Carl Mullan is DGC’s founder, former editor and publisher of DGCMagazine with more than 50 past issues online. His new book, The Digital Currency Challenge – Shaping Online Payment Systems through US Financial Regulations, is now available on Amazon.
Bitcoin is fast, secure, nearly free, has a stable supply and has a high level of user control… its just plain better than the banks. You have to wonder why the hell everyone isn’t using it? But the Bitcoin economy is still fragmented and dependent on payment processors and exchangers.
Merchants accept bitcoin only to convert it back into their local fiat currency, and who can blame them? There just aren’t enough bitcoin accepting businesses out there and they have suppliers and landlords to pay. But bitcoin was meant to be a peer-to-peer currency, not a peer to exchanger to bank to bank to exchanger to peer currency.
Crypto will win the currency wars, but it may be a while before it reaches your home town. Bitcoin is better, but change is hard.
Many articles mention, that the limited Bitcoin money supply is a major advantage of this digital currency. The reasoning usually goes like this. Since Bitcoins can only be created through mining and there is an upper limit of 21 million, Bitcoin is supposed to be inflation proof. This article for instance says, Bitcoin “theoretically eliminates inflation”. If this was true, Bitcoins would not lose purchasing power. The Bitcoins I own today would buy me the same amount of goods and services tomorrow. Or a larger amount in the case of deflation.
- Bitcoin exchange TradeHill halts trading after its banking partner experiences “regulatory issues”.
After series of Bitcoin businesses being dropped by their banking partners earlier this year, the Internet Archive Federal Credit Union (IAFCU) came to the rescue. The New Jersey based credit union, run by the Internet Archive, has been very friendly to the Bitcoin industry and has worked with a number of businesses who have had trouble establishing relationships with banks.
One of the businesses the credit union partnered with was the US based TradeHill exchange. Late last week Jered Kenna, Tradehill’s founder and CEO, confirmed via Reddit that the exchange had suspended trading due to “operational and regulatory issues” faced by its bank.
IAFCU posted its own statement on the matter , but was not clear on the nature of the regulatory issues.
- As the rupee continues to struggle, Indian officials continue their attempts to curb demand for gold.
India is considering a radical plan to direct commercial banks to buy gold from ordinary citizens and divert it to precious metal refiners in an attempt to curb imports and take some heat off the plunging currency.
The RBI will ask the banks to buy back jewelry, bars and coins for rupees. Lenders will have to offer better rates than pawn shops and jewelers to lure sellers.
“We will start a pilot project among some banks where we will allow them to buy back gold from individual households,” the source, an official familiar with the central bank’s plan, said. “This will start soon, we have discussed (it) with banks.”
- From New York to Germany, check out a timeline of August events affecting the crypto-currency community here.
- For those following the Bitcoin Foundation’s board elections Bitcoin Magazine has posted transcripts from Let’s Talk Bitcoin’s interviews with the Individual Seat Candidates
Two new seats are being added to the Board of Directors. One representing Individual Members and the other is representing Industry (business) Members. In order to be eligible to vote in this election, you must be a current member of the Bitcoin Foundation.
Frank Schaeffler, a member of German parliament’s Finance Committee has issued a statement recognizing Bitcoin as “Rechnungseinheiten,” which translates to “units of account”. Many news sources are reporting that this makes Bitcoin ‘private money’ or ‘legal tender’ in Germany.
But what exactly does the designation of “Rechnungseinheiten” mean for German Bitcoin users and businesses?
Via Pymnts.com …
The German parliament stopped short of granting bitcoin full currency status on August 19, but recognized bitcoins as “units of account” when it formally issued regulations for the popular virtual currency.
The United States House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies 2014 appropriations bill recommends spending amounts for a number of government agencies including the FBI.
In their 2014 appropriations bill, the subcommittee directs the FBI to report on Bitcoin, specifically what the FBI is doing to address the “challenge” that they see from the “ersatz currency“.
Page 45 of the bill…Money laundering. —The Committee understands that Bitcoins and other forms of peer-to-peer digital currency are a potential means for criminal, terrorist or other illegal organizations and individuals to illegally launder and transfer money. News reports indicate that Bitcoins may have been used to help finance the flight and activity of fugitives. The Committee directs the FBI, in consultation with the Department and other Federal partners, to provide a briefing no later 120 days after the enactment of this Act on the nature and scale of the risk posed by such ersatz currency, both in financing illegal enterprises and in undermining financial institutions. The briefing should describe the FBI efforts in the context of a coordinated Federal response to this challenge, and identify staffing and other resources devoted to this effort. Continue reading “Congress directs the FBI to report on Bitcoin”
In October 2012 the European Central Bank published a remarkable study on “Virtual Currency Schemes”. At that time, the Bitcoin exchange rate was still stable (about 12 USD per Bitcoin). But only a little later, in the beginning of 2013, the Bitcoin rally started reaching its peak rate of 237 USD in April. This rally led to an intensive worldwide discussion about the nature, challenges and threats of virtual currencies. The ECB report includes two case studies of the virtual currencies Bitcoin and Linden Dollar (of the Second Life virtual community). Based on its findings, it proceeds to discuss the relevance of such private unregulated (at least at the time being) currency schemes for central banks, published as an official view of the ECB.
The ECB is not worried at the moment because the volume of virtual currencies is still low. Therefore it does not see them as a threat to financial stability. But the ECB notes that such virtual currencies could have a negative impact on the reputation of central banks.
Exchanges are the link between the old world of banking and the new world of crypto-currencies; they play a vital role in supporting the growing Bitcoin economy. If Bitcoin hopes to continue rapidly gaining new users it needs this bridge between the old and new systems to be up and functioning. While Bitcoin is in no way dependant on a link to the traditional banking system, its smooth transition into mainstream use certainly is.
Unfortunately these bridges which make up the exchange market are concentrated and often broken. This leads to concerns over reliability and security, which can cause market panic and extreme volatility. As Bitcoin enters the mainstream a wave of new businesses, services and software developers have recently dedicated their efforts to solving this problem. Their task will not be easy, and the while the exchange rate has seen some recent stability, there is a long way to go before obtaining bitcoins can be called user friendly and reliable.
After shutdown of Liberty Reserve in May this year FinCEN proposed an “Imposition of Special Measure Against Liberty Reserve S.A. as a Financial Institution of Primary Money Laundering Concern”. The primary purpose of the ‘Special Measure’ being to cut Liberty Reserve off from the banking system.
FinCEN noted Liberty Reserve’s irrevocable transactions and lack of ID verification as evidence that “Liberty Reserve’s system is structured so as to facilitate money laundering and other criminal activity,” these comments worried the digital currency community and was likely what scarred off many of their banking partners.
On the 19th, the Bitcoin Foundation responded to FinCEN’s proposed special measure urging them to clarify that not all virtual currency transactions are inherently suspect.
CoinDesk is reporting that in a letter send to an exchange start up the UK, financial regulator HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has stated that the proposed exchange has no need to register under money laundering regulations. However the letter does make it clear that HMRC may change their mind and require registration in the future.
The letter from HMRC reads as follows:
“With reference to your enquiry at this time there is no requirement to register with HMRC under the Money Laundering regulations, however HMRC recognise that the issuing of Bitcoins represent an emerging development.