Srp 01

Winklevoss Author Sells New Book About the Twins Entitled ‘Bitcoin Billionaires’

After penning the book which inspired “The Social Network,” you may have expected Ben Mezrich’s Winklevoss interest to have waned. However, he recently wrote a new book detailing their adventures in Bitcoin, which will be available next spring.

Winklebros

You’ve all heard the story of how the ‘evil’ automaton Mark Zuckerberg co-opted Facebook from the heroic Winklevoss brothers, who really invented it.

The subsequent, and highly publicized, lawsuit led to a settlement of $65 million for our third-favorite twins. The lawsuit later became the subject of Mezrich’s book “The Accidental Billionaires”.

It also pre-empted the Winklevoss’ discovery of Bitcoin. Mezrich’s new book “Bitcoin Billionaires,” tells that story. It seems like billionaires and Winklevii are twin obsessions of Mr. Mezrich. UK publisher Little, Brown has just picked up the title.

Licking their Wounds

We join the story with the brothers planning to use their bumper payout to set up a venture capital fund in Silicon Valley. Whilst there, a questionable character convinced them to forget about the ‘now mainstream’ Facebook. If they wanted to be true disruptors, they needed to buy into the new concept of cryptocurrency.

And buy in they did. Starting when the price of Bitcoin was still just $6, they eventually invested $11 million. They now hold 1 percent of all Bitcoin in circulation. Last November when the market cap hit $100 billion dollars, this officially made them Bitcoin billionaires.

ETF vs SEC

In more recent times, their battle to receive SEC approval for their Bitcoin exchange-traded fund has been eating up column inches. It was again denied at the last hearing, although this time one of the four commissioners tweeted her dissent.

No doubt Mr. Mezrich will be holding out for a positive outcome to this ongoing saga before publication of the book, to create a compelling final chapter. Or perhaps he’s hoping this drags on and on interminably, giving him the perfect excuse to write another sequel?

Share
Čvc 19

Crypto Company Change Launches App to Trade Bitcoin Commission-Free

A stream of positive developments and new products is helping to boost Bitcoin’s adoption rate. One of the latest products is Change Wallet, a mobile app for trading Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies with zero commission fees.


Change CEO Predicts: Cryptocurrencies Will Be Used As Much As Fiat Money

Change, a company headquartered in Estonia and financed from Singapore, has launched Change Wallet – a mobile app that allows users to buy and convert between cryptocurrencies. This multicurrency app supports digital assets such as Bitcoin, Ether, Ripple, Litecoin, and Tether.

According to the company, Change Wallet facilitates the execution of financial transactions and payments and provides access to an array of other financial services.

Significantly, no commission fees are charged for the transactions executed with Change Wallet, according to Change’s press release dated July 18, 2018.

Change Wallet is now available to residents of the European Economic Area in IOS and Android operating systems.

Joining the experts predicting that Bitcoin is here to stay and that it is eventually going to be used in everyday life, Change’s CEO Kristjan Kangro declared at the launch of the app:

Cryptocurrencies will soon be used just as much as traditional currencies by the masses when paying for good and services.

Solving Traditional Banks’ Major Limitations

Change Wallet allows sending, receiving, and storing several cryptocurrencies as well as fiat currencies, including US dollars and Euros.

As Change’s whitepaper explains, because Change Wallet is a mobile app, it solves three significant problems affecting traditional banks.

Specifically, users can handle all transactions via the app, thus avoiding the inconvenience of needing to go to the bank. Moreover, Change Wallet can provide banking services to the millions of unbanked people around the world.

As Bitcoin continues its inexorable trajectory to test the USD 8,000 resistance mark, the crypto community is encouraged by initiatives, such as Change’s, that contribute to increasing Bitcoin’s adoption rate. One of Change Wallet’s supporters, Roger Crook, former CEO of DHL Global Forwarding, says:

I’m backing this project because I think it’s got an extremely great future, and I see that Change is going to have challenges going forward. I have no doubt that this business is going to thrive and grow globally over the coming years.

How do you think the commission-free Change Wallet will impact Bitcoin trading? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of AdobeStock, Twitter/, Change

Share
Čvn 30

Poland Bitcoin Community Files Complaint Against Bank Account ‘Denials’

Poland’s cryptocurrency industry lobby group the Polish Bitcoin Association (PBA) confirmed it has complained to regulators about banks’ denial of services to businesses June 27.


Banks ‘Aim To Remove Virtual Currency’

In a statement sent to the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (OCCP), the PBA cites financial institutions closing and denying bank accounts as proof they “clearly aim at removing virtual currency entities from the market.”

Poland continues its chequered history regarding cryptocurrency, which still lacks official laws but faces a de facto ban on ICOs.

The government has sought to change the situation, various media outlets note, but its position appears to jar with that of the country’s banking sector.

The PBA claims a total of fifteen institutions refused an account to 52 cryptocurrency-related businesses, and closed the accounts of a further 25.

Of these, mBank, Poland’s fourth-largest banking group, refused nine accounts and closed three.

Poland The Black Sheep

“…The effects of the banks’ actions described clearly aim at removing virtual currency entities from the market, despite the fact that such activities are legal and conducted with dignity,” the complaint states.

In view of the above, action by the regulators is necessary, and this notice and its requests are fully substantiated.

Last month saw local cryptocurrency exchange operator BitBay suspend all activity in Poland and relocate to Malta, copying a move by industry heavyweight Binance in March. Its motive also appeared to be banking difficulties.

The situation differs increasingly from neighboring Lithuania, where a concerted effort to formalize the cryptocurrency and ICO sector has been underway this year.

As Bitcoinist reported this week however, the country’s progressive stance on crypto is not without its problems.

Banking sources have expressed concerns about Russian capital entering the local economy, something which is undesirable, a central bank board member said.

Lithuania released formal ICO guidelines in June, the government announcing the “brave new” cryptocurrency economy was “here to stay.”

What do you think about Poland’s banks’ stance on cryptocurrency businesses? Let us know in the comments section below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

Share
Čvn 09

South Korea Claims $28M Tax From Bithumb But Finds No ‘Illegal Activity’

· June 8, 2018 · 8:00 pm

South Korea’s National Tax Service (NTS) has requested $30 billion won ($28 million) in taxes from major cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb in a move which has gained positive feedback from the community.


Bithumb ‘Will Not Object’ To Tax Bill

Local media reported on June 8 that Bithumb, which posted revenues of 427 billion won ($397 million) in 2017, will pay the bill following an audit from South Korea’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

As a result of the audit, which occurred in April, the IRS also confirmed that investigators had not found “any illegal activities such as tax evasion.”

An NTS official said:

The IRS has conducted a tax investigation against Bithumb for the 2014 to 2017 business years. […] We understand that Bithumb has decided to pay the related taxes without any objection to the imposed tax amount.

Cryptocurrency commentators received the news warmly on social media, noting that Bithumb getting the all-clear from regulators marked a positive step forward for South Korea’s exchange industry.

South Korea Stabilizes Crypto

Earlier this year, the government moved to clamp down on exchange operators, banning multiple accounts and forcing users to link their exchange account with their bank account. Foreign accounts were also halted, along with provisional warnings from authorities that exchanges would soon need to respond to tax obligations from the previous 2017-18 tax year.

The boon for Bithumb, meanwhile, comes as Seoul continues to consider reversing its previous ban on ICOs. A National Assembly committee dedicated to studying the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ recommended during a meeting on May 29 that it plans to “establish a legal basis for cryptocurrency trading, including permission of ICOs.”

Also among its recommendations was making “improvements” to the “transparency” of the local cryptocurrency industry, along with “establishing a healthy trade order,” local news outlet Business Korea reported.

What do you think about Bithumb’s tax bill? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of BigStockPhoto

Show comments

Share
Kvě 19

eToro’s 9M Users Set To Increase with US Exchange & Wallet Launch

· May 18, 2018 · 8:00 pm

UK-based trading platform eToro has announced it will launch an international cryptocurrency exchange and mobile wallet, debuting in the US for the first time.


$100M Series E Funds Put To Work

As part of a keynote speech at the Consensus 2018 conference in New York which finished May 16, eToro CEO Yoni Assia confirmed the move, which will provide US traders with ten cryptocurrency pairs.

etoro

“U.S. crypto holders have a strong appetite for diversified portfolios,” he said quoted in an accompanying press release.

The platform’s ambitious plans come as little surprise on the back of a $100 million Series E funding round which it completed in March this year.

Prior to that, eToro had revealed it now counted nine million users on its books as it targeted international markets in Asia.

China Minsheng Capital was the major force behind the funding round, Bitcoinist reported at the time, with Japan’s SBI Group, Korea Investment Partners and World Wide Invest also among the contributors.

Ex-Samsung Executive Leads eToro USA

For the US, which is notorious for its patchwork regulatory landscape regarding trading, the company will create offshoot eToro USA, led by ex-Samsung director of innovation strategy Guy Hirsch.

“We know that there is a strong demand in the U.S. for crypto and we are excited to be able to offer U.S. investors the opportunity to learn about and invest across multiple cryptocurrencies,” Hirsch commented.

It is not yet known how the company will navigate obstacles such as New York’s BitLicense scheme, which has seen multiple cryptocurrency operators deny service to its residents.

The wallet and exchange will see a gradual rollout “over the coming months,” the former “eventually” being available for both Android and iOS devices.

In addition to standard functions, the wallet will also contain as yet unspecified “other features.”

Will eToro’s expansion move boost cryptocurrency trading in the US? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, eToro, Twitter

Show comments

Share
Kvě 02

Venezuela Touts Petro To India, Coinsecure With 30% Oil Discount Promises

· May 1, 2018 · 7:00 pm

Venezuela is leveraging its oil wealth to shoehorn president Nicolas Maduro’s Petro cryptocurrency into foreign markets.


Coinsecure Goes For Petro?

The practice came to light following local media in India reporting Caracas had offered a 30% discount on its crude oil imports if the government paid in Petro.

At the same time, a delegation visited India in March and came to an agreement with embattled local Bitcoin exchange Coinsecure to offer the trading of Petro for Bitcoin and rupees.

By the same token, other exchanges could interact with the coin through a white label agreement, Business Standard reported on April 29.

Coinsecure CEO Mohit Kalra told the publication:

That would be run by their brand name, but the back-end will be us. We plan to provide them with 10-15 cryptocurrency players.

Coinsecure Goes For Petro?

Kalra: Venezuela ‘Going To Different Countries’

Venezuela has seen mixed reactions to notionally oil-pegged Petro since issuing it earlier this year. From an outright ban by the US to calls from the international community that the scheme was nothing but a ploy to circumvent sanctions, Venezuela has courted controversy from the outset.

Separate claims involve Russia, which some say was instrumental in facilitating Petro’s creation.

Opening up alternative markets for trade thus comes as little surprise as Maduro attempts to live up to his original promise the coin’s market cap would be a least that of Venezuela’s oil reserves – around $5.9 billion.

Kalra explained:

They are going to different countries and making offers. The offer that they have given to the Indian government is: you buy Petro and we will give you a 30 percent discount on oil purchases.

Coinsecure meanwhile continues to face pressure following a hack of its reserves amounting to $3.5 million last month.

Its most recent update on April 29 seemed to imply that compensation payments for customers would soon begin, but that the exchange “doesn’t have much of a say” as investigations are still ongoing.

What do you think about Venezuela trading Petro with India? Let us know in the comments section below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, AdobeStock

Show comments

Share
Bře 12

Controversial Monaco Debit Card Progresses After 2 Years Of Delays

· March 12, 2018 · 1:30 pm

Controversial Bitcoin debit card issuer Monaco has finally begun closed beta testing after almost two years of development.


MCO Token Spikes After Months Of Tracking Bitcoin

Originally founded in June 2016, Monaco promises cryptocurrency spending at “perfect interbank exchange rates” but faced controversy after failed deals and drastic reworking of its product offering late last year.

Now, the company’s MCO token has regained some of the ground it lost since the time of Bitcoin’s own all-time highs in December, reaching $9.10 on Coinmarketcap. It had previously reached almost $19, before dropping to lows of $4.75 February 6 – also in line with Bitcoin.

Commenting on its sponsorship of the ongoing Money 20/20 event in Singapore, Monaco CEO Kris Marszalek described the unveiling of new products in light of the beta announcement as “revolutionary.”

“Together, they form a complete suite of revolutionary financial products and position Monaco as the first global financial institution built on blockchain, as well as, a destination platform for anyone interested in cryptocurrency,” he said.

A promotional video about the features will be seen by “100 million plus people in 2018,” Marszalek added on Twitter.

Dodgy Visa Partnerships And Price Crashes

Monaco’s path to release has been troublesome. In October 2017, Bloomberg ran a piece in which it debunked the company’s repeated claims it had a partnership with Visa.

While Visa finally approved Monaco’s offering to Singaporean residents in November, Monaco had said the partnership had been in place since May.

At the same time, a sudden change to the card’s roadmap saw a key feature in the form of smart asset contracts disappear, causing MCO to crash 40%.

The events led to a round of suspicion among cryptocurrency users, with accusations appearing online the product contained elements of a scam.

The cryptocurrency debit card industry as a whole remains a challenging environment this year. On and off-ramps into Bitcoin via exchanges are becoming increasingly cost-effective thanks to SegWit implementation, while cardholders continue to pay heavy premiums for the convenience of spending coins under the guise of legacy payment instruments.

What do you think about Monaco? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shuttesrtock, Monaco

Show comments

Share
Úno 28

So Why Did Goldman Sachs-Backed Circle Really Buy Poloniex?

· February 28, 2018 · 10:00 am

Goldman Sachs-backed startup Circle made waves earlier this week when it acquired cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex. A couple of experts share their thoughts on the implications for the soon-to-be first compliant US crypto exchange and its customers.


Most Crypto Exchanges ‘Over-Regulate Themselves’

As the dust settles on Circle’s acquisition of Poloniex, U.S. regulators are keeping a close eye on KYC/AML compliance of cryptocurrency exchanges.

Joseph Weinberg

Joseph Weinberg, OECD Think Tank Special Advisor and Chairman of Shyft, a blockchain protocol that will create a new standard for the KYC/AML mandates, shared his comments with Bitcoinist. He states:

Most crypto exchanges that are processing fiat to crypto transactions are very compliant and, in some cases, even more so than banks. It all really depends on jurisdictions and the compliance policies given by countries to crypto exchanges.

He continued:

For crypto exchanges, the challenge lies in how little formal guidelines there are from regulators. As a result, most of the industry has been doing self-compliance in absence of clear procedures. To err on the safe side, crypto exchanges over-regulate themselves. For example, most exchanges ask for passport verification in order to confirm users’ identities, whereas most banks only require government-issued IDs, such as drivers licenses.

Interestingly, Circle acquired the crypto exchange over a year after announcing it was shifting focus from Bitcoin to blockchain-based services. At the time, the company informed its Bitcoin customers that they can can cash out or transfer their balances to Coinbase, if they wished to continue to use the cryptocurrency.

So why did Circle decide to jump back into the crypto game?

It appears that Poloniex was struggling to keep up with the unexpected surge in new users as prices skyrocketed in the second half of 2017. Additionally, being based in the United States, the company also had to keep up with rising compliance costs as it rolled out its new KYC policies late last year.

Weinberg explains:

In the past, Poloniex had a lot of issues with onboarding new users and properly building out its KYC process, mainly due to the large amounts of time it takes to verify users. Given the level of KYC that exchanges force themselves to go through, scaling compliance is almost a separate product that the exchange has to build out.

According to him, this is where Circle comes in with their KYC/AML expertise. He says:

Through this acquisition, Circle will deploy more people to help handle compliance—more employees to build and process KYC due diligence faster. This is the same type of issue traditional banks have when it comes to scaling. Compliance costs keep multiplying, and yet, they aren’t always found to be effective.

The SEC Is Watching

Meanwhile, another takeaway has been put forth by Nathaniel Popper, author of Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money.

Popper noted on Twitter that the SEC informally suggested to Circle that no enforcement action will occur if the Boston-based startup “cleans up Poloniex and turns it into a regulated exchange.” He adds:

The SEC seems to be saying here that it’s okay if you broke the rules, as long as you get acquired by a legitimate player before we crack down on you.

The question now seems to be whether the SEC will apply this same thinking to other virtual currency exchanges if they are acquired by large players.

In addition to facilitating compliance, Circle also announced that it will add fiat bridges and expand operation to other markets. Namely, the company promised to explore “USD, EUR, and GBP connectivity that Circle already brings to its compliant Pay, Trade, and Invest products.”

This would imply that the exchange must also become compliant and answer to regulators from across the pond, who are currently scratching their heads on how to approach cryptocurrencies without stifling innovation in the process.

Therefore, regulators in the U.S. and abroad could be playing the carrot and stick strategy by providing an incentive for crypto exchanges to get acquired by the large players, such as Goldman Sachs, before a potential crackdown. Admittedly, this could also be a clever way for traditional finance to not only appear innovative through association but also assimilate would-be future competitors.

If true, the strategy may be futile and usher in the Streisand effect to boot. As technology advances, so do new methods of exchanging cryptocurrency. Therefore, assimilating centralized exchanges like Poloniex could force users to migrate en masse to decentralized exchanges and further bolster their development.

Why do you believe Circle acquired Poloniex? Share your comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter/@nathanielpopper.

Show comments

Share
Úno 26

Goldman Sachs-backed Circle Buys Poloniex Cryptocurrency Exchange for $400M

· February 26, 2018 · 11:30 am

Circle, the notionally cryptocurrency-focused payment services startup, has reportedly bought exchange Poloniex for $400 million.


Job Done Between Circle And Polo

According to Fortune editor Robert Hackett who leaked the news in advance, an official statement will follow Monday. The takeover means a cryptocurrency exchange is now under direct ownership of a Goldman Sachs funded company.

Hackett wrote on Twitter earlier this morning:

Rumors have swirled in recent weeks that Circle has been in talks to buy the cryptocurrency exchange (Poloniex). […] I can confirm here for the first time that, yes, Circle has completed the acquisition. (A source familiar with the terms told me the price tag came to roughly $400 M.)

Circle Takes On Crypto Exchange Giants

Circle had fallen out of favor with diehard Bitcoin fans after it made the decision to divest itself of Bitcoin interaction. One of the pioneering major movers in cryptocurrency, many saw the removal of Bitcoin from the Circle Pay app as a rejection of the more innovative values cryptocurrency represents.

Commenting on Poloniex’s incorporation, however, Hackett saw Circle establishing a firm foothold in the now vastly-expanded crypto corporate arena:

This is a huge coup for Circle—putting it within striking distance of other big U.S. crypto exchanges, like Coinbase’s GDAX, Kraken, and Bittrex.

According to the report, Circle’s revenue from cryptocurrency trading would significantly increase thanks to Poloniex – up to around $1 billion per year, proportionally roughly similar to the combined revenue of the entire exchange sector of South Korea.

Poloniex itself had been facing mounting criticism in recent months. A huge influx of new users over the second half of 2017 saw technical problems and outages at key trading moments as technology struggled to cope with demand.

Also struggling was customer support, a problem repeated across many exchanges in the industry as newbie traders made rookie mistakes and relied on staff to provide a remedy.

What do you think about Circle buying Poloniex? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of

Show comments

Share
Úno 18

The New Normal: Cryptocurrency Goes Mainstream This Tax Season

· February 18, 2018 · 7:30 am

Until quite recently, most cryptocurrency investors either did not know or did not care to pay taxes on the capital gains they accumulated buying and selling digital coins. The cryptocurrency community is now facing a hard truth: they have to pay taxes just like all the rest of us.


[Editor’s note: This is a guest article by Mario Costanz, CEO of Happy Tax]

Virtual currencies exploded onto the investment scene last year, due in large part to the astronomical rise in the popularity of Bitcoin and its many successors. Interest in this exciting new investment shows no signs of slowing, and soon cryptocurrency will be as ubiquitous as the other traditional securities traded daily on Wall Street.

Until quite recently, however, most cryptocurrency investors either did not know or did not care to pay taxes on the capital gains they accumulated buying and selling digital coins. The cryptocurrency community is now facing a hard truth: they have to pay taxes just like all the rest of us.

The attention that virtual currencies are receiving from federal and state regulators is a positive sign that this innovative technology is heading towards the mainstream. Of course, it has a long way to go until it gets there. In the meantime, however, cryptocurrency investors need to accept the reality of growing government oversight.

Paying Cryptocurrency Taxes is Not Optional

Bitcoin emerged from an anonymous source far on the fringes of the internet nearly a decade ago. For a time, cryptocurrency traders enjoyed an investment environment free from government oversight. This has caused many investors to turn a blind eye to increasing regulation, particularly from the Internal Revenue Service.

Tax liability for virtual currency investments is still a bit of a gray area in many respects, and new laws and policies are sketching out the boundaries. However, one thing is absolutely clear: if you trade cryptocurrencies, you must report your activity to the IRS.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Asked to Provide a Clearer Cryptocurrency Tax Framework

To the great dismay of many early virtual currency investors, the IRS declared virtual currencies to be taxable capital assets back in 2014. Like other capital assets, cryptocurrencies are subject to the capital gains rules. The tax rate depends on how long you held your coins before you sold them, as well as the price you bought in and the price you sold out. If your capital losses on your cryptocurrency investments exceed your capital gains, you can claim the loss as a deduction on your income tax returns, up to $3,000.

In other words, the same rules apply to cryptocurrency investors as taxpayers who trade stocks and other securities. This sounds simple enough for any seasoned trader, but unfortunately, things in the cryptocurrency world tend to get complicated quickly.

Most securities are used only in straightforward buy-and-sell transactions. However, cryptocurrencies are also intended to be used to purchase goods and services. Contrary to the popular belief – and wishful thinking – of many cryptocurrency investors, cashing out of your virtual currency investments isn’t the only taxable event in the lifespan of your investment. Rather, tax liability arises whenever cryptocurrencies are traded for other coins, cashed out into fiat currency, or used to purchase goods and services. So, for example, if you buy a new couch on Overstock.com using bitcoin, your purchase will be subject to capital gains tax in addition to any sales tax that may apply.

Paying Crypto Taxes Using Cryptocurrency

This type of double-taxation poses a real challenge to the integration of cryptocurrency into retail payment systems. Fortunately, however, it isn’t all bad news. Just last week, the Arizona State Senate passed a bill allowing residents to pay their state income taxes using “Bitcoin, Litecoin, or any other cryptocurrency” allowed by the state revenue department. While the bill still needs to go through the Arizona House of Representatives before it becomes a law, it represents a landmark moment in the cryptocurrency world.

The Arizona bill has been received with a mix of enthusiasm and skepticism. On one hand, the inherent value of cryptocurrencies is still up in the air. Virtual currencies have become legendary for their volatility. The price of Bitcoin more than doubled in the last two months of 2017 before falling again to half its value in the first two months of 2018.

Bitcoin Taxes

Well-known cryptocurrency critics, like Warren Buffett and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, claim that cryptocurrencies offer little to any market value and that current market prices are fueled entirely by speculation. On the other hand, the blockchain technology that supports the virtual currency market is a groundbreaking innovation that has the potential to change the way people use money entirely.

The fate of the Arizona law is now in the hands of state representatives, and it remains to be seen how the saga will unfold. It’s a bold legislative move that may be tossed aside by the state’s more conservative House of Representatives. However, it’s also a sign of the times. Arizona recognizes the potential value of virtual currencies as a technology, not just a security or replacement for traditional cash.

As a result, the state is posturing itself as a cryptocurrency-friendly market in anticipation of greater adoption of virtual currency technology and its derivatives. While the long-term viability of any virtual currency remains to be seen, the integration of cryptocurrency into government revenue streams is a positive sign for the future of this exciting new technology.

Will you be paying taxes on your cryptocurrency income this season? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of HappyTax, Shutterstock 

Show comments

Share