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Weekly Bitcoin Update – 21 September 2014

A recap of the week’s biggest Bitcoin stories from the perspectives of the best sources for e-currency news around the web

Below $400

After originally appearing as if its value was preparing to stabilize, bitcoin’s prices have continued to fall. According to Miguel Helft of Fortune Magazine, the value of cryptocurrency fell below te $400 mark on Friday, Sept. 19th. Bitcoin has been in a sharp decline ever since the currency was valued for a three month high of $650 in July.

Helft points out that while many of bitcoin’s price fluctuations have been attributed to a large, important story on the cryptocurrency, such as the Mt. Gox incident, this recent decline has occurred without any major news story causing the loss to occur. There is no immediately-apparent external reason why bitcoin’s value has fallen, which makes the recent losses all the more startling for bitcoin fans.

Could the recent drop in bitcoin’s value be related to the largest IPO in United States history? Kyt Dotson of SiliconAngle speculates that Alibaba Group Holding Limited’s initial public offering had caused caused bitcoin’s value to fall. He notes that the company has a “massive holding of e-commerce across all of China and BTC China is one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges by volume.”

Ian Worrall of Sembro Development LLC, who posted at Bitcoin Magazine on Sept. 18th, offered an analysis of of bitcoin’s Chinese exchanges on the day of the Alibaba IPO. The conclusions derived from the analysis led to the conclusion that “many large Bitcoin investors from China and Europe have exited their positions in Bitcoin to put into the Alibaba IPO.” Specifically, Worrall speculated bitcoin investors in China had dumped their cryptocurrency to free capital for the IPO and noted that the trading volume at BTC China had risen from an average 19,000 to a figure of 29,400 on Sept. 18th.

The Bitcoin Isles

Much of the news surrounding the British islands has focused on Scottish independence this week, as Daniel A. Medina of Quartz previously noted that bitcoin advocates had speculated that Scotland may have wanted to employ bitcoin as its new currency of choice. Scotland’s potential adoption of bitcoin would have come as a result of the fact that the Bank of England had stated that an independent Scotland would not be able to use the pound sterling as its currency. Naturally, an independent Scotland may be more inclined to utilize the Euro as opposed to bitcoin. But, Scottish independence had lent itself to a great deal of speculation regarding the nation’s potential adoption of the cyptocurrency, with Josh Harkinson of Mother Jones referring to the option as “intriguing.”

Perhaps the most often overshadowed island in the region, however, is positioning itself to become a global hub for bitcoin. According to Matthew Sparks of The Telegraph, The Isle of Man, a self-governing country with a population of over 80,000, has seen increased its investments in the cryptocurrency. While those from The Isle of Man have invested $27 million in bitcoin during the entire 2013 fiscal year, that investment jumped to $113 million during the first half of the 2014 fiscal year.

Sparks notes that in order to attract bitcoin companies to the area, the island is highlighting features that make creating small businesses simple and stress-free: there are no taxes on capital gains and very low income taxes. Additionally, there may also potentially be no corporation tax on bitcoin businesses in the area. Not only that, but the government itself is also outwardly supportive of the cryptocurrency. Sparks contrasts the Isle of Man’s stance towards bitcoin with that of the state of New York and its “BitLicense” laws, which are very stringent.

New Payment Platforms

Japan has launched its first bitcoin payment platform. As John Weru Maina of CryptoCoins News reports, the new system, Bitcheck, was launched on Sept. 16th. The company’s slogan, “Bitcoin for Everyone”, speaks to the company’s goal of bringing in potential bitcoin users who are not as well-educated on the currency as a tech or finance expert. As Maina notes, Bitcheck’s services, aimed towards this more casual bitcoin user, include a wallet, a register, and an online payment system.

Ponzi Schemes

Jonathan Stempel of Reuters reports that a United States federal judge in Texas has ordered Bitcoin Savings and Trusts, and its owner, to pay $40.7 million after the SEC verified the company was a Ponzi scheme. The judge determined that the company’s owner, Trendon Shavers, had mislead its investors on how the company was using the bitcoin and protecting their investments. Stempel notes that it is unclear as to whether Shavers will be able to make the $40.7 million payment to the company’s former investors.

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