Bitcoin wallet provider Xapo began shipping out its much-anticipated debit cards on Thursday, and immediately began receiving negative backlash from the community, disgruntled with the unexpectedly high accompanying fees and limits. When first announced, Xapo disclosed only a one-time $15 dollar shipping and handling fee. Upon release of the cards, Xapo then updated its fees information to include a monthly $4.95 service fee, plus $1 dollar declined transactions costs, and added fees for domestic and international ATM transactions - which were met with a great degree of frustration from customers who had signed up with the expectation of only the one-time $15 dollar fee. No word has been heard yet on the reason for these additional fees, or what will happen next. But Xapo is expected to publish a blog statement soon addressing these concerns, so we will update you as we know more.
Online cryptocurrency platform and wallet MyBigCoin.com announced on Friday plans to go public and seek to file for an IPO, joining a very exclusive club with the few digital currency-centric companies that are publicly held. The company hopes to gain approval for their IPO within the next sixty days, which their consensus statement says ""would help further their operational objectives, while lending further credibility to the company's proprietary digital currency system."" This is a big step forward for the digital currency community, as more and more companies seek to gain legitimacy and respect among consumers, peers, and the more traditional worlds of finance and investment.
The Russian Ministry of Finance is reportedly preparing a bill that will officially ban cryptocurrencies, after a draft of the bill was released by major Russian publication Ria Novosti on Friday. According to the report, the new bill will prohibit any money substitutes or ""surrogates"" to the Russian ruble which would “infringe the rights of conscientious people”, and would include digital currencies such as Bitcoin. In addition, the Ria Novosti report revealed that “the Finance Ministry proposes to introduce administrative or criminal responsibility for the production and implementation of monetary surrogates operations with them, and to restrict access to information resources, providing production and operations with surrogates.” If implemented, as suspected, the end of this year or early 2015, this bill could put a serious damper on the digital currency community in Russia, and any progress which could have otherwise had a potentially positive impact on the country’s economic situation.
The central bank of Kyrgyzstan has issued new statements reiterating the national law that all use of bitcoin and other digital currencies as a form of payment is currently illegal. The statements specifies that “Under the legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic, the sole legal tender on the territory of our country is the national currency of Kyrgyzstan som. The use of ‘virtual currency’, bitcoins, in particular, as a means of payment in the Kyrgyz Republic will be a violation of the law of our state,” then going on to warn of bitcoin's risks, including “the lack of security,” “high risks of exchange rate volatility and loss of value,” and “no guarantee of refund.”
The Bitcoin Foundation has filed an amicus brief formally expressing their strong viewpoint in the matter of the Florida state criminal case of LocalBitcoins.com user Pascal Reid, who faces charges of operating an unauthorized money transmission business and money laundering. In their filing, the Foundation requested that Reid's charges as an unauthorized money transmitter be dismissed, given that he was operating as an individual, not as a corporate entity, and a money transmitter is defined as “a corporation, limited liability company, limited liability partnership or foreign entity qualified to do business in the state”. However, the filing was not intended to support the defendant and his actions, but rather to ensure that the broader Florida bitcoin community is not unduly restricted in their ability to transact with the digital currency as a result. As Global Policy Counsel Jim Harper put it, “The case illustrates the need for clarity in bitcoin regulation, both civil and criminal, and that’s a reason why we participated.”