Blockchain and Bitcoin round-up: 5 February 2018
Bans, price drops and someone telling us about their cryptocurrency app again. Our first blockchain and Bitcoin round-up of February includes Lloyds, Bank of America, JP Morgan, Facebook and DeVere Group.
Do you want the good news or bad news first? Well, there’s not a lot of good stuff. Lloyds has banned its customers from buying Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on their credit cards. Because Lloyds owns other banks, this also applies to Bank of Scotland, Halifax and MBNA.
A sliver of good news is that this does not apply to debit cards. But the bank does have eight million credit card customers. Like a lot of other people and organisations, Lloyds is expressing its fears over the volatile value of digital currencies and if the price continues to fall it reckons it may end up footing the bill for unpaid debts. A Lloyds spokeswoman says: “We continually review our products and procedures and this is part of that.” Someone should ban dull quotes.
Staying on tour with bad news, these banning orders have taken root in the US with Bank of America, Citigroup, Capital One, Discover and JP Morgan taking similar action. Facebook has also revealed it will block any advertising of cryptocurrency products and services. This list may well get longer.
Regulators have been wading in as well. In India, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley says the nation wants to eliminate the use of digital currencies in criminal activities. While the People’s Bank of China (the central bank) states it will block platforms related to cryptocurrency trading and initial coin offerings (ICOs). And what about Bitcoin’s price? At the time of writing it has fallen below $8,000 and thanks to sell-offs in cryptocurrencies, $60 billion in valuations have been wiped from the market in 24 hours.
Last month, we reported that financial consultancy firm DeVere Group will launch a cryptocurrency app. Now it’s back and says the app is officially launched. Its founder and CEO, Nigel Green, is on hand with some decent quotes again: “Bitcoin could gain by 50 to 60%, and will remain highly volatile as it comes under ‘increasing pressure’ from Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies.”
While others (see above) knock cryptocurrencies, Green is sticking to his script and explains: “There’s increasing scrutiny of the market by governments around the world, plus enhanced regulation. Therefore, it is perhaps unsurprising that some have questioned the timing of the official launch of DeVere Crypto. However, demand for cryptocurrencies is set to sky rocket in 2018 as more people get to know about them and use them, and as the interest of governments and businesses, and more regulation, demonstrate how the market is maturing and becoming ever-more mainstream.” Green is going against the flow, but at least he has opinions.