The New York DFS has released its long-anticipated list of required BitLicense rules and regulations that apply to any New York-based bitcoin businesses transmitting; securing, storing, holding; or buying and selling Virtual Currency on behalf of others; converting or exchanging other value into Virtual Currency; or controlling, administering, or issuing a Virtual Currency. Though such cumbersome requirements could seem daunting to small bitcoin startups, New York Superintendent Ben Lawsky was careful to say, "We recognize that -- as the first state to put forward specially tailored rules for virtual currency firms -- continued public feedback will be an important part of finalizing this regulatory framework. We look forward to carefully and thoughtfully reviewing public comments on our proposal."
The Netherlands' public criminal justice service Openbaar Ministerie has been granted the legal power to seize the contents of bitcoin wallets from suspected or convicted criminals, as well as sell those acquired bitcoins for fiat soon after they are confiscated. Yet despite the negative connotations of this development, the categorization of bitcoin as a seizable asset also indicates that the Dutch government and legal authorities may be starting to recognize the digital currency's validity. As Paul Buitink, owner of Dutch bitcoin information site deBitcoin.org, sees it, "In a way, it's positive because it's further legitimizing bitcoin as something that has value and is taken seriously."
A new research report published by the World Bank entitled "Ponzis: The Science and Mystique of a Class of Financial Frauds" explores the way in which Bitcoin could be a victim of a natural Ponzi, as opposed to a deliberate Ponzi scheme. The report compares the Bitcoin bubble to similar bubbles such as the housing market and gold which have a tendency to grow based on individuals' speculations and then burst. As World Bank economist Kaushik Basu explains, "Trouble started when people began speculating that the value of bitcoin would rise, thereby raising the demand for bitcoin and making the value-rise a self-fulfilling prophesy. In other words, what we witnessed recently in the bitcoin phenomenon fits the standard definition of a speculative bubble."
City officials in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have confirmed the rumors that Bitcoin quote "was indeed mentioned in one of the transition reports written before [current Mayor William Peduto] took office," as part of a bid to make Pittsburgh the first municipality to accept bitcoin for payments on taxes, fines and fees. However, the same officials have also revealed that the city in fact has "no current plans to take the currency". That said, the city's finance director Paul Leger has hinted that bitcoin acceptance could happen eventually, saying "We would need to see a longer term proof of stability for digital currency to be good stewards of the public's funds."
Leading South African payment processor PayFast began offering bitcoin as a payment option today for its 30,000 merchant customers, thanks to a new partnership with digital currency exchange BitX. PayFast founder and managing director Jonathan Smit is curious to see what results this experiment will yield, saying "We are not really seeing a demand for bitcoin from customers per se, but bitcoin is very much a hot topic on South African lips... Until now, bitcoin has only been accepted at a handful of online merchants in South Africa and we're very excited to see what effect this large scale enablement will have on the market."
Online education platform provider Skilljar announced a partnership with Stripe's bitcoin beta program today, to offer bitcoin payments to its hundreds of instructors who offer a wide range of online classes from yoga to programming. As CEO and co-founder Sandi Lin says, "The decision to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment was simple... driven by instructor requests, ease of integration, and the international nature of our business" adding that, "Since we already use Stripe for payment processing, their beta program with Bitcoin made it easy to integrate while also leveraging our existing payments infrastructure."
The Moving Picture Institute released a YouTube video spoof Tuesday of Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl", entitled "Bitcoin Girl," which aims to educate audiences about the benefits of digital currencies, and change the negative image portrayed by the mainstream media. The video's director and star, The Bitcoin Girl herself, Naomi Brockwell sees film as "the best way to educate Americans about this exciting innovation... Essentially, the more people learn about Bitcoin, the more they like it!"
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