Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) intends to closely monitor the nation’s digital currency exchanges, starting in October. According to a report in the Japan Times, the agency will be engaged in “full surveillance” of those exchanges to confirm that they have the proper systems in place to safeguard their customers’ assets. The FSA may also perform “on-site inspections” to ensure regulatory compliance.
Beginning in October, Australian utility firm Origin Energy will test a blockchain-based peer-to-peer energy-trading platform for its customers. Origin has partnered with Perth blockchain startup Power Ledger for the trial, to determine whether the technology can be effectively used to facilitate trading for customers who want to purchase or sell excess energy.
The price of Bitcoin has been regaining its footing after China’s clampdown on ICOs and exchanges. This is not the first time China has tried to stifle cryptocurrencies for fear that they can be effective means for citizens to keep their capital safe in unfavorable economic conditions, out of reach of authorities. China may attempt to nationalize the local crypto industry, and could issue digital Chinese Yuan tokens to act as the new reserve currency on newer, more-highly regulated exchanges—platforms where tokens created via state-sanctioned platforms using the new denomination could be traded. The regulations could drive innovation for Chinese fiat gateways running through decentralized exchanges, which may become the only means for investors to swap their tokens. The ruling may also push users into more anonymous cryptocurrencies that do not leave a digital footprint.
A Columbus GA medical clinic announced this week that it will now accept Bitcoin as payment for services. In a press release announcing the decision, the clinic referred to the digital currency as a “completely independent money system” and praised its lack of restrictions, outside controls, and hidden fees. The announcement claims that the center will be among the first in its area to accept the world’s most well-known digital currency.
As Bitcoin has risen in value throughout 2017, there’s been an increase in calls for regulation of the digital currency space. Various governments around the world have moved to change laws and regulations to provide some level of control over the industry. According to a group of economists at the Bank of Finland, however, those regulations might be unnecessary.
Citizens in the Swiss municipality of Chiasso will soon have the option to pay some of their taxes using Bitcoin. Beginning in January 2018, the government will initiate a trial that will permit area residents to use the digital currency for up to 250 Swiss francs of taxes. The decision comes as officials in Chiasso continue their efforts to attract more digital currency startups to the area.
Russia’s complex relationship with digital currency took another interesting turn this week, as news reports suggest that the government is preparing to provide electricity subsidies to its domestic Bitcoin miners. The Russian news outlet Izvestiya reportedly broke the news, as Institute for Internet Development (IRI) project activities director Arseny Shcheltsin reportedly confirmed that authorities are creating a test program to provide the country’s digital currency miners with discounted electricity.
A report from Caixin sent the Bitcoin community into a tailspin today, after the Chinese media outlet suggested that the nation’s regulatory authorities were preparing to shut down domestic digital currency exchanges. The report is based on information from unnamed sources, who claim that the authorities have already issued an order directing local regulators to begin the process of closing those exchanges.
For digital currency users in the United States who might want to use their cryptocurrency for real-world commercial transactions, the rules under the existing tax regime are both complex and inexplicable. Those rules can turn even the most minor transactions into reportable capital gains – which is why digital currency users currently need to carefully record their transactions to track any potential tax obligations that may arise. A new bill in the U.S. House of Representatives could help to ease that burden.
In August, Coinbase revealed that the company’s latest funding effort yielded $100 million – which brought its total valuation to $1 billion and made it the first so-called “unicorn” in its industry. Moreover, recent data from the Coinbase website indicates that the exchange’s volume has increased to $20 billion. According to that data, the company has reached another milestone as well: Coinbase now serves 10 million digital currency customers.
A property development company in London has recently announced that it will begin accepting Bitcoin from its tenants. The Collective is now accepting rental deposits in Bitcoin, and has said that tenants will be able to use the digital currency to pay their monthly rental payments beginning later this year. According to a report in The Guardian, the company is now the first property developer in the United Kingdom to accept Bitcoin.
Australian firm Stargroup plans to modify the company’s network of ATMs to provide them with Bitcoin trading capability, as part of a new deal with blockchain company DigitalX. The initiative will begin with the conversion of 500 of Stargroup’s Australian machines, dramatically increasing the number of Bitcoin ATMs in the country. As part of the deal, Stargroup will reportedly share ATM transaction fees with DigitalX.
Early this morning a Chinese working committee representing seven government administrations including the People’s Bank of China, and the regulatory, banking and insurance commissions ruled that Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) constitute an illegal means of capital acquisition. Organizations and individuals are now expected to cease all ICO related activity, and banks and financial institutions are instructed to cease all business with organizations that do.
Burger King Russia made news in June when one of its Moscow branches began to accept Bitcoin as payment for meals. Now, the fast food giant is providing even more digital currency benefits to its Russian customers, as the company unveils the new WhopperCoin. The Burger King digital token will be used in Russian branches as part of a new customer rewards program.
A report published by LendEDU this week reveals that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of digital currency-related complaints to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB. In 2016, there were a total of seven such complaints filed with the Bureau. This year, experts expect that number to rise to roughly 425.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has issued yet another trading suspension for a Bitcoin exchange – this time targeting American Security Resources Corp (ARSC). That suspension was issued last week, on the same day the SEC also suspended trading for First Bitcoin Capital Corp due to the agency’s questions about that company’s lack of transparency. The agency’s suspension notice detailed its concerns about ASRC:
Japanese firm Fisco Ltd revealed this week that it is launching a new Bitcoin-denominated bond. The financial information provider announced that its digital currency exchange unit has issued a total of 200 Bitcoins for an initial internal trial of the new bond. According to details provided by Fisco, bond holders will enjoy a three-percent annual return, and will be able to redeem matured bonds for Bitcoin.
Swiss-based Falcon Private Bank announced today that it is expanding its current blockchain asset management services to provide its customers access to three additional cryptocurrencies. The bank made news in July when it began offering its clients the ability to use their bank cash holdings to buy and hold Bitcoin in their bank portfolios. Next week, that service will expand to provide those clients with access to Litecoin, Ether, and Bitcoin Cash as well.
Bloomberg has reported that Russia is moving to become a major Bitcoin mining center, openly challenging the current Chinese dominance of the industry. The effort is being led by Russian Miner Coin, which is co-owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s internet ombudsman, Dmitry Marinichev. To finance the move, the company is seeking $100 million in funding through an initial coin offering.
Coinbase has recently completed a $100 million Series D funding round, which featured investment from IVP, Draper Associates, Greylock Partners, and others. The company made the announcement via a blog post from Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, and notified its customers by email. Coinbase has confirmed that the funding will be used to expand its operations.