Welcome to our weekly bitcoin news recap, where we cover top headlines and stories in the world of bitcoin each week. This week, you can read about how Blockchain CEO Peter Smith traveled to SE Asia with British Prime Minister David Cameron and other fintech executives to speak with senior regulators, bank CEOs, and telecommunications executives about the future we are working towards as an industry. In other bitcoin news, we saw a shift away from headlines about banks getting their feet wet in bitcoin and blockchain technology, and read a few articles on how merchant adoption continues to grow and flourish in this space. Get all this news and more, in this week’s rundown.
It started with an unusual email from a government official asking for a call. Strange emails are more or less par for the course for the CEO of a bitcoin company, but a few minutes into the call, I realized something groundbreaking was happening. For the first time, a bitcoin company was being invited on an official tour with the leader of a nation. Not just any leader, mind you, but the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, home to London – the seat of global financial power.
Representatives at a Group of Seven (G7) meeting in Germany this June announced support for “appropriate regulation” of virtual currencies. A global organization comprised of the heads of state from some of the world’s largest economies including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US, the G7 met in Bavaria on 7th and 8th June.
Bitcoin and other digital currencies will be treated the same way as traditional currencies under expected proposals from the Australian government, reports suggest. A Senate inquiry is set to overturn a ruling from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) from July 2014 that classified bitcoin as an “intangible asset” for Goods and Services Tax (GST) purposes, according to the Australian Financial Review, giving a much needed boost to local bitcoin businesses.
Vermont has recently taken some legislative steps that could see the state using Bitcoin’s technology for state records, smart contracts and other applications in a drive to become “a leader in the field.” Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law “No. 51. An act relating to promoting economic development. (S.138),” which contained “Sec. A.3. Study and Report; Blockchain Technology.”
Patrick Byrne, the iconoclastic CEO of e-commerce site Overstock.com and an unwavering voice for reform on Wall Street, wants to bust this market open. Using technology based on the blockchain—the technology that underpins the bitcoin digital currency—he wants to move the stock-loan market onto the Internet and put it in the hands of, well, everyone.
When Justin Brownhill wants to check up on one of his latest investments through SenaHill Partners LP, he only needs to check the ledger underpinning bitcoin. The address: block 368396. That’s the new digital home for the equity stake his firm made in Symbiont, a startup using bitcoin’s underlying blockchain software to make it quicker and easier to prove ownership of assets or transfer them between buyers and sellers.
Wall Street bankers and traders are leaving high-paying jobs to join bitcoin start-ups, while big firms hire in-house to get their arms around bitcoin and the related ‘blockchain’ technology. “A lot of people are entering the bitcoin space as the sector has reached an overall level of funding that’s hard to ignore,” said Jaron Lukasiewicz, founder and chief executive officer at New York-based bitcoin exchange Coinsetter.
Swarm’s Rindi, for example, opened the day’s events by explaining blockchains in layman’s terms, or in her words, “Without saying ledger, crypto or bitcoin.” Her conclusion? Blockchains, including bitcoin’s blockchain, are “Unalterable, dynamic, online feeds, recording time-stamped data.”[Bitcoin: A New Global Economy](https://blog.bitpay.com/bitcoin-a-new-global-economy/)
When BitPay was founded back in 2011, bitcoin was in its infancy. It was difficult to convert local currencies into bitcoin or to find retailers who would accept it as payment. In just a few years, so much has changed. BitPay has shared and reviewed their own statistics to paint a better pictures of the state of Bitcoin around the world in 2015.
LOT Polish Airlines is now accepting bitcoin payments, meaning the digital currency can be used to pay for flights to more than 60 global destinations. Tickets can be purchased on LOT’s desktop and mobile websites. LOT does not accept directly, but exchanges the digital currency for fiat using an unnamed payment service provider, the media outlet said.
TigerDirect, an online retailer of computers and consumer electronics has been accepting bitcoin for 18 months through BitPay, beginning in January of 2014. Bitcoin Magazine sat down with Steven Leeds, head of marketing at TigerDirect to learn more about the company’s experience as one of the earliest major merchants to embrace Bitcoin.
Online survey giant Qualtrics has added bitcoin as a rewards option for consumers who respond to surveys and research requests issued by its enterprise clients. The Utah company, which is valued north of $1bn following a $150m Series B in 2014, boasts more than 700 employees and investors including Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners.
With Bitcoin, you can see that there are several third-parties between you and who you do business with. This creates many barriers for the average person, such as time, money, and most importantly, trust (in the third-parties). Bitcoin changes all this, as illustrated in the “After w/Bitcoin” section. Because Bitcoin is decentralized and trustless, there is no intermediary between your money and the recipient. This is also the basis for why the remittance space is being disrupted as well.
Currencies, in their role as barometers for an economy’s strength, have shown this strain in places like Argentina, Venezuela, and, more indirectly, Greece. The question bitcoin supporters should ask is: Can the digital currency help?
This week we feature Mariel Lowe, a New Mexico born dancer who brings a unique sense of creative curiosity to our QA Team and the product development process. In her Meet the Team profile, she shares her earliest memories of performing as a child and how she transforms the meaning of the QA process.