In a statement released earlier this week, Japanese budget airline Peach Aviation Ltd announced that it will add Bitcoin as a payment option for its customers before the end of 2017 – making Peach the first Japanese airline to accept the digital currency. In addition, the company has announced its intention to place Bitcoin ATMs at airports, to provide its customers with easier access to Bitcoin.
Fidelity Investments CEO Abigail Johnson has made no secret of her love of technology, and she’s certainly not shy about expressing her appreciation for Bitcoin, the blockchain, and other aspects of the digital currency universe. In a speech to the attendees of the Consensus 2017 conference on Tuesday, she doubled down on that support for digital currency technology, and announced that Fidelity will soon provide its customers with the ability to track their cryptocurrency holdings on the Fidelity website.
Okay, maybe it’s not the Indianapolis 500, but anyone watching the Bitcoin rally over the last few weeks could certainly be forgiven for assuming that the world’s most well-known digital currency thinks that it’s on a race track. After all, this is a currency that began 2017 valued at just under $1,000. Over the course of the next few months, it struggled to gain traction for the upward price momentum so many observers were anticipating as the new year dawned. My, how quickly things can change.
If anyone at the Internal Revenue Service thought that the agency’s quest to force Coinbase to give up its customer records was a battle that would be fought only in the courts, a new development this week may have them questioning that assumption. A May 17 letter from three Congressional Republicans to IRS commissioner John Koskinen indicates that some in Congress may be prepared to flex their oversight muscle to protect taxpayers from the IRS’ unprecedented John Doe Summons.
With the help of payment gateway BitcoinPay, Czech online retailer Alza has moved to begin accepting Bitcoin payments, according to reporting by Lupa.cz. The decision was reportedly made in response to growing interest from the company’s customers in the Czech Republic and around the world. At the same time, Alza has also begun to install Bitcoin “exchange machines” in its Prague and Bratislava showrooms to enable consumers to buy Bitcoin using the Czech Koruna or the Euro.
After months of legal conflict between the IRS, Coinbase, and Berns Weiss LLP partner Jeffrey Berns over the tax agency’s effort to obtain customer records from digital currency exchange Coinbase, a new motion to quash the IRS John Doe summons was filed on May 15,2017. Berns Weiss LLP filed the motion to invalidate the summons on behalf of two Coinbase customers identified within the document as “John Doe 1” and “John Doe 2.”
The ransomware attack that began on Friday may have been slowed for the moment, but there are indications that another similar attack could occur as soon as Monday morning, according to Europol Director Rob Wainwright. In comments to the BBC, Wainwright confirmed that the cyberattack spread to 150 countries, victimizing thousands of people and firms.
Dutch point-of-sale software firm Countr POS and cryptocurrency payments processor Coinify have announced a deal that will expand Countr’s merchant network payment offerings by including options for fourteen digital currencies. Countr has committed to releasing a new version of its app on June 1, 2017, with expanded options that will provide the company’s 3,000 retail partners with the ability to conduct cryptocurrency transactions at the point-of-sale.
The Australian government’s 2017-18 Budget was released on Tuesday, and cryptocurrency enthusiasts in the country have at least one provision that should put a smile on their faces. After more than a year of waiting for the government’s promised GST tax relief to materialize, Bitcoin users will no longer need to worry about the existing double tax on the digital currency. The government’s new policy as of July 1, 2017 will see digital currency taxed in the same way that more traditional fiat currencies are treated.
Japanese exchange Coincheck is reportedly set to begin offering its Bitcoin customers interest-paying accounts. The offering will be a first for the country, and will enable Bitcoin holders to deposit their digital currency in fixed deposit accounts that earn interest at one of four different rates ranging from one to five percent.
It has been more than a year since the Australian government committed itself to remedying the nation’s double taxation scheme for cryptocurrencies. The delay in crafting a fix has left some observers wondering whether the issue had been set aside entirely. In a statement released this week, the government has reaffirmed its commitment to addressing the issue.
Bitcoin is not a ponzi scheme, pyramid, tulip bulb, or beanie baby, and despite over a hundred front page headlines claiming otherwise, it is also not dead. When we don’t understand a new concept, our minds try to connect it to something we are even slightly more familiar with. If throughout history we had always assumed anything new and innovative was a scam, and that everything (including money) should stay the same, we would still be living in the Stone Age and paying with pebbles. The name calling and proclamations of death have eased off somewhat, as the more tech savvy journalists and financial advisers have come to understand the significance of, at the very least, the technology behind bitcoin.
In the past few months, there have been a flurry of reports indicating that a growing number of central banks around the world are researching the potential benefits of issuing their own digital currencies. Norway’s central bank, Norges Bank, has been giving serious thought to cryptocurrency as well, as evidenced by statements from Norges Deputy Governor Jon Nicolaisen at a recent gathering of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo.
Despite worries from some quarters that Bitcoin’s 2017 rally could be losing steam, the world’s most famous cryptocurrency soared past the $1400 price level on Monday, reaching a new record high. Coindesk reported a high of just over $1,422. Early Tuesday morning, the coin was trading at well beyond even that level, at $1,448.
Add West Virginia to the growing list of U.S. states actively working to ensure that digital currencies like Bitcoin are included in their states’ anti-money-laundering laws. With judges and others questioning whether existing AML legislation can be applied in cases involving cryptocurrencies, state lawmakers have been rushing to modify statutes to meet the challenge. WV lawmakers have now passed a bill that criminalizes the use of digital currency in any money-laundering scheme.
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has decided to review the March decision that rejected the Winklevoss twins’ Bitcoin ETF proposal. The denial came after more than three years of effort by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss to gain approval for what would have been the United States’ first Bitcoin exchange-traded fund. That decision denied a requested rule change designed to allow the ETF to be included on the Bats BZX Exchange.
Earlier this year, Malta’s Prime Minister, Dr. Joseph Muscat, offered some innovative ideas during his keynote speech at the CEPS Ideas Lab – including a suggestion that Europe should work to become “the Bitcoin continent.” In recent remarks at an Economic and Financial Affairs Committee conference, he vowed that his country would take the lead by becoming one of the first to truly embrace the technology. Malta’s Cabinet has now taken steps toward that goal by approving the initial draft of what is being referred to as a national strategy for blockchain promotion.
According to reports on Coincheck’s blog, the city of Hirosaki has partnered with Coincheck, Inc. to begin accepting Bitcoin donations that will help in the city’s effort to preserve an important historic park. The donations will be used to maintain roughly 2,600 cherry trees, as well as a castle that was constructed several hundred years ago. The castle park complex and its famed cherry blossoms attract more than 2 million visitors each spring.
Legislators in Florida are considering a bill that would add digital currencies like Bitcoin to the money-laundering statute. The legislation is a response to last year’s dismissal of money-laundering charges in a case that involved a man in Miami beach. The defendant allegedly sold $1,500 in Bitcoin to undercover detectives who had reportedly told him that they intended to purchase stolen credit card numbers. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler had thrown out the money-laundering charges after determining that Bitcoin could not be considered “money” as that term was defined in state law.
The week has gotten off to a frustrating start for some digital currency customers, as two major cryptocurrency exchanges have suspended US dollar deposits. Bitfinex announced on Monday that it would be unable to process wire transfers. Now, OKCoin has made a similar announcement, informing its customers that US dollar deposits will not be accepted. The suspension of deposits has been attributed to problems with the intermediary banks responsible for processing the wire transfers.