Forbes: FATCA Makes Foreign Banks Report Americans

FATCA or the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act was enacted in March 2010 to improve tax compliance involving foreign financial assets and offshore accounts. The law requires foreign banks to report U.S. account holders to the IRS and in 2014 the IRS will start penalizing foreign banks for failing to comply.

Forbes’ Robert W. Wood explains that this could have serious consequences for Americans living abroad.

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The world's ‘un-banked’ need payment innovation, but it won’t come from banks

M-PESA is a mobile money transfer service that has experienced “wild” success in Kenya. Yesterday the Freakonomics blog put up a post examining how M-PESA has achieved such success. The service is owned by Safaricom, a telecom with “monopoly power” and is “35% government-owned,” but perhaps it’s biggest advantage is that it is not a bank.

The post explains that prior to its launch “only 14% of Kenyans participated in the formal banking sector”, and due to regulation the country’s banks were unable to offer banking services to those in rural areas. Today roughly half of all adults in Kenya use M-PESA. However, because of their special situation and lack of competition, they have “sky-high prices, little incentive to innovate, and a limited range of services to customers.”

While it may be true that M-PESA’s success has been in large part due to a combination of regulation and monopoly power that is not necessarily going to be repeated elsewhere, this story illustrates the huge need for financial innovation in so many parts of the world and the willingness of the worlds ‘un-banked’ to use products that offer them even a semi-decent service. It is clear that there is a huge demand for financial innovation amongst the ‘un-banked’, and even more importantly, it is clear that this innovation will not come from banks.

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Voucher-Safe, a Next Generation Digital Currency – Part I

Digital Gold Currency is a fantastic idea. Gold enjoys thousands of years of history as an excellent currency and store of value. It is a form of money that is constantly chosen by the market and that needs no legislation to support its value. Gold is stable, solid and cannot be pulled out of thin air. With modern technology gold can be used as a currency online without any more effort than it takes to check your email. Brilliant!

But as DGC’s were starting to take off and be recognized for their many benefits, the rug was pulled out from under the industry with the prosecution of e-gold. The old DGC business model is centralized and vulnerable to seizure, censorship and prohibitive regulation.

The Voucher-Safe system allows for a more decentralized, Anti-Money Laundering compliant way to anonymously exchange value. It’s DGC 2.0, a more flexible and resilient system where anything can be money. “The idea behind voucher-safe is that it isn’t about making just one thing money. Money  can be gold, it can be existing national fiat currencies, it can be bitcoins, it can be silver, it can be anything of value that people want to exchange.”

Continue reading “Voucher-Safe, a Next Generation Digital Currency – Part I” is now accepting Bitcoin is one of the world’s most popular websites, and this is amazing news for all fans of alternative currencies.

This is particularly exciting not only because an alternative currency is rapidly gaining online payment market share, but because the non-political, borderless nature of Bitcoin is being recognized and openly appreciated.

In fact these are among’s stated reasons for accepting the cryptocurrency. “Bitcoin has no central authority and no way to lock entire countries out of the network.”

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Austrian Economist and Former Mises Institute President Makes the Case for Innovation in Currencies

Doug French is Senior Editor at Laissez Faire Club and a former President of the Mises Institute. In a new post he supports “Currencies of the Future” (i.e. Bitcoin) and argues that “The answer to the currency question may not be to reform government” but instead to make “an end run around the government’s iron grip on the monetary system.”

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Anonymity – Online and Offline

Anonymity is slightly off topic for this blog, however, online payments and internet security do go hand in hand and I try to stay educated on these matters.

While following the Petraeus scandal I have been shocked by how few precautions these military and intelligence officers were taking to protect their online anonymity. From this I can only assume that there is a serious lack of education on these topics.

The new website dedicated to privacy, Shadow Life, is working on a 5 part series on anonymity. So far only parts I & II are available but they are an excellent lesson in understanding anonymity.

Check it out … this stuff is important!

Anonymity – Online and Offline – Part I

The Turkish Prime Ministers Wants the IMF to Use Gold Instead of Dollars

Sabah, a Turkish new site, reports that the Prime Minister has said, “Why do we not switch then to a monetary unit such as gold?”

It would seem that Prime Minister Erdoğan is not pleased with the IMF as they are “going to rule the world based on the exchange rates of [the dollar]” and has “no intentions of working with the IMF again.”

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The Canadian Mint Announces Silver ETR, but ‘Redeeming’ Your Silver May Not Be So Easy

Last week The Royal Canadian Mint announced that it will make an initial public offering of $100 million in silver exchange-traded receipts.  This comes after the success of the Mint’s Gold ETR last year.

MineWeb reports that “The Mint will offer exchange-traded receipts, priced at $20 each, Proceedings from the C$100 million offering will be used to purchase silver bullion. … The silver ETRs will trade on the TSX and will be redeemable once a month for either cash or silver bullion.”

However, a careful read of the ETR’s prospectus, reveals that physically redeeming your silver is a complicated process that is subject to “suspension” and “Any declaration of suspension made by the Mint shall be conclusive.”

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Shadow Life: Necessary Conditions for the Long-Term Success of Bitcoin

Shadow Life is a new website dedicated to “Privacy – how to protect it and why it matters.” The creators of the site are strong supporters of Bitcoin and recently put up a post detailing what they believe to be necessary conditions for the long-term success of Bitcoin.

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Peter Schiff’s Euro Pacific Bank Introduces a Silver Backed Debit Card

The Euro Pacific Bank is located in St. Vincent & the Grenadines which has established banking secrecy in statute making it one of the most private and secure places to do business and protect your assets.

Mr Schiff opened the bank to better serve his non-US investors as the current U.S. regulatory environment has made it very costly to assist international clients. Unfortunately, this means if you are an American citizen or resident you cannot open an account with the bank.

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