China is turning up the heat on Bitcoin exchanges, while the digital currency is about to become legal tender in Japan. Here are the cryptocurrency highlights of week 6:
- China’s three biggest Bitcoin exchanges took steps to prevent withdrawals of the cryptocurrency amid pressure from the nation’s central bank to clamp down on capital outflows. BTC China subjected all Bitcoin withdrawals to a 72-hour review, while Huobi and OKCoin suspended them completely, the three venues said in separate statements on Thursday. They all said the measures were in response to central bank requirements. Conversion to and from the yuan is not affected and the curbs will be dropped after updates to compliance systems, the exchanges said.
- Embracing cryptocurrency, Japan has a new law that will make Bitcoins usable as legal tender. Companies hoping to deal in the new currency, however, must submit to a long list of regulations to ensure that the ‘coins’ are not being used for criminal activity. Among the regulations, a company is required to have at least $100,000 in reserve currency, report their activities to the government regularly, and undergo routine external audits by the Japanese National Tax Agency. Japanese companies wishing to use Bitcoins will be expected to pay the equivalent of some $300,000 to adopt Bitcoin, and there is no guarantee that they will receive a license, even if they abide by government edicts.
- Microsoft Corp. and other major technology companies and banks are forming an alliance to advance the adoption of Ethereum blockchain database technology in corporations, potentially offering better security for recording transactions, according to two people familiar with the plans. The companies have been working on the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance for months, according to one of the people, and intend to launch the effort later in February, said another, who asked not to be identified because the plans haven’t been announced. Microsoft is one of the companies involved, one person said.
- New documents filed for the Bitcoin exchange traded fund (ETF) sought by investors Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss reveal that the size of the offering has grown to $100m. The years-long effort – delayed more than once by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – is aimed at providing a means for investors to gain exposure to Bitcoin without actually having to buy the digital currency. The SEC is expected to make a decision on the Winklevoss Bitcoin ETF later this year, with its self-imposed deadline of 11th March inching closer.
- Compared to the previous week the price of Bitcoin has decreased by almost three percent, with the exchange rate currently at $1,009 per BTC. The price of Ethereum decreased by less than one percent, taking Ether down to a rate of $11.33 per ETH. Ethereum Classic lost more than 10 percent of its value, with the price decreasing to $1.24 per ETC. Zcash’ even lost more than 15 percent of its value. One ZEC is now trading at roughly $33 per coin.