Bitcoin news roundup, February 12, 2017

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This week’s summary of various cryptocurrency news and developments:

New developments:

China’s central bank threatened to shut down bitcoin exchanges

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), China’s central bank, released a statement in its website, where it laid out a warning issued to several bitcoin exchanges in a meeting. Notably, the People’s Bank of China told exchanges not to take part in money laundering or margin lending, as they may face a dire fate. The bank stated: “If the exchanges violated the above requirements, and if the circumstances were serious, the inspection team may ask the relevant departments to close down the exchanges according to law.” In the meeting, the bank also addressed a few lesser-known cryptocurrency exchanges.

Several Chinese exchanges imposed bitcoin withdrawal delays.

This week, two major Chinese bitcoin exchanges – Beijing-based OKCoin and Huobi – announced they were freezing bitcoin and litecoin withdrawals for a month, following pressure from the People’s Bank of China. Yuan transactions will not be affected, according to the exchanges.

Later on, other Chinese exchanges, including HaoBTC, Yunbi, BTCTrade, and BTC100 announced they would also de delaying bitcoin and litecoin withdrawals, without freezing them. The move came a few days after these exchanges were asked to meet with the People’s Bank of China. All exchanges involved claimed the decision was an Anti-Money Laundering (AML) move. HaoBTC also claimed it will now charge a 5% fee on all deposits.

World Affairs:

Bitcoin to become legal tender in Japan

Last week, DeepDotWeb reported the number of bitcoin-accepting merchants in Japan was expected to quintuple this year. According to Sputnik News, bitcoin may now become legal tender in japan, under strict regulations. Companies who are to legally accept bitcoin will not only need to have at least the equivalent of $100,000 in reserve, but to undergo routine audits by the Japanese National Tax Agency, and to regularly report their activities to the government.

Even though businesses will have to pay around $300,000 to start using bitcoins, there is no guarantee they will get a license. These numbers are so big, some already speculate this will be just like New York’s BitLicense law, that forced dozens of startups to stop operating.

A bitcoin bank has just opened in Austrian capital Vienna

A bitcoin bank has opened in the center of Austrian capital Vienna, according to reports. Owned by blockchain startup BitTrust, the bank is located at 49 Mariahilfer Strasse and designed to make bitcoin transactions safer than other in-person options out there. The bank’s name is “Bitcoin-Bank”. Austria saw its first bitcoin ATM three years ago, and has been seeing increasing acceptance ever since.

Norway has declared bitcoin transactions VAT-exempt

Back in 2013, the Norwegian Tax Administration stated bitcoins should be treated as capital property for tax-related purposes. That meant bitcoin transactions were subject to the 25% Norwegian Value Added Tax (VAT). Recently the country’s Ministry of Finance sent a letter to the Norwegian Tax Administration, in which it asked the organization to reconsider its stance towards bitcoin. Following that letter, the Tax Administration ruled bitcoin transactions VAT-exempt.

The country is following Europe’s footsteps, as in 2015, the European Court of Justice ruled exchanges’ bitcoin transaction should be exempt from VAT.

Philippine central bank released regulatory guidelines for bitcoin exchanges

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Philippine’s central bank, recently released regulatory guidelines for bitcoin exchanges in the country, in a document named “Guidelines for Virtual Currency (VC) Exchanges). The guidelines were approved on January 19 before being released to the public, and the move comes with a solid statement on the bank’s behalf: “The Bangko Sentral does not intend to endorse any VC, such as bitcoin, as a currency since it is neither issued or guaranteed by a central bank or backed by any commodity. Rather, the BSP aims to regulate VCs when used for delivery of financial services, particularly, for payments and remittances, which have material impact on anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT), consumer protection and financial stability”.

Among the guidelines, the bank stated exchanges should have an adequate cybersecurity infrastructure, register with the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Council Secretariat and be subject to “registration and annual fee services”.

Financial:

Bitcoin at $1009, after rollercoaster ride

This week was an authentic rollercoaster ride for the cryptocurrency, as the price went down following PBOC’s warning mentioned above, but then came back up as more positive news started coming – including the inauguration if Bitcoin Bank in Vienna, Austria. At the time of press, one bitcoin is worth $1009, according to European-based exchange Bitstamp.

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