Shares of Australian investment firm Macro Energy gained 42% yesterday, after news emerged that it plans to enter the bitcoin space and raise A$9.1m ($8.2m) in funding.
Yesterday, the company announced the acquisition of Digital CC and its subsidiary digitalBTC, which runs a bitcoin mining operation and a trade desk.
The move will make digitalBTC the first bitcoin company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). Macro Energy also announced that it has firm commitments from investors who are planning to invest A$9.1m in the consolidated company.
The money will be used to expand digitalBTC's mining and trading operations, as well as to develop retail bitcoin products such as mobile apps.
Zhenya Tsvetnenko, the founder and chairman of digitalBTC, pointed out that the ASX listing will allow public market investors the opportunity to get involved in digital currencies.
Are institutional investors looking at bitcoin?
A number of leading names in the financial industry have started looking into bitcoin and several interesting reports have been published over the last couple of months. None of them will enter the bitcoin space anytime soon, but their interest has not gone unnoticed.
They are not keen on bitcoin as a currency, but rather as a cost-effective payments platform, especially for microtransactions and remittances. While the media buzz is still focused on speculation, questionable practices and volatility, the big players are looking at the Bitcoin protocol and the network.
Earlier this week Perseus Telecom announced the launch of a globally integrated bitcoin exchange and the Digital Currency Initiative. The firm is one of the leading providers of high-bandwidth communications used by trading firms around the world and it believes it can offer unparalleled security and speed, trouncing existing bitcoin platforms.
Movement on the regulatory front
Regulatory issues remain the biggest concern for big investors who are reluctant to make investments in a completely unregulated market. However, the ball is finally rolling and New York State is leading the charge, spearheaded by New York’s Superintendent of Financial Services, Benjamin M Lawsky.
Lawsky and the NYDFS are working on no-nonsense regulation that could pave the way to the creation of New York-based bitcoin exchanges and a lot of headway has been made over the last couple of months.
However, the rest of the US might not be as keen to regulate and embrace digital currencies. The Texas State Securities Board has apparently informed Balanced Energy LLC to stop getting involved in bitcoin.
The company has also been accused of selling unregistered securities, so regulatory involvement may have a different background than some reports indicate, ie it has more to do with violating securities legislation than merely investing in bitcoin.
The regulator also pointed out that Balanced Energy has failed to disclose to investors the risks of using bitcoins to purchase interest in various investments. Extreme swings in the price of digital currencies could affect the amount of money available for business operations, the regulator warned.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, this is the first bitcoin-related cease and desist order issued in the US.
The company has been ordered to stop accepting bitcoin investments and selling unregistered securities.