Sir Richard Branson has been in the news quite a bit lately, for all of the wrong reasons. His Virgin Galactic company suffered a major setback in their quest to send common (rich) 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.
Sir Richard Branson is now making news for other reasons as he spoke extensively about Bitcoin recently in Australia. Branson is a known Bitcoin investor as a venture capitalist and has spoken on behalf of Bitcoin before publicly. This time his commentary was via an op-ed piece for Bitcoin lobby group Australian Digital Currency Commerce Association, which is leading up to the G20 Summit next month.
Australia Has Shown Great Interest and Leadership in Bitcoin
Sir Richard Branson wrote on Tuesday:
“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.”
At an upcoming Senate Committee meeting on digital currency, Senator Sam Dastyari is looking for more answers about Bitcoin and its future. Similar to the successful Canadian Parliament meeting in October that featured world-renowned Bitcoin icon and educator Andreas Antonopoulos, he has asked Sir Richard Branson to appear, along with the heads of the “Big 4” Australian banks. Sir Richard Branson has already invested over $30 Million into Bitcoin business ventures to this point. He said:
“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 democratization that helps to put more power and control back into the hands of the everyday citizen.”
Australian Bitcoin exchanges like Independent Reserve, which recently launched in October, depending on a stable regulatory environment to maintain legitimacy and attract mainstream users. The Bitcoin Group, a Melbourne-based arbitrage fund, is hoping to list on the Australian Securities Exchange soon. They have also called on the government to develop a framework within which it can operate, legally and effectively. These issues underscore the need for the government’s help, to some extent, for Bitcoin to grow as a currency and financial ecosystem both here, and abroad.
Australia has shown great 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 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 solid support from the local City Council, will begin to equip all business to transact in Bitcoin for all manner of financial transactions. Anything from buying food locally to paying government taxes will be facilitated.
“Bitcoin is a currency in use in all developed countries in the world and has turned over $20bn in the last 12 months. It’s time Launceston got its share” says Adam Poulton of Reactivate Launceston.
To this end, Bitcoin has already been used to pay over $150,000 in bills by Australians with companies equipped to accept payment through BPAY, and it looks like that is just the beginning, as global service providers like Dish Network now accept Bitcoin directly for payment.
Images from Steve Mann, Helga Esteb, and Shutterstock.