Morning business news - April 22

Tuesday 22 April 2014 11.24
Morning business news with Brian Finn
Morning business news with Brian Finn

Bitvendo, the company that provides Bitcoin ATM facilities here, has formed a partnership with Merrion Vaults to provide a safe deposit facility for the digital currency.

Giles Byrne, head of marketing with Bitvendo, said Merrion Vaults was a natural partner for the group as there was a demand from holders of Bitcoin for somewhere to store their digital currency safely. "We have encrypted wallets inside the vaults. If you want to send bitcoin into those wallets, they are stored offline in an encrypted format where nobody can hack them."

Giles Byrne said there was a lot of perceived mystery around Bitcoin, which was being used as a tool of speculation by traders, but it was just a method of online payment. "It's just like emailing money that's produced by miners with sophisticated computers that get rewarded for their work for validating transactions."

"People are confusing Bitcoin with trading like stocks and shares. It should be used as money. The point is to transfer money quickly, cheaply and fast with no or very low transaction fees for the merchant and purchaser. Because there is a limited supply of Bitcoins, speculators are trading and causing price fluctuations," he said.

The Central Bank does not regulate Bitcoin meaning it cannot be stored in banks and Giles Byrne does not see this situation changing any time soon. He believes the Central Bank here is awaiting a decision by the ECB on the matter.

Bitvendo operates Ireland's first Bitcoin ATM on Abbey Street in Dublin. There are plans to open at least two more with a further three being considered.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Video streaming service Netflix has reported first quarter profit and subscriber growth in excess of analyst expectations, saying that it added 4 million new subscribers in the first three months of this year. Series like "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black" have been attracting subscribers in their droves and the experience is about to get more expensive because Netflix has announced that it is raising subscription charges by $1-2 a month for new customers. Current subscribers will stay on the current pricing regime for one to two years. Netflix now has 48.4 million subscribers worldwide.

*** Ford is about to get a new CEO, according to reports at the weekend. It is understood that Alan Mulally is poised to step down before the end of the year in favour of COO Mark Fields. Mulally is credited with saving the Michigan based company which narrowly avoided bankruptcy after he moved over from Boeing in 2006. He slashed costs and overhauled the lineup with more fuel efficient models that attracted a new generation of drivers.

*** European markets are back today for the first time since Thursday. Asian markets were largely unchanged overnight after concerns over Chinese earnings put a break on gains there which then spread to other exchanges. They had started off in bullish form following the lead from Wall Street which enjoyed an Easter Monday rally. However the mood remained cautious as the threat of further US sanctions on Russia weighed on sentiment - a factor that is likely to persist when European markets open this morning.