Recapping the week’s biggest Bitcoins stories from around the web.
Following a four week trial, Ross Ulbricht is sentenced to a lifetime in prison for all charges. According to prosecutors, Ulbricht is Dread Pirate Roberts and charged with “drug trafficking, money laundering, conspiracy to sell hacking tools, running a criminal venture and orchestrating a conspiracy to sell fake IDs.”Ulbricht’s defense states that Ulbricht has been potentially framed. Aaron van Wirdum of Coin Telegraph reports that“Dread Pirate Roberts” is another person who ran the Silk Road for several years and then planted evidence on Ulbricht’s computer.
The new EU VAT regulations, effective January 1st, 2015, have raised concerns in regards to the anonymity of the bitcoin transactions. As Aaron van Wirdum of Coin Desk writes, due to the new EU guidelines that require proof of residence, the bitcoin transactions might be traceable. On the other hand, things may not be so dramatic. Serge Schouterden of CryptoArticles reports that, based on the disclaimer of the EU explanatory notes, the new guidelines “are not legally binding and only contain practical and informal guidance about how EU law should be applied on the basis of the views of the Commission’s Directorate General for Taxation and Customs Union.”On the same page, as Chris Pomoni of NewsBtc writes,the new EU VAT rules do not really affect the bitcoin as the proof of residence in the case of cryptocurrency transaction is the IP address, which is not legally recognized as a proof of identity.
Bitpay sponsors NASCAR driver Justin Boston. According to Business Wire, Bitpay logo will appear on Boston’s Toyota Tundra in the NextEra Energy Resources 250, which will take place at Daytona in Florida on February 20. Bitpay VP Marketing Stephanie Wargo hopes that through the huge exposure of NASCAR, more people will be aware of the bitcoin technology and Bitpay platform.
Canadian entrepreneur Robert Gulassarian launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $65,000 for the establishment of Coynful search engine, which will enable users to search for products and services online and pay with bitcoins. According to Elliot Maras of CryptoCoins News, Gulassarianaims to legitimize the digital currency and fully capitalize on bitcoin’s pioneer technology.
Isle of Man eBusiness takes a revolutionary stand at a time when most global regulators seem reluctant to legitimize the bitcoin. As Pete Rizzo of Coin Desk writes, Brian Donegan, the Isle of Man’s head of operations believes that the bitcoin regulation will happen within 2015 because “the Proceeds of Crime Actof 2008is being amended to embrace bitcoin and digital currencies generally.”
The Australian exchange Coin Loft has been officially exempted from the 10% government tax as stated in the recent regulation of the Australian Tax Office (ATO). As Jon Southurst of Coin Desk writes, Coin Loft is exempted from the Goods and Services Taxes (GST) on local bitcoin sales, but it will be charged with the commission fees on the sales, which range between 3% and 5%. ATO’s decision gives the Australian bitcoin exchange a competitive advantage.
ChainPay is the new competitor of Bitpay and Coinbase. Evan Faggart of CoinFinance reports that the processing services were launched by the AltXE start-up, headquartered in UK Crown dependency, the Isle of Man. ChainPay aspires to entice European retailers to process bitcoin payments through its platform with a low transaction fee of 1% and a highly customized service.
The integration of Adyen, the leading provider of online payments, with Bitcoin, the pioneer in bitcoin payments, opens the road to a great number of merchants to accept the digital currency as a legal form of payment. Anthony Cuthbertson of International Business Times reports that Jagex, the UK-based games developer, is the first merchant to enable bitcoin payments for its customers through Adyen. Facebook, Ryanair, Groupon, Spotify and many others are expected to follow.
Webjet, the Australian travel booking website has partnered with BitPOS, a local cryptocurrency payment processor to accept bitcoins for booking. According to the Australian Business Review, Webjet CEO Paul Ryan stated that “The personal electronic wallet market is growing rapidly around the world because of the perceived security.”
Vogogo, the California-based bitcoin payment processor set up a strategic partnership with the UK-based-eMerchantPay, a leading company for international online payment processing services. According to Yahoo Finance, the new partnership opens up the European market to Vogogo as its European based customers are expected to integrate with Vogogo’s platform to accept credit and debit payments in bitcoins and facilitate the seamless trade of bitcoin with fiat money.
Ripple Labs and Stellar are fierce competitors in the cryptocurrency ecosystem. As Michael Craig of The Observer reports, Jeb McCaleb, the founder of both companies, was maintaining a long-standing and intimate relationship with Joyce Kim, Stellar’s executive director. According to the report, the personal relationship not only jeopardized McCaleb’s relations with senior executives and board members at Ripple Labs, but it had also a major impact on the other companies involved with Stellar such as Stripe and Wells Fargo, among others.