Bitcoin’s (Donald) Trump Card

Bitcoin’s trump card may be Donald Trump.

Yes, this is a very real story based on an actual Juniper Research study that gives some insight into what a Trump presidency could do for bitcoin’s prices.

“If Donald Trump becomes president of the U.S., there is the very real prospect of turmoil on world markets — the Economist Intelligence Unit ranks his presidency within the top 10 global risks. However, bitcoin trading would thrive in such an environment, at least until the impact on major fiat currencies becomes clear,” wrote Dr. Windsor Holden, head of forecasting and consultancy at Juniper Research.

To put the concept of economic crisis and its impact into crisis, Brexit also appeared to be a good thing for bitcoin, price-wise, as the price of bitcoin saw a nice little jump following the news that the U.K. residents voted to leave the EU.

Juniper’s study, titled “Will Bitcoin’s Bite Back,” also projects bitcoin’s total transaction volume to pass $92 billion by the end of 2016 – more than triple its 2015 volume. That specific spike was attributed to Brexit, and uncertainty in China’s economy, along with the impending bitcoin mining reward halving even that’s set to occur on July 9.

Of course the Trump-bitcoin price speculation is just one theory and one that Darryl W. Perry, a libertarian who once was on the list for the 2016 presidential primary candidates, doesn’t buy. He was quoted in one bitcoin publication as saying: “It seems to be pure speculation that Trump would have more of an impact on the markets than Hillary. Further, I don’t see the president or any elected official impacting the price of bitcoin, unless there is passage of regulations.”

As for what else happened in bitcoin news this week…

North Carolina’s Blockchain-Friendly Bill

One U.S. state just passed a law aimed at allowing blockchain-based work to be easier to embrace.

With the passage of the North Carolina Money Transmitter Act, the term “virtual currency” is now defined in the state’s books, and it enables virtual currency miners and blockchain software providers to not require a license to conduct business in the state. The goal of this bill is is to enable more companies that want to embrace and integrate blockchain and distributed ledgers into their own businesses in the state.

“It’s been a long journey; however, the benefits for both business and consumers in North Carolina won’t take nearly as long to surface,” said Perianne Boring, founder and president of the Chamber of Digital Commerce. “North Carolina anticipated key issues and developed a reasonable solution to address each concern. This has paved the way for other states to realize and embrace the incredible potential of these technologies.”

Another Bitcoin Remittance App Lands In US

Abra, the bitcoin remittance app, has made its way to the U.S., via the iPhone and Android app options.

What that means is that Abra customers in the U.S. or the Philippines can send money to each other using the app’s digital wallet that works with their bank accounts. The company noted in its release that this is the first move in helping it expand globally.

Abra is a digital wallet that enables consumers to store digital money, or bitcoin, on their smartphones using the app. That currency can then be sent to anyone else who uses the app; all the sender needs is the recipient’s phone number. The money can then be moved into bank accounts or be taken to a bank to get physical cash.

“Our vision at Abra is to make it possible, for the first time, to send money across any two smartphones, regardless of location, currency or mobile phone operator, just like WhatsApp does for messaging,” Abra wrote in a news release.

Citi Emboldens Banks Against Bitcoin

The financial services sector seems to be lukewarm on bitcoin so far.

Citibank has just offered its own take on the debate. In a U.S. Digital Banking report published last week, Citi’s “Could The Bitcoin Blockchain Disrupt Payments?” examines how the technology will threaten traditional banks’ role in the economy — if at all.

To put it simply, Citi concluded that, while the technology behind bitcoin, combined with other innovations, may “radically” change financial services, bitcoin is far from a threat to banks. Instead, it should be viewed as an opportunity, the financial institution said.

Many of the use cases proposed by the industry for blockchain — like cross-border remittances — don’t actually see their traditional sources of friction solved by the technology, Citi said. Instead, areas in payments like supply chain management are more likely candidates for disruption by bitcoin and blockchain.

Will The EU Rein In Bitcoin?

Regulation over bitcoin, digital currencies and prepaid cards might soon get a little tighter in the European Union, as new proposals from the European Commission would expand anti-money laundering rules.

This is a large effort to target major issues often associated with these payment types: terrorist financing and tax evasion. The proposals are also being created in order to determine how much oversight the EU needs on bank accounts in order to not only have better control on this issue but to increase transparency about how banks report suspicious activity.

Beyond prepaid, bitcoin and other digital currencies would be included in the EU’s anti-money laundering regulation that will be enacted at the end of 2016. What these rules require is that digital currency platforms must monitor transactions and users the same way banks do.

“Today’s proposals will help national authorities to track down people who hide their finances in order to commit crimes, such as terrorism,’’ European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans told The Wall Street Journal. “Member states will be able to get and share vital information about who really owns companies or trusts, who is dealing in online currencies and who is using prepaid cards.’’

Japan Lender Backs Coinbase

The bitcoin industry just got some big backing from Japan’s biggest lender, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG, BTMU), which is making an investment in Coinbase, a bitcoin wallet.

“We don’t have any specific plan for now, but through this investment, we wanted to work on developing our skills in public blockchain infrastructure,” Eiichi Kashiwagi, general manager of MUFG’s digital innovation division, told WSJ.

In order to gain more traction in the Asian market, Coinbase is planning on raising $10.5 million, which would include MUFG’s core banking unit, as well as its VC fund, bank leaders told WSJ.

“Partnering with leading global financial institutions is a key part of our strategy, and we are thrilled to be working with BTMU,” said Coinbase Cofounder Fred Ehrsam.