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GLOBALLY, OVER 14,000 TUNED IN TO THE NEW YORK BITCOIN HEARINGS. We recently reported on the two days of Bitcoin regulatory hearings that took place in New York last week. The official who lead the hearings tweeted a chart of how unique viewership broke down globally. At 40% the U.S. unsurprisingly took a plurality of viewership followed by China at 12.6% and the U.K. at 6.3% as well as number of other countries.
How lawmakers decide to regulate Bitcoin in the United States will likely have a huge impact on the price of Bitcoin which now stands around $US800 and that’s why the hearings drew an international audience. The effect of regulation on Bitcoin’s price was last seen in early December when the Chinese central bank issued a memo warning financial institutions not to clear transactions for Bitcoin exchanges. The price of Bitcoin dropped from over $US1,000 to near $US500 dollars. (Business Insider)
Bitcoin exchanges could stage a comeback in China. Chinese Bitcoin exchange BTC China is once again allowing its customers to exchange yuan for Bitcoin, according to the Wall Street Journal. BTC China studied the Bitcoin ban memo issued by the Chinese Central Bank and determined that it could still accept yuan into its corporate accounts and then deposit those funds into its customers’ accounts.
Prior to the memo, BTC China was the largest Bitcoin exchange in the world. The company also recently recieved $US5 million in Series A funding from Lightspeed China Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Jeremy Liew, who spoke at the New York Bitcoin hearings, is a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners. (Wall Street Journal)
Speaking of Bitcoin … In a new report we give a high-level, no-nonsense explanation of the digital currency and it’s implications for payments. Our position is that Bitcoin’s greatest potential is as a global transaction network. The potential for low transaction fees, fast international transfers, as well as a number of security advantages could win over merchants — that’s if it’s not stifled by regulation first. (BI Intelligence)
MASTERCARD REPORTS FOURTH QUARTER EARNINGS. MasterCard reported that its card payment volume increased 12.4% to $US805 billion during the fourth quarter and number of transactions processed increased 12.9% to 10.4 billion. While BI Intelligence’s payments vertical focuses on emerging payments technologies, MasterCard is so big that its payments volume and the number of transactions are good indicators of the size and health of the electronic payments market. (MasterCard)
M-PESA LAUNCHES IN INDIA. Last week Vodafone India announced that it was rolling out M-Pesa in the Punjab region of India. M-Pesa provides a way for people to transfer money and make payments using their mobile devices. The service has already caught on particularly well in Kenya where 43% of GDP flows through M-Pesa, according to mobile operator Safaricom. (Economic Times)
OXFORD ACADEMICS JUMP INTO THE PEER-TO-PEER PAYMENTS FRAY. With $US1 million in funding from the U.S. Navy and about $US160,000 from the U.K. ministry of defence, a group of academics from Oxford University in the U.K. is nearing launch of a new person-to-person payment app called Oxcept. The app uses a defence grade security protocol developed by Oxford Professor Bill Roscoe, who is head of computer science at the university. The app can be used for ultra-secure payments anywhere in the world. (Oxford Mail)
ANOTHER UK PEER-TO-PEER PAYMENTS COMPANY SNAGS NEW FUNDING. London-based Zopa, a peer-to-peer lending company just recieved £15 million ($24.6 million) from Arrowgrass Capital Partners. The new round brings the company’s total funding to $US56 million. Zopa reports lending $US295,000 in 2013. (TechCrunch)
[Update: We have added some additional clarifications to our chart on Starbucks’s mobile transaction volume which was sent out to subscribers on Friday. You can find the updated chart here.]
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