Sir Richard Branson, a known Bitcoin investor as a venture capitalist, has been in the news quite a bit recently. His Virgin Galactic company suffered obstacles in their quest to send common folks into space, when their Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo spacecraft crashed during testing in the Mojave Desert, killing one of the pilots. Never one to let free publicity go to waste, he seems to be quickly turning the page towards his viewpoints on Bitcoin.
Now he is making news for other reasons as he spoke extensively about Bitcoin recently in Australia. This time his commentary was via an op-ed piece for Bitcoin lobby group Australian Digital Currency Commerce Association, which is preparing to the G20 Summit next month.
“Making sure that conversations around this are happening at the highest level will hopefully result in common-sense reforms to areas such as taxation and law enforcement, which will be of real benefit to all concerned. It’s crucial that everyone has an understanding and access to enable it [digital currencies] to work for them.” Sir Richard Branson wrote on Tuesday.
At a forthcoming Senate Committee meeting regarding digital currency, Senator Sam Dastyari is seeking for more answers about Bitcoin and its future. Similar to the successful Canadian Parliament meeting in October that featured Andreas Antonopoulos, the world-renowned Bitcoin icon and educator, he has asked Sir Richard Branson to appear together with the directorship of the “Big 4″ Australian banks. It turned out that Sir Richard Branson has already invested over $30 Million into Bitcoin business ventures to this point.
“It feels strange to think of a world without cash, no more coins or notes for us to find down the back of the sofa, but it appears that’s the way things are. Through making investments in the likes of Square and Blockchain, I hope to be a part of what could be a democratisation that helps to put more power and control back into the hands of the everyday citizen.” he said.
Australian Bitcoin exchanges, for instance Independent Reserve, which recently launched in October, depend on a secure regulatory environment to provide legitimacy and attract mainstream users.
The Bitcoin Group, a Melbourne-based arbitrage fund, is hoping to be listed on the Australian Securities Exchange soon. Moreover, they have called on the government to promote a framework within which it can operate effectively and legally. These issues highlight the need for government’s help, to some extent, for Bitcoin to develop as a currency and financial ecosystem here, and abroad.
On the whole Australia has shown huge interest and leadership in Bitcoin with the city of Launceston, which has over one hundred thousand residents, moving towards a Bitcoin-centric economic system. Launceston is situated on the northern coast of the island of Tasmania, which sits about 150 miles south of the major coastal Australian city of Melbourne. The proposed initiative, which has received stable support from the local City Council, will begin to set up all business to transact in Bitcoin for all manner of financial transactions. Anything from buying food locally to paying government taxes will be promoted.
Bitcoin has already been used to pay over $150,000 in bills by Australians with companies set up to accept payment via BPAY. It looks like that is just the beginning, as global service providers like Dish Network now accept Bitcoin directly for payment.