bitcoin regulation

China: IT Ministry To Create Committee For Blockchain Standards, Domestic And International

China: IT Ministry To Create Committee For Blockchain Standards, Domestic And International

The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (CMIIT) has published a list of objectives to encourage the development and standardization of the technology sector, including Blockchainaccording to a document released March 23.

The document begins with an objective to “promote the establishment of […] the National Blockchain Distributed Accounting Technology Standardization Committee” and further states that the committee will recommend standards “in Blockchain reference architectures, data format specification, interoperability, and smart contracts.” The document also states that the new Committee will promote the creation and submission of standards “going out”, i.e. participating in the establishment of international standards in Blockchain technology. CMIIT issued another announcement on March 23 stating that the day before, it concluded a forum exploring the use of Blockchain technology in China’s industrial sector. The press release says that CMIIT will continue to explore the topic. Earlier in March, Cointelegraph reported that the government-backed Investment Association of China (IAC) is planning to create a Blockchain Investment Development Center. According a leaked document, the Blockchain innovation plan involves linking domestic and international resources, as well as investing in Chinese Blockchain projects, attracting foreign investment, and leading international Blockchain forums. According to one Chinese official referring to this document, an international Blockchain summit may be held in China in May 2018. While the Chinese government has taken a hard line against cryptocurrencies, it appears to be embracing the underlying Blockchain technology. The Bank of China filed a patent in February 2018 for a scaling solution of Blockchain technology systems, while China’s top online retailer, JD.com, announced the launch of a startup incubator to attract foreign Blockchain projects.        

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Western Union Confirms Testing Ripple Technology For Money Transfers

Western Union Confirms Testing Ripple Technology For Money Transfers

The financial services provider Western Union (WU) is testing transactions with the use of Ripple’s(XRP) Blockchain-based settlement system, the company’s Chief Financial Officer Raj Agrawal said in an interview with Bloomberg Feb. 14.

The globally known money transfer company Western Union confirmed that it is testing Ripple following more than a month of rumor-fuelled speculation that began in early January. The announcement comes after Western Union reported its 2017 results, claiming a revenue of $1.4 bln - a 5 percent increase over the previous year. As Ripple’s CEO Brad Garlinghouse told Bloomberg, WU has decided to look into their platform in order to facilitate money transfers, particularly cross-border ones. Garlinghouse explained their choice by claiming that Ripple allows for transactions that are “a thousand times faster and a thousand times cheaper than Bitcoin’s.” According to Bloomberg, Western Union’s Chief Executive Officer Hikmet Ersek also confirmed that testing is taking place during a conference call Tuesday, Feb. 13. “We are looking especially in the processing settlement and working capital optimization, also in the regulation part, on the compliance part on the blockchain capabilities,” Ersek said, adding “we do have some tests with Ripple.” Ripple (XRP) is a Blockchain-based settlement protocol and a cryptocurrency that has reached almost half of Bitcoin’s market capitalization in early January 2018, when its price rallied to over $3.00 per coin. By the middle of January, however, the XRP price has bounced back to a little over $1.00. Wednesday, Feb. 14, Cointelegraph reported on a partnership signed between Ripple and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) to provide the technology for cross-border payments to banks in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).        

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South Korea Is Investigating Methods to Tax Bitcoin Users

South Korea Is Investigating Methods to Tax Bitcoin Users

Kim Dong-yeon, South Korea’s deputy prime minister and the minister of strategy and finance, revealed earlier this week that the government is investigating various methods to better regulate the local Bitcoin market and tax Bitcoin users accordingly.

While the South Korean government and its local financial authorities are actively discussing the possibility of enforcing a policy on Bitcoin taxation, at a press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Kim stated that the government does not intend to include any Bitcoin taxation policy in 2018’s amendment of the tax law.

South Korea likely to follow Japan’s taxation policy

Since the beginning of this year, the South Korean government has introduced light regulatory frameworks for Bitcoin businesses and investors that are structurally similar to that of the policies imposed by the Japanese government and the Japan Financial Service Agency (FSA).

Currently, cryptocurrency exchanges and trading platforms have the freedom to operate in both regions, with minimal government interference and oversight.

As a part of a major initiative to facilitate the growth of the Japanese cryptocurrency market, the Japanese government eliminated the eight percent consumption tax on Bitcoin in July, with the intent of sustaining the rapid growth rate of the Japanese Bitcoin industry and growing demand from the traditional finance sector.

It is likely that the South Korean government will implement a similar Bitcoin tax policy to that of the Japanese government, given that most of the regulatory frameworks provided by the South Korean financial authorities in 2017 focused on providing freedom and flexibility to businesses, like Japan.

Discussion on centralization of trading

Several agencies, Bitcoin communities, and government officials have expressed their concerns with the centralization of trading within South Korea. Bithumb, South Korea’s leading cryptocurrency exchange, the world’s second largest cryptocurrency trading platform behind Bitfinex, accounts for nearly 70 percent of South Korea’s Bitcoin trades.

South Korea’s Ministry of Strategy and Finance will explore potential methods of distributing cryptocurrency and Bitcoin trading volumes across a wider range of cryptocurrency trading platforms within the market.

Banks are testing Bitcoin

Additionally, some of the country’s largest and most influential financial institutions such as Shinhan, South Korea’s second-largest commercial bank, have already begun testing Bitcoin wallet and vault systems, with a long-term strategy to provide a safe and insured platform with which Bitcoin users can store funds.

Shinhan emphasized that a vault service for Bitcoin users, especially large-scale investment firms and institutional investors, is necessary, given that Bithumb was hacked twice this year.

However, it is also important to consider the structure of the Bitcoin network and its decentralized nature. Because the Bitcoin network exists on a peer-to-peer protocol, the safest way to store Bitcoin is on non-custodial wallet platforms, wherein the user obtains absolute control of private keys and funds.

Overall, it is highly optimistic that the South Korean government has started to acknowledge the rapid growth rate of Bitcoin and drafted several solutions to standardize the South Korean Bitcoin industry.

   

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