The annual Blockchain Summit is scheduled to begin on July 25, and this year’s event will see attendees gathering in one of the most exclusive locations on Earth. The Bitfury-hosted conference is being held on Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island – a 74-acre Caribbean paradise located in the British Virgin Islands. Fifty of the world’s most influential thought leaders will assemble there for a three-day getaway to discuss a host of issues related to blockchain technology.
United States Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Corley issued an order this week allowing an anonymous Bitcoin user to challenge the IRS summons compelling Coinbase to provide account information and transaction records for hundreds of thousands of its Bitcoin customers. In the order, the judge rejected the government’s effort to prevent ‘John Doe 4’ from intervening in the matter and seemed to signal at least some reservations about the broad nature of the agency’s demands.
Since Early last year, the government of Venezuela has been engaged in an ongoing crackdown against Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Officials have arrested Bitcoin miners, confiscated equipment, and intimated websites that deal with cryptocurrency. If Jorge Dommar has his way, however, the government’s hostility to digital currency would end.
Swiss regulators have given Zurich-based Falcon Private Bank approval to provide its clients with Bitcoin asset management offerings. On Wednesday, the bank began offering customers the ability to trade Bitcoin using their cash deposits. Falcon has partnered with Swiss cryptocurrency broker Bitcoin Suisse, which will provide the bank with access to the digital currency.
In a report released at the end of June, The European Commission suggested that organized criminal elements and terrorists rarely use digital currencies for their illicit schemes. The report’s authors concluded that those groups may have a desire to use Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to fuel their activities, but that they often lack the technical expertise needed to make use of the technology.
As the Internal Revenue Service continues its efforts to force Coinbase to turn over its customers’ transaction records and account details, a Department of Justice lawyer indicated on Thursday that the agency may narrow its information request. According to a report in The Recorder, attorney Amy Matchison suggested that the IRS would not be seeking those customers’ account security setting details or passwords.
In recent months, South Korea’s digital currency trading activity has been among the most robust in the world. Many policy experts have been uncomfortable with the lack of industry regulation, however, with some worrying that any sudden downturn in the cryptocurrency markets could negatively impact the country’s broader economy. This week, Democratic Party of Korea Representative Park Yong-jin announced that he intends to introduce a new bill to enact a framework for regulating digital currencies like Bitcoin.
According to reports on the Chinese government’s official web portal, gov.cn, the Chan Cheng District in Foshan City is ground-zero for a blockchain trial designed to test the technology’s usefulness for streamlining public services. The District, located in Guangdong province, will be testing an innovative platform that the Chinese are calling Intelligent Multifunctional Identity (IMI). The system will reportedly provide a more efficient way for residents to authenticate their identities and official information without filling out forms each time they need a new government service.
Iran’s National Center for Cyberspace (NCC) has reportedly completed its draft proposal for regulating cryptocurrencies. According to that country’s Financial Tribune website, the document has been in the works since 2013 and is now ready to be considered by Iran’s High Council on Cyberspace. NCC regulation deputy Saeid Mahdavioon has said that the proposal should be finalized within the next two months.
A bipartisan group of Senators introduced a new bill late last month that would require travelers to declare their digital currency holdings at all ports of entry into the United States. Senate bill S.1241 – the “Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017” – was introduced by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, and was co-sponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, John Cornyn, and Diane Feinstein.
It’s become a recurring theme in many political circles: whenever terrorism is discussed, it’s usually just a matter of time before Bitcoin is dragged into the discussion. That pattern repeated itself again this week in the Australian House of Representatives, when opposition leader Bill Shorten decided to include commentary on the world’s most well-known digital currency while talking about terrorism, terror financing, and encryption technology.
More than a month ago, the New Hampshire legislature passed House Bill 436 and sent it to Governor Chris Sununu for his signature. The Governor signed the bill into law late last week, effectively ensuring that those who use cryptocurrency in New Hampshire will no longer be subject to the state’s money transmitter regulations. That exemption will become effective on August 1, 2017.
Those following the ongoing Internal Revenue Service court battle with Coinbase will recall that several members of Congress sent a letter in late May requesting details from the IRS about its efforts to investigate the Coinbase Bitcoin exchange and obtain the company’s user account information. The agency was given until June 7 to provide a response to those questions. Though IRS compliance with that oversight request has yet to be confirmed, there is news that a second group of elected representatives is now attempting to get answers about how the agency plans to deal with digital currency tax concerns.
Recent reports suggest that the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) may be considering a move to enact a regulatory framework for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). Chinese cryptocurrency news source cnLedger posted the news on Friday, noting that Chinese central bank Digital Currency Research Institute head Yao Quian addressed the issue while discussing digital currencies and related technologies. As cnLedger reported,
In remarks delivered at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum recently, Russian Central Bank Deputy Governor Olga Skorobogatova suggested that the world will eventually see nations create their own digital currencies. She also seemed to confirm that the tests required to prove the viability of such currencies had already been completed using platforms like the Hyperledger and Masterchain.
After more than three months of uncertainty, cryptocurrency traders with holdings on China’s three largest Bitcoin exchanges received welcome news this week when they learned that they will soon be able to once again withdraw their digital currency. That news ends the suspension of withdrawal activity that began in February amid central bank concerns about the exchanges’ compliance with AML/KYC requirements.
According to a report in the Times of India, MPs at Thursday’s Parliamentary Standing Committee of Finance meeting had serious questions about Bitcoin’s potential use as a vehicle for terror financing and criminal activities. While many of their questions had been raised by individual members in recent months, this meeting saw concerns raised by politicians representing a diverse range of political views.
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.
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 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.