US Securities and Exchange Commission Delays Bitcoin ETF

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is postponing its decision on a Bitcoin (BTC) and US Treasury bond exchange-traded fund (ETF) proposal submitted earlier this year by Wilshire Phoenix, a New York-based financial services firm.

The SEC says it will continue reviewing the ETF application, with a new deadline set for February 26, 2020.

So far, the federal securities regulator has not approved a single Bitcoin ETF application, having denied over a dozen such proposals in the past couple years. The SEC has cited concerns regarding market manipulation and surveillance sharing in the crypto asset market as the two key areas that need to be addressed before it considers approving a digital currency-based ETF.

To that end, Bitwise submitted a letter on Wednesday to the SEC in response to the Commission’s 112-page disapproval order of its own proposal. Despite the SEC’s rejection, Bitwise says it remains committed to creating an SEC-approved Bitcoin ETF.

US Lawmakers Ask the IRS for Crypto Clarity

Members of the US House of Representatives have submitted a letter to the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service requesting that the tax authority clarify its position regarding its guidance for performing digital token airdrops and cryptocurrency network forks.  

The letter was filed on December 20th and cites concerns regarding the tax implications on these emerging financial technologies.

The lawmakers appeared to be dissatisfied with an approach recommended by the IRS that “creates potentially unwarranted tax liability and administrative burdens for users of these important new technologies, and would create inequitable results.”

“We wrote in April of this year urging the issuance of guidance for taxpayers who use cryptocurrencies and we are pleased to see that you have issued guidance and addressed many questions we posed. 

We are, however, concerned that this recent guidance creates many new questions related to the topics it seeks to address, namely forks and airdrops. Moreover, the guidance appears inequitable as it comes almost two years after the Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash fork and three years after the Ethereum fork.”

Bitcoin Payments Startup Shuts Down

UK-based Bottle Pay, a Bitcoin payments firm, has shut down its operations, following the AMLD5 European Union regulation which will become effective on January 10, 2020.

Bottle Pay’s app was in beta and was designed to give people a way to make micropayments in Bitcoin by simply sending text messages through social media networks, by using Twitter or Telegram handles. 

The company secured $2 million in funding in September of this year and says the new regulatory requirements would make it quite challenging for the company to offer its services.

“The amount and type of extra personal information we would be required to collect from our users would alter the current user experience so radically, and so negatively, that we are not willing to force this onto our community.” 

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