Bitcoin

Bitcoin Tracker: Bitcoin Flies High

Only two days in, and December has already been good to bitcoin.

This week saw bitcoin’s price jump over its previous 2016 high to reach a high of $778.14 today (Dec. 2) — well over November’s average price of about $725. Current numbers put the price at $769.79 at the time of writing. These things can change by the minute, as all cryptocurrency users well know, but the end of November and the first few days of December appear to have been good to bitcoin holders.

What a difference a year can make. This time last year, bitcoin’s price was closer to $360, coming up from a slump in the mid-$200s for much of 2015. While there’s still a way to go toward bitcoin’s all-time high of $1,216.73, reported on the Mt. Gox exchange back in 2013, its price has been trending upward for over a year-and-a-half.

Zcash, the newly released, actually anonymous cryptocurrency competitor to bitcoin, is also starting to see some stability after soaring highs and sharp volatility since late October of this year. Current prices have been dancing around 0.08 BTC, or approximately $63.

While bitcoin remains largely unregulated and relatively unsecured worldwide, recent strides have been made in Japan to capitalize on the cryptocurrency market. Mitsui Sumitomo, a Japanese insurance provider, announced plans last week to offer a new product exclusively for cryptocurrency.

Mitsui Sumitomo will offer crypto coverage ranging from 10 million to 1 billion Japanese yen (JPY; $87,947 to $8,794,690). The cryptocurrency insurance will factor in losses from hacking incidents, unauthorized access and other cyberattacks, as well human error and impropriety by employees. The product is now available for the Japanese bitcoin market bitFlyer.

Switzerland looks like the place to be for cryptocurrency aficionados. Multinational professional services firm Ernst & Young announced recently that as of January 2017 their Swiss firm will soon begin accepting bitcoin. Ernst & Young clients will be able to settle auditing invoices and advisory services with the currency. The company also installed a publicly accessible bitcoin ATM in their Zurich offices.

Ernst & Young’s Swiss CEO Marcel Stalder said in a statement, “We don’t only want to talk about digitalization, but also actively drive this process together with our employees and our clients. It is important to us that everybody gets on board and prepares themselves for the revolution set to take place in the business world through blockchains, smart contracts and digital currencies.”

In India, the stage may be getting set for the digital currency revolution Stalder spoke of.

In the midst of the ongoing cash controversy, bitcoin proponents are working to spread the word and beef up their digital offerings. Indian bitcoin startup Unocoin recently unveiled a bitcoin full-featured mobile wallet and bitcoin trading app for Android and iOS. The company previously released a point-of sale app that enables physical stores to accept bitcoin.

Sandeep Goenka, co-founder of Zebpay, another Indian bitcoin wallet, says bitcoin activists have been making efforts around to push the adoption of bitcoin in a country that has an unbanked population at 21 percent and at least 244 million smartphone users by 2017.

Goenka was quoted as saying, “India still has to catch up with payment networks with a majority of the population. I see bitcoin helping India to move to a modern financial infrastructure by skipping the plastic money infrastructure, just like we did with mobile phones and skipped the landline generation.”

Closing out this week’s bitcoin tracker comes a stateside story that’s sure to have some bitcoin and ether users on exchange startup Coinbase, Inc., feeling a bit wary about their privacy.

In mid-November of this year, the IRS sought access to Coinbase’s user records as part of an investigation into alleged tax violations connected to digital currency. They filed a petition in the District Court for the Northern District of California on asking for permission to serve a summons to Coinbase.

As of Nov. 30, the IRS got their wish. Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley sided in favor of the IRS request. They can now serve bitcoin and ether exchange startup Coinbase with a summons for user data from between December 31, 2013, and December 31, 2015.

But Coinbase isn’t going quietly. The company reportedly said they plan to oppose the ruling: “We are aware of, and expected, the court’s ex parte order today. We look forward to opposing the DOJ’s request in court after Coinbase is served with a subpoena. As we previously stated, we remain concerned with our U.S. customers’ legitimate privacy rights in the face of the government’s sweeping request.”

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