Daily Bits April 1st, 2017

Japan’s Bitcoin Law goes into effect today (no, this is not an April Fool’s joke).

What does that mean for bitcoin businesses?

Cryptocurrency exchanges now come under AML/KYC regulations, and have to comply with capital requirements (holding a minimum of Y10 million – approximately $100,000). In addition, exchanges need to be able to demonstrate a certain level of cybersecurity precautions, and segregate their funds from the users’.

What’s more, the bill officially recognizes bitcoin as a form of payment (although it stops short of calling it a currency).

Since Japan recently overtook China as the leading bitcoin market, it remains to be seen if this will have any impact on bitcoin trading volumes. There will likely be some consolidation in the market, as not all exchanges will be able to comply with the new requirements.

On the whole, though, the new law should go a long way to cleaning up bitcoin’s image in Japan, significantly dented after the Mt. Gox crash in 2014. And it could be a step towards greater integration of cryptocurrencies in business, perhaps even in finance.

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A spectacular piece of architecture that blends into the cliff… This house in Iceland was designed by Alex Hogrefe, who seems to understand about strength in contrast.

by Alex Hogrefe, via MyModernMet
by Alex Hogrefe, via MyModernMet

Unfortunately it’s not a real house, just a visualization, but it triggers a deep pull of longing for isolation and nature.

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Professor Keyu Jin from the London School of Economics has an interesting take in the World Economic Forum on the looming trade war between the US and China. What’s at stake? A colossal loss of US jobs.

“80% of trade is supply-chain trade. Technology and a reduction in trade costs have allowed countries to geographically splinter their production line, allowing intermediate goods to be produced in different parts of the world. Globalization’s unbundling and the intricate networks of production have made calculations of trade flows more complicated.”

There’s also the benefit of access to cheap goods, which benefits low-income families more than the wealthy.

And if the trade deficit to China is somehow reduced, Bangladesh or Vietnam will step in to take its place.

Furthermore, the stiff competition from Chinese companies forced many in the US and Europe to innovate and adapt their business models. Without that imperative, economic growth over the past few decades could have been much slower.

“The current rhetoric and protectionist tendencies are dangerous and even borderline absurd because they are founded on false assumptions and bigoted conclusions. We may have misgivings about China, but the rising spectre on the global stage is not China itself – it’s the trumped-up stories surrounding it.”

Quartz helps out with a list of the US states and companies that would suffer the most if the trade war escalates. Washington and California must be pretty nervous.

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Maria Popova in Brainpickings gives an insightful review (which does not shy away from drawing parallels with more recent trends) of Hannah Arendt’s book “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil”, an account of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, one of the architects of the Holocaust.

Eichmann in Jerusalem remains, unfortunately, an increasingly relevant masterwork as we face a world seized by banal tyrants capable of perpetrating enormous evil with their small hands. But perhaps John Steinbeck put it best in his superb letter written months before Arendt arrived in New York as a refugee from Nazi Germany: “All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die.”

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