Circle is abandoning Bitcoin, and Japan might be dropping its sales tax on Bitcoin purchases. Here are the cryptocurrency highlights of week 49:
- Circle Internet Financial Ltd., one of the most heavily-funded digital currency startups, will no longer offer customers the ability to buy and sell Bitcoins. In a statement, Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire expressed his disappointment in the digital currency: “The story is one of essentially gridlock amongst core developers, while mainstream companies are using this technology,” Mr. Allaire said of Bitcoin. “We’ve been deeply frustrated with that lack of progress, and we want to move it forward.” Circle will continue to use blockchain, the technology underpinning the Bitcoin network, as a way to expand its fast-growing international payments business.
- An account belonging to Bo Shen, one of the early investors in Ethereum and Augur, was reportedly hacked on Tuesday causing funds from both networks to be drained. The hacked wallet was a top 20 wallet by size in Augur and constituted a significant percent of the total token supply. The tokens were dumped on the Poloniex exchange platform. Poloniex tweeted that they have been investigating the Augur matter but have been limited in what they could find because the trades in question were executed via an instant exchange service.
- ViaBTC, the largest mining pool supporting Bitcoin Unlimited right own, announced a new initiative. Their Transaction Accelerator allows users to speed up their network transaction to bypass network congestion. This service compares best to the replace-by-fee option embedded in Bitcoin Core, except that the ViaBTC service is free of charge and can be accessed through a web portal. Due to “abuse of this service”, however, ViaBTC was forced to add a 0.0001BTC/KB fee limit to transaction the next day.
- Japan is planning to drop an 8% sales tax on Bitcoin purchases, which could take effect as early as July 2017. Though subject to final approval by senior Japanese government officials, an annual tax document prepared by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Komeito party and published today offers new details on a proposal floated in October by the Ministry of Finance and the Financial Services Agency. The tax remains in place today. Yet if approved by the Cabinet, the plan would institute a grace period in June of next year, with the tax exemption becoming official the following month.
- Compared to the previous week the price of Bitcoin has been very stable, with the exchange rate currently at $773 per BTC. The price of Ethereum gained almost 10 percent, taking Ether up to a rate of $8.66 per ETH. Ethereum Classic also gained a similar percentage, with the price increasing to $0.84 per ETC. Zcash resumed its decline, losing 16 percent of its value. One ZEC is now trading at roughly $50 per coin.