‘Double GST’ No More

Many in the Australian digital currency ecosystem were pleasantly surprised when in this year’s Budget the Australian Treasurer announced an effective date for the removal of ‘double GST’ on digital currency transactions. Effective 1 July 2017, the purchase of digital currency will no longer be subject to Australian GST. In effect, this will result in digital currency being given the same GST treatment as money.

However, more importantly, this would make Australia only the second country (the first being Japan) in the world to make actual amendments to their tax laws to accommodate digital currencies.


But What’s The Big Deal?

As it currently stands, when a consumer purchases an item using digital currencies they bear GST twice – once when they purchase a digital currency and secondly when they purchase the good or service which is subject to GST using a digital currency. On this basis, digital currencies are at a disadvantage as compared to fiat currency when it comes to using them for transactional purposes.

Although, much of the initial debate surrounding the GST treatment of digital currencies revolved around bitcoin, the provisions are broader and will likely include other similar digital currencies (Etc, Zcash etc). This is especially important to note given the recent and persistent rise of ICOs (initial coin offerings). In effect, these changes allow for innovation in the digital currency space without the unintended application of GST to transactions involving them.


A Long Time Coming – But Likely Worth The Wait

In the Government’s ‘Backing Australian FinTech’ statement made on 21 March 2016, they committed to fixing this impediment to the growth of the Australian digital currency ecosystem. After this, a discussion paper was released in May 2016 regarding the possible amendments that could be made to the GST Act to remove ‘double GST’ on digital currencies. This paper called for submissions from industry participants on a number of technical implementation issues. After submission closed much of the digital currency community has eagerly awaited the implementation date.

As someone who’s been involved with petitioning government for these changes, it is positive to see them finally commit to an effective date for the amendments. This again highlights the progressive thinking the Australian Government is showing in the fintech space to ensure that regulatory impediments to industry growth are removed.


So That’s It?

What has been released so far by Treasury is an effective date for the amendments. However, the draft legislation has not yet been released. This means that there are a number of important tax technical questions that still need to be answered. Specifically, how will digital currency be defined? How has treasury chosen to actually make the amendments to the Act (the so called input tax vs money treatment)? These are still unknown.

Having said this, these are all things that will likely be resolved in the next few months. The important thing to remember is that effective 1 July 2017 Australians will not subject to ‘double GST’ on digital currency transactions in Australia – which is great news for the future of the industry.

 


Alan Tsen (http://alantsen.com) leads Fintech Victoria, a Victorian government seed funded organisation. Its goals are to help amplify, grow and connect the Victorian fintech ecosystem. Alan led and wrote FinTech Australia’s Digital Currency and Blockchain technology industry submission to the Australian Treasury.

CoinJar bases its operations in the United Kingdom as part of its global strategy. Incorporated as a UK company, CoinJar UK Limited. HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) in the UK exempts digital currency trading from value added tax (VAT), so new and existing CoinJar customers are not be levied any VAT related taxes.

Bitcoin transaction confirmation time and fees

The landscape for Bitcoin continues to intrigue and be unpredictable. This is especially true when it comes to Bitcoin transaction confirmation time and fees. We’ve had a lot of feedback over these past months as transactions sometimes have not been as close to instant (~10 mins) as one may have hoped when sending payments over the Bitcoin network. Industry pioneer, Erik Voorhees sums up these points in his excellent blog post.

The source of increased fees and confirmation times is a result of the popularity of Bitcoin — this is evident both in the rising price and number of bitcoin transactions. It is clear that balancing growth and sustainability of the Bitcoin network is still a work in progress. How this scaling debate plays out between software developers working on the protocol, miners, and vested interests is yet to be seen.

For CoinJar itself, our part in the industry landscape is that of on-boarding users and providing them an interface to Bitcoin. A practical and user friendly a solution increases the participants in the digital currency economy making it more diverse and resilient. One enabling factor CoinJar has made to achieve this is the ability to send bitcoin transactions completely free of charge by completely subsidising it. Inputting fee amounts, estimating them based on network congestion, and hoping you do not make an error, further steepens Bitcoin’s learning curve.

From April 3 2017, we will begin charging a transaction fee for sending on-chain Bitcoin transactions with CoinJar Points. The trifecta of a strong rise in the bitcoin price, the cost of relaying transactions, and the increased number of transactions has seen a massive spike in covering costs. While this current increase is not indicative of how Bitcoin’s fee structure will look like in the future, what it does reflect is that totally subsidised transactions on CoinJar are unsustainable for the company (and most wallet services) at this point.

Irrespective of proposed solutions to scale Bitcoin, the graph below presents factually what our company has been doing to completely subsidise transaction fees.

Denominated in $

CoinJar will charge a fixed 25 CoinJar Reward Points or a 0.0005 BTC fee per transaction. This enables us to continue subsidising fees at a more sustainable rate while being competitive in the fee market. This will result in quicker turnaround times when sending Bitcoin.

To help transition, new and existing users with CoinJar Rewards activated by the April 17, 2017 will receive a one-off 100 Points bonus. This is equivalent to four free Bitcoin transactions.

If you already use our exchange services or CoinJar Swipe, by activating your Rewards account you should be able to continue sending Bitcoin transactions at a fraction of the cost it normally would. By buying your workday morning coffee with CoinJar Swipe, you can earn 25 Points or 1 free Bitcoin transaction every week.

We strive to solve user experience hurdles with creative approaches in the digital currency space. CoinJar’s vested interest in the Bitcoin scaling debate is to advocate for the end consumer. A large and diverse user base of digital currency holders is just as an important part of the bitcoin infrastructure as Bitcoin code and mining.

The following Knowledge Base article provides more information on the mechanics of the new changes.

How To Receive A Holiday Season Reward

There are some things that are part and parcel of the Australian holiday season: barbeques, hot weather (unless you’re in Melbourne), and bank delays. If you’re looking to make an instant CoinJar deposit over the festive period, you can visit one of over 1200 local newsagents to do this.

Full instructions on how to make a cash deposit can be found on this Support page.

In addition, you’ll be rewarded with 500 CoinJar Points for your first cash deposit made between 19 December and 3 January 2017. Simply deposit the $50 minimum at any cash deposit location and we’ll credit your CoinJar Rewards account.

What do 500 CoinJar Points get you?

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  • Fee-free Transfers: 500 CoinJar Points allow you to exchange 1 BTC without fees
  • Doge Cards: Greeting cards for that special someone who deserves more memes in their life
  • $5 Windows Store (Australia) Giftcard: Works for Xbox as well
  • CoinJar Die-Cut Sticker: Perfect for desecrating your local bus stop

CoinJar’s services will continue to operate during the holiday period with reduced Support hours. Please refer to our Knowledge Base for the full list of operating hours and bank transfer timelines over the festive season. Cash deposits made at newsagents will continue to be instant — just check that they’re open!

Brave Browser Review

Brave logo

 

Brave is an adventurous attempt at a new web browser, one which focuses on rethinking the overall advertising model of the internet. As of October 2016, Google’s Chrome browser continues to be the most popular choice with over half (63%) the usage share of all browsers. Although Chrome is freeware (as is Brave), it is developed by Google which derives the majority of its revenue from advertising. Some think this may lead to conflicts of interest when it comes to privacy and security.

Brave proposes a new model for internet browsing, one where users pay for their time online to remove ads and fund sites.

The team behind Brave is no less impressive than their mission. The browser is developed by Brave Software, the CEO of which, Brendan Eich, co-founded Mozilla, the company responsible for Firefox. Among other accolades, Eich is also the creator of the JavaScript programming language.

Hardware Wallet – TREZOR Bitcoin Wallet Review

Released in 2014, the TREZOR marked the beginning of the Bitcoin hardware wallet. Produced by Satoshi Labs, the TREZOR could not only store Bitcoin independently of your computer, but could do so while maintaining the functionality of a traditional web wallet. Thus, the TREZOR was the precursor to the many different hardware wallets we now see on the market.

The maturity of the TREZOR is reflected in the depth of engineering documentation, community involvement, and third-party compatibility of the device. For these reasons, the TREZOR remains one of the most secure ways to hold your Bitcoin.

Earn CoinJar Points when you invite a friend to CoinJar

When you invite a friend or family member to join CoinJar, you’ll both be rewarded with 500 CoinJar Points.

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Simply sign in to your CoinJar for your personalised referral link and share this with a close friend or family member. For each of your invitees who opens a new CoinJar using your personalised referral link and completes ID verification, you’ll both earn 500 CoinJar Points.

CoinJar Points can be used to cover fees during new currency exchanges, or redeemed for goods at the CoinJar Rewards Store.

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CoinJar Points themselves are also receiving an update soon – with adjusted redemption and earning rates for currency conversions. These changes will be rolled out over a 30 day transitional period throughout September 2016. For further details on these updated rates, please refer to our Knowledge Base article.

Hardware Wallet – Ledger Nano Review

The most common way to store and interface with the Bitcoin network is either by using software running locally on your computer or provided by a web service like CoinJar. Web-based bitcoin clients allow for greater flexibility around multiple devices and locations, and may come bundled with additional features such as customer support, digital currency exchange or even a debit card.

There is a trade-off between features when choosing your preferred form of storing bitcoin, and you should choose depending on your own personal circumstances. One possible step to take charge of your own bitcoin security is using a hardware wallet, a physical device which stores your private keys. We’ll be taking a look at a couple of hardware wallets available from the CoinJar Store starting with the Ledger Nano.

Updated: Bank account deposits using POLi

POLi deposits have proven to be a useful ‘Quick Deposit’ mechanism since we introduced it late last year. We have had many requests to extend the number of banks we support for POLi deposits and also to increase limits for instant deposits.

Verified Australian CoinJar users can now make bank account deposits of $2,500 and under instantly using POLi. Transfers above $2,500 will typically take 1-2 business days to be processed. You can access POLi deposits as an option in the ‘Quick Deposit’ page.

CoinJar can accept POLi transfers from the following Australian banks:

  • Bank of Melbourne
  • BankSA
  • BankWest
  • Bendigo Bank
  • Bank of Queensland
  • Commonwealth Bank
  • Citibank
  • CUA
  • IMB
  • ING Direct
  • Peoples Choice Credit Union
  • St. George Bank
  • Suncorp Bank
  • Westpac

Make a deposit now

POLi cash deposit screen

Make a deposit using POLi from your Quick Deposit screen

For more information, visit our Knowledge Base article on cash deposit options.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is POLi?
POLi is an online payment option which facilitates a Pay Anyone internet banking payment from your bank account to a merchants. You may have used POLi before on Jetstar, Qantas, Etihad and OzForex. POLi Payments is a fully owned subsidiary of Australia Post
How does it work?
Choose to pay with Internet Banking wherever you see the POLi payment option, select your bank and click proceed with payment. You’ll be asked to log in directly to your bank. Follow the prompts to complete the Pay Anyone transaction and complete the payment. POLi cash deposits can take 1-2 business days to appear in your Cash Account.
How much is it to deposit using POLi?
There are no fees for depositing using POLi.

Introducing CoinJar Rewards (and celebrating three years!)

 

CoinJar Rewards Hover

It’s CoinJar’s third birthday, and we’re giving back with CoinJar Rewards – our loyalty program designed to reward CoinJar members for using our services. From making a bitcoin conversion, to spending money with CoinJar Swipe, users will now enjoy real-time points for engaging with the CoinJar platform.

CoinJar Rewards joins our family together with financial technology products that have seen over 70,000 users and one of the longest track records of digital currency service in Australia. This bundle includes:

  • CoinJar Touch, our native mobile apps on Android and iOS
  • The first digital currency enabled EFTPOS card CoinJar Swipe
  • Award-winning Hedged Accounts which protect bitcoin against currency fluctuations
  • Bitcoin purchases using credit/debit cards in 20 European countries
  • Full-featured wallet and exchange services

In addition to product development over the years, we’ve also given back to the community by:

In the time it’s taken some companies to get to market, we’ve helped establish a thriving industry, notably in Australia — one that is now looked to as a source of innovation for blockchain technology.

We hope that you love using CoinJar Rewards and continue to reap the benefits of using tools built with the latest technologies and with users in mind.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Are CoinJar points backed by a distributed ledger or blockchain?
It is supported but not yet implemented. We have larger plans for this product, including the ability to use it across different merchants and interoperability between multiple loyalty programs. We will soon be releasing API documentation on this product for developers and business to create their own reward experiences.

What can you redeem CoinJar Points for?
At launch, you can use CoinJar points to save on exchange fees or redeem a free CoinJar Swipe. There are also plenty of redemption options on our Rewards Store including VPN Secure, Fastmail subscriptions and gift cards. CoinJar Points are not money and will not be redeemable for bitcoin or cash.

How can I gain access to CoinJar Rewards?
You will need to have a verified CoinJar account and activate Rewards on your home screen once you sign-in.

For more information on CoinJar Rewards and a full table of convertibility, please refer to our Knowledge Base.

One Year of CoinJar Swipe

It’s been exactly one year since every Australian business started accepting Bitcoin with CoinJar Swipe, our Bitcoin-enabled debit card. One year out, CoinJar Swipe continues to be an innovative product, changing the way we look at and perform payments.

Since its official launch 12-months ago, we’ve seen $1,051,479.97 spent on about 1,000 debit cards in circulation! We’re thrilled to break the million-dollar mark and hope all our users have enjoyed the experience as much as we’ve enjoyed creating a seamless digital currency app and card.

Using a sample size of anonymised transaction data over the last three months, grocery shopping comes out on top at 35%.

CoinJar Swipe Debit Card Spending Statistic

 

Feedback & Updates After 12 Months

  • Daily Limits
    Many users have asked us to increase the limit of the Swipe cards as many items come in above the $500 limit making it hard to buy that new TV or gaming rig with your CoinJar Swipe. We’re pleased to announce we will be doubling the CoinJar Swipe daily limit to $999.00 effective immediately.
  • Multi-currency and online usage of Swipe
    We’ve also had feedback that users want to use their Swipe card overseas and for purchases on the internet. Presently CoinJar Swipe runs on the EFTPOS network which is accepted at 950,000 payment terminals in Australia, however isn’t available online. This is something that’s being worked on and we’re keen to release a multi-currency card that can be used anywhere in the world.

    CoinJar Swipe Reload

    CoinJar Swipe Auto-Reload

  • Auto top-up & PIN Recovery
    A handy feature when you want to keep your card ready for spending, the auto-reload feature automatically tops up your Swipe when it falls below a specified balance. And if you’re forgetting your PIN all the time, we’ve got you covered with easy recovery.


Ordering a CoinJar Swipe

There has never been a better time to own a CoinJar Swipe debit card. If you’re receiving international payments for invoices, everyday spending, or want to be or just as a great backup – here’s how you can get your very own CoinJar Swipe.

  • To order, there is a one time fee of $29.
  • To be eligible for CoinJar Swipe, you must be a verified CoinJar user.
  • Not verified? Visit our identity verification portal.
  • Once ordered, your card will be delivered within 7-10 business days.
  • For more detailed information visit support.

Log-into your account now to get your CoinJar Swipe.

Order CoinJar Swipe