The (Miscalculated) EMV-Bitcoin Debate?

Let’s set the record straight on one thing: EMV and bitcoin have nothing to do with each other.

Outside of the fact that both have something to with payments — one being via traditional payments cards, and the other being a volatile digital commodity/currency — comparing the two is akin to comparing apples and asparagus because they both start with an “a.”

But, of course, with the EMV news abuzz because of the Oct. 1 liability shift yesterday, everyone, and we mean everyone, wanted to get the chip card conversation into the mix. Still, when a headline like “Banks Introduce EMV-chipped Credit Cards To Keep Bitcoin At Bay,” hits the wires, it stops you dead in your tracks.

Yes, that was an actual headline — and not from The Onion or the PYMNTS’ April Fools’ Edition.

The piece that was featured on Inside Bitcoins was a (questionable) attempt to inform the public about EMV and what that chip inside those payment cards is really about. Drawing from a CNN Money article about EMV seemed to give it some credibility to the piece (minus some technical details).

But then you get into the second part of the article, which had a subhead of “Grasping At Straws To Keep Bitcoin At Bay.”

Oh boy, this should be good.

And that’s where this EMV-ish article went rouge.

“While the efforts to make credit card payment should be applauded, these new chips are one of the top financial innovations the sector has seen in the past 50 years. Financial institutions are grasping at straws to keep consumers away from other viable alternatives, such as bitcoin, which are not in control of the banks or governments.”

I mean seriously. Talk about the conspiracy theorists hard at work!

Yes, bitcoin has a lot of interesting FinTech innovations attached to it — like the blockchain technology that underpins it. But suggesting that the only reason that the payments industry adopted EMV is to keep bitcoin from taking over the world so that the central bankers and key players can continue to be in power — well, it is probably the most creative theory we’ve ever heard about why the U.S. adopted EMV.

It does get points for creativity, though.

And there’s more. It further suggests that accepting bitcoin is free, and that merchants who have to upgrade would severely reduce their fees.  

“Merchants will have to upgrade their infrastructure at an additional cost to accommodate for these EMV-enabled payments,” the article stated. “If they decide to accept bitcoin as a payment method, however, there is no additional infrastructure to set up. Plus, they will be charged lower payment processing fees, and are protected from bitcoin price volatility.”

And keep them from customers, too, since none of them use bitcoin.

At least it was an entertaining read.


 Bitcoin Tracker Week 93

The Good, The Bad — The Top Bitcoin Stories Of The Week


The ‘Buy Button’ To Buy Bitcoin

The power to instantly buy bitcoin just got a little bit easier, thanks to help from Coinbase. The company announced Oct. 1 that customers in 26 countries can buy bitcoin “instantly.” The feature was added in the U.K. and Spain and now it is being expanded across Europe.

“Since credit and debit cards will not require a customer to pre-fund their Coinbase account with a bank transfer, customers can now receive bitcoin much faster,” the company wrote in a blog post.

With this change, Coinbase no supports 3D Secure credit and debit cards, whereas before users could only top up their accounts using bank transfers. Because Visa’s 3D Secure protocol requires users to verify their ID using a password, it enables Coinbase users to buy bitcoin faster.


More Support From The Street For Bitcoin

Bitcoin’s momentum on Wall Street continues as more of the world’s leading banks have agreed to investigate how bitcoin could be used to power mainstream financial transactions. While bitcoin has been creating a buzz on the Street for some time, now major names like Bank of America, Citi and Deutsche Bank have joined in the race to explore bitcoin and the blockchain.

These big names follow the companies like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan who have already joined the initiative to explore the blockchain. The announcement from R3, a distributed ledge, indicated that 13 new banks have joined a partnership to design and apply distributed ledger technologies to global financial markets.

“The addition of this new group of banks demonstrates widespread support for innovative distributed ledger solutions across the global financial services community, and we’re delighted to have them on board,” says David Rutter, CEO of R3. “We have placed an emphasis on working with the market from Day 1, and our partners recognize that a collaborative model is the best way to quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively deliver these new technologies to global financial markets.”

Other banks include Bank of New York Mellon, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, National Australia Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, SEB, Societe Generale and Toronto-Dominion Bank.

“This is an exciting partnership, and we’re very pleased to be involved,” said Niall Cameron, Head of Markets, EMEA at HSBC. “Innovative, open-source developments like distributed ledger technology require expertise to deliver but have huge potential, offering banks and their clients the prospect of enhanced security, lower costs and improved error reduction.”


Alleged Bitcoin Money Launderers Busted

Another day means another day for bitcoin to get its name caught in a money laundering scandal. Money laundering, after all, is one of the biggest crutches holding back bitcoin from mainstream support.

Now, reports indicated that Dutch police arrested six in a raid this week that stemmed from a case of offering an anonymous exchange from fiat currency to bitcoin — which is banned under Dutch law. The group in question would allegedly collect bitcoins and exchange the money, but charge a steep commission rate. The reports show that they have laundered a few million worth of euro using this bitcoin exchange scheme.


Bitcoin: “The Go-To Currency for Criminals?”

It’s not the first time bitcoin has been accused of being the currency of criminals — and it won’t be the last. But the latest news from Europol shows that it believes bitcoin is being used by EU cybercriminals.

“Although there is no single common currency used by cybercriminals across the EU, it is apparent that bitcoin may gradually be taking on that role. Bitcoin features as a common payment mechanism across almost all payment scenarios, a trend which can only be expected to increase,” the agency said in a report.

The EU has said it’s working to combat digital crime by attempting to identify where the top threats are in the region. In the report, the group focuses on exploring bitcoin and how criminals may be using it for illegal activity. It also digs into dark marketplaces and how they can be better cracked down on.

This means discussing the open bazaar area as a marketplace type to keep a close watch on. This discussion is also sparking conversations abut how to regulate bitcoin and bitcoin exchanges.

“Any regulation of cryptocurrencies would likely only be applicable and enforceable when applied to identifiable users such as those providing exchange services. The inability to attribute transactions to end users makes it difficult to imagine how any regulation could be enforced for everyday users,” the report reads.


Bitcoin.com Launches

With the help of bitcoin’s first angel investor, Roger Ver, the launch of Bitcoin.com has arrived. This site is known as being an “innovative collaborative platform for both novice and veteran members of the bitcoin community.”

This means running forums on bitcoin, teaching new users about how bitcoin works and keeping the bitcoin community in the know about what’s new in bitcoin wallets. The site also offers an advertising feature for bitcoin companies to buy display ads, which is another attempt to bring visibility to the bitcoin companies in the market.

“Education to raise further awareness about bitcoin and digital currency is much needed, and Roger Ver himself has personally overseen the launch of Bitcoin.com. With bitcoin’s very first angel investor at the helm, Bitcoin.com will be steered in a clear direction while keeping a strong focus on community involvement,” said a press release about the launch.

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