused on a perceived dearth of Bitcoin and blockchain tech experts in Japan – and even gone so far as to suggest that the lack of expertise could cause the country to be uncompetitive in the race to effectively utilize the technology, the nation has been aggressively moving forward to create new FinTech partnerships between the public and private sector.
CFPB: Bitcoin Outside Scope of Prepaid Regulation Changes
In its final ruling on the impact of its new prepaid regulatory scheme, the Bureau of Customer Financial Protection (CFPB) this week determined that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are not subject to the new rules. The ruling was designed to answer concerns about whether Bitcoin and similar currencies would be subject to regulations designed to protect consumers engaged in electronic transfers under the provisions of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. Not surprisingly, banks were arguing that all digital currencies should have been dealt with under the provision relating to prepaid accounts, and be subject to the regulations. The cryptocurrency industry and various outside advocates favored exclusion from the rules.
It is important to note that the Bureau’s ruling should not be interpreted as a suggestion that digital currency users don’t need consumer protections. Instead, it was simply an acknowledgment that the current rules were not designed with these technologies in mind. The CFPB has noted in the past that its process for extending those protections to cryptocurrency users is still under consideration.
Scaling Bitcoin Lineup Revealed
Organizers of the third Scaling Bitcoin conference have unveiled the final lineup for the October 8-9 event that will be held at Politecnico di Milano in Milan, Italy. The conference is expected to focus much of its attention on the issue of scaling, as participants discuss various options that could help to increase the Bitcoin protocol’s transaction capabilities. The full lineup includes representatives from bitcoin.com, Deloitte, MIT DCI, and many other companies and organizations.