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Bitcoin News Round-Up 22.06.2014

Bitcoin saw gains this week on a number of good-news items, pushing it from the week’s low of $553.28 on June 15, to $591.29 at the time of writing. The coin’s price was spurred upwards by positive government policy news from both Japan and Switzerland, as well as industry news in support of the cryptocurrency.

Industry news

OpenBazaar is aiming to create an eBay-esque online marketplace using bitcoin. Project maintainer Brian Hoffner said the main value proposition for OpenBazaar’s offering is the freedom of two separate parties to undertake transactions without relying on a centralised network. He also rejected the idea that decentralised marketplaces are hotbeds of illegal activity by nature, and added OpenBazaar will aim to push for lawful activities on the platform, rather than operating it as an illicit marketplace a la Silk Road, CoinDesk reported.

Speaking during a Reddit AMA founder of government leak website Wikileak’s Julian Assange revealed he had previously told Google’s Eric Schmidt to embrace bitcoin prior to the coin’s breakout into mainstream conscious and drastic rises in value last year that saw it breach the $1,300 mark. Assange claimed that had Schmidt listened, Google would “own the planet by now”. At the time, Schmidt reportedly expressed an interest in the currency but ultimately turned his nose up at it.

Speculation that Uber may begin to accept bitcoin soon for its taxi services continued this week on Reddit as users pushed the Uber bitcoin promo code to emphasise to the company how it could benefit from adopting the cryptocurrency. “UBER is missing the incredible advantages of the payment network that Bitcoin offers. I bet they are going to catch up soon,” wrote one user. Other users suggested they would dump other app-based taxi services in favour of Uber, were it to start accepting bitcoin.

Bankrupted bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox’s CEO came into the public spotlight again this week, talking to Twitter to share how he was enjoying a sunset in Tokyo. Unsurprisingly bitcoin adopters who had lost thousands of coins in the exchange’s implosion were upset and took to Twitter to berate Mark Karpeles. One Twitter user, @Warz, wrote: “I feel very depressed about losing 1194 BTC on your exchange Mark. I trusted you. I believed in you. Idk what happened, tell us?” Other tweets suggested he should be enjoying the sunset from the confines of a jail cell.

Bitcoin is also making leeway within the sports industry, with BitPay sponsoring the St. Petersburg bowl, marking the first major bitcoin-sporting deal, the Wall Street Journal reported.. The annual postseason football game in the city, Florida, will over the coming four years be known as the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl under the sponsorship deal between BitPay and ESPN Events.

In other BitPay news – following Apple’s decision to allow bitcoin-related apps on its appstore, one of the first ones up was a fake app posing as an official product of BitPay. BitPay developers took to Reddit to forewarn users not to use the app and said they were working with Apple to have the app taken down, stating it was a trademark violation.

Policy news

In a u-turn from last week where Swiss finance regulators had decided to suspend the launch of Bitcoin Suisse AG’s bitcoin ATMs in Zurich, the regulator has now decided to give permission for ATM operator SBEX to launch a network of machines in the country. SBEX, which currently operators just one machine in Geneva, can now deploy more machines throughout the country. Bitcoin Association Switzerland President Luzius Meisser said after clarification of the rules, SBEX had likely fulfilled regulatory requirements prior to Bitcoin Suisse, hence receiving approval first. The ATMs had originally been suspended until “legal questions can be clarified”.

Japan has said it won’t regulate bitcoin – for now. The country’s leading Liberal Democratic Party said that it had decided against regulating the currency for the moment, after the collapse of Mt. Gox caused them to consider more thorough scrutiny of the currency. “Basically, we concluded that we will, for now, avoid a move towards legal regulation,” said Takuya Hirai, an LDP lawmaker who leads the party’s internet media division, according to Reuters. The mood in Japan reflects what much of the rest of the world is seeing with regards bitcoin – uncertainty as to whether or not to lay down heavy handed regulation before fully understanding how the currency is likely to grow and change organically.

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