In a press release on Tuesday, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) announced that it has granted Coinbase, Inc. the virtual currency and money transmitter license needed to continue its operations in New York. The company had announced that it applied for the state’s “BitLicense” in August, 2015, and has been operating in New York under the terms of a safe harbor provision while it waited for formal approval.
Coinbase co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong published an online post on Medium this weekend to explain his company’s position on the ongoing battle with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over the tax agency’s effort to access information about Coinbase customers. He also took the opportunity to offer another option that would negate the need for the John Doe Summons by issuing all Coinbase customers a 1099-B at the end of each year.
In a statement released this week, the Israel Tax Authority (ITA) announced that it has decided to treat digital currencies like Bitcoin as assets rather than as foreign currencies for the purpose of taxation. That announcement has come more than three years after Israel’s government first began talking about the possibility of taxing profits from Bitcoin trading.
London-based p2p marketplace Cashaa recently announced that the company is preparing to launch its services in India and Nigeria next week. The launch is formally scheduled for January 18, and will see the company bring its unique zero-fee cash transfer services to cash senders and recipients in those two important countries. According to information provided by Cashaa, the service’s testing period resulted in more than 10,000 trader sign-ups, and transfers of some $2 million made using the company’s blockchain-powered platform.
The Criminal Intelligence Service Canada states that financial crimes committed by organized crime groups are costing Canadians around $5 billion a year. They further state that every one of these groups in Canada participates in some form of financial crime. Using the internet, they can actively and successfully reroute money to foreign countries, or try to legitimize it (launder it) through the stock market, online gambling sites, and anywhere else that presents an opportunity.
Many government officials are pointing a finger at digital currencies such as bitcoin as a haven for money launderers, even though it has an open, permanent, immutable ledger of every transaction that has ever occurred.
In the wake of several days of dramatic action in the Bitcoin markets, China’s central bank issued a strong warning to the nation’s investors as it urged them to adopt a rational approach with respect to digital currency investments. According to the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the fluctuations in Bitcoin’s prices have been abnormal of late, and that abnormality should cause investors to be more cautious in their decision-making process.
Hyperinflation has destroyed the economic prosperity of Venezuelans. The oil-rich nation is now home to some of the highest crime rates in the world, and the banknotes required to conduct everyday life there are reminiscent of Germany’s Weimar Republic. Venezuela’s government has proven itself inept by printing money and spending themselves to oblivion, and by making everyday trade more difficult in their attempts to curtail the resulting hyperinflation. We heard from Leon about the challenges his family are facing in Venezuela, and how his discovery of Bitcoin has given him new hope for his family’s future.
According to 2016 estimates from the Center for Financial Inclusion, roughly 70% of people throughout Latin America suffer from a lack of basic banking services. While other estimates have been somewhat more optimistic, the general view seems to be that more than 200 million people in the region remain unbanked. Bitcoin payments service BitPagos is looking to change that dynamic by using its $1.9 million Series A round of funding to expand its services in Latin America and help serve the region’s unbanked and underserviced population.
The Netherlands’ Public Prosecution Service is reportedly pursuing at least three individual money laundering cases related to Bitcoin, according to DutchNews.nl. The prosecution department, formally known as the Openbaar Ministerie (OM), is the body responsible for determining whether suspected criminals should be referred for prosecution.
With 2017 almost upon us, Bloomberg is reporting that Bitcoin was a clear winner over the course of the last year – at least when it comes to currency performance. Though it has had its share of ups and downs during the last twelve months, the world’s most well-known digital currency has experienced a rally that has outpaced all the world’s major hard currencies – as well as stock indexes and commodities. Bitcoin’s price began the year at roughly $430. As of this writing, its value stands at more than $950 – an increase of more than 100% since January.
The popular travel agency Destinia recently announced that it will be relying on Bitcoin for all its transactions in Venezuela. In a post on the company’s blog, the company confirmed that its decision to forsake the Bolivar for Venezuelan transactions is designed to make it easier for that nation’s residents to use their services. The country’s currency has plummeted in value over the last several years, as the Venezuelan economy continues its freefall.
On Tuesday, attorneys for the Internal Revenue Service filed the agency’s response to Los Angeles attorney and Coinbase user Jeffrey K. Berns’s motion to prevent the IRS from serving a “John Doe” summons to Coinbase. That summons would require Coinbase to provide the IRS with the identities and account information of all United States customers who exchanged digital currencies on the company’s exchange from 2013 to 2015.
Bitcoin wallet service iPayYou recently announced that its newly-launched Bitcoin Direct to Starbucks service will enable customers to more easily use Bitcoin to pay for their coffee and other Starbucks offerings. The new features provide an automatic way for users to make transfers of Bitcoin from their wallets to the coffee giant’s mobile app. The announcement is the latest sign that more companies are beginning to accept Bitcoin’s potential role in commercial activity.
As President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet picks continue to be announced one-by-one, many digital currency enthusiasts have been searching for any signs that might indicate how the new administration will address cryptocurrency and blockchain concerns. The recent selection of Republican Representative Mick Mulvaney to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has already been favorably reviewed by many in the Bitcoin community, since Mulvaney is a well-known proponent of Bitcoin.
The UK’s Channel Islands has now given its approval for Global Advisors Bitcoin Investment Fund (GABI) to be listed on CISE – the Channel Islands Securities Exchange. That approval makes GABI the first such fund to achieve listing on a global exchange, and the very first digital asset listing on the Channel Islands exchange. That listing became active today at 8 AM GMT. Commenting on the move, CISE CEO Fiona Le Poidevin said, “I have followed GABI since its prominent launch and it is very exciting that we are able to play a part in the next chapter of this innovative structure.”
China is a Bitcoin mining powerhouse, but the nation’s government isn’t always pleased with the way miners carry out their activities. A total of 77 Bitcoin miners have been arrested over the course of the last twelve months, including an Anhii province family that was running an illegal mining farm until authorities detained the miners in late November. The charge? Electricity theft. The family had reportedly used the electricity to mine enough Bitcoin to pay their family expenses for the next eight years.
The Internal Revenue Service’s effort to serve Coinbase with a “John Doe” summons has received a fresh challenge, as a motion filed this week in a San Francisco federal court seeks to quash last month’s court ruling that affirmed the tax agency’s power to obtain Coinbase customer personal data and user transaction information. That motion was filed by Berns Weiss LLP Managing Partner and Coinbase user Jeffrey K. Berns, a lawyer whose firm deals with issues involving technology – including digital currencies like Bitcoin.
Absent unexpected shocks in world markets, any rate hikes by the Fed this week could see moderate short-term Bitcoin selling pressure as some holders sell and move into safer asset classes that offer improved returns. Seen in isolation, the longer-term effects of a rate hike would likely see capital returning to Bitcoin markets as its effects are felt by businesses and international trading partners. Higher-risk altcoin markets are likely to fall against Bitcoin as they use it as a reserve currency to escape to the safer US dollar.
Bloomberg has reported that Mexicans have grown increasingly concerned that incoming President Donald J. Trump may follow through on his oft-repeated campaign promise to block remittances sent from the more than 6 million Mexicans illegally living in the United States to their families south of the border. That remittance blocking plan was proposed by Trump as a way to compel the Mexican government to pay for the President-elect’s proposed border wall between the two countries – a wall that Trump claims would secure the border and prevent the flow of illegal aliens, drugs, and potential terrorists into the U.S.
The Nikkei Asian Review reported earlier this week that three of the largest banks in Japan had been testing domestic money transfer speeds on the blockchain. Their tests demonstrated that the blockchain transfer speeds are comparable to those seen on existing bank transfer systems. Though the banks have not yet been identified, they reportedly spent much of this past year testing their proof of concept in a research forum that also included Tokyo’s bitFlyer Bitcoin exchange and Deloitte Tohmatsu. Those tests ended in September.