A Month in Fintech: China, New Zealand, IMF and HMRC
Where finance meets technology, interesting things continue to happen. Owing to a summer break, our latest fintech roundup looks back further than our usual ‘Fortnight in…’ But, while it can be a challenge to predict blockchain and cryptocurrency’s direction of travel, they never take a holiday – as these stories demonstrate.
Read on to find out more about these developments and our reactions to them.
Blockchain and capital raising
As one example of the mainstream media taking more and more interest in fintech, The Telegraph had a profile of Globacap. This startup uses blockchain to improve the investment process for other businesses. Globacap has benefited from the FCA’s regulatory sandbox, as mentioned in one of our previous fintech roundups.
This is a highly encouraging start to blockchain being used for capital raising in the SME sector. This type of platform has the potential to strongly support true peer to peer transactions.
We would like to see Globacap’s product extended to debt raising as the SME market is massively underserved by banks in this area.
A challenge to banks
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has published the first in its Fintech Note series, titled The Rise of Digital Money. The paper argues that ‘cash and bank deposits, the two most common forms of money today face tough competition and could even be surpassed by e-money’ and lays down a challenge to banks to keep up with innovation or risk being left behind.
However, this comes as both the Federal Reserve and Treasury Secretary levy criticism and warnings against cryptocurrencies and Facebook’s Libra plans.
We hope to see encouraged innovation, but with close oversight and even collaboration with relevant bodies and regulators.
Crypto and capital gains: HMRC seeks tax evaders
HMRC is no exception to the growing interest in cryptocurrency. It has reportedly been in contact with various cryptocurrency exchanges trading in the UK – eToro, Coinbase and CEX.IO – to request data on customers and transactions, as it seeks to claim unpaid capital gains tax.
Without this data, HMRC faces a challenge in tracking tax liabilities because of the anonymous nature of digital currency trading.
Find out more in our recent article here.
China and currency
According to recent reports, and information gleaned from patent applications, the People’s Bank of China is getting ready to launch its own digital currency.
The aim is to give the Chinese government more control over the financial system and allow detailed real time information.
This is surely a path that other countries will be aiming to go down.
Cryptocurrency and legalised salary payments
Meanwhile, in New Zealand, it seems that tax authorities have stated that employees can be paid in cryptocurrency.
However, this seems to prevent payment in Bitcoin as the crypto must be ‘pegged to at least one regular currency’.
The amounts must be under an employment contract, be fixed amounts and form a regular part of the employee’s remuneration.
The amounts can be part of the net pay received after tax, or part of gross pay and dealt with under PAYE.
In our view, the rules may be designed to avoid any risk to employees being exposed to a volatile asset class rather than pure tax reasons. The tax treatment of anything under an employment contract is surely fairly obvious.
In support of this view, it’s also been reported that CoinCorner, a British cryptocurrency exchange, offers staff cryptocurrency to settle net salary in the UK – and with the more volatile type.
Join us for our Financial Services Casino Night
Our financial services team is holding a get-together in London on 18 September and you’re welcome to come along. You’ll be able to talk fintech with us and enjoy drinks with contacts across the industry. Find out more on our event page here.
You can also read our previous fintech news roundup here.