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Abstract

Crypto-currencies like Bitcoins are relatively recent phenomena on the online Internet landscape and an emerging force in the financial sector. While not conforming to traditional institutional practices, they are gaining increasing acceptance as viable commercial currencies. In this conceptual paper we discuss the potential impact of digital currency technology on the Australian economy, including the (i) payments sector, (ii) retail sector, and (iii) banking sector; and explore potential ways in which Australia can take advantage of digital currency technology to establish itself as a market leader in this field. The emergence of this new and potentially disruptive technology provides both opportunities as well as risks. In order to support innovation and the needs of the growing Australian digital currency industry it is important to define digital currencies and examine the impact regulatory frameworks could have on the further adoption and diffusion of the technology.
Australasian Conference on Information Systems Ally et al.
2015, Adelaide Potential Impact of Digital Currencies
The Potential Impact of Digital Currencies on the
Australian Economy
Mustafa Ally
School of Management & Enterprise
University of Southern Queensland
Queensland, Australia
Email: mustafa.ally@usq.edu.au
Michael Gardiner
School of Management & Enterprise
University of Southern Queensland
Queensland, Australia
Email: michael.gardiner@usq.edu.au
Michael Lane
School of Management & Enterprise
University of Southern Queensland
Queensland, Australia
Email: michael.lane@usq.edu.au
Abstract
Crypto-currencies, like Bitcoins, are a relatively recent phenomena on the online Internet
landscape and an emerging force in the financial sector. While not conforming to
traditional institutional practices, they are gaining increasing acceptance as viable
commercial currencies. With this technology presenting new opportunities, and its future
largely dependent on external challenges, this conceptual paper discusses the potential
impact of digital currency technology on the Australian economy. It includes (i) the payments
sector, (ii) the retail sector, and (iii) the banking sector; and explores potential ways in which
Australia can take advantage of digital currency technology to establish itself as a market
leader in this field. The emergence of this new and potentially disruptive technology provides
both opportunities as well as risks. The paper also highlights the potential impact of any tax
regime that harshly penalises users of crypto-currencies. In order to support innovation and
the needs of the growing Australian digital currency industry it is important to define digital
currencies and examine the impact regulatory frameworks could have on the further
adoption and diffusion of the technology.
Keywords digital currencies, bitcoins, blockchains, virtual currencies
1 Introduction
New technologies, particularly distributed peer-to-peer consensus networks and cloud-based
technologies, such as the blockchain, offer the potential for valuable innovation and
competition. Advances in technology have also produced rapid changes in the way
Australians are managing their money (for example, PayPal, NFC, online and contactless
payments, smartphone apps, etc.). The advent of digital currencies, like Bitcoin, has opened
up a new range of opportunities that have the potential to support Australia’s economic
growth and to position Australia as a market leader in the future development of this
Australasian Conference on Information Systems Ally et al.
2015, Adelaide Potential Impact of Digital Currencies
technology (SERC 2015). Embracing digital currencies will serve to benefit the Australia
economy and become a stimulus for growth and innovation. However, a number of
challenges face these emerging currencies if they are to become genuine financial
instruments and gain widespread adoption.
While the challenges highlighted by recent events are issues of security, usability and
confidence in these currencies there have been concerns raised about the role of regulators
and regulations (or lack of them) and the effect they are having in encouraging innovation
and entrepreneurship in Australia (SERC 2015; Bitcoin Foundation and Bitcoin Association
of Australia 2014). Tax rulings related to the use of crypto-currencies regime can have
significant consequences for both consumers and businesses wanting to trade with or buy,
sell and exchange Bitcoins.
Australia has the potential to become a global hub of digital currency innovation. In addition
to a world-leading financial services industry, the country has a number of key market
attributes conducive to growing robust digital currency industry (Bitcoin Foundation and
Bitcoin Association of Australia 2014). Australia is ranked number one in the G20 countries
for e-Trade Readiness (The Economist Intelligence Unit 2014). Affordable internet access,
high smartphone penetration, high use of electronic payment and a well-developed
regulatory framework have created a market environment that makes Australia “better
placed to grow global online commerce than any other nation in the G20” (Austrade 2014).
Australia is one of the global leaders in the adoption of non-cash payments Australian
Banking and Finance 2013). The Australian Clearing and Payments Association reported that
the use of cash for payments in 2013 was as low as 47%, with internet and smart-phone
payments making up 90% of all remote payments in 2013. This wide-spread adoption of
mobile payment solutions makes Australia an ideal market in which to develop and grow a
digital currency industry (Australian Payments Clearing Association 2014).
Bitcoin can play a crucial role in supporting the country’s export-driven economy by reducing
cross-border financial transaction fees, and by increasing the addressable market for
Australian goods. From a meta-analysis analysis of the 48 submissions to the Senate
Economics Review Committee and other reports and literature, this paper sets out some of
the opportunities presented to the Australian payments, retail and financial sectors through
exploiting the full potential of digital currencies and Bitcoins and the blockchain technology
in particular in the context of the ATO rulings on taxing bitcoins and an analysis of the
submissions to the Senate Economics Review Committee (SERC 2015).
2 Defining digital currency
The terms digital currency and virtual currency are often used interchangeably to mean the
same thing. In its 2014 report on virtual currencies, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF
2014), an inter-governmental body established in 1989 by a Group of Seven (G-7) Summit in
Paris, defined digital currency as a digital representation of value that can be digitally traded
while functioning as a medium of exchange, unit of account and a store of value, but has no
legal tender status and functions only by agreement within the community of users of the
virtual currency. The European Banking Authority (2014) defined virtual currency as "a
digital representation of value that is neither issued by a central bank or a public authority,
nor necessarily attached to a fiat currency, but is accepted by natural or legal persons as a
means of payment and can be transferred, stored or traded electronically".
2.1 Digital and fiat currencies
Digital currency is distinguished from fiat currency (a.k.a. 'real currency', 'real money', or
'national currency'), which is the coin and paper money of a country that is designated as its
legal tender; circulates; and is customarily used and accepted as a medium of exchange in the
issuing country.
Australasian Conference on Information Systems Ally et al.
2015, Adelaide Potential Impact of Digital Currencies
Ali et al. (2014) claim that, currently, digital currencies differ from fiat money in a number of
ways. A digital currency is not an IOU like fiat money. A bank holds the fiat money (liability)
on behalf of a customer (asset). Also, in terms of meeting the three functions of money,
namely, as a unit of account, a medium of exchange and a store of value, digital currencies
fall short of their full potential. Their very limited use currently means that they are primarily
seen as only a store of value.
2.2 Types of digital currencies
Digital currencies can further be divided into different subtypes.
2.2.1 Convertible and non-convertible
A convertible digital currency has an equivalent value in fiat currency and can be exchanged
back-and-forth for real currency (Linden Dollars, bitcoins, etc.). Non-convertible digital
currency (closed virtual currencies with almost no link to the real economy), on the other
hand, cannot be exchanged for fiat currency and is intended to be specific to a particular
virtual domain, such as a massively multiplayer online role-playing game like World of
Warcraft Gold which uses a non-convertible digital currency (FATF 2014). There are also
virtual currencies that can be purchased directly using real currency at a specific exchange
rate, but cannot be exchanged back to the original currency, for example, Facebook credits
(CoinJar 2014).
2.2.2 Centralized and non-centralized
All non-convertible digital currencies are centralised, as they are issued by a single
administrating authority. Convertible digital currencies can be either centralised or
decentralised. Decentralised digital currencies, also known as cryptocurrencies, are
distributed, open-source, math-based, peer-to-peer currencies that have no central
administrating authority and no central monitoring or oversight. Examples of such
cryptocurrencies include: Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ripple.
3 Bitcoin as a digital currency
Launched in 2009, Bitcoin was the first decentralised convertible digital currency and the
first cryptocurrency. Bitcoin was created as an electronic payment system that would allow
two parties to transact directly with each other over the internet without needing a trusted
third party intermediary. The 'distributed ledger' (also known as the 'blockchain') is used to
record and verify transactions, allowing digital currency to be used as a decentralised
payment system (Antonopoulos 2013).
Bitcoin as a digital currency, is gaining momentum in multiple marketplaces, bringing in
benefits for both companies (lower transaction fees, instant transactions, no chargebacks,
simplified payment processes) and consumers (lower or no fees to transfer value and send
bitcoins globally, pseudonymous transactions, no intermediary i.e. financial institution,
controlling currency) (MCDougall, 2014).
According to Winters (2014) major Australian exchanges estimate that combined they have
approximately 40,000 local users. Australian adoption growth mirrors the global trend.
Australia now has an estimated 192 businesses accepting Bitcoin (Winters 2014). While these
numbers are low compared to the traditional banking network there is a growing uptake
created by increasing user and merchant adoption. Bitcoin’s market capitalisation currently
sits at $6 billion USD. The Bitcoin Association of Australia estimates that the Australian
share of this market capital is approximately 2%. This means that the market capitalisation
for Australia is approximately $120 million.
4 The digital currency ecosystem
A supportive network of interconnected activities, institutions and technologies is rapidly
building around virtual currencies. This developing ecosystem includes digital currency
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2015, Adelaide Potential Impact of Digital Currencies
intermediaries who manage holdings and facilitate transactions. For Bitcoin users there is an
ever growing range of intermediaries that provide services to users and stakeholders and, in
so doing, are helping spawn new startups and entrepreneurs in this space (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Digital currency stakeholders (developed for this study)
Value-added services can describe offerings that facilitate consumer participation in the
Bitcoin ecosystem. Among the range of intermediaries are providers of bitcoin wallets,
exchanges and trading platforms, merchant payment processing, Bitcoin ATMS, etc. A
properly nurtured ecosystem of digital currency companies could create a range of credible
small-to-medium financial providers, making the sector overall more competitive and
resilient (CoinJar 2014).
5 Innovation opportunities
The innovation lifecycle (Figure 2) illustrates the level of technological change over time for a
new innovation. A new product often leads to new processes. Beyond the blueprint and the
first applications of an innovation, almost always, new innovations strive to improve, replace
and complement it. Especially when the source code of such an innovation is freely available
to all, this is an invitation for further development and experimentation.
The inherent technology underlying Bitcoin presents new opportunities to revolutionise how
business and individuals handle modern commerce in the marketplace.
As Bitcoin begins to solidify as an innovation, we are seeing complementary processes being
built on top of it, to make it more diverse (Mastercoin, Ethereum, etc.), more secure (HD
Australasian Conference on Information Systems Ally et al.
2015, Adelaide Potential Impact of Digital Currencies
wallets, multi-signature transactions, BIP38, BIP70,etc.), and more easy to use (Coinbase,
BitPay, Circle, etc.).
Figure 2: Diffusion of Innovation Model (Rogers 1962)
Four types of organizations face increased challenges if Bitcoin continues its growth pattern
as a digital currency: banks, governments, payment processors and payment gateways,
providing a range of opportunities for early innovators in Australia in the following three
sectors:
5.1 Payments sector
Andreas Antonopoulos told the Senate Economics Review Committee (SERC 2015) that
Bitcoin may represent a unique opportunity in two areas:
Firstly, bitcoin can introduce much needed competition in the retail payments
industry, undercutting the expensive systems offered by credit and debit cards, while
significantly improving security and privacy for consumers. Secondly, the bitcoin
industry can establish Australia at the forefront of the next wave of innovation in
financial services, a wave that can extend financial services to more than two billion
people throughout Southeast Asia who are currently underbanked.”
In the payments processing segment of the industry, merchant tools that enable online
businesses to accept Bitcoin on hosted checkout pages, shopping carts and point of sale
systems for brick and mortar stores can be further enhanced and developed.
Digital currencies can assist in the transmission of money offshore, and international
remittances, which currently can be expensive and subject to delays in the receipt of funds,
can be a growth market in Australia (APCA 2014). A case in point is that of Samoa where the
transaction fees for transferring money from Australia are around 12 per cent of the
transaction value. The ability to transfer value across international borders for fractions of a
cent using Bitcoin technology facilitates the flow of remittances into developing countries
(Bitcoin Foundation and Bitcoin Association of Australia 2014).
New business models could reduce the cost of simple transactions and increasing financial
inclusion of the 2.5 billion people currently classed as the “unbanked”. The unbanked are
people or businesses that don’t operate in the normal financial stream or system due to the
high exorbitant costs banks charge or the fact that banks are not in the remote places they
live in (Dostov & Shust 2014).
Australasian Conference on Information Systems Ally et al.
2015, Adelaide Potential Impact of Digital Currencies
5.2 Retail sector
In addition to faster and cheaper transaction processing, the European Banking Authority
(2014) identified a number of advantages attached to virtual currencies that apply
particularly to the retail sector. Irreversible payments are a paradigm shift for online
payment systems and the irreversible nature of Bitcoin transactions shifts the balance in
favour of merchants. The certainty of payments received allows merchants to avoid having to
refund transactions, particularly those based on an alleged non-fulfilment of a contract. The
spawning of new types of businesses will contribute further to economic growth and the
security of personal data will also foster greater trust and confidence in online ecommerce.
Micropayments, as one such example, has been long-awaited as a payment mechanism for
offering very low priced content, but transaction fees have hindered deployment for anything
sold for less than $1. In lieu of daily or monthly subscriptions, Bitcoin could make it possible
to charge the equivalent of cents for content.
Since Bitcoin’s global and decentralized digital infrastructure is not tied to country-specific
currencies, travel and tourism companies could experiment with Bitcoin on multiple fronts.
Tourism and vacation companies could use Bitcoin to supplement traditional payment
systems, making it easier for out-of-country tourists to make reservations (PwC 2014).
Airlines could accept the digital currency for domestic flight purchases in the Australia. They
could also integrate QR codebased Bitcoin accounts into mobile apps, experimenting with in-
flight payments, hospitality lounges or selling frequent flyer miles or points. Bitcoin could be
offered as an enhancement to traditional loyalty programs such as miles or reward points
(PwC 2014).
Another striking use case is online casino startups who are embracing Bitcoin, primarily for
its ease of crossing national borders, absence of multiple currency conversions and lack of
restrictions that banks or credit card companies may place on users for online games of
chance. In offering quick, frictionless payments, digital currencies will also make it easier for
retailers to experiment with new sales models, including, tipping, pay-by-use, and
crowdfunding (CoinJar 2014)
5.3 Financial sector
Bitcoin offers unique payment options to the finance sector and has the potential to
revolutionise and transform the global payments network (Branson 2014).
Bitcoin may cause financial institutions to update or add to their current technologies, adjust
fee structures, add services or new layers of specialists to monitor and understand
governmental regulatory issues. Blockchain technology can be leveraged to bring better
efficiencies to the financial services sector with the potential of saving consumers billions of
dollars annually.
Ali et al. (2014) states that digital currencies at present do not pose a significant risk to the
monetary and financial stability of banks due to their size at present. The banking sector will
not in the short term lose considerable business through the introduction of bitcoin,
especially with the ability to obtain business through people exchanging cash for bitcoins
through one of their branches. But as bitcoin grows the loss of transaction fees that they
charge for businesses to use credit card and other payment methods could be considerable
and worth considering, and banks in some countries may have to make their fees more
comparable. Digital currencies are not expected to have an impact on central bank policy in
the short term due to their size but governments and central banks are watching bitcoins
progress with keen interest (Franco 2014).
Certain Australian banks have dissociated themselves from Bitcoin, closing the accounts of
digital currency providers on the grounds that they posed an unacceptable level of risk, both
to their business and their reputation (Southurst 2014). Exchanges, ATMs, payment
processors and online merchants have the need to move money through traditional financial
Australasian Conference on Information Systems Ally et al.
2015, Adelaide Potential Impact of Digital Currencies
networks, as they bridge the present gap between the fiat and cryptocurrency systems
(Southurst 2013). The banks’ willingness to work with intermediaries and entrepreneurs in
the digital currency world will go a long way to building a healthy and stable Bitcoin
ecosystem.
6 Australian Taxation and Regulations
The positions of banks and other established financial institutions have for long been
protected by sector specific finance regulations. Banks and credit/debit card companies are
supervised by central banks, to which they also report data about the usage of various
payment instruments. This is an integral part of the monetary system regulation. Digital
currencies, on the other hand, by their very nature and relatively new arrival on the scence
require a re-thinking of the regimes currently in place.
6.1 ATO Bitcoin rulings
On 20 August 2014, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) (2014) released a suite of draft
public rulings on the tax treatment of digital currencies. The ATO's rulings, which were
finalised on 17 December 2014, determined that:
Transacting with bitcoins is akin to a barter arrangement, with similar tax
consequences.
The ATO's view is that Bitcoin is neither money nor a foreign currency, and the supply
of bitcoin is not a financial supply for goods and services tax (GST) purposes. Bitcoin
is, however, an asset for capital gains tax (CGT) purposes.
From the Senate Economic Reference Committee Report (2015) a summary of the taxation
implication of the ATO's rulings on digital currencies is as follows:
Capital gains tax (CGT)Those using digital currency for investment or business
purposes may be subject to CGT when they dispose of digital currency, in the same
way they would be for the disposal of shares or similar CGT assets; individuals who
make personal use of digital currency (for example using digital currency to purchase
items to buy a coffee) and where the cost of the Bitcoin was less than AUD$10,000,
will have no CGT obligations.
Goods and Services Tax (GST)Individuals will be charged GST when they buy digital
currency, as with any other property. Businesses will charge GST when they supply
digital currency and be charged GST when they buy digital currency.
Income TaxBusinesses providing an exchange service, buying and selling digital
currency, or mining Bitcoin, will pay income tax on the profits. Businesses paid in
Bitcoin will include the amount, valued in Australian currency, in assessable business
income. Those trading digital currencies for profit, will also be required to include the
profits as part of their assessable income.
Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT)remuneration paid in digital currency will be subject to
FBT where the employee has a valid salary sacrifice arrangement, otherwise the usual
salary and wage PAYG rules will apply.
6.2 ATO Taxation Implications
Investors see great potential to deliver good solid returns for local investment and the local
community. However, Winters (2014) suggests that there are many investors who want to
invest in bitcoins and their services but have been scared off due to the tax treatment of
bitcoins in Australia.
Australasian Conference on Information Systems Ally et al.
2015, Adelaide Potential Impact of Digital Currencies
As a result of the ATO decision, the Bitcoin landscape in Australia changed dramatically
(Bitcoininst 2015). In December 2014, Australia's biggest cryptocurrency platform, Coinjar,
relocated its headquarters to the UK in a bid to avoid GST charges on bitcoin transactions. Its
chief executive, Asher Tan, said the issue had hit the Australian bitcoin market hard, and
that several companies were forced to downsize or shut down completely (Financial Review
2015).
According to Taxpayers Australia Limited (2014) the tax regime for digital currencies
suggested by the Tax Office will:
Negatively discriminate against businesses currently accepting Bitcoin as part of their
purchasing and sales capability
Inhibit the take-up of digital currencies across Australia, particularly amongst small
businesses
Inhibit innovation in the future development of digital currencies and associated
payment systems within Australia
Potentially lead to revenue loss through unreported or incorrectly reported
transactions
Increase compliance costs for taxpayers
Increase administration costs within the Tax Office
Inevitably need to be revised as current or future digital currencies become embedded
into everyday payment systems
It is important for the ATO to form a logical and practical approach to the taxation of bitcoins
to ensure that investment in the local Bitcoin industry is not moved offshore. This will have a
significant effect on innovation in Australia in the bitcoin service industry and will leave
Australia significantly behind other countries in the use of digital currencies use for the
future. Removal of the GST will provide Australia’s digital entrepreneurs, and the foreign
businesses who want to set up in the country greater confidence and certainty in investing
money and skills here (SERC 2015) and eliminate one of the important barriers to growth
and innovation for digital currency in Australia.
6.3 Regulatory frameworks
In its Senate submission, CoinJar (2014) was of the following view:
One of the lessons of the music industry's battle against file-sharing is that if a digital
innovation is not welcomed into a legal, regulated space, it can still thrive outside of
that space. With near-instant, near-free transactions, digital currencies offer a
competitive proposition that will likely thrive regardless of regulatory regime. The
danger is that overly strict regulation pushes this activity into the informal economy,
and offshore to territories with more accommodating regulations.
Laurel West, Editorial Director, Economist Intelligence Unit (2014) had this to say about the
effect of onerous regulations: “It’s clear that technology alone is not enough to allow e-trade
to reach its full potential. Customs regimes across the globe are still aligned with the needs of
big businesses and hampering SMEs. E-trade is a ripe opportunity for SMEs to compete with
multinationals. They can be a key driver in its growth, but bureaucracy could be their biggest
barrier.”
The Australian Reserve Bank is the principal regulator of the payments system. Digital
currencies are not currently regulated by the Bank or subject to regulatory oversight. The
Reserve Bank of Australia (2014) sees that there are currently no regulatory factors on the
part of the Bank that might impede growth of the digital currency industry and that this
Australasian Conference on Information Systems Ally et al.
2015, Adelaide Potential Impact of Digital Currencies
factor of regulation may well be a factor contributing to the adoption of bitcoin by some
users.
The SERC (2015) examined the unique challenges that digital currencies have created for
regulators, including how to maintain the integrity of the financial system while creating a
regulatory environment that encourages innovation.
The committee was of the view that any regulatory framework should balance the need to
mitigate risks facing consumers and the broader financial system, while still encouraging
innovation and growth in the industry by keeping the barriers to entry low. As the digital
currency industry is still in its early stages, the committee supported a 'wait-and-see'
approach to government regulation. For their part, regulators can support this vision by
ensuring equitable treatment under the law, low transaction frictions and low barriers to
entry (Vong 2014).
7 Future Research
Despite our own research and experience in the field, there is a need to test empirically the
propositions presented in this paper. As a nascent technology any claims, opinions and
assumptions about the future of crypto-currencies require further in-depth analysis of the
roles that the various stakeholders in the digital currency ecosystem are playing. Current
studies being undertaken on consumer and merchant usage and awareness should provide a
clearer picture of where the markets for future growth in this space are likely to come from.
While the arguments in this paper focus on the positive impacts, there is also a need to
explore inhibiting factors to the more widespread use of the technology, particularly with
regards issues related to ease of use, security and its use for nefarious activities like money
laundering and the darknet marketplace.
8 Conclusion
The digital currency implementation in Australia will have effects on the three sectors, that is,
payments, retail and banking. But retailers should be the most amenable to the introduction
of digital currency use with sizable reduction of payment processing fees for payments made.
While digital currencies hold significant opportunities for innovation in Australia, a real
concern is that the introduction and application of onerous regulations and taxation regimes
could stifle and discourage investment in digital currencies in Australia and reduce the
positive effects that could be obtained from stimulating the economy through digital currency
usage. The ramifications of taxing bitcoins like a commodity most likely are still being felt
and the ATO should consider a full examination of what affects this choice has had on the
economy and innovation and consider taxing it appropriately like a normal financial
payment. On the other hand, there is the view that a regulatory environment needs to be
created that ensures the protection of consumers and preserves the integrity of the financial
system and that of the tax base (Australian Bankers’ Association Inc 2014).
To gain the first mover advantage it is imperative for Australia to develop an innovative
digital currency technology sector, providing many thousands of high-value, knowledge-
based jobs in the process. This will give Australia a chance to play a leading role in this
dynamic new industry with universal ramifications. Expertise, products and services
developed here could be deployed throughout the world giving the country the diversity it
needs in the economy. In addition, Orban (2014) argues that the shift from an inflationary
currency to a deflationary one brings with it an ecologically sustainable future shaped by the
impact in energy use, resource allocation and management, and ways of living of the future
Australasian Conference on Information Systems Ally et al.
2015, Adelaide Potential Impact of Digital Currencies
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Copyright
Copyright: © 2015 Mustafa Ally, Michael Gardiner, and Michael Lane. This is an open-
access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-
NonCommercial 3.0 Australia License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and ACIS are credited.
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Article
Purpose – The purpose of the article is to look closely at the phenomenon of the cryptocurrencies such as and bitcoin to identify their potential vulnerabilities to money laundering and financing of terrorism. It also explores their specific characteristics relevant to ML/FT risks. Design/methodology/approach – Using digicash and bitcoin protocols as primary cases for centralized and decentralized cryptocurrencies we analyse their characteristics against cash and cashless payments. We also draw on “bundle of attributes” that may define their attractiveness for common public or criminals. Findings – Our research shows that characteristics of the cryptocurrencies are unlikely to make them popular among the consumers, as demand for anonymity seems to be overrated. Cryptocurrencies can also be classified as payment instrument rather than private currencies; therefore their embededdness in the financial system minimizes the ML/FT risks. Research limitations/implications – Some decentralized cryptocurrencies operate within informal communities. Therefore, relations within these communities are constantly evolving and need to be monitored further. Practical implications – The paper provides an insight into the mechanics and classification of cryptocurrencies as payment instruments. Place of cryptocurrencies within the broader payment ecosystem defines their potential vulnerabilities to being abused by the criminals. Originality/value – The paper fills the gap in research on cryptocurrencies as payment instruments rather than private currencies and also provides an overview of their relevance for the Anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime.
Book
Getting an innovation adopted is difficult; a common problem is increasing the rate of its diffusion. Diffusion is the communication of an innovation through certain channels over time among members of a social system. It is a communication whose messages are concerned with new ideas; it is a process where participants create and share information to achieve a mutual understanding. Initial chapters of the book discuss the history of diffusion research, some major criticisms of diffusion research, and the meta-research procedures used in the book. This text is the third edition of this well-respected work. The first edition was published in 1962, and the fifth edition in 2003. The book's theoretical framework relies on the concepts of information and uncertainty. Uncertainty is the degree to which alternatives are perceived with respect to an event and the relative probabilities of these alternatives; uncertainty implies a lack of predictability and motivates an individual to seek information. A technological innovation embodies information, thus reducing uncertainty. Information affects uncertainty in a situation where a choice exists among alternatives; information about a technological innovation can be software information or innovation-evaluation information. An innovation is an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or an other unit of adoption; innovation presents an individual or organization with a new alternative(s) or new means of solving problems. Whether new alternatives are superior is not precisely known by problem solvers. Thus people seek new information. Information about new ideas is exchanged through a process of convergence involving interpersonal networks. Thus, diffusion of innovations is a social process that communicates perceived information about a new idea; it produces an alteration in the structure and function of a social system, producing social consequences. Diffusion has four elements: (1) an innovation that is perceived as new, (2) communication channels, (3) time, and (4) a social system (members jointly solving to accomplish a common goal). Diffusion systems can be centralized or decentralized. The innovation-development process has five steps passing from recognition of a need, through R&D, commercialization, diffusions and adoption, to consequences. Time enters the diffusion process in three ways: (1) innovation-decision process, (2) innovativeness, and (3) rate of the innovation's adoption. The innovation-decision process is an information-seeking and information-processing activity that motivates an individual to reduce uncertainty about the (dis)advantages of the innovation. There are five steps in the process: (1) knowledge for an adoption/rejection/implementation decision; (2) persuasion to form an attitude, (3) decision, (4) implementation, and (5) confirmation (reinforcement or rejection). Innovations can also be re-invented (changed or modified) by the user. The innovation-decision period is the time required to pass through the innovation-decision process. Rates of adoption of an innovation depend on (and can be predicted by) how its characteristics are perceived in terms of relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability. The diffusion effect is the increasing, cumulative pressure from interpersonal networks to adopt (or reject) an innovation. Overadoption is an innovation's adoption when experts suggest its rejection. Diffusion networks convey innovation-evaluation information to decrease uncertainty about an idea's use. The heart of the diffusion process is the modeling and imitation by potential adopters of their network partners who have adopted already. Change agents influence innovation decisions in a direction deemed desirable. Opinion leadership is the degree individuals influence others' attitudes
Article
A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required to prevent double-spending. We propose a solution to the double-spending problem using a peer-to-peer network. The network timestamps transactions by hashing them into an ongoing chain of hash-based proof-of-work, forming a record that cannot be changed without redoing the proof-of-work. The longest chain not only serves as proof of the sequence of events witnessed, but proof that it came from the largest pool of CPU power. As long as a majority of CPU power is controlled by nodes that are not cooperating to attack the network, they'll generate the longest chain and outpace attackers. The network itself requires minimal structure. Messages are broadcast on a best effort basis, and nodes can leave and rejoin the network at will, accepting the longest proof-of-work chain as proof of what happened while they were gone.
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