Christmas has come early for Philippine Bitcoin remittance service Rebit.ph. Rebit, one of the verticals under Bitcoin umbrella company Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI), has booked an average 150 percent growth in value of transactions month-on-month since October. That’s a big jump from the usual 80 percent growth it registered during the first few months from its launch in July. The reason for the spike is obvious: remittances from overseas Filipinos usually peak in the run-up to Christmas because of holiday spending, and Rebit has been able to capture a portion of that market.
Quoine, a pan-Asian bitcoin exchange, announced it closed a US$2 million angel round of funding from a number of investors and private funds, according to Coindesk. The young exchange opened shop in June and, while it is officially incorporated in Singapore, does most of its business in Japan. It also recently launched an Indonesian-language site.
For those of you who’ve been living on the moon, bitcoin is an unregulated digital currency that provides a way for folks to transfer money to each other over the web without using a bank or financial institution as a middleman. All bitcoin users need to do is install a wallet app to start trading with bitcoin. The technology is disruptive and controversial because bitcoin spenders can make their transactions anonymously, and even pay for illegal goods and services like drugs and prostitution online.
Australia’s national criminal intelligence agency is tracking the use of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin on online black markets as part of its new ‘Project Longstrike’ operation. The Australian Crime Commission’s executive director of strategy and specialist capability, Judy Lind, today revealed the agency is now monitoring Bitcoin-enabled crime after spending the last two years building technologies capable of tracing Bitcoin transactions.
When Mt. Gox, the former poster child for the wonders of Bitcoin, lost US$460 million worth of bitcoins in a hacking attack, the cryptocurrency world teetered on the brink of failure. Skeptics gained undeniable justification for their derision and public faith in the security of bitcoin exchanges dropped almost as precipitously as the currency’s value. Today, Mt. Gox, chastened and bankrupt, was essentially handed over to bitcoin exchange Kraken, officially turning the page on Bitcoin’s tumultuous first chapter.
Bitcoin is often hailed as the solution to the world’s remittance problems. It’s accessible to the unbanked, it’s nearly instant, and the fees are minimal compared to banks and other money transfer services. But perhaps the biggest obstacle to bitcoin remittances gaining serious traction is bitcoin itself. The complex, unfamiliar nature of the cryptocurrency keeps would-be users at bay.
Chinese Bitcoin exchange website BTCChina has reached a strategic deal with e-commerce providers, including online game service provider Shenzhoufu.com; Internet P2F financial management website Aicaike.com; and maternal and child product retail website Dandanchina.com. According to the agreements, BTCChina will provide Bitcoin payment services to those e-commerce enterprises, which expand payment channels for Internet users, help e-commerce enterprises attract more users, and improve their competitiveness.
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.