Will London Be The FinTech Hub For Bitcoin?

London has decided it wants to be the epicenter for bitcoin.

U.K. authorities have voiced strong support  for digital currencies — bitcoin included — as a way to help the market evolve, reported Reuters, highlighting London as a $5 trillion-a-day global currency market. British leaders have also discussed steps to innovate digital currency markets by regulating it lightly in order to avoid legal pitfalls.

The tech enthusiasts, however, are leading the charge to make London the “real-world hub” for the trade of cryptocurrencies, and bitcoin seems to be the first logical step, as well as the technology that powers it: the blockchain. Bitcoin and digital currency already have a strong following — like the 2,200 member group called CoinScrum — which gets together to talk ideas about how to evolve the market.

The British government has also been a strong proponent on digital currencies, as long as it can regulate them, as a method to prevent money-laundering and illegal trading. Like other bitcoin and cryptocurrency proponents, supporters in the U.K. have spoken about the possibilities of extending the blockchain’s uses — particularly because of the efficient and cost-effective manner money can be traded via the technology.

“London has been the home of financial innovation for hundreds of years,” Nicolas Cary, co-founder of the bitcoin wallet service Blockchain, told Reuters. “It would be a historical mistake not to make this the home of digital currencies. There’s an incredible amount of talent and experience here.”

So why London and why not the U.S.? Perhaps New York’s financial district?

Jerry Brito, executive director of Coin Center in Washington, D.C., told Reuters that it’s simply a “different attitude” in the U.K than the U.S. It’s more positive, he said, and there’s more of a push toward finding a constructive solution toward regulating the cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin Tracker | Week 69

Last week, bitcoin hit the presidential campaign trail with Rand Paul, Buttercoin bitcoin exchange went belly up, and iGot, an Australian-based bitcoin exchange, launched its merchant services side. This, week, bitcoin got more support in countries like Canada and India and it found a new place in the hearts of a political party in Finland called the Pirate Party. But on the dark side, bitcoin continues to get tangled into legal matters and raised more concerns about people using it to buy illegal goods (and images).

As always, if you have any news you’d like to share, please send it our way at contactus@pymnts.com.

On the Plus Side …

More charities are turning toward bitcoin as a way to reduce transaction costs when collecting donations. A report in The Wall Street Journal highlighted why major charities like Save the Children, American Red Cross and Greenpeace are looking toward the digital currency to save time and money.

“We want to remain contemporary and relevant to current and future generations,”Ettore Rossetti, director of social media and digital marketing at Save the Children, said in an interview. “We don’t only want to be your grandmother’s charity, we want to be your grandchild’s charity. One way to do that is to accept bitcoin.”

  • April 13, 2015: MIT is getting into the bitcoin ecosystem. Its latest plan includes helping with bitcoin standards development.
  • April 14, 2015: A bitcoin startup introduced a physical version of bitcoin to offer a low-cost version of the digital currency to help consumers understand how the cryptocurrency works.
  • April 15, 2015: A new report from BitPay shows that bitcoin is being used more and more as a currency to pay for goods/services.
  • April 15, 2015: In an SEC filing, eBay and PayPal confirmed that they are going to allow merchants to accept bitcoin payments using the payment processor Braintree.
  • April 15, 2015: CoverYou, the insurance company for devices, said it’s going to accept bitcoins for payments.
  • April 15, 2015: South Africa bitcoin exchange BitX got a makeover on its site, which the company hopes will streamline bitcoin adoption.
  • April 15, 2015: Lawyers are learning about bitcoin. The American Bar Association is offering a class about bitcoin and digital currencies.
  • April 16, 2015: Bitcoin is catching on in India. India-based bitcoin exchange Unocoin has started converting Mechanical Turk into Indian rupees. The exchange has also partnered with another startup to exchange Amazon gift cards into bitcoins.
  • April 16, 2015: Canada’s largest bitcoin exchange QuadrigaCX has launched bitcoin ATMs in Canada.
  • April 16, 2015: Bitcoin is back in politics — in Finland. The Pirate Party of Finland is accepting bitcoin donations.
  • April 16, 2015: FitCoin wants to pay you to workout — with bitcoins, of course. Fitcoin aims to reward its users by providing bitcoins for hitting workout milestones.
  • April 16, 2015: Dorchester Collection, a London-based hotel operator, announced it is accepting bitcoin payments.

On the Dark Side …

A new report shows pedophiles may be using bitcoin to buy child sexual abuse images and other illegal material online. The Internet Watch Foundation report warns that the “most prolific commercial” child sexual abuse websites are accepting bitcoin as a payment option. The report allegedly uncovered 37 websites selling images for bitcoins in a four-month period. Because of bitcoin’s decentralized nature, the ability to buy and sell illegal goods has been a main critique of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.

  • April 14, 2015: GAW, A bitcoin mining company is being sued by the Mississippi Power Company for allegedly not paying out $350,000 in fees related to court fees for a contract breach.
  • April 14, 2015: The “Bitcoin Baron” has been jailed. He claimed to be involved in the cyberattacks in Arizona that targeted a local government’s Internet system.
  • April 15, 2015: Another bitcoin mining slip up has a developer company looking to clean up its platform after a bitcoin mining application got bundles into a system tool.
  • April 15, 2015: A Stanford professor says he’s invented a payments system like bitcoin, but claims it’s better, faster and more secure.
  • April 15, 2015: The Bitcoin Foundation board remains a bit fragmented, as a newly appointed director joins — marking the third new director in six months.
  • April 15, 2015: Bitcoin has another competitor named Dash, which was formerly known as Darkcoin. It’s aiming to compete in the digital currency world against bitcoin.
  • April 15, 2015: Another bitcoin bazaar goes under. Brawker, the online bitcoin marketplace, announced it was shutting down.
  • April 16, 2015: Gavin Andresen, a founding member of The Bitcoin Foundation, called former Mt. Gox leader Mark Karpeles a “disgrace to the cryptocurrency industry.”
  • April 16, 2015: Buttercoin CEO Cedric Dahl shared his lessons on relying on venture capital; he learned the tough lesson after the bitcoin exchange shuttered last week.
  • April 16, 2015: In his latest documentary, Alex Winter focuses on the “Deep Web” and its ties to bitcoins and drugs.