Let’s admit it: part of the fun in following the Bitcoin world is not really knowing where it will go. A cryptocurrency has never reached the scale that Bitcoin appears to be getting now, so we have no benchmark with which to predict its progress. This idea holds especially true for how Bitcoin will affect developing countries like the Philippines, where it has been hailed as a solution for expensive remittance fees – but, on the other hand, some dismiss it as a technology too complex for the masses.
Mario Gomez Lozada looks nothing like the shaggy hipsters that you encounter at Bitcoin meetups. At 40 years old, he’s obviously more seasoned, and his tailored suit and Franck Muller watch clash with the usual T-shirts and beards. The first wave of Bitcoin exchanges, like their creators, were a bit rough around the edges. Their lack of professionalism – mixed with a lot of naivete and too much libertarian idealism – eventually ended with the collapse of Mt. Gox and the evaporation of approximately US$400 million worth of the cryptocurrency. Gomez Lozada, a former CIO at Credit Suisse in both Japan and Singapore, represents the coming wave of Bitcoin 2.0 services – polished, professional, and well-versed in both finance and IT security.
Bitcoin’s cloudy future in Japan just got a bit brighter. The virtual currency has been slow to catch on in Japan following the collapse of noted bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox and the government’s subsequent refusal to categorize it as a currency. There are still proponents of Bitcoin in the country, however. Now you can add GMO, one of Japan’s largest internet infrastructure firms, to the list of fans.
It’s big news when a major corporation or non-profit, such as Wikipedia, starts accepting Bitcoin . A number of people want to have more places to spend their bitcoins. So Tech in Asia spoke with entrepreneurs in the Philippine Bitcoin space on what companies they would like to see accept the cryptocurrency. There were no restrictions placed on the people we surveyed – they could name an international company with a strong Philippine presence, or a local brand.
Mineyuki Fukuda, a member of Japan’s House of Representatives, has taken a novel approach to fund an overseas Bitcoin research tour. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmaker and head of the central government’s IT Strategy Committee has launched a crowdfunding campaign that will send him to the US as a private citizen – without using taxpayer funds – to author a report on American Bitcoin businesses.
Korbit , Korea’s leading Bitcoin exchange, wallet and merchant processor, has just closed a US$3 million series A funding round led by SoftBank Ventures Korea. Pantera Capital led the round from the US, with participation from BAM Ventures and previous investors Bitcoin Opportunity Corp, Tim Draper, Pietro Dova and initial investor Strong Ventures.
[SYDNEY] Crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin should not be considered as money or a foreign currency when it comes to taxation, Australia’s tax authority ruled Wednesday. In guidance designed to help people finalise their tax returns, the Australian Tax Office said Bitcoins were a form of property, disappointing those hoping they would be seen as a currency.The decision follows a similar move by the US Inland Revenue Service in March.
Rakuten Super Logistics U.S, a company that provides order fulfillment services for online retailers, has accepted bitcoin after requests from customers. The company has already begun accepting bitcoin payments via BitPay. “We are working to apply this new technology to the benefit of market participants, especially those who can’t now easily access the global e-commerce marketplace,” says Joseph DiSorbo, CEO of Rakuten Super Logistics, referring to the majority of people in emerging markets who are not using credit cards and online payment facilities.
Huobi.com, a Chinese professional virtual currency trading platform, acquired the Bitcoin wallet provider Quick Wallet. Huobi.com also announced that Zhang Jian, chief executive officer of Quick Wallet, will be appointed as technology vice president of Huobi.com, leading the development and management of new businesses. No financial details about the acquisition was released. Launched on July 15, 2014, Quick Wallet is a bitcoin wallet product under Qukuai.com. It is reportedly the first Chinese bitcoin wallet to use the multi-signature technology and it gained over 1,000 registered users within the first two weeks of operation.
VBTC was jointly founded by VBTC Vietnam Co. Ltd. and Israeli firm Bit2C. Earlier, VBTC was expected to start operations in April. Nguyen Tran Bao Phuong, executive officer of VBTC Vietnam Co. Ltd., said the website was running on a trial version in June before coming online on July 9, allowing unlimited bitcoin trading in Vietnam. Phuong said Vietnam is a promising land for bitcoin development. The company pledges to strictly follow all the rules on the use of the bitcoin in Vietnam.
On the morning of July 16, just a night after tropical storm Typhoon Rammasun (also known by the Philippine name Typhoon Glenda) left swathes of the country in devastation with wind speeds of up to 85 miles per hour, a Philippines company launched a relief campaign. It’s being done with a twist – using bitcoin. People can donate in bitcoin by scanning a QR code on the donations microsite. Then the organizing company sends the collected funds in cash to both the Philippine Red Cross and the ABS-CBN Foundation.
Leading the charge against the cryptocurrency is the country’s central bank. Last we checked, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) was rallying banks and third-party payment providers to prevent funds from flowing to bitcoin exchanges. That includes vouchers, which are sort of like virtual gift cards that can be exchanged for bitcoins. But despite everything that Chinese officials have thrown at it, BTC China CEO Bobby Lee says Bitcoin is still alive and moving forward.
SINGAPORE: A private sector initiative to boost local uptake of digital currencies such as Bitcoins has resulted in the formation of the Association of Crypto-Currency Enterprises and Start-ups, SIngapore (ACCESS). In a statement released on Monday (June 16), ACCESS said it is a fully registered society with the Registry of Societies under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) representing various businesses within Singapore’s Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency ecosystem. These businesses include exchanges, merchant transaction services, vending machines, and miners, it stated.
Mediabistro Inc. (OTCQX:MBIS) announced that more speakers are added to the lineup of the upcoming Inside Bitcoins Conference & Expo in Hong Kong on June 24-25 at the SkyCity Marriott Hotel. Current speakers include Ron Cao, co-founder and managing director at Lightspeed, Jehan Chu, founder of Ethereum HK Meetup Group & co-founder of Rise: Bitcoin, Bobby Lee, CEO & co-founder of BTC China, and Leon Li, CEO of Huobi.com.
Despite the recent meltdown of Tokyo-based Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, Japan Tokyo has received its first fully-operational Bitcoin ATM. The Robocoin-branded machine, provided by domestic Bitcoin exchange BMEX, was powered on Wednesday night at The Pink Cow, a popular expat bar and restaurant in Tokyo’s Roppongi entertainment district.
Look out, Indonesia: Bitcoin Indonesia and Coin Of Sale, a Bitcoin point-of-sale system, are looking to turn Bali into a haven for Bitcoin users. More specifically, they’re looking to change the popular tourist destination into Bitcoin Island. This initiative was first started by the Bitcoin Indonesia crew. Tomas Forgac, founder of Coin Of Sale, said that they decided to join in because they believe it has several benefits for both tourists and Balinesian locals alike.
Chinese bitcoin businesses are drafting plans to escape the mainland crackdown on the digital currency, the South China Morning Post has learned. China’s biggest bitcoin exchange, Huobi, is considering shifting its operations abroad to protect its customers. “We are trying to create an offshore account and to go international,” Leon Li, founder and chief executive of the Beijing-based trading platform, told thePost. “We don’t want to touch the customers’ money in China, because maybe [regulation] is going to get worse.”
Bitcoin in China has suffered another blow today as three major institutions have effectively banned transactions involving the virtual currency through their services. China Construction Bank and Bank of China, two of the country’s “big four” banks, along with Tencent’s Tenpay, a well-known online payment system, have each issued public statements announcing they will prohibit its account holders from engaging in Bitcoin-related activity (hat-tip The Next Web).
Bitcoin is one of those things that will always be shrouded in some sort of mystery. Even the matter of who founded Bitcoin is till this date unconfirmed. The authorities have always feared the unknown, with governments and major banks opposing and seeking to regulate Bitcoin. But enthusiasts seem to remain unfazed. Case in point: Singapore Bitcoin payments system startup CoinPip has just brought US-based 37coins’ SMS bitcoin wallets to Singapore. The Bitcoin point-of-sales company hopes to then expand throughout Asia thereafter, starting with Hong Kong and Indonesia in the next month or so.
China Merchants Bank has issued an official notice that it will prohibit the use of bank accounts under its control for all Bitcoin transactions, including vouchers and recharge codes. OkCoin, BTC China, and Huobi all use China Merchants Bank for transactions. Huobi has already closed its Merchant’s Bank voucher account and switched to ICBC (big hat-tip to Rui Ma).