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Last Friday, California Assemblymember Matt Dababneh (D-San Fernando Valley) introduced AB-1326 “Virtual currency.” If enacted, Dababneh’s bill would prohibit any person or business from engaging in virtual currency business activities in the state unless they hold a money transmission license or exemption from the California Division or Business Oversight. The Federal Reserve system, US Postal Service, FDIC insured financial institutions, and merchants are all exempt from this bill.
Sect 1-26002 (a): “A person shall not engage in this state in the business of virtual currency unless the person is licensed or exempt from licensure under this division.”
Senior bank executives could be liable for their institution’s anti-money-laundering controls. That’s just one of a handful of new proposals from DFS Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky. The proposal would put more responsibility on the banks themselves and is based on provisions from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Speaking at Columbia University Law School, Lawsky said, “We need more individual accountability after misconduct occurs to help produce real deterrence.” The proposal also includes random audits of the AML systems banks have in place to make sure they are correctly identifying “suspicious activity.”
Legislators in New Hampshire could soon decide whether to allow residents to pay taxes and fees using bitcoin. The New Hampshire Court General Ways and Means Committee is currently debating a bill that was introduced earlier this year by state representative Eric Schleien. Other states legislatures, such as Utah, are considering bills that will study the use of bitcoin as well.
U.K.-based based real estate company RE/MAX London is now accepting Bitcoin, Litecoin and Dogecoin for rental payments. The company is partnering with California-based payment processor GoCoin for what it is calling a “pilot-program.” In a press release, RE/MAX said, “Integrating with GoCoin’s platform will benefit both RE/MAX London and its tenants by offering instant and frictionless lease payments without the fees associated with credit cards and other traditional payments methods.” Regional director of RE/MAX London credits the company’s preeminence in the real estate market with its ability to leverage emerging technology. Steve Beauregard CEO and co-founder of GoCoin said while the rental market is the primary focus, they look forward to expanding into other areas of smart property as well.
Tails OS, which some experts call the most secure operating system in the world, has added a bitcoin wallet. The company announced the release of version 1.3 of their OS with an optional bitcoin wallet called Electrum. Tails has been referred to by the National Security Agency (NSA) as a “major threat,” because it can derail their information collection efforts.
Former investment bankers from Morgan Stanley, BNP Paribas and Goldman Sachs have launched Crypto Facilities, a sophisticated trading platform for bitcoin derivatives. Customers of the London-based broker can trade options and futures of bitcoin. Timo Schlaefer, who left his position at Goldman Sachs to start Crypto Facilities, told CNBC that he sees the potential behind the blockchain. The firm falls under the regulation of the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which is said to be more “relaxed” than US regulators. Bank of England has also stated Bitcoin technology could “reshape the financial world.”
Customers of German bank Fidor can now purchase bitcoins using their accounts through a partnership with German bitcoin exchange Bitcoin.de. It took the bank the last year and a half to comply with all necessary regulations. Despite Fidor being a relatively small bank, the service could be a “game changer” since it will allow people to buy bitcoin directly through the legacy banking system.
Bitcoin multi-signature wallet provider, BitGo, announced last week that they have secured theft insurance coverage of up to $250,000 for their customers via the A-rated, XL Group. Customers of both BitGo’s enterprise service and their API platform will be covered from potential bitcoin losses and theft. “For our large enterprise customers, an insurance-backed guarantee is the final missing ingredient for peace of mind in a robust security software offering,” said Will O’Brien, CEO and co-founder of BitGo. Many in the community consider this a private sector alternative to FDIC insurance.
A new e-voucher service for bitcoin, Bitupcard that functions similarly to prepaid mobile minutes or data vouchers was recently released in Turkey. The pilot program saw $25,000 worth of bitcoins sold in the first 10 weeks. The program is backed by Berlin’s MK Payment and Amsterdam’s Bit4coin. Users can exchange 50-500 Turkish lira, roughly $20-$200, for a unique coupon code that can be redeemed for bitcoin on the company’s website. The vouchers are available for purchase at 300 retail locations.
Privately funded Bitcoin mining company Aquifer LLC is filing for bankruptcy, blaming falling bitcoin prices. Aquifer claims to owe between 1 and 10 million to less than 49 creditors, according to court filings. One of Aquifer’s investors was Mega Big Power’s CEO, who was not aware of the bankruptcy proceedings. Aquifer joins other failed Bitcoin companies such as CoinTerra and HashFast currently mired in bankruptcy proceedings.
Bitcoin security company Rivetz has developed a new app for android that could beat Apple in creating a secure bitcoin payment platform. The company has partnered with Bitpay and created the app using hardware that already exists in the smartphone and uses secure Trustonic, compatible with over 350 million android devices. The app will be unveiled at the Mobile World Congress March 2 in Barcelona, Spain.
Boring Bitcoin Calendar
March 27, 2015, Chicago, IL
This symposium will examine emerging payment systems that are innovating on traditional payment rails, such as mobile payments and prepaid products, in addition to blockchain technology, the payment rail behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Industry professionals will navigate the current landscape of emerging payments by analyzing the technology and business models responsible for the market shift and the legal, regulatory, and compliance hurdles encountered by businesses and financial institutions.
March 28-29, 2015, Austin, TX
The Texas Bitcoin Conference is a bitcoin technology summit with speakers, presentations and a hackathon. Key speakers include Steve Stockman, Congressional representative and bitcoin advocate, IBM Business Analytics and Strategy Architect Sumabala Nair and Founder and Partner of the Gilder Technology Fund, George Gilder.
April 27-29, 2015, New York, NY
Inside Bitcoins will be returning to New York on April 27-29 at the Javits Convention Center. The program will cover topics including bitcoin 2.0, blockchain-based startups, institutional investing, multi-sig wallets, risk mitigation, compliance, banking and fundraising, and more. Keynotes have been confirmed from Dan Morehead, CEO, Pantera Capital and Chairman, Bitstamp; Brian Kelly, Contributor, CNBC’s Fast Money and Founder & Managing Member of Brian Kelly Capital LLC; and Perianne Boring, Founder and President, Chamber of Digital Commerce. Get 10% OFF with the discount code CHAMBER. Register at insidebitcoins.com/new-york.
April 29, 2015, Boston, MA
“Bitcoin and Beyond: The Next Disruptor in Payments.” The Virtual Currency Today Summit will be held at the Hilton Boston Back Bay and will look at the many factors that will shape the adoption and growth of Bitcoin and other similar currencies. Expert panelists will offer insights on how market stakeholders can push through barriers to embrace digital currency as the next generation of payments and transaction solutions, which will ultimately change the end-user customer experience.
Tweet of the Week
— Dan Morehead (@dan_pantera) February 24, 2015
Pic of the Week
Quote of the Week
Timo Schlaefer, to Coindesk:
“Bitcoin is a special realization of the blockchain technology … Whatever the new use of the blockchain technology will be, it’s probably going to be some crypto asset, some sort of virtual asset. If you have a framework for how to trade this asset, how to hedge risk and so forth, I think that’s quite valuable.”