During the first half of 2017, the whole world has witnessed a lot of major developments for bitcoin. Bitcoin’s market value soared from around $17.5 billion on April 1 to more than $19.5 billion within just twenty days, according to CoinMarketCap data. But that’s not all. On May 2, bitcoin’s price reached a record high of $1,469.56.
Behind these impressive numbers, positive movements happening all over the globe have been instrumental in strengthening the value of the bitcoin, as influential nations like Japan, Austria, and Russia have started to embrace bitcoin technology.
First Bitcoin Bank Opens in Vienna, Austria
Austria went down in history as the first country to have a centralized physical location for the buying and selling of bitcoins on February 10. Bit Trust, a blockchain based tech company, opened Bitcoin-Bank in Vienna, Austria.
Bit Trust Managing Director Magdalena Isbrandt is quick to point out some of the advantages of digital currency, for instance the fact that transactions “are simply much faster and can be done without a middleman.” Customers can continue to mine for bitcoins using graphical front end interfaces such as that from Guiminer.org then head over to Bitcoin-Bank to exchange their bitcoins for euro and vice versa, if they wish.
Bitcoin Becomes Recognized as Legal Tender in Japan
On April 1, a Bitcoin legalization bill that was drafted and proposed by the Japanese Financial System Council (FSC) back in 2015 went into full effect. With this, Japan became the first nation to recognize Bitcoin as legal tender.
According to an article published in The Japan Times, the bill was proposed following the Mt. Gox fiasco with the purpose of preventing future cases of mishandling user funds and operating with weak Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) systems. With the legalization of this cryptocurrency, bitcoin exchanges and service providers are now required to undergo approval by the Financial Services Agency before they can offer their services to the public.
Russia is Considering Digital Currencies as a Legal Payment Method
In 2014, Russia’s central bank, the Bank of Russia, banned the use of digital currencies which were deemed as a threat to the struggling Russian ruble. Consequently, bitcoin websites shut down and several lawmakers protested against the use of digital currencies in the country, suggesting that these are being used for money laundering and terrorist financing.
Two years later, however, the Russian Federal Tax Service issued a letter stating that digital currencies are not illegal under Russian law. And recently, Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev shared during an interview that the Bank of Russia is working with the government to recognize digital currencies such as bitcoin as a legal payment method.
As the recent developments in Austria, Japan, and Russia open up more opportunities for bitcoin miners, buyers and business that allow payments in the said currency, it is not impossible for these to pave the way for other countries to follow suit. Unprecedented growth has been witnessed this year, and we can only imagine how much more bitcoin can grow in the succeeding months.