Category Archives: Austria

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Austria to Use Ethereum Blockchain Notarization Service For Federal Bond Auction

Austria is deploying an Ethereum-based blockchain notarization service during a federal bond auction on 2 October 2018, after a series of successful tests. The bonds being auctioned include a 0.75% bond from 2018-2028 and a 0% bond from 2016-2023, totaling EUR 1.15 billion. This is the first time the Austrian government has officially used blockchain for financial transactions.

The Austrian Federal Minister of Finance, Hartwig Loger, says, “The digitization of the financial sector, also known as FinTech, has long arrived in Austria. We need to use the positive effects intelligently for the financial services sector. Blockchain technology is an economic policy focus for us. With the establishment of the FinTech Advisory Council in the Ministry of Finance, we are developing strategies to help Austria make the best possible use of these developments.”

Issuance of federal debt via bond auctions is big business for governments, and it is certainly groundbreaking that blockchain technology is now being used for bond auctions in excess of USD 1 billion. Blockchain technology can be used to make bond auctions more secure and trustworthy, by storing details of the bond auction on an immutable and unhackable ledger. Markus Stix, the Head of Oesterreichische Kontrollbank, which is a bank that conducts federal bond auctions for the Austrian government, says, “This added security contributes to a high level of confidence in the auction process of Austrian government bonds and strengthens Austria’s good standing in the market, which can also indirectly contribute to favorable financing costs.”

Essentially, Stix is saying that using blockchain technology increases investor’s trust in the bond auction, since all data is permanently stored in a ledger that can be accessed worldwide, and this could cause increased investment into bonds in the future since investors feel safer.

 

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Crypto to Come Under Microscope at Vienna EU Talks

The EU is ready for its next round of talks with the 28 member states ready to discuss digital assets and whether further legislation is needed.

The next round is scheduled to be held in the Austrian capital Vienna on 7 September and is said to include certain issues surrounding cryptocurrencies such as money laundering, tax evasion and terrorist financing, all subjects which have been of concern to EU legislators over recent years.

It’s thought that the focus on money laundering, tax evasion and terrorist financing planned for Vienna has been motivated in part by concerns that EU laws don’t provide enough protection to investors, particularly in light of Asian moves to tighten regulation following hacking incidents this year. Also, the fact that unregulated exchanges fall outside of global financial regulations has caused some extra concern.

It should be acknowledged that while these concerns continue to dominate EU discussions, it has been noted by the both the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that both digital currencies and blockchain technology can bring great benefits to capital markets and commerce in general.

Regulators in Europe are also keen on harnessing the new technologies unleashed by digital currencies, according to the updated document. Initial coin offerings “have established an effective and efficient way to raise capital”, it said, adding that this development could also help integrate capital markets in the bloc.

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire recently described cryptocurrency as a “revolution”. Income tax on crypto has been axed by the French government and former French finance minister Christine Lagarde, now IMF head, described future international digital currency regulation as “inevitable”.

Lagarde said that not only could Bitcoin enable fast and inexpensive transactions but that the underlying technology behind cryptocurrencies, blockchain, could make financial markets safer.

Other states have made positive comments with the German federal government stating that cryptocurrencies don’t pose any threat to financial stability and the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announcing the launch of a collaborative entity, the Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN).

An EU document obtained by Bloomberg says that ICOs “have established an effective and efficient way to raise capital”. The document reportedly also states that ICOs could help integrate capital markets in the EU.

 

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Over 3,000 Bitcoin ATMs Worldwide and Argentina Wants 30,000 of Its Own

New figures released by CoinATMradar show that there are now 3,125 Bitcoin ATMs worldwide, with six new installations daily, reports BitcoinistArgentina plans to become the world’s biggest player with pre-agreements to install 4,000 ATM around the South American country as part of a new government plan to install 30,000 machines in the future.

Bitcoin’s recent slump hasn’t seemed to have affected the ATM industry with reports that it’s healthier than ever, given that at the beginning of 2017 there were only 1,000 machines worldwide.

Bitcoin ATM startup BCB ATM saw its sales figures soar by 528% in just 11 months through 2017, and other companies are experiencing the same rise in sales in 2018. Rising Bitcoin prices over the past three years have accelerated the installation of machines with cryptocurrencies’ wider adoption around the world.

The United States remains the largest business provider for ATM companies with 1,800 machines across the country, followed by Canada with 477, and then Austria in third place with just 174, as the demand for buying and selling using the machines increases. The US capital recently doubled its ATM availability from 20 to 40 due to public demand.

Machines which allow customers to both buy and sell have increased by 35% as manufacturers have improved hardware. These machines have proved to be profitable for operators as they charge fees for both buying and selling transactions, charging an average fee to the client of 8.77%.

Out of the 31 total hardware manufacturers, the top three include Genesis Coin (34.37%), General Bytes (27.49%), and Lamassu (11.23%) who comprise over 70% of the entire market. Bitcoin is king with 99.9% of all ATMs supporting it, followed in popularity by Litecoin and Ethereum.

ATMs are not the only way of trading on the move as increasing outlets, now numbering in their thousands, give customers a quick trading opportunity. Customers can now purchase their Bitcoins through vouchers, gift cards and web-money kiosks, with Switzerland leading the way with Bitcoin now available as payment at 1,357 railway ticket kiosks around the alpine nation.

 

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