Czech Utility Company Introduces Crypto Payments

Czech Utility Company Introduces Crypto Payments

One of the largest energy suppliers in the Czech Republic has recently announced plans to start accepting cryptocurrency from its customers. The bitcoin payment option should be available as early as next month, its management said. The company is about to join a growing number of Czech businesses processing crypto payments by introducing them to the energy sector.  

Also read: Poll: Bitcoin More Popular With Czechs than the Euro

Reaching Out to the Young People

The firm in question, Pražská Plynárenská, is not new to the concept of diversification. It is one of the major suppliers of natural gas in the Czech Republic, serving 420,000 homes and businesses. The company is also an electric and heating utility which installs photovoltaics and gas-operated boilers, its website shows. According to its Bloomberg overview, Pražská Plynárenská is engaged in assembling and maintaining telecommunications equipment, servicing motor vehicles, and many more business endeavors, including IT services. The latest project – bitcoin payments.

Czech Utility Company Introduces Crypto Payments

“In June, we are opening a payment gateway, which will automatically transfer our bitcoin payments into regular currency, so that we don’t have to speculate with cryptocurrency. But if anyone wants to pay in an alternative way, we want to allow them to do that,” said Pavel Janeček, chief executive officer of the Prague-based company. According to Hospodářské Noviny, Pražská Plynárenská will pioneer cryptocurrency payments in the country’s energy sector.

Janeček also said that the introduction of bitcoin (BTC) as a payment option will make his company more attractive for the younger generation. This is obviously a priority as the management has also organized rentals of cars running on eco-friendly CNG especially for Youtube vloggers. “We are trying to reach out to the young customers,” he reiterated, those who buy everything with their mobile phones.

Crypto Payments on the Rise in the Czech Republic

A growing number of Czech businesses are turning to cryptocurrencies as an alternative and modern payment option. Although for some companies this might be merely a marketing move, with few of their customers paying in crypto and the merchants immediately converting the coins to fiat, others are more serious about cryptocurrency.

Last year, the largest online retailer in the country, Alza.cz, started accepting bitcoin (BTC) on its platform, as news.Bitcoin.com reported. According to Jan Sadílek, head of internet marketing at Alza.cz, the number of orders and the crypto turnover have increased significantly over the past months. Customers are paying with cryptocurrency for a variety of products, including the popular hard wallet Trezor offered by the Czech-based Satoshilabs. Since February this year, Alza also accepts litecoin, praised for faster transactions and lower fees.

Other examples include several Subway stores and the Paralelní Polis café in Prague, which is popular among members of the Czech crypto community. According to the local press, it is actually accepting only cryptocurrency for your coffee.

Czech Utility Company Introduces Crypto Payments

On the other hand, several banks have been trying to block crypto-related transactions of Czech businesses. One of them, Mbank, has explained its restrictive policies with an argument often used by traditional financial institutions around the world – money laundering concerns. Others, like Komerční bank, have imposed strict controls on operations associated with cryptocurrency. Raiffeisenbank has alerted its clients that transactions with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are unsafe.

However, a survey conducted earlier this year indicated that the popularity of digital coins is growing in the Czech Republic now, when the fiat koruna is free-floating again. Czechs are more inclined to store value in cryptocurrency than in euros, according to the February Ipsos poll among 525 people. When asked about their intentions to acquire foreign cash, twice as many respondents said they were interested in buying bitcoin rather than acquiring US dollars.

Do you expect more utility companies to introduce crypto payments in the near future? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Zimbabwe High Court Reverses Central Bank’s Cryptocurrency Ban

Zimbabwe High Court Reverses Central Bank's Cryptocurrency Ban

Just recently news.Bitcoin.com reported on the Zimbabwe-based exchange Golix filing a lawsuit over the recent Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) ‘cryptocurrency ban’ that was issued in a financial guidance circular earlier this month. Now, according to numerous regional reports, the Zimbabwe High Court has ruled in favor of the trading platform’s argument because the RBZ failed to show up to the trial.  

Also read: India’s Supreme Court Keeps Ban on Banks’ Crypto Services, For Now

Harare High Court Reverses RBZ Cryptocurrency Ban

Multiple regional news outlets and individuals on social media have reported that the Zimbabwe High Court has lifted the RBZ ban against cryptocurrency activities taking place within the country. The local digital asset exchange Golix decided to take the case to the High Court stating the RBZ had no right to enforce such laws and only the country’s parliament can issue a financial ban.

Zimbabwe High Court Reverses Central Bank's Cryptocurrency Ban

After the bank issued its Circular to Banking Institutions No. 2/2018: Virtual Currencies, many people thought the central bank effectively banned all cryptocurrency activities. Today, Golix and its legal team managed to get High Court judge Justice Alphas Chitakunye to overturn the ban.

On May 24 one of the legal team members, and a constitutional lawyer, Fadzayi Mahere, announced the victory to her Twitter followers stating:

RBZ ban on cryptos lifted by the High Court. Administrative justice is alive and well in this jurisdiction. Section 68 of the Constitution is our best friend.

Zimbabwe High Court Reverses Central Bank's Cryptocurrency Ban
The legal team fighting against the recent RBZ ruling in Zimbabwe.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Representatives Fail to Attend Harare High Court Trial

Alongside Fadzayi Mahere, the Golix team was represented by another attorney named Hopewell Chitima. The legal team used Section 68 of the country’s constitution but no representatives from the RBZ showed up to the trial. Regional reports state that because of this action, the Harare High Court justice ruled in favor of the Golix team. High Court judge Alphas Chitakunye’s ruling states:

The ban issued by the Respondents [RBZ] through letter dated 15 May 2018 against Applicant directing it to cease operations, shut down its virtual currency exchange business and ordering the closure of its bank account with its banks is hereby reversed and set aside.

At the time of publication, there have been no statements made by the RBZ, the central bank’s registrar Norman Mataruke, or the RBZ governor, John Mangudya.

What do you think about the High Court lifting the RBZ ban? Do you think the central bank will respond to this ruling? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Images via Fadzayi Mahere’s Twitter page, Shutterstock, and Pixabay. 


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Ireland Clarifies Taxation of Crypto Transactions

Ireland Clarifies Taxation of Crypto Transactions

The Irish revenue service has published a manual with guidelines aimed at eliminating the uncertainty surrounding the taxation of crypto transactions. Investors and traders of digital coins, businesses working with cryptocurrency and tax advisors, of course, can now find answers to many but not all of their questions. The notice has been issued at a time when tax authorities across Europe are trying to tap into crypto incomes and profits in the absence of dedicated regulations in most cases.  

Also read: Poland Backpedals on “Irrational” Crypto Tax After Strong Backlash

Cryptos to Be Treated Under ‘Normal’ Tax Rules

The “Tax and Duty Manual” issued by authorities in Ireland attempts to clarify matters related to crypto taxation and mostly confirms that the existing regulations apply to the crypto sector. The document provides guidelines on the tax treatment of various transactions involving cryptocurrencies. The Irish Revenue Commissioners, the government agency responsible for customs and taxation, emphasizes that the advisory published this month is to be used as a reference for tax purposes only, as it does not cover regulatory and other aspects.

According to the instructions, direct taxes such as corporation tax, income tax and capital gains tax are applicable but each case should be reviewed separately, according to the individual facts and circumstances. In general, businesses accepting crypto payments for goods or services should keep records of crypto transactions. No special rules have been introduced so far and taxable profits should be calculated according to the current tax legislation.

Ireland Clarifies Taxation of Crypto Transactions

The profits and losses of a company transacting in cryptocurrency must be reflected in accounts and are taxable under “normal CT rules,” the document states. Ireland’s Taxes Consolidation Act from 1997 recognizes that some businesses operate and prepare their accounts in a “functional currency” other than euro. The authors of the manual point out, however, that cryptocurrencies cannot be considered functional currencies as defined in Section 402(1) of the TCA. Therefore, accounts for tax purposes cannot be maintained in crypto. Instead, euro or other fiat currency should be used.

Irish tax officials have explained crypto income taxation, as well. “Profits and losses of a non-incorporated business on cryptocurrency transactions must be reflected in their accounts and will be taxable on normal income tax rules,” the notice reads. They have also informed taxpayers that gains and losses incurred on cryptocurrencies are chargeable or allowable for capital gains tax if they accrue to an individual, or for corporate tax on chargeable gains for companies.

Bitcoin Is Currency as Far as VAT is Concerned

In the absence of common European guidelines on how to treat cryptocurrencies for tax purposes, many member-states have decided to base their VAT (Value Added Tax) policies on a ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU from 2015. The Luxembourg-based institution has drawn a parallel between “virtual currencies” and fiat money, when they are used for payments. The Republic of Ireland is now joining these countries confirming that bitcoin constitutes a currency for VAT purposes.

Ireland Clarifies Taxation of Crypto TransactionsIn result, cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are regarded as “negotiable instruments” and exempt from VAT in accordance with the Irish VAT Consolidation Act of 2010. The manual notes this applies to companies buying and selling cryptocurrencies and acting as owners of crypto holdings. On the other hand, value added tax is due from suppliers of goods or services sold for cryptocurrencies. The taxable amount, however, should again be calculated in euro and at the time of the supply.

The Irish Revenue Commissioners point out that the value of bitcoin and other cryptos may vary between trading platforms. In the absence of a single exchange rate, a “reasonable effort should be made to use an appropriate valuation for the transaction in question,” the manual says, without detailing what “reasonable” and “appropriate” may mean in practice.

Income received from mining operations will generally be outside the scope of the value added tax. Crypto mining is not considered an economic activity for VAT purposes yet. It’s worth noting that no instructions have been given on the taxation of incomes, profits and other flows related to initial coin offerings. The document issued by the Irish revenue service does not say anything about digital tokens and token sales.

Do you think the Irish tax manual provides enough clarity in regards to crypto taxation? Share your opinions in the comments section below.  


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NEO and Ontology Announce “Joint Task Force”

NEO and Ontology

NEO and Ontology: After signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) earlier on May 14, 2018, with the Ontology Foundation, the NEO Foundation announced on Thursday that the two would be co-funding a “Joint Task Force”.

NEO and Ontology: The Task Force

The task force will focus on developing “a sharing ecosystem of smart [contracts], building open standards for smart [contracts], and cross-chain technology innovation.”

According to a recent post from NEO, the Joint Task Force was funded with a total of RMB 4 million, or approximately $627,180 USD in capital, and will be comprised ...

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Bitcoin Gold (BTG) Double Spend Attack: More to Come?

Bitcoin Gold (BTG) double spend attack

A Bitcoin Gold (BTG) double spend attack was successfully accomplished last week, and there’s concern that the attack may not be over yet. Are these concerns valid? Here’s what’s happening.

The Bitcoin Gold (BTG) Double Spend Attack

A malicious miner was able to take temporary control over the Bitcoin Gold network by scooping up 51% of the total hashpower.

Once they had control of the network, the miner started depositing Bitcoin Gold (BTG) into crypto exchanges and then immediately sending those deposits to a wallet they owned. Because the miner held the majority of ...

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Russian Duma Adopts Three Crypto Bills on First Reading

Russian Duma Adopts Three Crypto Bills on First Reading

Russian State Duma has approved its first reading of the long-awaited legislation package regulating crypto-related matters and activities. The legal texts, voted almost unanimously, will open the way for legalization of cryptocurrencies in the Russian Federation, including their exchange and circulation under certain conditions. Deputies now have about two weeks to propose amendments before they proceed to final adoption of the three bills.

Also read: Cryptocurrency is Property in Russia, Justice Minister Confirms

The Bills Regulate Crypto Assets, Crowdfunding and Digital Rights

The lower house of Russia’s parliament, the Duma, has accepted and approved on first reading three pieces of legislation tailored to regulate different aspects of the crypto ecosphere in the country. This week, the bills – “On Digital Financial Assets,” “On Attracting Investments Using Investment Platforms,” and “On Digital Rights” – hit the house floor. All of them were voted almost unanimously, the Russian Association of Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain announced on social media.  Some interesting ideas, like tax breaks, have been pitched already during parliamentary discussions.

Russian Duma Adopts Three Crypto Bills on First ReadingThe first two drafts were introduced on March 20 by a group of deputies led by the chairman of the Financial Market Committee, Anatoly Aksakov, while the third one, which amends the country’s Civil Code, was filed on March 26 by the speaker of the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, and the head of the parliamentary Legislation Committee, Pavel Krasheninnikov.

The new legislation incorporates legal concepts like “digital right” and “smart contract” and defines cryptocurrencies and tokens as property, not as legal tender. It establish the sequence of actions in a token sale and the rules governing ICO projects. The texts form the basis for legalizing crypto mining but the legal definition of this economic activity will be expanded and refined between the two readings. Other amendments may be introduced in the next couple of weeks. Some proposals, including a moratorium on the taxation of miners, have been discussed in parliament already.

Cryptocurrency Is Electronic Property, Not Legal Tender

The bill “On Digital Financial Assets”, № 419059-7, prepared by the Finance Ministry, was voted by Russian legislators with only one “nay”. It regulates the relations arising from the creation, issuance, storage, and circulation of digital financial assets. The draft also establishes the exact procedures for conducting crypto transactions and concluding smart contracts, including the exercise of rights and the performance of obligations.

Last week, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said that common words like “cryptocurrencies” and “tokens” will be replaced with the legal terms “digital money” and “digital rights” in the new legislation. The text of this particular draft, however, contains definitions of the original, colloquial terms. It reads: “Digital financial asset – property in electronic form, created using cryptographic tools.” It also says that property rights in this case are certified by making digital records in a register of digital transactions.

Russian Duma Adopts Three Crypto Bills on First Reading

“Digital financial assets include cryptocurrency, token,” the document states, emphasizing that these assets are not legal tender in the Russian Federation. According to the authors, tokens can have a single issuer, while cryptocurrencies can have multiple issuers, like the miners. Both can be exchanged with rubles and foreign currencies under rules determined by the Central Bank of Russia (CBR). They will not be considered a mandatory means of payment, account and transfer like the ruble, but individuals and businesses will be able to use them for payments within the frame of the law.

According to Russian media reports, the draft states that crypto purchases and sales should be performed only through providers of exchange services for digital financial assets – brokers, dealers, and corporate entities – acting as custodians. That includes cryptocurrency exchanges which will offer individual accounts and wallets to their customers. The rules governing these activities shall be developed by the Central Bank in consultation with the Council of Ministers.

Crowdfunding and Crowdinvesting Regulated

The bill also describes the sequence of actions involved in issuing digital tokens, stating that their release should be carried out through public offering. Entities behind initial coin offerings (ICOs) will be required to disclose detailed information about their projects. The organizers of token sales need to prove they control at least 5 million rubles (~$81,000) of capital. Banks and non-credit financial institutions won’t be allowed to conducts ICOs. The law also regulates crypto mining and implies that miners should register with the Federal Tax Service, as either individual entrepreneurs or legal entities, and pay taxes.

Russian Duma Adopts Three Crypto Bills on First Reading

The Law “On Attracting Investments Using Investment Platforms”, № 419090-7, regulates specifically crowdfunding and crowdinvesting in Russia. The draft reads that both legal entities and individual entrepreneurs can be involved in such activities and prescribes the norms that the organizers of digital fundraising should abide by.

According to its provisions, private citizens can participate in crowdfunding without any registration but the investment platform operators should be registered with the CBR. The bank will also determine the maximum amount an “unqualified investor” can spend on a single project as well as and the limit of their yearly investments in digital tokens.

Only Tokens with Economic Value to Be Recognized as ‘Digital rights’

Russian Duma Adopts Three Crypto Bills on First ReadingThe third draft passed on first reading, the bill “On Digital Rights” – № 424632-7, amends the Russian civil law. It introduces basic provisions allowing legislators to regulate the market of tokens and cryptocurrencies and creating conditions for digital transactions. The text develops the legal concept of “digital right” to define tokens.

According to the authors, only tokens with significant economic meaning will be recognized as digital rights, unlike loyalty points or virtual coins used in online gaming, for example. A holder of a “digital right” is described as a person with unique access to the coin’s digital code.

Besides regulating the circulation of tokens and the execution of token transactions, the law is also expected to ensure judicial protection for their owners. The introduction of digital rights creates a legal basis for taxation of economic activities related to token sales, as well.

Do you think the new legislation will open the way for mass adoption of cryptocurrencies in Russia? Tell us in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Norway and England Contemplate Central Bank-Issued Cryptocurrencies

Norway and England Contemplate Central Bank-Issued Cryptocurrencies

The central banks of Norway and England have published reports exploring different models for central bank-issued cryptocurrencies. By contrast, Federal Reserve governor, Lael Brainard, recently expressed her opposition to central bank cryptocurrencies – claiming that such would result in broad “macroeconomic consequences.”

Also Read: Chilean President Considering Regulation of Cryptocurrencies

Decline of Cash Prompts Norwegian Central Bank to Consider Central Bank-Issued Digital Currency

Norway and England Contemplate Central Bank-Issued CryptocurrenciesA new report prepared by a working group of Norges Bank has indicated that Norway’s central bank is contemplating the development of a central bank-issued cryptocurrency. The report states that “A decline in cash usage has prompted us to think about whether at some future date a number of new attributes that are important for ensuring an efficient and robust payment system and confidence in the monetary system will be needed,” adding “If the answer is yes, a [central bank-issued digital currency (CBDC)] may be an appropriate measure.”

Norges Bank identifies three specific purposes for a central bank-issued consideration that it believes “merits further consideration: […] ensur[ing] a public and credit risk-free alternative to deposits in private banks, in addition to cash[,] function[ing] as an independent backup solution for the ordinary electronic payments systems,” and “ensur[ing] the existence of suitable legal tender as a supplement to cash.”

The report states that “It is too early to conclude whether Norges Bank should take the initiative in introducing a CBDC. The impacts of a CBDC – and the socio-economic cost-benefit analysis – will depend on the specific design. The design, in turn, will depend on the purpose of introducing a CBDC,“ adding that “A CBDC raises complex issues,” and “There is virtually no international experience to draw on.” Norges Bank states that it “will continue to issue cash as long as there is demand for it. But when cash usage declines, a CBDC can be an alternative to deposit money. The primary purpose of a CBDC is to ensure confidence in money and the monetary system.”

“Further analysis is needed to assess the purposes of a CBDC, the types of solutions that best achieve these purposes and the benefits measured against financial and other costs. This is a long-term undertaking. The aim of publishing the working group’s report is to inform the public about its work, disseminate knowledge[.] and initiate a dialogue with stakeholders,” the report states.

English Central Bank Explores Different Models for Central Bank-Issued Cryptocurrency

Norway and England Contemplate Central Bank-Issued CryptocurrenciesThe Bank of England has published a working paper exploring three potential models for central bank-issued digital currencies.

The three models explore are the “Financial Institutions Access” model (FI), the “Economy-Wide Access” model (EW), and the “Financial Institutions Plus CBDC-Backed Narrow Bank Access” model (FI+). The FI model would see “CBDC access […] limited to banks and [non-bank financial institutions (FBFIs)],” whereas the EW model additionally allow “households and firms” to access CBDC. The FI+ model would see “CBDC access […] limited to banks and NBFIs,” however, “Within the NBFI sector there is at least one financial institution that acts as a narrow bank, providing a financial asset to households and firms that is fully backed by CBDC but that does not extend credit. That is, they provide households and firms with an asset that has the risk profile of central bank money, rather than a risk profile linked to the financial institution and of its borrowers.”

The report claims to “find that if the introduction of CBDC follows a set of core principles, bank funding is not necessarily reduced, credit and liquidity provision to the private sector need not contract, and the risk of a system-wide run from bank deposits to CBDC is addressed.” Said principles are that “CBDC pays an adjustable interest rate,” that “CBDC and reserves are distinct, and not convertible into each other,” “No guarantee [of] on-demand convertibility of bank deposits into CBDC at commercial banks,” and that “The central bank issues CBDC only against eligible securities.”

U.S. Federal Reserve Governor Opposed to Central Bank-Issued Digital Currencies

Norway and England Contemplate Central Bank-Issued CryptocurrenciesThe Norwegian and British reports come approximately one week after U.S. Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard expressed her opposition to the suggestion of central bank-issued cryptocurrencies at the Decoding Digital Currency Conference in San Francisco.

Governor Brainard expressed a number of concerns pertaining to central bank digital currencies, stating that “there are serious technical and operational challenges that would need to be overcome,” including “the risk of creating a global target for cyberattacks or a ready means of money laundering.”

Mrs. Brainard argued that “the issuance of central bank digital currency could have implications for retail banking beyond payments,” asserting that “If a successful central bank digital currency were to become widely used, it could become a substitute for retail banking deposits. This could restrict banks’ ability to make loans for productive economic activities and have broader macroeconomic consequences.“ The governor also claimed that “the parallel coexistence of central bank digital currency with retail banking deposits could raise the risk of runs on the banking system in times of stress.”

Governor Brainard concluded that “there is no compelling demonstrated need for a Fed-issued digital currency,” adding that “most consumers and businesses in the U.S. already make retail payments electronically using debit and credit cards, payment applications, and the automated clearinghouse network.”

What is your opinion on central bank-issued cryptocurrencies? Tell us in the comments section below!


 Images courtesy of Shutterstock


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Verge suffers a new 51% attack

Verge Hack

Verge Hack: Verge has been experiencing a series of difficulties that have further divided the user community between haters and hodlers. The security flaws have become more evident than ever. This problem along with an unorganized development team has led the crypto to a questionable position within the crypto sphere.

Previously known as Dogecoin Dark, Verge became famous after being recommended by John McAfee as an altcoin with excellent growth potential.

However, after the hype, its price went on a really bearish trend, leading many to believe that it would be possible to try ...

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VeChain Thor [VEN] [VET] Public Beta Launch – New Development Plan & Whitepaper

VeChain Thor

VeChain Thor [VEN] [VET] – The VeChain Foundation unveiled a few days ago, a new development plan and whitepaper for its project.

Unveiling our “Development Plan and Whitepaper” with an updated governance structure, economic model, and new use cases. This piece will gradually be updated throughout its existence to reflect the goals and growth of the VeChainThor Blockchain.https://t.co/6tjZOaWIrK

— VeChain Foundation (@vechainofficial) May 20, 2018

This new development plan is centered around four key obstacles that the foundation feels must be overcome in order for widespread adoption of cryptocurrency to occur. VeChain’s ...

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