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Could Bitcoin Benefit from Italy’s Proposed Tax on Bank Stored Cash?

Could Bitcoin Benefit from Italy's Proposed Tax on Bank Stored Cash?

A Reuters story reports that Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister has proposed the country now tax the cash and other valuables stored by Italians at safes in banks. Should this proposal to tax hidden wealth go into action, it could be yet another factor driving people to seek an alternative to store their wealth. And that alternative could very well be Bitcoin.

This news comes at a convergence of other economic uncertainties: the ongoing trade war between the world’s largest economies, rising geopolitical strains between other investment markets and increasing signs of yet another global economic crisis.

Matteo Salvini didn’t sound like he was joking when he made the proposal live on Italian TV late last night, saying that he had just been informed that cash and other valuables stashed in safety deposit boxes all around Italy amounted to hundreds of billions of euros. Described as “substantially hidden” wealth, he implied that the state had a divine right to be aware of this wealth, and threatened to tax those who withheld the information with a higher rate than those who were more open about the extent of their savings.

One market analyst, Holger Zshaepitz, posted a chart showing an all-time high of retail deposits in Italy, prompting analysts to say that this development “could be the best thing to ever happen to bitcoin”.

This is bullish for bitcoin 🚀

Italy could end up being the best thing to ever happen to bitcoin.

H/t @Ray94609549 https://t.co/TmkS7FZICl

— Alex Krüger (@krugermacro) June 12, 2019

It could be too soon to say, however. Although Bitcoin could be much harder for states to chase, and it is a market that is generally unaffected by the slumps of traditional markets, the volatility of Bitcoin and its cyclical tendency to shed up to 90% of its value could still prevent people from diving in. A collapse of fiat and traditional banking systems, however, would leave a void quickly filled by Bitcoin.

 

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Poste Italiane Joins FedEx in Adopting Hyperledger Blockchain

Poste Italiane Joins FedEx in Adopting Hyperledger Blockchain

The Italian Postal Service has now joined multinational courier delivery services FedEx in adopting the Hyperledger blockchain.

Poste Italiane is now to use Hyperledger as part of its Deliver 2022 Business Plan in order to streamline its current mail services. Hyperledger is a collaborative project led by the Linux Foundation to create open-source standards for blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). It includes American Express, Cisco, Intel , JPMorgan, Deloitte, and Huawei.

FedEx came on board with Hyperledger in September 2018 with the company impressed that the tech had “big, big implications” for supply chains, transportation, and logistics, all areas crucial to the US postal giant’s worldwide operations.

A statement from Poste Italiane said that blockchain tech is “an effective response to the problems of security, transparency, interoperability, and privacy”. It follows a recent positive amendment to current Italian Senate definitions. Definitions have now been offered for DLT technologies and smart contracts, also that blockchain-based digital data will now represent a legal validation of content.

Once the amendment becomes Italian law, the technical aspects will be overseen by the Agency for Digital Italy and the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.

After signing a declaration with six other EU states this month to integrate blockchain into European economies, the Italian Government has also taken a bold step further by manning its new blockchain advisory board with 30 experts.

The board has been in the pipeline since September 2018 when the Ministry of Economic Development called for more government focus to “know, deepen and address the issue of distributed ledger technologies (DLT) and blockchain”, as well as increase public and private investments in this direction.

 

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Italy Flexes Regulatory Muscle with Non-Compliant Crypto Exchanges

Italian regulators, the Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa (CONSOB), is tightening its grip on cryptocurrency firms who don’t comply with the commission’s regulations.

Three companies have been cited in a CONSOB statement as receiving suspensions from operating their services, two companies receiving three-month suspensions and one banned from operating for an indefinite period spanning months.

Richmond Investing was the first to come under the regulator’s microscope, principally for failing to meet Italian laws regarding the operation of cryptocurrency online trading platforms. Richmond failed to register to as a mediator offering finance-related services contravening the principal Consolidated Law on Finance (TUF).

Another company, Crypton Limited, was penalized for contravening another law applying to cryptocurrency trading, accused of making inappropriate promotions and advertisements. Crypton was hit with a 3-month operating suspension, as was Eagle Bit Trade for apparently offering wildcat trading packages to Italian investors.

Cease and desist actions are not uncommon as a global repositioning is underway regarding cryptocurrency regulation with most countries now re-examining how they plan to regulate the space for both the protection of the public. Also, there is a growing need to offer greater clarity to exchanges and fintech companies regarding operating protocols across jurisdictions.

Italy is also in this position as it continues to work towards establishing a formal framework for cryptocurrency exchanges to work within, including, like many other nations, addressing digital currency tax laws as they apply to the public.

Italy recently announced that it was about to enter the European Blockchain Partnership, an organization formed to promote blockchain technology between member states.

In doing so, Italy became the 27th nation to sign the agreement since its conception earlier this year in April. The partnership has grown from 22 nations since its launch. Initially, the EU had launched an EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum, subsequently investing more than EUR 80 million in blockchain projects. A further EUR 300 million has been allocated over the next four years.

 

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Italy Consolidates Blockchain Position in EU Partnership

Italy has announced that it is about to enter the European Blockchain Partnership, an organization formed to promote blockchain technology between member states.

On doing so, Italy has become the 27th nation to sign the agreement since its conception earlier this year in April. The partnership has grown from 22 nations since its launch. Initially, the EU had launched an EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum, subsequently investing more than EUR 80 million in blockchain projects. A further EUR 300 million has been allocated over the next four years.

The partnership has expressed a positive view in the past towards blockchain development and  adoption among EU nations:

“In the future, all public services will use blockchain technology. The blockchain is a great opportunity for Europe and member states to rethink their information systems, to promote user trust and the protection of personal data, to help create new business opportunities and to establish new areas of leadership, benefiting citizens, public services and companies.”

The awaited addition of Italy marks the final step in all EU nations becoming contributors. Italian member of Parliament (MP) Mirella Liuzzi was delighted with the Brussels signing on 28 September:

“Joining the partnership will allow Italy… to define its own line in the development of [blockchain] technology — a practice which the previous government had never implemented.”

Italy is seeing an increasing interest in cryptocurrencies as well. Naples is considering launching a municipal coin with the support of the local mayor, and areas of southern Italy have recently expressed a desire to launch their own cryptocurrency to extend autonomy.

Italy’s neighbor Germany has been making its mark in the crypto-space for some time, with Berlin becoming a well-known blockchain hub among industry players across the EU. Currently, the vibrant city is home to 120 startups.

With recent news from the Boerse Stuttgart Group, which is currently building its own infrastructure to accommodate cryptocurrencies, Germany is certainly in the game, the exchange being the second largest in the country and ninth largest in Europe.

A recent report from Handelsblatt Global has revealed that 13% of German companies are now involved with blockchain in the energy market. The WSW project in Wuppertal, which allows customers to create their own green energy selections online, uses blockchain to ensure that no wind or solar power units can be sold more than once.

 

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Mayor of Naples Plans for Autonomous Government, Native Crypto

The Mayor of Naples, Italy, Luigi de Magistris, has announced a three-pronged plan that would make the City of Naples more independent. The first part of the plan is to announce a concrete manifesto via the legislature that would make the city autonomous. The second part of the plan is to cancel unfair debts, particularly from earthquake recovery and waste management. The third part of the plan is to launch an independent currency, likely a cryptocurrency.

Although there is no mention of cryptocurrency in the post announcing this three-pronged plan, in June 2018 the City of Naples under the guidance of the mayor created a special focus group to develop and implement a municipal cryptocurrency. De Magistris thinks cryptocurrency can help create a new economy for Naples and is considering launching the municipal cryptocurrency with an initial coin offering (ICO).

The mayor derided the euro, saying, “We don’t have to pay them with their own putrid currency”, in reference to the tremendous debts imposed on Naples by the Italian government based in Rome. He believes northern Italy is discriminating against Naples and southern Italy in general, and is sucking the resources out of southern Italy. He pledges that large euro debts will be completely deleted from Naples’ budget.

In general, a cryptocurrency has the potential to drastically improve the economy of Naples, since if it’s designed correctly it will address inflation. Right now, Naples uses the euro, which has 2-3% inflation per year due to money printing. A correctly designed cryptocurrency won’t have money printing and will hold value long term, ending the outflow of money from Naples due to money printing by the European Central Bank. If this experiment is successful perhaps more cities will launch their own cryptocurrency, or simply adopt Bitcoin.

 

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Italian Bitcoin Wallets Seized In Continuing BitGrail/Nano Saga

BitGrail has announced that bitcoins stored in the firm’s wallets have been seized from its Italian exchange by authorities, reports CoinTelegraph.

The Tribunal of Florence court order to seize the funds is part of an ongoing saga in the Italian courts which began when a US class action was filed against the company in order to compensate victims for the loss of 17 million XRB (Nano) tokens, thought to have been stolen in January of this year. They were worth about USD 187 million at the time the theft was reported.

The original hacking prompted BitGrail to freeze trading in February, followed by the Nano community starting a legal fund through creditor Espen Enger who represented nearly 600 victims at the time. Reportedly, BonelliErede is now filing the bankruptcy petition on behalf of Enger who has made contact with over 3,000 claimants and made a statement indicating that a speedy and “equitable” resolution was needed:

In the latest in this complex case, the recent new court action revealed:

“On June 5, 2018, pursuant to the Tribunal of Florence orders, the bitcoins contained in the company’s wallets were seized and brought under control of the judicial authorities pending further Court decisions in the pre-bankruptcy proceeding.”

The hack caused a series of arguments between BitGrail and the Nano Foundation over which of the two companies were the vulnerable parties. For its part, the Nano foundation suggested it will provide the victims of the hack through the establishment of a legal fund and access to legal support to pursue their claims against the now insolvent BitGrail.

The seizure of BTC was authorized after a petition to the court filed by victims of the BitGrail hack, asserting that the exchange is bankrupt under article 6 of Italian bankruptcy law.

In other news from Italy, the Bank of Italy’s deputy governor has just announced that the country’s central banks have no current plans to issue government-backed cryptocurrencies, according to Cryptona.

 

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Not Yet for CBDC Says Italian Central Bank

Italy has decided that at this present time it has no inclination to embark on a CBDC, according to the deputy governor Fabio Panetta of the Bank of Italy in a statement on Thursday, reported Coindesk.

During a keynote address to the SUERF and BAFFI CAREFIN Centre Conference held at Bocconi University, he focussed his attention on the volatility of cryptocurrency, rather than its advantages, although he did make some positive reference to CBDCs low costs when he suggested amusingly:

“Since it would be completely dematerialized, a CBDC would have very few or no storage costs and would be a convenient way for households and firms to keep liquid wealth. Mattresses could be freed from their role of vaults!”

His main concerns were similar to many other central banks globally who are going through the same process of investigating the principal of a CBDC versus crypto assets.

“In fact – just like banknotes – a [central bank digital currency (CBDC)] would be a liability of the central bank and would be backed by its assets. It would be supported by the credibility of the central bank and ultimately, by the rule of law. Crypto-assets, on the other hand, are a liability belonging to nobody: there is no asset that backs them up and no clear governance structure that can guarantee trust… the value of a CBDC would not suffer from the excessive volatility that affects crypto-assets.”

He also focussed on an ethical issue that could arrive from bank’s intervention in regard to the traceability and anonymity of consumer transactions, suggesting banks might be able to trace all consumer transactions and make decisions on an individual’s creditworthiness based on such information.

He spoke of other complexities which might arrive from offering a CBDC which the bank may not be prepared for at this time, although he did hint that “a world with digital cash” was worthy of its current research, but the time for action hadn’t arrived yet.

“If central banks decided to make an asset – the CBDC – free of credit and liquidity risk, possibly remunerated, and available to anybody at no cost, their role in the economy would fundamentally change… Are central banks ready to play this new role and to deal with the attendant complexities? In the short term, my answer is no.”

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