Crackdown on Bitcoin Hits Businesses in Bali

Having issued a stark warning to “all parties” against any use of “virtual currency”, Bank Indonesia has now joined forces with local police to prevent bitcoin transactions where they are most likely to take place – in Bali. The island, a popular holiday destination with tourists spending both fiat and crypto, has been targeted by authorities. Inspections of businesses accepting bitcoin are underway, according to Indonesian media and the crypto community in the country.

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Authorities on the Lookout for Illegal Transactions

Representatives of the Indonesian central bank and the national police force on the island have teamed up to investigate cases of cryptocurrency trading deemed illegal by authorities in Jakarta. They have already started collecting information about possible violations.

The crackdown in Bali comes after BI declared bitcoin an illegal form of payment in the country. Virtual currencies are prohibited in Indonesia, the financial institution stated. Rupiahs should be used for all payments and transactions that need money. The banning statement came with plans to swiftly implement the rules:

We are looking out for bitcoin transactions in Bali, particularly in tourist spots. We will take measures against non-rupiah transactions.

That announcement was made by the head of BI’s local branch Causa Iman Karana, who called the island “an alluring place for those who want to carry out illegal transactions”. Quoted by local press, Karana said in Denpasar that institutions had already warned people not to use virtual money “because there is no authority that regulates transactions”.

Crackdown on Bitcoin Hits Businesses in Bali

Businesses Can Be Closed, Owners Taken to Court

Members of the crypto community on the island quickly shared the news of the imminent crackdown in social media. Warnings were posted about checks expected to be carried out by bank officials and local law enforcement officers. Businesses could be suspended and owners taken to court, if they accept bitcoin payments. A villa has been reportedly closed down by inspectors. A foreign national had been used as a “mystery customer”… according to comments on the Bitcoins in Bali Facebook page.

Bali has been put in the spotlight after the announced prohibition of payments involving bitcoin. BI’s spokesman Agusman Zainal said that such transactions violated Law No. 7/2011 regulating currencies and their transactions in the country.

The ban has been further detailed in a dedicated bank regulation No. PBI: 19/12/PBI/2017 covering the implementation of financial technology. Under the current law, any payment in Indonesia should be made in the national currency, the Rupiah.

Crackdown on Bitcoin Hits Businesses in Bali

The central bank official also pointed to the risks associated with bitcoin transactions, noting that the cryptocurrency had no “official administrator”. Money laundering, terrorism and other criminal activities were added to the ubiquitous list of unwanted side effects.

Indonesians had been notified about the restrictions long before BI issued its ultimate warning to “not buy, sell, or trade virtual currency”. The assault on Bali shows that Jakarta means business. But what the crackdown means for the business, only time will show.

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Do you think that the Indonesian government will succeed in preventing Bitcoin payments in Bali? Tell us in the comments section below.shutterstock_351592148_1600-1068x1068

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The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) received yet another request to approve Wall Street bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs). This time, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) wishes to list five new ETFs, so-called leveraged and inverse funds which increase risk and reward.

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Wall Street Wants Bitcoin ETFs with Twice the Risk/Reward

Wall Street Goes Short, Gets Bear, with Proposed Risky Bitcoin ETFs

The trope for years has been bitcoin’s volatility, risk, is too great for the sober adults of professional finance to be bothered. That myth was thoroughly smashed on 4 January 2018 when the NYSE Arca filed a fifty page request with the SEC. Wall Street wants Direxion Asset Management’s five ETFs, known as leveraged or inverse funds. The proposed funds up the risk level by twice, in either direction, and are short term investments. They’re easily some of the riskiest funds put forward.

ETFs are prized because they’re traded like stocks with the muscle of mutual funds. The SEC has yet to approve bitcoin ETFs, and applications for rule-changes are stacking up. Some estimates have requests for the cryptocurrency to be formally listed at nearly a dozen. This year enthusiasts will learn the financial product’s fate, most experts believe.

Direxion is presently asking five funds be listed: Direxion Daily Bitcoin Bear 1X Shares, Direxion Daily Bitcoin 1.25X Bull Shares, Direxion Daily Bitcoin 1.5X Bull Shares, Direxion Daily Bitcoin 2X Bull Shares, and Direxion Daily Bitcoin 2X Bear Shares. If approved they’d trade on the NYSE’s Arca market. Investors could see their returns as much as double; they could also see losses compound in the other direction just as fast.

Wall Street Wants Bitcoin ETFs with Twice the Risk

Twice as Fast in Either Direction

The funds aren’t necessarily tethered to bitcoin’s spot price, but are instead a way to track bitcoin futures on markets such as those created by NYSE rivals Cboe and CME, with “investment results (before fees and expenses) that correlate positively to either 125%, 150%, or 200% the daily return of the target benchmark,” according to the filing.Wall Street Wants Bitcoin ETFs with Twice the Risk

That assumes a bull market, but, again, losses are multiplied as well which logically means these are for short term investing (longer options are available). ETFs would bring even more mainstreaming to bitcoin with regard to the broader investment community.

It’s a curious move, but the risks are sure to attract investment. One would assume the natural bitcoin price spikes would be enough for adrenaline junkies. But there is still widespread skepticism and worry about actually owning and holding bitcoin among Wall Street types. Nevertheless, such short-term volatility is something many traders value. Indeed the filing insists the Direxion ETFs “enhance competition among market participants, to the benefit of investors and the marketplace.”

What do you think of bitcoin ETFs? Let us know in the comments section below