Coinbase has announced that in 2018 they will be adding altcoins. This is not surprising considering the current boom in ICOs and secondary market altcoin trading. Coinbase currently lists three of the most popular currencies; Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin. Coinbase is currently the most downloaded app on both the App Store and the Google Play Store. With the introduction of altcoins on Coinbase, the altcoin boom will likely continue to soar.
Zimbabwe has faced hyperinflation since the late 90’s, a problem that has been exacerbated recently by the increases in price taking place in 2009. With the recent political upheaval, speculations arose that Zimbabwe would be one of the first countries to adopt Bitcoin as an offcial currency. Even though Zimbabwe’s legislation is not friendly towards cryptocurrencies at the moment, they haven’t completely ruled out the national adoption of online currencies and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has been commissioned to study them. Interest in cryptos has not only grown at a rapid rate but now adoption by different parties is bringing it closer to mainstream acceptance. In the short term, the gaining interest and investment should help Bitcoin, Ethereum and other top cryptocurrencies gain value due to the increased in influx of cash.
The Australian Tax Office has confirmed that they are consulting with tax experts, lawyers and banking and nance experts, which will hopefully help inform the ATO’s strategy for supporting the cryptocurrency community in understanding their tax obligations. The ATO is working hard to understand the the domestic and international taxation issues related to cryptocurrency. They believe that this is di cult because the creation, trade and use of cryptocurrencies is a rapidly evolving area. The ATO has stated that there won’t be income tax or GST implications “if you are not in business or carrying on an enterprise and you simply pay for goods or services in Bitcoin [or other cryptocurrency].” The Australian government has been welcoming to cryptocurrencies and has changed how they deal with them, making some projects answer to Austrac (which means they have the same reporting and regulatory obligations as the major banks). The government has already removed double taxations and have made amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act. Australia remains a country where cryptocurrencies may thrive.
Then newest Bitcoin fork is here. Bitcoin Atom was planned to help solve a substantial problem in the cryptocurrency world. Bitcoin Atom will implement atomic swaps to allow users to exchange tokens without the need for exchanges. The project is also planning to implement the Lighting Swaps which will allow extremely fast and cheap transactions. Bitcoin Atom will also solve on of Bitcoin’s flaws by using a hybrid consensus model that uses both Proof of Work and Proof of Stake.
A recent report from FDD and Elliott found that less than 1% of all Bitcoin transactions are for money laundering. The report also showed that Europe had five times more illegal transactions than the United States. As government force projects and exchanges to implement stricter anti-money laundering (AML) measures, the number of illegal transactions will continue to decrease.
Russia has completed their first government-level blockchain project. Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has partnered with the state-run ban, Sberbank, to develop a Blockchain for document transfers and storage. This is a major step for Blockchain technology as it illustrates Blockchain’s potential as a trustworthy alternative to centralized databases. The Russian government has also demonstrated interest in Blockchain in signing an agreement with the Ethereum foundation to develop Blockchain education programs in the country. Despite Russia’s eagerness to implement Blockchain technology, they continue to enforce a strict cryptocurrency policy for citizens.
Many suspect that South Korea will soon take further actions to ban, or regulate the use of cryptocurrencies. As the adoption of crypto accelerates in South Korea, the government has made a point of reiterating its scepticism regarding the unregulated nature of cryptos. The government has taken a paternalistic stance and believes it necessary to protect their citizens from the risk inherent to these markets. Further regulation could drastically shock the market. In the long term, however, regulation could be central in improving the adoption of crypto usage.
The Philippine’s SEC is also currently exploring the best ways to regulate trading cryptocurrencies. Recent policies by Belarus and other relevant nations on cryptocurrency are being taken into consideration. The responsibility for enforcing exchange regulations will fall to the Philippine’s central bank. Ultimately, for cryptocurrencies to be used like fiat currencies are used today, they need to be recognised by legislators.
RSK Labs launched its mainnet in a beta with a limited distribution. Mining their genesis block at 1:41 am CST on January 4, 2018 after nearly 3 years of preparation. The launch of this test mainnet brings smart contracts and side chains to Bitcoin. When speaking about the launch of the main net, Diego Gutierrez said “We’re very excited to share the RSK main net network with the global community.” This comes after the source code for the mainnet was released in early December 2017 for peer review.
Governments are starting to take cryptocurrency seriously, with France’s finance minister calling for a public debate on Bitcoin at this year’s G20 Summit in Buenos Aires. Despite boasting a more than US $500 billion market cap - cryptocurrencies are still a small market (Consider the stock market, which is worth US $69 trillion). However, their growth has been astounding, and, as cryptos continue to soar, governments are looking to better regulate and understand the use cases for cryptocurrencies. Some governments have started to research how to use Blockchain for government tasks. Furthermore, large, private institutions have began to adopt Blockchain - such as the ASX.
The Brazilian Government is looking to start processing petitions and writing laws on the blockchain. Brazil would be the second government to adopt blockchain into its government duties. This would allow every citizen to vote secretly without any third party tampering. The application would be a Dapp built on the Ethereum blockchain, allowing the government to ensure security.
The recent low volatility in the stock market has led institutional investors to begin researching investments into cryptocurrencies. Traditional assets are reasonably predictable, unlike the crypto market. Institutional investors use their financial literacy, analysis and open information to value assets - this is not possible for the vast majority of cryptos since they do not confer access to, or ownership of cash flows. This volatility is most evident in erratic behaviour of Bitcoin.