Čvn 02

China’s Central Bank Will Soon Regulate ICO’s

· June 2, 2017 · 9:00 am

The People’s Bank of China is turning its attention Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), seeking to regulate the new form of crowdfunding.


China to Regulate ICOs

Although cryptocurrency withdrawals are back on the big three Chinese exchanges, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) isn’t quite through with the cryptoworld. Now it seems like it’s going after Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), seeking to regulate the new phenomena in the crowdfunding world.

Chinese publication Weixin reports that Yao Qian, head of Digital Currency Research Institute at PBoC, has stated that the PBoC will soon regulate ICOs.

Initial Coin Offerings or ICOs are a way to fund projects or companies crowdfunding methods. This typically includes selling project tokens for fiat currency, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other popular cryptocurrencies. These tokens are usually required in order to use the platform or they can also represent equity through a dividend or buy-back program.

Current ICO Landscape

The news comes at a time where ICOs are extremely popular, gathering millions of dollars every week and amassing higher and higher market caps.

Most recently, the Basic Attention Token (BAT) ICO, gathered $30million in a matter of seconds, while the Aragon project gathered $20million in roughly 15 minutes. The MobileGo ICO gathered over $53 million in the course of its month-long ICO.

Poloniex

While most ICOs currently take place through the use of the Ethereum network, other projects are also getting in on the action, as is the case of the Waves Platform, Wings DAO, and Ethereum Classic.

Although some of these crowdfunding campaigns have had exorbitant returns for investors, many members of the community are also raising questions about the validity of some of these projects and if they are really worth tens of millions of dollars before having even built their project/platform or an MVP (minimum viable product).

Regulatory Clarity Could Boost Industry

Although the moratorium on cryptocurrency withdrawals has come to an end, the PBoC has stated that they are not yet done with Bitcoin exchanges.  Now, Bitcoin miners in the country are starting to shut down their operations in fear of future regulatory pressure like the one applied to exchanges.

Some Bitcoin miners in the Szechuan province, a place with cheaper electricity prices due to abundant hydropower resources, have decided to shut down in fear of regulation. One miner told YiCai Global:

The price is so high at the moment. Shutting down costs mine owners hundreds of thousands of yuan every day.

In China, the pressure from the PBoC has resulted in a weakened Bitcoin market, strict KYC policies and may now also affect mining and ICOs as well. However, regulation can also be helpful. In Japan, the new regulatory framework built around cryptocurrencies has allowed their popularity to grow in the country.

Can the new stance on Initial Coin Offerings by the PBoC change the ICO landscape? 


Images courtesy of CryptoCompare, Twitter, Shutterstock

Show comments

Share
Kvě 29

China’s Biggest Exchanges to Add Ethereum, Other Altcoins as Demand Surges

· May 29, 2017 · 7:00 am

As altcoins continue to gain popularity throughout the world, Bitcoin exchanges in China are also getting in on the action and listing alternative cryptocurrencies.


Huobi to Support Altcoins

As the moratorium on cryptocurrency withdrawals is expected to soon end in China, exchanges in the country seem to be turning their attention to alternative cryptocurrencies. Two days ago, one of the big three exchanges in China, Huobi, announced it will launch Ethereum trading on May 31.

The announcement reads:

We are excited to announce the CNY/ETH will be listed on our exchanges. Trading will start at 12:00 May 31st (GMT +8). ETH deposit and withdrawal is available from now on.

Today, Huobi released a list of altcoins that are to be added in the future according to the rank of the coin in said list. According to Huboi’s underlying model, Ethereum, Litecoin and Ripple are the highest ranking coins following Bitcoin, followed by Dash, Zcash and Dogecoin.

Online news service cnLedger tweeted:

The list was ranked using a model created by Huobi which factors in the coin’s strategy, marketing, activity, risk and technology to calculate the relevance of the coin.

The list and underlying model can be seen in Huobi’s official announcement.

BTCC to Get In On the Action as Well

Huobi isn’t the only Bitcoin exchange in China that is to list alternative cryptocurrencies.

After a two-week poll, in which over 190k votes by the cryptocurrency community were counted, Ethereum Classic will be listed in the BTCC exchange. Bobby Lee, CEO of BTCC tweeted:

Although the exchanges employed a completely different method in which Huobi used a model to rank cryptocurrencies and BTCC used a community poll, both exchanges are interested in opening the doors for the Chinese community to invest in  alternative cryptocurrencies.

Huobi and BTCC, however, are not the first exchanges in the country to list alternative cryptocurrencies. The China-based Yunbi exchange allows users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies like Etherem, Ethereum Classic, Zcash, QTUM, Bitshares, and others. BTC38 also offers a multitude of cryptocurrencies to be bought and sold for CNY. Lastly, CHBTC also lists Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, and Litecoin.

Crypto in Asia

Although less-known exchanges in the country offer altcoin trading, most Chinese users are only familiar with Bitcoin and Litecoin, given that most cryptocurrency investors use one of the big three exchanges in the country, BTCC, OKCoin and Huobi.

China plays a big part in the Bitcoin world, ranking in the top 3 countries by daily trading volume but other countries in the continent are becoming increasingly interested in cryptocurrencies and it’s not just Bitcoin and Litecoin.

Take Japan, for example, where the recent Bitcoin law has created an accentuated demand for cryptocurrencies, making the JPY the biggest Bitcoin pair in the world by trading volume and that’s not all. Other cryptocurrencies are also gaining traction in the country.

Co-Founder of IndieSquare and Community Director at the Counterparty Foundation, stated in a recent blog post:

First, one of the unique characteristics of the Japanese crypto space is that altcoins are very popular as a means of investment and some of them have very strong and dedicated communities; some even more active than the Bitcoin community itself in a way. Among them, two of the most popular altcoins in Japan are XRP(Ripple) and XEM(NEM).

In South Korea, Ethereum and Ethereum Classic are also extremely popular, even more so than Bitcoin whose daily trading volume is smaller than that of ETH or ETC.

With China adhering to the altcoin craze, could Asia become the capital for alternative cryptocurrencies?


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.com, Twitter 

Show comments

Share
Bře 23

The China Syndrome: Are California’s Bitcoin Exchanges Doomed?

· March 23, 2017 · 4:30 am

Increasing regulatory pressures have eviscerated trading volumes across Bitcoin exchanges in China. Bitcoin’s shifting volumes and price are signaling that further disintermediation is inevitable, which could also spell trouble for Western exchanges like Coinbase and Kraken.


China Regulates Bitcoin Exchanges

Increasing regulation of the Bitcoin market in China by the People’s Bank (PBoC) has characterized the first Quarter of 2017.

First they banned margin-trading. Then they halted withdrawals of Bitcoin from Chinese exchanges in February. The latest news is that withdrawals are expected to resume soon provided a strict set of KYC/AML conditions are met.

The nature of the ban on withdrawals has been widely misunderstood.

Note that bitcoins were not trapped. Trading continued the whole time on Chinese exchanges – purchases and sales were allowed. The PBoC never disallowed the withdrawal of cash from Chinese exchanges. So Chinese who wanted to exit could simply sell their Bitcoins and withdraw their renminbi.

The China Syndrome

That said, there were several consequences of the Chinese regulation in the global Bitcoin market. I call this set of results or symptoms that occur in tandem ‘the China Syndrome’.

China Bitcoin Core attack

We can expect more and more financial regulators to intervene ever more intrusively into Bitcoin markets globally, and we can expect to see a similar syndrome of effects every time.

So, as the IRS demands that Coinbase reveal all its customer records, we can expect the same China Syndrome set of consequences.

What were the results of increased regulation of exchanges in China?

  1. The share of global trading volumes of Chinese exchanges collapsed.
  2. There was terrific disintermediation. Over The Counter (OTC) trading volumes in China exploded. This is trading that is done P2P, off-exchange. The two most popular OTC platforms in China are LocalBitcoins and Bitkan.
  3. Bitcoins started to trade on Chinese exchanges at a significant discount to global prices. Previously Bitcoin had nearly always traded at a small premium on China exchanges to the global price. (Zerohedge claimed ad nauseam this was evidence of demand for Bitcoin as a vehicle for capital flight, though that’s refuted by BTCC CEO Bobby Lee.)
  4. Bitcoin traded OTC in China has achieved a premium over both the price on Chinese exchanges and indeed over global prices. It is the most expensive Bitcoin in the world!
  5. Bitcoin has recently started to trade on LocalBitcoins at a premium to exchanges worldwide where previously there was a discount.
  6. The logical endgame of disintermediation is a black market. For example, what naturally happens in an economy such as Venezuela or Nigeria where banks (the middleman) fail to provide the market-clearing price for dollars as a result of capital controls? People will disintermediate their asses and sell on the black market of course!

[Data verifying these statements about prices is at my website, Blocklink.info. Select the ‘Black Market FX’ tab.]

Disintermediation is Inevitable

Definition from Investopedia:

Disintermediation, in finance, is the withdrawal of funds from intermediary financial institutions, such as banks and savings and loan associations, to invest them directly. Generally, disintermediation is the process of removing the middleman or intermediary from future transactions.

There remains a powerful need among Chinese to trade Bitcoin that the PBoC cannot stifle. PBoC tries to block one avenue and wily Chinese users disintermediate their way through. It is like the funfair game of whack-a-mole.

As the middleman  – the Chinese exchanges – was failing to meet the need to freely trade Bitcoin, Chinese users cut out the middleman. Here are two charts to illustrate the extent of the disintermediation. Chinese exchanges have become the sick men of global exchanges, and LocalBitcoins China is experiencing explosive growth..

12

coin-dance-localbitcoins-cny-volume

Note that this second chart greatly understates OTC trading in China for several reasons.

One, it’s possible that the Bitkan platform is even more popular than LocalBitcoins in China. Bitkan reported a twelvefold increase in trading volumes in Q1 2017 in this interview with Bitcoinist.

Two, once buyer and and seller establish a relationship through LocalBitcoins or Bitkan, those two parties might choose to transact thereafter privately, without using the platform, so saving on escrow and platform fees.

Three, you also tend to get P2P Bitcoin deals being negotiated on popular financial and exchange forums, like the Chinese equivalents of Craigslist.

Effects of Disintermediation on Prices

This effect has received less attention than the effect on volumes. In Q1 2017 Bitcoins have traded on Chinese exchanges at a significant discount to global prices. Previously Chinese Bitcoin had always traded at a small premium to the global price.

Premium before Q1 201713

Discount after the actions of the PBOC:

My research shows that a) Bitcoin traded OTC in China has achieved a premium over both the price on Chinese exchanges and over global prices and b) Bitcoin has started to trade on LocalBitcoins as a premium to exchange prices worldwide where previously there had been a discount.

china2

There is not the space here to go into the details, which can be viewed at my site Blocklink.info. In summary, at a snapshot on March 22, 2017 07:00 GMT, these prices prevailed when the Global Bitcoin price was $1,064 USD:

China

  • Chinese exchanges: $1,038 (discount to Global price)
  • Chinese LocalBitcoins: $1,114 ($76 premium to CN Exchanges’ price, or 7.3%)

America

  • US Exchanges: $1,064 (same as Global price)
  • US Local Bitcoins: $1103 ($38 premium to global price, or 3.6%)

Previously analysts argued that there was naturally a discount on OTC markets as a result of the greater convenience that the exchanges offered their clients, and of the greater counterparty risk intrinsic in an OTC trade. But it now seems to be the case that the force is with OTC trading, and that users are prepared to pay a premium OTC to achieve greater privacy and control over their Bitcoins.

Decentralized Exchange is the Future

Exchanges in the San Francisco, Japan and Europe have been doing terrific business in 2017 and the money is rolling into their coffers in the form of trading fees and the income they derive from their Bid-Offer spread.

Oh, they are living the life of Riley in San Francisco’s Financial District! Knocking back the $20 libations at Rickhouse Bar on Kearny Street and at Comstock Saloon. They think nothing of buying $75 steaks. The toilets are dusty with cocaine powder. But threats similar to those that have hit the solvency of OKCoin, BTCC etc. await Coinbase, Kraken, Bitfinex and the other big hitters. There will be blood.

coin-dance-bitsquare-all-volume

The future looks rosier for the more decentralized avenues like Bitsquare, whose global volumes have been rising steadily, and for wallets with greater privacy like Samourai.

Further disintermediation in Bitcoin trading is inevitable. That is what the shifting volumes and the price mechanism in the Bitcoin market are signaling.

And note this: the ultimate disintermediation is black market/criminal activity. For example, drug users disintermediate the failure of pharmacies to provide Grade A meth and crack by buying from the street corner or on Dark Markets. That is where we might buy our Bitcoin 3-5 years from now, possibly from wild-eyed, shaggy-haired ex-employees of Kraken.

Do you agree that centralized exchanges will become obsolete and unable to compete with decentralized avenues? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy Coin.dance, Twitter, Shutterstock, Blocklink.info

Show comments

Share
Bře 17

Bitcoin’s Total Crypto Market Cap Dominance Drops to All Time Low

· March 17, 2017 · 6:00 am

Altcoin markets continue an unprecedented rise as downward pressure on Bitcoin is blamed on China and continued community indecisiveness.


Community ‘Should Be Punished’ For Not Reaching Consensus

As Bitcoin lost almost 8% in the 24 hours to press time, Ethereum passed $50 USD per coin, appearing to embark on an exponential run similar to that only just witnessed from Dash.

Monero, currently the fourth largest cryptocurrency  in terms of market cap, also enjoyed rapid growth to double in value in two weeks, despite volatility.

With many popular altcoins having a great week across the board, Bitcoin’s Dominance Index has dropped to as low as 71% according to Coincap.io with its percentage of Total cryptocurrency market cap has hit an all time low.

chart

I think the market is going to punish the [Bitcoin] community for not reaching consensus. As it should,” commentator Vinny Lingham wrote on Twitter in response to whether or not to buy BTC at the lower price.

The comments imply a price dip could be protracted or even worsen if no consensus regarding a scaling solution is reached.

Lingham also took to Medium this week in a bid to provide further evidence that activating SegWit was the only solution.

After Bitcoin Unlimited suffered a bug-based attack, Lingham was critical of hard forks, insisting that a soft fork – SegWit – was superior. He wrote:

I believe that the adoption of Segwit right now is imperative in order for us to get to the next stage in the evolution of Bitcoin and remove the risks of a contentious Hard Fork.

China Trepidation & Record Low Market Cap

China meanwhile is also back in the spotlight as further information regarding the future of Bitcoin regulation in the country is expected imminently.

People’s Bank of China director Zhou Xuedong had previously stressed the need to adopt a balanced approach, which he said would future a “forgiving attitude” to exchanges while continuing supervision and not crossing “certain red lines.”

A legislator behind China’s new civil law code further hinted at what may lie in store this week, referring to Bitcoin as “virtual movable property.” Yang Lixin drew similarities to websites in his analogy, which he described as “virtual immovable property.”

The effects of altcoin popularity meanwhile are becoming clear. Bitcoin’s market capitalization has fallen 17% in 2017, with the majority of the drop in the past month.

What do you think about the altcoin boom and Bitcoin stagnation? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of coinmarketcap, twitter, shutterstock

Show comments

Share
Bře 07

BitKan: Our Volume Grew ‘Twelve Times’ Since PBoC Halted Withdrawals

· March 7, 2017 · 12:00 pm

2,631 views

Bitcoinist spoke with Leon Liu, the CEO of BitKan, a Chinese P2P Bitcoin trading service, to get a better idea on the current situation following the recent regulatory clampdown on Bitcoin exchange withdrawals in the country.


Bitcoinist: What kind of trading services does BitKan provide?

Leon Liu (LL): BitKan provides P2P bitcoin trading services with broker match-making to save time for our users. During a trade, BitKan acts as an escrow service, guaranteeing funds delivery for both sides. Users can also trade small amounts in five minutes.

Bitcoinist: How has the recent restrictions imposed by the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) on crypto-exchanges impacted your operations?

LL: The PBoC focused on the three biggest exchanges. PBoC actions did not have any impact on us because it focuses on money laundering, currency outflows and pyramid schemes. We do not provide such services to our customers. That’s why we weren’t impacted. Right now, customers can use our platform to withdraw Bitcoin after 3 days.

Bitcoinist_PBOC

Bitcoinist: China’s overall Bitcoin trading volume has seen a significant drop due to these PBoC inspections. Have traders gone abroad or have they simply moved off-exchange and into P2P and OTC markets? Have you seen an uptick in P2P, OTC trading as a result?

LL: There are two kinds of customers: the first kind buys bitcoin and uses it. So, they need to withdraw bitcoin. Yes, some of these people went to other small markets, where withdrawals weren’t suspended.

Some went to the OTC market. It is difficult for Chinese people to access foreign markets. Therefore, these customers cannot buy Bitcoin abroad using CNY. Also it is difficult to exchange CNY to USD in China.

Our volume grew by twelve times [since withdrawals were suspended].

The second kind of customer trades bitcoin, buying and selling it to earn a profit. In fact, most people speculate with the price this way, and then they withdraw CNY. And yes, our volume grew by twelve times.

Bitcoinist: Who is your typical customer?

LL: We have two kinds of customers. Those new to bitcoin and who buy their first bitcoin on our platform; and then there are users who already have basic knowledge about bitcoin and who do not want to trade on exchanges.

coin-dance-localbitcoins-cny-volume

Bitcoinist: How does your P2P trading service compare to the increasingly popular LocalBitcoins, for example, which has seen exponential growth in China following the suspension of withdrawals?

LL: The first step for our customers is registration via email. If they want to trade on our platform they need enter their cellphone number. If users want to trade more that 5 BTC a day – they need to comply with KYC and AML guidelines.

The difference with LocalBitcoins is that BitKan offers a mobile phone app that is easy to use. Second, all traders must go through the KYC process, to ensure safe trading.

BitKan is better localized for the Chinese market compared to LocalBitcoins

Third, trading is faster than on LocalBitcoins and a trade can go through within a minute. Fourth, BitKan is better localized for the Chinese market compared to LocalBitcoins.

Bitcoinist: So customers can buy up to 5 BTC with just their email address?

LL: Yes, the maximum is 5 BTC without having to submit any personal information.

Bitcoinist: Do you agree with BTCC CEO Bobby Lee that Bitcoin is not being used to bypass Chinese capital controls – that it’s mostly hype created by the media? 

LL: We agree with Bobby Lee. This goes back to 2013 when the government said that Bitcoin is a commodity. It can not be used by companies for payment. Now, Bitcoin is used mainly for two things in China – mining and trading (speculation).

bitkan-co-founders-original

Bitcoinist: Bitcoin mining giant BitMain invested $1.6 million into your platform last year. What have you done with these funds so far and what are your future plans?

LL: We spent the investment on global promotion and development. In the future, we are going to roll out our OTC business globally.

Segwit will not be the best solution for Bitcoin scaling, it will make the Bitcoin network more complicated.

Bitcoinist: Bitmain is a supporter of the Bitcoin Unlimited scaling proposal. Where do you stand on this issue in the scaling debate?

LL: We support Bitcoin scaling first and foremost, but we do not support a fork. We hope that the parties can reach some agreement. My personal opinion is that SegWit [Segregated Witness] will not be the best solution for Bitcoin scaling, it will make the Bitcoin network more complicated.

Bitcoinist: Finally, how is your planned expansion into the US market coming along?

LL: This is still in the early stages, but we are making some progress. The USD market is now the second biggest for BitKan. The US has different regulatory policies across different states, and BitKan will comply with these laws accordingly.

[Full disclosure: Bitcoinist is not owned by and is not associated with BitKan.]

Will the Bitcoin OTC and P2P trading continue to grow in China? Let us know below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, BitKan, BItcoin Magazine, Coin.dance

Show comments

Share
Úno 20

LocalBitcoins Trading Up 1,200% in China Since PBoC Clampdown

· February 20, 2017 · 7:30 am

LocalBitcoins has recorded an exponential 1,200% surge in China trading since the country’s exchanges started reacting to pressure from the People’s Bank of China (PBoC).


36 Million Yuan Per Week and Counting

The week ending February 18th was the best on record for the peer-to-peer marketplace, which registered a global high of over $24 million USD in transactions.

The Chinese market, until just a few weeks ago practically dormant, saw a giant 36 million yuan in transactions compared with the previous week’s 6.6 million, which itself was a previous high.

coin-dance-localbitcoins-all-volume-1

LocalBitcoins has seen a rapid increase in usage for the past few months from countries around the world. Venezuela, Canada, Turkey, and New Zealand have all recently peaked on the platform, due variously to financial clampdowns or – in New Zealand’s case – the closure of one of its longest-running exchanges due to “banking hostility.”

Spreads in highly active markets are unsurprisingly wide, with Chinese users especially paying a premium for convenient fast access to fiat or cryptocurrency.

Lee: PBoC ‘Taking Scrutiny More Seriously Than 2013-14’

February 18th also saw Bobby Lee, CEO of major Chinese exchange BTCC, take to Reddit for an AMA session with the community.

bobby_lee_bitcoinist

While much of the discussion focussed on issues related to Chinese miners’ support of scaling solutions for the Bitcoin network, Lee was predictably coy on matters involving regulators.

“I think that compared with 2013/2014, this time, the PBoC is spending more effort on this and taking it more seriously,” he wrote, adding:

The PBOC will have a strong say in how the bitcoin exchange industry evolves in coming years.

He added he could not comment on topics discussed behind closed doors “beyond what was already announced publicly.”

Over-The-Counter Real King of CNY/BTC?

But despite the LocalBitcoins figures being impressive, their overall effect could be little more than a drop in the ocean. A recent report by WSJ China on Bitcoin’s entry and exit from China highlights three main ways investors are using the currency – and LocalBitcoins is not one of them.

“There are several options: premium-taker, foreign futures exchange and OTC (over-the-counter),” a translation of the original article from news resource 8btc reads.

Bitcoinist_NodeCounter Variety

Given the extremely tight margins involved, even for high-frequency traders, it is likely that the last of these methods is seeing the most action.

“OTC traders are looking for each other through mobile apps, social media tools, forum, website or offline meetups,” 8btc reports.

Some major OTC dealers are hiring people to spam online. Wechat chatbot are being developed for OTC purpose. With the absence of exchange-like monitoring, OTC trading will be even harder to track.

Where do you think is the bulk of Chinese Bitcoin trading happening currently? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter, Coin.dance

Show comments

Share
Úno 03

BTCC CEO: Chinese Bitcoin Capital Flight ‘Simply Not The Case’

· February 3, 2017 · 8:30 am

BTCC exchange CEO Bobby Lee has become the latest Bitcoin figure to refute claims the cryptocurrency is being used for Chinese capital flight.


Lee: Bitcoin Capital Flight ‘Simply Not The Case’

In a post published Wednesday, Lee said that “from everything I’ve seen on the ground here, running one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges in China, this is simply not the case.”

His comments follow those made late last year by Bitquoints CEO Joseph Wang, who described Bitcoin as “useless” for moving money out of China.

bobby_lee_bitcoinist

“The talking point is that many Chinese people are now using Bitcoin as a means to transfer large amounts of their RMB abroad, into other foreign currencies,” Lee wrote.

Yes, many people have been talking about this idea, to use Bitcoin to circumvent China’s capital controls on the RMB. But that’s just media stories feeding the frenzy!

Raft Of Hurdles Face Would-Be BTC Exports

Lee was likely referring to stories such as that which appeared in Singapore publication Straits Times, which interviewed a Chinese businessman allegedly using Bitcoin for the purposes of circumventing capital controls and the declining yuan.

yuan

He continued that the hurdles facing those who wish to use Bitcoin for such purposes require certain skills. In addition, while Bitcoin’s price has broadly steadied as investors shake off worries about a restrictive move by the People’s Bank of China, exchange rate remains a major sticking point for potential Bitcoin-based RMB transfers.

“The biggest problem today with using Bitcoin to evade Chinese capital controls is that there’s just no good guarantee on the eventual effective exchange rate,” Lee said.

For those who have a lot of RMB to move offshore, advanced guarantee of the exchange rate is very important to them. Otherwise, they will prefer another channel, even if the guaranteed rate of exchange is worse than the official rate.

Bitcoin To Mature With Yuan Internationalization

Speculating about the future status quo, Lee considered that reduced controls on the RMB will coincide with Bitcoin being “mature enough” to handle large-volume transfers without the aforementioned risks.

Until then, the arena of transferring Bitcoins around the world remains an area for the professionals, the players who arbitrage prices between Bitcoin exchanges worldwide,” he concluded.

2017

Bitcoin today meanwhile continues to hover around the $1,000 barrier, with mixed opinions as to whether it will stay there. Analysts variously report shifts in either direction being likely, with the corresponding 7,000 RMB mark in China being equally important psychologically. Chinese trading volumes declined sharply by as much as 92% in January after exchanges imposed trading fees to curb volatility.

Do you agree with Lee that Bitcoin in not a major capital flight tool? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter

Show comments

Share
Led 25

PBOC to ‘Continue Focus’ on Exchanges as Volumes Plummet

· January 25, 2017 · 7:00 am

Bitcoin’s price dropped slightly after the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) published a summary of its findings after inspecting major Chinese exchanges.


PBoC: ‘Continued Focus’ on Exchange Activities

“According to the initial inspection and the problems found, the inspection group decided to continue to focus on payment and settlement, anti-money laundering, foreign exchange management, information and financial security and other aspects of further inspection,” the translated statement reads.

Investigators suggested that investors should pay attention to Bitcoin platform transactions, such as legal compliance, market volatility, financial security and other risks, careful participation in Bitcoin investment activities.

The Bitcoin price had remained largely unfazed as new Chinese exchange fees caused trading volumes to crash by over 90% in 24 hours.

Following reported criticism by a regulatory inspectorate last week, major Chinese exchanges BTCC, Okcoin and Huobi all implemented a 0.2% trading fee Monday to “curb manipulation and extreme volatility,” as BTCC described it.

The move hit China’s giant automated trading market, which had previously enjoyed zero-fee transactions.

Figures now show that for all three exchanges, trading has decreased in volume by roughly 90%.

Far from causing panic, many are suggesting the move will remove volatility from Bitcoin’s price for good, given that China’s toll-free environment had previously comprised up to 98% of trading.

While mainstream media attempted to spread its oft-quoted doom and gloom, BTCC COO Samson Mow said the publicity was simply “good for Bitcoin.”

Former Bitcoin Foundation Director Jon Matonis added that Chinese exchanges had effectively “taken one for the team,” however, echoing comments by a local Bitcoin hedge fund owner that they were “cutting off their aim to stay alive.”

Japan Overtakes China

Commentators on social media continued the positive speculation, citing “organic growth” and less manipulation making Bitcoin more appealing for wary investors in the long term.

These could potentially include instruments such as Bitcoin ETFs, the first of which has spent three years awaiting US regulatory approval and is still considered by analysts to have slim chances of slipping through the net.

Meanwhile, statistics are providing interesting reading in terms of how the Bitcoin trading landscape could look in the future. As Bitcoinist reported previously, Japan’s exchange scene had reached the number two spot prior to the Chinese drop, and volumes in the country are now topping global charts, beating even the US.

What do you think about the People’s Bank of China’s latest announcement and the impact of lower Chinese trading volumes? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter

Show comments

Share
Led 22

Bitcoin is Being Increasingly Regulated Across the Globe

· January 22, 2017 · 4:00 am

Countries are reiterating tax specifications as Bitcoin becomes increasingly regulated around the globe amid rising price and popularity. 


Bitcoin Taken Seriously, Increasingly Regulated

Starting the year in the $1,000 USD range, Bitcoin has had an eventful month and January isn’t even over yet! So far, we’ve seen many countries take a new stance on Bitcoin in regard to regulations and taxes.

Although this may cause some commotion in the short-term, as seen with the Public Bank of China inspections, which led to a crash in the price, it’s actually great news for Bitcoin. It means countries are taking Bitcoin seriously (as they should), allowing it to intermingle with their traditional economies, rather than considering national bans.

Although we doubt that Bitcoin will be chosen as the official currency by any country in the near future, 2017 may hold great things for Bitcoin. Below are just some of the countries, who have recently reiterated their stance or are starting to consider regulating virtual currencies.

Poland

In Poland, Bitcoin miners were subject to a 23% VAT when selling the cryptocurrency. This is because mining was considered a service and the act of selling Bitcoin was subject to a fee for this service.

Even recently, in November 2016, a case in the city of Poznan led the Finance Minister to rule that the sale of bitcoins is an act subject to VAT as a supply of services.

poland

However, a recent case in January where a company issued foreign customers invoices in U.S dollars to be paid in Bitcoin led the country to revisit the subject. The Minister of Finance decided that the action selling bitcoins, for which the taxpayer occasionally received as compensation for services rendered, does not constitute an economic activity. Thus, Bitcoin is not subject to VAT.

The Minister pointed out that the sale of virtual currency would be taxed only if the company conducted professional activity in this field (eg. currency, banking services) and charged a commission fee for doing so.

The decision was based on the ruling of the European Court of Justice in October 2015, which stated that bitcoin transactions are exempt from the consumption tax since Bitcoin is used as a means of payment and not as a commodity.

Israel

The Israeli Tax Authority, however, has taken a different stance on the subject and has classified Bitcoin as taxable asset, and not as a currency or payment system.

A new document issued by the Israel Tax Authority on January 12th states that Bitcoin, Litecoin and other virtual currencies are considered neither as currencies or financial securities and are instead taxable assets that are subject to capital gains tax and value added tax (VAT).

israel

Individuals will be required to pay the capital gains tax of 25% every time they sell a cryptocurrency. Companies and individuals that are trading, marketing or mining bitcoin will be taxed as a business and must charge their clients a 17% VAT. Companies that accept Bitcoin payments, will need to classify the exchange as barter, which will lead to extra paperwork for the company.

The document was issued in response to the repeated questions from cryptocurrency users in the country. Although the new tax laws will make the life of cryptocurrency users harder, the regulatory landscape has at least emerged from the uncertain gray area.

China

Although no new regulations have yet been issued by the country, the latest developments suggest they will soon be.

Following the inspections carried out by the People’s Bank of China to domestic exchanges, these have halted margin trading services, which has led some to believe that new regulations are on the horizon.

Trading fees may also be applied to exchanges in China, as seen in the warning posted on BTCC’s official website.

China Bitcoin Core attack

Currently, citizens in China are free to hold and trade bitcoins, although financial firms cannot. The regulatory framework issued by China in 2013 sees Bitcoin, not as a currency, but as a virtual commodity. 

The sale and importation of commodities are subject to a 17% VAT in the country.

Russia

Russia, which has always had a difficult relation with the cryptocurrency has surprised many on this subject by stating that no further action will be taken by the government to prohibit the use of Bitcoin.

Russians_paywithBTC_articlecover_Bitcoinist

Instead, the Bank of Russia will try to attain a better knowledge of Bitcoin and build a regulatory framework around it. Bank of Russia’s Deputy Chairman Olga Skorobogatova stated:

It became clear that it is not straightforward to address Bitcoin with existing financial regulation. Regulators and financial agencies agree to not prohibit the use of Bitcoin. Instead, we want to gain a better understanding of Bitcoin, and build a regulatory framework we have gathered the necessary knowledge.

Nigeria

In Nigeria, where crypto-themed Ponzi schemes like OneCoin and Swisscoin are highly popular, warnings have been issued by two separate authorities, the Securities and exchange commission (SEC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Bitcoinist_Central Bank of Nigeria

Although no new regulations have been issued, both notices warn users and financial institutions regarding the legal status of cryptocurrencies, which are not seen as legal tender, stating that financial institutions should deal with cryptocurrencies at their own risk.

Both notices mention OneCoin as a cryptocurrency, which demonstrates the lack of knowledge some countries still face when dealing with Bitcoin and other digital currencies.

For more about how Bitcoin is regulated (or unregulated) in other countries, go here.

What’s your take on the recent regulatory developments in the world of Bitcoin? Are they a step in the right direction? Let us know below!


Images courtesy of shutterstock

Show comments

Share
Led 17

Japan Rises to Become 2nd Biggest Bitcoin Trader in the World

· January 17, 2017 · 5:00 am

Counterparty Foundation Community Director Koji Higashi has agreed that Japan’s future in Bitcoin is an “upward trend” and could challenge China in trading volume.


Japan: World’s #2 Bitcoin Trader

His comments follow mainstream media alleging the number of Japanese outlets accepting Bitcoin had quadrupled to over 4,000 in 2016 alone.

In a blog post Monday, Higashi said that in contrast to China’s falling trading volumes due to exchange inspections and uncertainty over legislation, Japan’s legal setup was fostering increased crypto adoption.

profile-pic

“…It seems to me few people are aware of what’s happening in Japan now, especially its ever increasing bitcoin trading volume and signs of wider bitcoin adoption,” he wrote.

In terms of trading volume, in fact, yen is already the second biggest currency after Chinese yuan.

The figures Higashi highlights make for surprising reading. Data from Cryptocompare supports his findings, with Japan’s volume just a hair above the US at present. It should be noted, however, that not all exchanges are accounted for in the charts available.

asdasdasda

Japan’s daily trading volumes are now between 120,000 and 150,000 BTC (excluding OTC and P2P trading) – still only around 15% of China, yet enough to support a solid trend, he states.

“Japan is not quite there to challenge the China’s spot yet but it’s notable that about 10% of the bitcoin trading in the world comes from Japan now,” he continued.

Future Uncertain… But Better Than China

A recent Bitcoinist article highlighting purportedly huge increases in merchant adoption in the country meanwhile met with criticism from locals, who said that despite the claims made by Japanese media outlet NHK, the reality remained that using Bitcoin even in Tokyo was next to impossible.

However, a list of where you can spend your bits in Tokyo was compiled by Japanese exchange Coincheck here.

shutterstock_442049602

Still, Higashi too errs on the side of caution, adding that the current status quo did not necessarily signal a flood of adoption – and could ultimately mean the opposite.

“I think the new virtual currency law in Japan will turn out worse than Bitlicense in some aspects contrary to popular media narratives,” he said about the latest Japanese legislation which should come into effect in Spring.

Under this legislation, businesses getting into the cryptocurrency sphere will have the “entry barrier lowered,” Higashi said, leading to increased participation and trading. He predicts that,

At the end of this year, Japan may end up becoming the Number 1 country for Bitcoin trading officially.

Bitcoin Business Gets Ready

Meanwhile, the country’s Bitcoin ecosystem is wasting no time in grabbing the public’s attention amid a more favorable climate.

Tech company GMO Internet announced Tuesday that it would enter the Japanese Bitcoin market with a wallet and exchange service specifically due to the regulatory changes.

Extant exchange BitFlyer is even advertising on major television networks, producing a pitch which is decidedly Japanese in nature, complete with a jingle users have been translating on Reddit.

What do you think about Higashi’s forecasts and the future of Bitcoin in Japan? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, cryptocompare.com, counterparty foundation

Show comments

Share