Prosper shorts: BitLicences, personal loans and the 50p tax
Winklevoss twins call for crypto-currency clean-up, poll claims voters unimpressed by 50p tax
"Bitcoin has taken a big step towards being accepted into the mainstream," says Katherine Rushton in the Daily Telegraph. New York regulators are considering creating a "BitLicence" for companies using virtual currencies - to help tame a market "still in its Wild West phase" but which could "end up being an integral part of the global financial system".
The news has been welcomed by big Bitcoin investors like the Winklevoss twins (Tyler and Cameron) who still have around $70m tied up in the crypto-currency, which is currently trading at around $935 per unit, says the FT. They suffered a big set-back this week when Charlie Shrem - the founder of BitInstant, a company they had backed - was charged with money-laundering offences, and have called for a "sheriff" to keep the market clean.
Good news for borrowers, says Nicole Blackmore in the Daily Telegraph. A price war has broken out in the personal loan market, with best buy rates now at 15-year lows as lenders compete for customers. The best rates have plummeted from 7.5 per cent to just 4.6 per cent in 18 months. Sainsbury's Bank tops the tables, but M&S Bank, Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks and Tesco Bank all have deals for between 4.7 per cent and 4.9 per cent.
Naturally, there's a catch. TotallyMoney.com claims some 90 per cent of applicants are being "turned down for the best deals". They're either offered a much higher rate (above ten per cent), or simply turned away - possibly damaging their credit scores. Ultimately, you're probably better off funding new purchases using a credit card with an extended 0 per cent purchase deal. Even if you haven't cleared the debt at the end of the term, you can move it to a 0 per cent balance transfer card for up to 30 months.
What should be the Chancellor's key priority on tax, asks Ian King in The Times. According to a Baker Tilly poll, most Britons think it should be ensuring that multinationals pay "a fair amount of tax in the UK". Next most popular was a cut in employers' NI contributions, followed by tackling offshore tax evaders and cutting VAT in restaurants and for tourist attractions. "The least popular option was restoring the 50p top rate of income tax." Eds Balls and Miliband should take note.
A version of this article appears in the 1 February 2014 edition of The Week