Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen had some positive words to say about the blockchain on Wednesday during an appearance at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. After delivering a speech in which she opined on everything from the strength of the economy to the Federal Reserve’s plans for interest rates, Yellen sat down to discuss those and other important issues with Ed Wasserman, the event moderator and Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley.
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.
The Times of India is reporting that the research arm of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has concluded its first trade application test of blockchain technology. The end-to-end test was conducted in collaboration with banks and other financial institutions, clearing houses, and regulators, and was facilitated by the RBI’s Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT). The project received technical support from cryptocurrency firm MonetaGo, which provided the technology used in the test.
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.
In a report from Grand View Research published last month, the authors project that the blockchain industry could experience growth over the next decade that would result in its value rising to as much as $7.74 billion by 2024. The report projects that much of that growth will be fueled by financial sector interest in the blockchain in the Asia-Pacific market and North America as a host of factors combine to promote greater acceptance and adoption of the technology.
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.
GameCredits recently announced that it will be launching its new GameCredits Mobile Platform and Mobile Store in April, 2017. The new platform and mobile application is expected to launch with a wide array of new games, and the company is anticipating that the platform will host hundreds of additional games by the end of the second quarter of this year. The GameCredits platform will break new ground in its use of digital currency for mobile gaming. In remarks to DCEBrief, GameCredits Inc. CMO Jon Comer said,
The Depository Trust and Clearing Corp (DTCC) announced on Monday that it will be replacing its existing databases with a blockchain-based system, in a process that is expected to see the new system in use next year. The company is a post-trade service provider that records and reports information for virtually all securities trading activities in the United States. DTCC has selected IBM to work on the project in collaboration with tech firms R3 CEV and Axoni, with work scheduled to begin later this month and conclude sometime in the first part of 2018.
In a press release this weekend, commodity trading and management systems company The Seam announced that it is collaborating with IBM to create a cotton industry consortium devoted to the creation of a blockchain-based “supply chain and trading ecosystem.” The effort will make use of IBM’s blockchain technology and expertise, and will use the Hyperledger Fabric in an industry-first.
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.
In a recent press release, Yes Bank announced that it has fully digitized its vendor financing with Bajaj Electricals using a multi-nodal blockchain solution. The solution utilizes the Hyperledger fabric, IBM Watson Conversation, and blockchain smart contracts from Cateina Technologies to enable Bajaj Electricals to integrate their newly digitized processes with the systems used by Yes Bank. The new solution will enable Bajaj to carry out seamless digital transactions with its vendors.
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 Bitfury Group announced in a press release today that it is collaborating with global law firm Covington to launch a new blockchain advocacy group called the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) in Davos, Switzerland during the upcoming World Economic Forum Annual Meeting that begins on January 17, 2017.
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.
The nation of Georgia is prepared to begin using blockchain technology for the country’s real estate documents soon, according to regional site Caucasus Business Week. Georgia’s Minister of Justice, Tea Tsulukiani, reportedly declared that the country has achieved its technical goals in that area of technology, and now plans to launch a blockchain platform to store real estate extracts. Tsulukiani credited the country’s Public Registry for the achievement:
When Sweden’s Riksbank announced in November that the nation might be launching its own digital currency within the next two years, many in the FinTech community reacted positively. The central bank at the time noted that they were considering the creation of the eKrona due to the 40% reduction in cash transactions that the nation had experienced over the last seven years. Since the public already seemed to be moving away from cash and to other payment methods like credit cards and online commerce, the idea of issuing a new electronic currency seemed like a move that everyone could get behind.
Late this week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of the Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app – the next phase in the country’s forced demonetization effort. The app will enable consumers to use a smartphone for all their financial transactions, with security based on either a PIN code or biometric authentication. Modi unveiled the new app while on stage at the 6th Digi Dhan Mela in New Delhi on December 30, 2016, using a Google Pixel to demonstrate to the audience how quickly a simple transaction could be made.
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.