Tag Archives: bitcoins

Baby Steps Forward For Bitcoin In Australia

Baby Steps Forward For Bitcoin In Australia

This week the Australian Senate Economics References Committee released its report in to digital currency‘Digital currency—game changer or bit player’ (yes, I kid you not, that’s the name of the report).

Most media commentary regarding the report has centred around the committee’s recommendation to modify the Australian Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act to recognise digital currency as ‘money’. In effect, this would mean that bitcoin transactions would not attract GST in Australia – removing the current ‘double GST’ on a variety of bitcoin transactions.

Obviously, this recommendation has been welcomed by the Australian bitcoin community. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that to action these changes for Australian law purposes is not a trivial task. Practically, it requires agreement from every state and a Federal government to actually drive the amendment – given the current size of the industry this seems unlikely. So although this is a great basis for further conversations with government, there is no practical impact for bitcoin startups in Australia – just yet.

As with reports similar to this one (see for example the Canadian inquiry report), it shows that many within the highest ranks of government see the importance of innovation in the financial services sector. With ‘software eating the world’ banks are looking less and less likely to drive this change. This means that startups need to lead the way.

To allow this to happen in the digital currency space, a legal framework that provides a welcoming environment for innovation to thrive in is required. This report hopefully provides a step in this direction for the Australian Bitcoin industry.

 


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Chatting About All Things Bitcoin

A few weeks back I did a ‘blab’ with Suzanne Nguyen (@stringstory) about all things Bitcoin. Check it out and let me know what you think.

 


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Banks Get Behind Blockchain Technology

Banks Get Behind Blockchain Technology

It’s looking like 2015 will be a break out year for the application of blockchain technology in the banking and finance sector. Banks are starting to really embrace the technology with many trialing blockchain based applications and some are even investing directly in startups in the space.

Banks are getting behind blockchain technology in a big way. Many are starting to see the possibilities of running clearing, settlement and internal fund transactions through a blockchain.

Below is a list of financial institutions that are currently experimenting with blockchain technology. Some are further down the track than others – but all are keenly investigating the technology’s potential.

About The Table

In the table below I’ve included a list of financial institutions who’ve been mentioned in the media as experimenting with Blockchain technology. The list is a work in progress. As information changes and further banks begin experimenting with Bitcoin/blockchain technology I’ll add or amend entries in the table.

If there are any errors or omissions please feel free to flick me an email at me@alantsen.com

Bank Country Technology Stack / Activities
ANZ Australia Ripple
Commonwealth Bank Australia Ripple
Westpac Australia Ripple
Barclays Bank  UK Bitcoin (Safello)
Santander Bank UK Internal proof of concept
UBS UK Research lab
DBS Bank UK Hackathon
USAA US Internal research
Bank Of New York Mellon US Bitcoin (BK Coin)
LHV Bank Estonia Bitcoin (Coloured Coins)
BBVA Bank Spain Internal experiments
ABN Amro Netherlands Internal experiments
ING Bank Netherlands Internal experiments
Rabobank Netherlands Internal experiments
BNP Paribas France Internal Research
Société Générale France Internal research and experiments
Fidor Germany Ripple
CBW Bank US Ripple
Cross River Bank US Ripple
 Citibank  US Own Tech (Citicoin)
 NASDAQ  US Bitcoin (Chain)

 


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Is Bitcoin Still A Non-Obvious VC Investment?

Is Bitcoin Still A Non-Obvious VC Investment?

This week Redpoint Ventures partner, Tom Tunguz penned a pieced titled “The Fastest Growing Areas Of Startup Investment In 2015”. The post examined trends in the major categories of startup investment from 2012 through to mid-2015.

Bitcoin Issue 27 copy

The piece generated a fair amount of interest in the Bitcoin community (for example seeHERE, HERE and HERE) as Bitcoin was the fastest growing sector (151% CAGR) according to the data. However, as a percentage of dollars invested, Bitcoin still only accounted for a minuscule piece of the overall pie (0.18% of total VC dollars invested).

A common thought in the world of venture capital is that non-obvious investments are the ones that yield the biggest returns and to generate 10x+ returns that’s where you should go. The data suggests that Bitcoin is becoming a more obvious vertical for VCs. If you’ve been keeping an eye on investment news this probably isn’t a big surprise – with many well known VCs (e.g. A16Z, USV) and corporate investors (e.g Goldman Sachs and NASDAQ) piling into the sector.

With most bets in the space still heavily weighted towards ‘on-ramp’ companies, the growth in infrastructure and ‘blockchain’ based startups is still to come. Further, the overall share of investment dollars still has a lot of growth left in it – which is probably unsurprising given that most companies are still raising seed rounds.

Regardless of how you see it, Bitcoin (and blockchain tech more generally) is still a hot category and it’s only going to get hotter. So if you’re an investor, it’s time to grab your chips and make some bets.


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Talking Bitcoin News On CryptoGoss

This week I sat down and had a chat with the team at CryptoGoss about what’s happening in the world of Bitcoin and Blockchain. Listen in and let me know what you think in the comments below.


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Some Thoughts On The ATO’s Bitcoin Guidance

Some Thoughts On The ATO’s Bitcoin Guidance

Earlier today the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) released its much anticipated guidance on the taxation treatment of bitcoin. Along with the guidance paper they released a slew of draft rulings.

In their media release the ATO stated that:

“[We have] consulted extensively with bitcoin experts, businesses, industry bodies and other external stakeholders to develop this guidance and explain the obligations of bitcoin users.”

Reading the guidance (and more so the draft rulings) it is clear that they have invested a fair amount of time in understanding what bitcoin is and how it’s being used. In many ways the ATO has released a very complete picture of how they see bitcoin for tax purposes.

Although many have been quick to find fault with the guidance provided by the ATO, the truth is that they have provided a great deal of clarity to businesses and consumers. Further, the depth of analysis provided by the rulings released today gives a solid grounding to the ATO’s view – which is more than what’s been issued by other tax authorities.

Some Important Points To Note

The guidance paper that was released by the ATO contains very little ‘meat’ and should be taken for what it is – a general guidance paper. Much of the interesting content is actually contained in the draft rulings that accompanied the guidance paper. For the most part, this is where lawyers and accountants will be spending their time over the next few days.

Having said this, it should be noted that the rulings released by the ATO are all still in draft form and still under consultation. This means that those who wish to engage with ATO can still do so.

ATO Delays Position On Bitcoin – But Does Offer Some Guidance Via Private Binding Ruling

ATO Delays Position On Bitcoin – But Does Offer Some Guidance Via Private Binding Ruling


This article does not constitute legal, accounting or tax advice. Any tax-related opinions in any part of this article are not tax advice, and were not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties or for promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. Everyone should seek the advice of a competent, independent tax professional regarding their particular circumstances.

I make no claims, promises, or warranties about the accuracy of the information provided in this article. Tax advice cannot be provided on a general basis, and must be specifically tailored for each individual by their particular representative. Everything included in this article is the author’s opinion and not a concrete fact.


Yesterday, it was reported that the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) would be delaying its long awaited position paper on bitcoin until after they’d received advice from the Solicitor-General, Justin Gleeson SC.

Understandably, many in the bitcoin community feel that the ATO has been dragging its feet on providing guidance. Further, given that the process of receiving advice from the Solicitor-General can take months, many may end up being caught in limbo come income tax return lodgement time. Which could be a much bigger issue.

Does An ATO View Exist?

There have been murmurings that the ATO has in fact granted private binding rulings to a few taxpayers in relation to the tax treatment of bitcoin. In fact, CoinDesk reported in March that an ‘Australian bitcoin entrepreneur’ had received a ruling from the ATO regarding the taxation treatment of bitcoin. According to the article, the ruling suggested that bitcoin would (i) be subject to Goods and Services Tax (GST) and (ii) would be taxable on revenue or capital account depending on the activities related to the disposal and acquisition of the bitcoins. In other words, bitcoin would sit squarely in the middle of the Australian tax net (see HERE for the article).

However, this ruling hasn’t been made public via the ATO’s Private Binding Rulings Register (or it may have been removed), which does cast some doubt as to whether it has been finalised. In fact, up until recently there were no rulings which had been published by the ATO on the topic of bitcoin.

However, this changed a few days ago.