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A Fortnight in Fintech: Bitcoin, blockchain, minibonds and milk

15 July 2019

 

Where finance meets technology, interesting things continue to happen.  In recent weeks, our pursuit of blockchain and cryptocurrency news has taken us back and forth across the Atlantic, from city councils to big businesses and, slightly unexpectedly, into the world of media celebrities.

Read on to find out more about these developments and our reactions to them.

Getting from A(udit) to B(lockchain)

It’s good to see that blockchain, data analytics and use of AI will be included within auditing standards in the US, according to this AICPA press release. Hopefully others will quickly follow suit.

Welcome news for any auditors looking to improve their street cred!

Taxing crypto: on the Wright track?

If you’re familiar with Bitcoin then you’ve probably heard of Craig Wright, who identifies himself as Bitcoin’s creator. (There’s been some big news about Bitcoin recently, but we’ll save it for the end.)

Craig has written a very interesting blog post on the impact that cryptocurrency could have on the tax system: immediate taxation at source for a transaction.

From an HMRC perspective, GBP being a cryptocurrency would make absolute sense in terms of maximising tax revenues – not to mention having full disclosure of ownership and parties involved in transactions.

Then there’s the ability to set monetary policy on real time accurate information, e.g. who is buying what and who is borrowing or lending.

With cryptocurrency tax among the specialisms at BKL, we look forward to ongoing discussion in this area.

The milky blockchains are on me!

In one of our fintech roundups last month, we commented on how LVMH’s luxury brands are exploring the use of blockchain technology. Big businesses, and not just those in the financial services sector, continue to invest in blockchain projects.

Nestlé has announced that it will be piloting a way to track milk from farms in New Zealand to factories and warehouses in the Middle East. As sustainability and responsible supply chains become increasingly important, Nestlé plans to publish all the information in relation to these supply chains for transparency.

To test scalability, the pilot will then be extended to palm oil supply.

The information published will allow people to make an informed choice as to whether a particular product meets their individual principles.

FCA: Further Cryptocurrency Action

The Financial Conduct Authority looks to be making moves to ban the sale of derivative products linked to cryptocurrencies.

The volatility of the underlying asset price is stated as making it “impossible” to value such products.  Just in the last week Bitcoin has been as high as £10,400, as low as £8,000 and sits at £8,200 at the time of writing.

Therefore the FCA’s position is that trading these products is akin to gambling. The approach is not surprising as there is already a ban on binary options to retail customers in the UK, as well as much closer scrutiny over the retail CFD market.

Blockchain and Berkeley

An article from Wired looked at how Berkeley City Council in California is exploring blockchain and minibonds. For many readers, the word “minibonds” may evoke memories of the complex financial notes issues by Lehman Brothers in Hong Kong to retail investors. Full details have never really come to the fore.

However, the minibond in this case is a way for local government to raise funds for community projects that would benefit all. Blockchain has the potential to reduce the cost of issuing such bonds in small amounts, opening them up for everyone.

As a firm that understands the value of enhancing the lives of our communities, any project that encourages the development of community spirit and pride, to bring people together, is great in our eyes.

And finally…

That big Bitcoin news we mentioned. According to a study by Coinbase with input from YouGov, ‘Google searches for Bitcoin surged to almost three times higher than searches for Kardashian’ in June 2018 in the US. In a further achievement for Bitcoin, 58% of Americans have heard of it.

While we’re not terribly well acquainted with the Kardashians, we can only respectfully suggest that if interest in them is falling below interest in cryptocurrency, they need to keep up.

For more information on how we can help fintech businesses, take a look at our fintech page or contact us using our enquiry form.

You can also read our previous fintech news roundup here.