According to a written response to Parliament from Lord Michael Bates, Minister of State at the Department for International Development, the UK government appears to be moving closer to issuing regulations for Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Bates issued a statement answering questions from Parliament Member Lord Jonathan Harris that covered topics ranging from crypto use for tax payments to regulation and banks that refuse to provide account services to cryptocurrency businesses.
In Thursday’s White House press briefing, Fox News’ Washington Correspondent Blake Burman asked Press Secretary Sarah Sanders about President Donald J. Trump’s awareness of Bitcoin’s dramatic increase in value, and his thoughts on possible regulatory action from the government:
Foreign Minister Arun Jaitley declared on Friday that the government of India does not recognize digital currency as “legal currency.” The Economic Times reported that Jaitley also suggested that the government has yet to formulate an official position on Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. In response to a question about the Indian government’s position, he noted:
The Internal Revenue Service won a victory this week in its battle to force Coinbase to provide information about the company’s customers. On Tuesday, a judge issued an order requiring the digital currency exchange to hand over details that identify a total of 14,355 customer accounts – information that the tax agency hopes will help it to collect any unpaid back taxes related to those customers’ Bitcoin transactions.
Tokyo-based Bitcoin exchange bitFlyer has announced the launch of bitFlyer USA, which will provide digital currency trading services to customers in the United States. The company announced that it has been approved for a New York BitLicense, and has obtained licenses to operate in 40 additional US states and the District of Columbia.
During an event this week, the Chairman of the Swiss National Bank offered a cautious assessment of digital currencies. According to a report from Reuters, Chairman Thomas Jordan suggested that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies should be viewed “more as an investment than a currency.” He also confirmed that the central bank is currently examining digital currencies:
The Supreme Court of India has submitted notices to several government ministries, seeking a response to a petition that calls for Bitcoin regulation. The notices were sent to three ministries – Finance, Law and Justice, and Information Technology – as well as to the nation’s central bank (RBI) and market regulator (SEBI). That petition cites Bitcoin’s perceived anonymity and lack of accountability, and references regulatory actions that have been taken by other countries around the globe.
The government’s views on Bitcoin were one topic of discussion during U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s interview with Yahoo Finance markets correspondent Nicole Sinclair on Thursday. The Secretary offered few specifics and no timetable for announcing an official position, but did note that he remains concerned about the cryptocurrency’s potential for facilitating illegal activities:
CME Group recently announced plans to begin offering Bitcoin futures later this year. That plan is subject to regulatory review, but approval could allow the exchange to introduce those futures contracts sometime in the fourth quarter of 2017. CME Group is the largest futures exchange in the world, and its embrace of the world’s most well-known digital currency is being viewed by many observers as a sign that Bitcoin is quickly becoming an “established asset class.”
In an interview last week, former U.S. Representative Ron Paul offered his thoughts on digital currency and suggested that government surveillance of cryptocurrency transactions was one of his biggest concerns. Paul, a longtime libertarian, noted that he was in favor of legalizing all forms of alternate currency while he was serving in the House of Representatives, and that opinion hasn’t changed:
A recent statement from Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol suggests that any future regulation of digital currencies by the South Korean central bank will treat them as commodities rather than currencies. His comments came during a National Assembly audit of the central bank. Lee also said that the central bank will “put more emphasis on virtual currency research.”
Kansas has a message for Bitcoin owners who might be thinking about using the world’s most well-known digital currency to contribute to their preferred candidates in the state: don’t. According to report in the Lawrence Journal-World, the state’s Governmental Ethics Commission considered the issue this week and determined that the cryptocurrency cannot be used to contribute to candidates running in state or local campaigns.
For months, Australia’s government has promised to end the double taxation of Bitcoin and other digital currencies. The nation’s parliament moved to fulfill that promise on Thursday, as it passed new laws designed to ensure that digital currency users will no longer be subject to Australia’s goods and services tax (GST) when they buy cryptocurrency.
Despite recent pushback from countries like China, Bitcoin has continued to enjoy increased acceptance in many places around the world. Its price has proved resilient as well, as it has reached new highs in the last week. However, that resilience and growing interest hasn’t deterred political and financial leaders from attempting to downplay Bitcoin’s potential. Former Federal Reserve head Ben Bernanke offered his own criticism on Monday, when he predicted that Bitcoin will never replace fiat currency.
Reports suggest that Russia may be getting more serious about issuing its own national cryptocurrency, the CryptoRuble. CoinTelegraph today cited unidentified ‘local news sources’ which apparently reported that President Vladimir Putin declared the government’s intent to issue the CryptoRuble during a meeting in Moscow.
Russian officials have spent many months trying to decide how the government should deal with Bitcoin and other digital currencies. That debate has included everything from proposals that would criminalize Bitcoin ownership to suggestions that cryptocurrencies should be embraced and regulated. An announcement from Russian Central Bank First Deputy Governor Sergei Shvetsov could signal that the debate is over, as he said that officials will soon block access to websites that enable Russians to buy, sell, or trade digital currencies.
Nepal’s Bitsewa digital currency exchange announced this week that it would be shutting down its operations, after the Nepal Rastra Bank issued a Bitcoin Ban Notice. The company made the announcement on its website and in a lengthy Facebook post to its customers. Bitsewa cited the NRB ban and the recent arrest of seven Bitcoin exchange operators, while asserting that the company had always been committed to following all relevant laws.
Like government authorities and financial entities around the world, European officials have been struggling to develop a sensible policy on Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Though some officials have openly praised digital currency technology for its innovative potential, others have decried it as a potential tool for criminals and terrorists. Many, including Austrian National Bank Governor and European Central Bank member Ewald Nowotny, have viewed cryptocurrency as a risk and called for strict regulations.
In remarks before a joint session of Taiwan’s parliament and cabinet members this week, Financial Supervisory Commission chairman Wellington Koo said that his country intends to remain open and friendly to digital currency and blockchain technology. Koo’s statement came in response to a request from congressman Jason Hsu. The congressman had asked that the government clarify its position on cryptocurrency and related technology.
Singapore’s central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, recently acknowledged that authorities are closely monitoring Bitcoin and other digital use, as well as initial coin offerings (ICOs). The revelation came from Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, in a formal response to a question posed in Parliament by MP Miss Cheng Li Hui. The MP’s question sought information about how the government is currently responding to digital currency: