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.
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.
The government in India announced last week that it had created a special committee to examine involving digital currency technology and propose regulatory policies to address consumer protection, money-laundering, and other concerns. Now, an alliance of digital currency firms – the Digital Asset and Blockchain Foundation of India (DABFI) has announced that it wants to be able to make the industry’s case by meeting directly with the committee.
Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens is reportedly consulting with experts in an attempt to determine how the government can liquidate Bitcoins it has seized during criminal cases in recent months. Those Bitcoins are currently in the custody of the Central Office for Seizure and Confiscation (COSC) – the government office responsible for managing confiscated assets.
Global blockchain firm Bitfury Group has joined with the Ukrainian government to provide the country with a blockchain platform for eGovernance. CEO Valery Vavilov revealed the partnership during an interview on Wednesday, and additional details about the undertaking were provided in a press release on the company web site on Thursday
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us, and there has been a dismal effort at best to prepare both students and the current workforce for upcoming jobs. Building upon the Third Industrial Revolution that among other things, first introduced us to digital technology, the Fourth will issue in an era of robots and automation, self-driving cars, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, quantum computing, and for the sake of time, let’s just call the rest ‘smart-everything’. The speed of this innovational change is unprecedented, and will impact virtually every industry on a global scale. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will fundamentally change almost every aspect of our lives, making the need for basic digital literacy an issue that urgently needs to be addressed.
In the wake of the Japanese government’s recent recognition of digital currencies, a representative of the Russian government has reportedly indicated that his nation could follow suit next year. According to a Bloomberg report, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev affirmed his government’s desire to formally recognize digital currencies like Bitcoin as early as 2018. Russian authorities are currently working with the country’s central bank to create a common approach to cryptocurrencies.
In part one of this series, I talked about how money derives its value as a medium of exchange, and how cryptocurrency could appreciate in value if adopted by a much broader user base. Currencies like Bitcoin are often used to escape local capital controls, process faster remittance payments, provide improved anonymity and security, and reduce transfer fees. However, Bitcoin—the largest cryptocurrency—remains a long way from mainstream adoption. A significant portion of any digital currency’s price value and demand is purely speculative and based on its potential future superiority over fiat money (government issued currency). Part two of this series will explore the main drivers of short-term digital money market volatility, and explore their emergent qualities in the more distant future.
The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) released a discussion paper on Monday that addresses blockchain technology’s potential benefits and risks. The release of the paper was timed to coincide with FCA Executive Director of Strategy and Competition Christopher Woolard’s speech today at London’s Innovate Finance Global Summit. The speech was notable for Woolard’s encouragement of the blockchain industry’s ongoing innovation, but also served as a reminder that regulators have a role to play as well.
Kirit Somaiya, the Indian MP who created a bit of a stir last month by suggesting that Bitcoin is a pyramid ponzi scheme, is once again attacking the world’s best-known cryptocurrency. This time, he’s urging the government of India to come out and formally declare that Bitcoin is illegal. Somaiya leveled his latest criticism during the Parliament’s zero hour session on Wednesday.
According to reporting from Kommersant, the R3 blockchain consortium has informed Russian banking giant Sberbank that any application to join the group would be denied, as the bank remains subject to international sanctions. The bank had not yet formally presented its application for membership, and has now reportedly decided against applying for entry in the group at this time.
A report from Nikkei today suggests that Japanese retailers are quickly moving to embrace Bitcoin payments in the wake of a new law that recognizes the digital currency as a legal payment option for the nation’s citizens. Today’s report revealed that two of Japan’s largest retailer groups are ready to begin accepting Bitcoin, and have partnered with Bitcoin exchanges to facilitate the process.
Bitfinex has announced that it has completed its plan to reimburse customers who had suffered losses in the August 2016 hack of the digital currency exchange. The ambitious reimbursement plan involved the issuance of cryptographic tokens (BFX) that served as a form of equity obligation – a digital IOU of sorts. Yesterday, the company declared that it would be reimbursing all affected customers, purchasing those issued tokens with US dollars.
Blockchain firm Chain Inc has joined with The Thales Group to develop a new blockchain-based security solution that large companies can utilize to more effectively protect stored security credential information. The project is designed to address one of the key obstacles preventing large-scale adoption of blockchain technology in the marketplace, and could help to ease concerns about the security of sensitive credential details and similar data.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey this week signed into law a measure that officially recognizes blockchain signatures and contracts. The bill had been passed by the Senate on March 23, and was signed by the Governor six days later. The bill, HB 2417, had been passed by the Arizona House of Representatives in February, 59-0, and enjoyed near unanimous support in the Senate as well.
A new Japanese law that defines digital currencies as a legal payment method goes into effect on April 1, 2017. That law applies the country’s know-your-customer and anti-money-laundering regulations to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, requires exchanges to meet capital and cybersecurity requirements, and will subject those exchanges to annual audits.
The United States Senate voted late Friday night to pass H.R. 0401, titled America’s Plan to Restore Individual Liberty and Financial Openness for Our Localities and States. That bill, which President Donald J. Trump has vowed to sign when it reaches his desk later this evening, will effectively end the use of the Dollar as official U.S. currency, and replace it with Bitcoin and a “basket” of other digital currencies. In a surprising show of bipartisan solidarity, the bill passed both the House and Senate without a single dissenting vote.
Investors eager to see an exchange-traded product focused on Bitcoin or other digital currencies will continue to be disappointed, as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today denied a proposal that would have allowed the SolidX Bitcoin Trust to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The decision represents the second such denial in the last several weeks, as the Winklevoss ETF proposal received a similar rejection earlier this month.
The BATS Global Markets exchange has indicated that it will formally object to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s recent denial of the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust. The exchange has announced its intention to appeal the decision by requesting that the commission reconsider the proposal. BATS had intended to become the first exchange to list the new ETF if the SEC had approved the Winklevoss proposal.