Once voiced by a cryptocurrency enthusiast, “Bitcoin will do to banks what email did to the postal industry” has now been raised by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while speaking of cryptocurrencies, exchanges and cryptocurrency regulations. “Is the fate of banks that they will eventually disappear? Yes. The answer is Yes. Does it need to happen tomorrow? And do we need to do it through Bitcoin? That’s a question mark!” stated the PM.
This is December 16, 2017. As we are about to bid adieu to 2017, Bitcoin that entered the year at $788, is all set to exit at $20K, with almost 25-fold price surge. Currently trading at $17,788, the ‘virtual’ cryptocurrency has shown its real colours this year (As if, Satoshi had some Orwell in his mind, ‘reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else’). The Bitcoin derivatives — Bitcoin futures — are real. The raids and Income Tax surveys surrounding Bitcoin are real. The big investment funds being raised and invested by VCs are also real.
On the one hand, The Washington Post, this week, wrote that no matter how up Bitcoin goes, the risk involved around it will always be higher. On the other, the Income Tax (IT) department in India has surveyed around nine leading cryptocurrencies, asking for the details of significant Bitcoin buyers.
Since the ‘infamous’ demonetisation, the government has already frozen over 200K bank accounts for suspected ‘unusual’ transactions, and this may be repeated for Bitcoin traders and exchanges too. For instance, one of the cryptocurrency exchanges BTCXIndia had to shut down its operations on May 8, 2015, after Kotak-Mahindra bank pulled the plug on it. However, the exchange resumed operations on July 5, 2017, after moving to Andhra bank.
In the US, while the Congress appears to be in favour of passing the Bill ‘S.1241 – Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017’ that seeks to define anyone issuing, redeeming, or cashing Bitcoin as a financial institution, the UK regulators have once again warned that Bitcoin investors may ultimately lose all the money.