The Spanish tax authorities have published a statement classifying bitcoin as a means of payment exempting it from VAT charges. Some of the UK's top bankers are to discuss bitcoin among a fintech discussion panel this week. BitSIM hardware proposes piggybacking a sim-card to provide secure mobile payments without carrier support and more top stories for April 20.

Bitcoin exempt from VAT in Spain

A department of the Spanish tax authority has published an opinion stating that bitcoin should be treated as a means of payment, and will therefore stand exempt from VAT calculations. The move puts Spain inline with Finland where the digital currency has also been excluded from VAT whilst the continent waits for an official EU decision on the matter.

“Virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, work as mean of payment and, considering its features, shall be considered under the concept ‘other negotiable instruments,’ so its transmission is both liable and exempt from Value Added Tax (VAT)"

Top UK Bankers to discuss Bitcoin at SWIFT event

Counting the CEO of Metro Bank Craig Donaldson and the Group Head of Innovation at HSBC Christophe Chazot among the panel, a business forum event in London this week will see some of the UK's top bankers discuss disruptive fintech and Bitcoin. Looking at how these technologies will move from small banks to large scale banking, the panel will discuss the opportunities this could present.

“As technology barriers break down, there are questions about the need for intermediaries to facilitate financial transactions. New funding models like crowd-funding offer alternative routes and the rise of social media is impacting the advisory space. Shadow banking activities continue to increase and even the pensions and insurance worlds could feel the effects of technology-driven disruption. Bitcoin is challenging traditional thinking and the underlying blockchain technology could be set to be more disruptive still.”

BitSIM hardware promises secure digital currency payments from any phone

Aiming to better serve the world's underbanked populations, start-up group bitSIM is proposing a “zero-footprint” physical sim-card overlay, which allows the standalone device to carry out SMS based financial transactions without the involvement of the carrier network.  Allowing for remittances and mobile payments, the technology could bring the convenience of digital currencies but in a much simpler format.

ING publishes report suggesting mobile apps are driving us towards a cashless society

Predicting that over 185 million European consumers will be using mobile payment apps in the next year, a report by ING has claimed that we are heading towards a cashless society. Finding that half of Europeans with access to a mobile device expected to make a mobile payment in the next 12 months, the research discovered the greatest interest in Turkey, where 56% of those polled are already using mobile payments.

“The Survey on Mobile Banking also revealed that Turkish (56%) and Polish (43%) mobile device owners are leading the way when it comes to embracing mobile payment apps – a higher adoption rate than in the USA (42%).”

Rand Paul addresses a Bitcoin fundraiser event

Taking to the stage at an event organized by the team behind the Bitcoin Center New York, Republican presidential candidate for the 2016 elections, Rand Paul, has spoken at a bitcoin fundraising event. Focusing more upon the political underpinnings of the digital currency, Paul also criticized the NSA over the allegations of spying surrounding the agency.

“He also stated that he is different from many other Republicans in that he supported all the constitutional amendments, and not just the second amendment which gets a disproportionate share of attention in Republican circles. This stand of Mr. Paul also drew an applause from the audience.”

Chairman of secretive digital currency start-up ‘21’ drops hints about their work

Addressing the crowd at a California Bitcoin job fair, Balaji Srinivasan the chairman of “stealth-mode” digital currency start-up 21, has shed a little more light onto the nature of their work. Srinivasan still kept his cards close to his chest, focusing his talk around the value of Bitcoin as a payments processing tool, suggesting that the company is looking closely at Bitcoin's decentralized technical framework.

"Bitcoin is to PayPal as Linux is to Windows. It is open-source, decentralized and programmable. We went from landline to IP addresses. We're going from personal bank accounts to machine bitcoin wallets.”

Coinimal exchange partners with Neteller to facilitate BTC purchases

Popular pre-paid debit card provider Neteller has partnered with a new European digital currency exchange, Coinimal, to act as the payment platform provider. Accepting credit cards, bank transfers, and BTC, the move could make using the exchange far easier for users to buy and sell bitcoin with processing times of around 10 seconds according to Coinimal.

“Coinimal, a new Bitcoin and cryptocurrency merchant based in Vienna, Austria, has announced a ground-breaking partnership with NETELLER. Coinimal was launched in December 2014 with the aim of addressing the difficulties of obtaining Bitcoin in Europe and has since become one of the foremost options for both buying and selling crypto coins, including NXT and Litecoin.”

Jetcoin announces cryptocurrency presale 

Using the blockchain technology to power their platform, Jetcoin is promising a service through which individuals can become micro-investors in the future careers of promising young athletes. The altcoins, which go on sale at US$0.02 are said to be backed in gold, and represent the intellectual property rights of these sports men and women.

“Uniquely backed by physical assets, Jetcoin is issued by the Jetcoin Institute, which has gathered a team of first-class advisors led by world famous currency expert, Prof. Bernard Lietaer. The Jetcoin Platform will be built with NXT technology to deliver a unique and decentralised financial platform. Jetcoin holders are able to earn revenues through Jetcoin Contracts and its social media rewards system, P.O.S.E. (Proof Of Social Engagement) as well as access unique lifestyle experiences.”

Europe's new ‘country’ Liberland, to use digital currencies.

Following an attempt by a group of activists to declare a small parcel of land by the Danube between Serbia and Croatia as an independent country, the team has announced the new “Liberland” country will use digital currencies as their financial basis.

“Liberland came into existence due to a border dispute between Croatia and Serbia. This area along the west bank of the Danube river is not claimed by Croatia, Serbia or any other country. It was therefore terra nullius, a no man’s land, until Vít Jedlička seized the opportunity and on April 13, 2015 formed a new state in this territory – Liberland.”

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