2016 is off to a great start for Blockstream, and the European Union is clamping down on Bitcoin. Here are the cryptocurrency highlights of week 5:
- Blockstream is clinging on to the spotlight, as the Blockchain startup company announced that it “raised $55 million in Series A funding to further enhance our sidechain technology, expand our operations globally, and support new industry partnerships”. The announcement came just several days after Blockstream announced a strategic partnership with Big 4 accounting firm PwC. The partnership is aimed at helping “companies evaluate cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies and launch new uses for the Bitcoin protocol”. Altogether, the year couldn’t have started better for Blockstream.
- The European Union has unveiled its “Action Plan for strengthening the fight against terrorist financing”. With regard to virtual currencies such as Bitcoin the plan states that “there is a risk that virtual currency transfers may be used by terrorist organizations to conceal transfers, as transactions with virtual currencies are recorded, but there is no reporting mechanism equivalent to that found in the mainstream banking system to identify suspicious activity”. As a first step, Anti-Money Laundering / countering terrorist financing legislations, as well the licensing and supervision rules of the Payment Services Directive, should be extended to include virtual currency exchange platforms. Whether to include wallet providers as well will be investigated.
- One of the two former federal agents that went rogue and ended up stealing Bitcoins from online drug market place Silk Road and extorting its owner, corrupted former Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges, was re-arrested this week. The re-arrest happened just a day before Bridges was scheduled to turn himself in to begin serving a 71-month prison sentence. Bridges was convicted after pleading guilty to charges of money laundering and obstruction of justice in October 2015. Despite the guilty plea, authorities assume he certainly wasn’t planning on serving his sentence. Among other things, the agents that arrested Bridges found a packed passport, a bulletproof vest and a cell phone. The evidence doesn’t tell what Bridges was planning to do, but he certainly wasn’t intending to bring these items to jail.
- There seems to be a consensus forming in Russia that “money surrogates” like Bitcoin are a threat to the Russian economy. Russian bitcoin news site ForkLog reports that Vladimir Putin’s Internet advisor German Klimenko has sproken out against Bitcoin, stating that: “accepting bitcoin as a payment for anything is unacceptable because it is a crime”. The comments come at a time when Russia may soon pass a new law that prohibits the use of Bitcoin.
- Ethereum’s winning streak has not ended yet, although the gains were relatively small this week. Compared to the previous week, the popular altcoin gained just a little more than three percent taking the price per ETH to $2.53. On the other hand, Bitcoin did not stop its losing streak either although the price appears to be bottoming out for now. The most popular digital currency lost less than one percent of its value, ending the week at about $376 per BTC.