December 22, 2014
Japan to set bitcoin rules
Japan will this week clarify the legal handling of bitcoin, people familiar with the matter said, the first sign that the government is taking action on regulating the virtual currency after the collapse last week of Tokyo-based Mt. Gox, once the world's largest bitcoin exchange.
The cabinet will decide on Friday how to treat bitcoin under existing laws, the people said, adding that banks and securities firms will not be able to handle bitcoin as part of their main businesses, suggesting it will be treated more as a commodity, like gold.
The government wants bitcoin transactions to be taxable, the Nikkei and Yomiuri newspapers said, but it remains unclear how the authorities could do this, given that one of the attractions of using bitcoins is that transactions are anonymous.
Bitcoin is a digital currency that, unlike conventional money, is bought and sold on a peer-to-peer network independent of central control. Its value has soared in the last year, and the total worth of bitcoins minted is now about $7 billion.