Bitcoin news roundup: April 23 2017

Thanks for joining us for this edition of our bitcoin news roundup, where we’ve got updates on SegWit support, and the wire transfer deadlock experienced by multiple exchanges. We also cover headlines out of Russia and India that suggest both governments may be shifting their stance on digital currencies for the better. Read on to find out more!

F2Pool signals support for SegWit; litecoin nears activation consensus

New headlines relevant to bitcoin’s scaling debate surfaced this week after F2Pool began signalling support for SegWit. The large Chinese mining pool did the same on another cryptocurrency network, litecoin, earlier this month. For bitcoin, SegWit requires agreement from 95% of the network, whereas litecoin requires 75%. As it stands currently, litecoin miners have reached a 73% consensus. If activated, it could serve as “a potential sandbox” to test and refine the new implementation prior to its activation on the bitcoin network. In an official announcement, F2Pool expressed their support for SegWit stating that if support remains stagnant it would be counterproductive for bitcoin. As for increasing the block size, they consider that a necessary topic for future discussions.

Binoculars overlooking the view of a city surrounded by mountains
Source: BitcoinMagazine.com

Mining pool ViaBTC also recently released an updated statement on SegWit. As previously reiterated, the pool does not think SegWit properly addresses network capacity, which they explain “is now the most urgent issue for [b]itcoin.” Their statement elaborates further on why SegWit and lightning network solutions will ultimately damage bitcoin’s value as a scalable global peer-to-peer payment technology. They call for an “urgent need of diversified dev teams and implementations” to avoid the dangers of centralizing bitcoin’s development. Jian Zhuoer, founder of litecoin mining pool LTC1BTC, also echoed similar perspectives in a recent blog post illustrating the importance of bigger blocks and how to achieve consensus. If you’re still trying to wrap your head around what SegWit is and why this topic has been so controversial, check out this video, or this three-part Bitcoin Magazine article.

Wire transfer troubles for Bitfinex, OKCoin, BTC-e; Kraken steps in

Kraken logo in the upper left with paper airplanes representing bitcoin news about more supported currencies for wire transfer
Source: blog.kraken.com

In our previous bitcoin news roundup we reported on an exciting update from Bitfinex, which stated they made a 100% recovery since the major security breach and $72 million theft last August. Another hurdle has presented itself for Bitfinex, which began when banking giant Wells Fargo prevented four Taiwan-based banks from completing the exchange’s outbound wire transfers. They report incoming wire transfers have also since been paused, although “[d]omestic transfers in all currencies within Taiwan, however, are working with no problems or delays.” While Bitfinex works to establish alternative channels for the flow of fiat currencies, customers may still deposit and withdraw digital tokens. They also assured customers they remain solvent and “have assets that exceed all user balances.” Cooperation with banks, particularly large banks, has been an all-too-common roadblock for bitcoin exchanges. Unclear whether related to the trouble experienced by Bitfinex, additional bitcoin news headlines reveal OKCoin has also recently halted US deposits due to transfer issues, and BTC-e explained in a Tweet that USD wire transfers will not be accepted until the end of the month due to a change in bank accounts.

Users looking for wire transfer alternatives will be pleased to know that exchange platform Kraken has announced support for international wire transfers in USD, GBP, and EUR. Wire transfer deposits are available immediately and according to their blog, withdrawals will be possible as of April 24th.

Russia & India rethink digital currencies

A photograph showing a collection of physical bitcoin tokens.
Source: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Positive bitcoin news headlines out of both Russia and Japan (the latter legalized bitcoin as a form of payment as of April 1st), have both been touted as possible drivers for the recent all-time high of $1,263. The unexpected news from Russia revealed a joint effort between the central bank and government to establish an official position that could give digital currencies including bitcoin legal payment status by 2018. While legalization is still not guaranteed, the news is so unexpected because of its stark contrast to the prohibitive stance taken by Russia in 2014. Hints of a shift in direction originate from a letter released late last year by the Russian Federal Tax Service. That letter stated the planned ban was now on the backburner, and digital currencies were not illegal nor prohibited for use under Russian law.

Russia’s government aren’t the only legislators showing signs of an unexpected change of heart. Rumours that India had issued an outright ban on bitcoin were recently debunked, but legislators had not yet shifted in a more positive direction. In an official press release from the Government of India’s Ministry of Finance, a committee to gain insight on the state of digital currencies in India and worldwide has been formed. The committee’s report is due for submission within three months, and it will also include an examination of how other countries have been approaching the task of safely regulating virtual currencies.  

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