How technology is influencing the financial world

Accounting has moved from pen and paper to the cloud, monthly payments can be done through online banking apps, and big purchases like houses and other property can be completed using cryptocurrency. For a business to be successful, it is important that is keeps up with the tech and digital world, which has shown financial and time efficiency. The added advantage is that bulky computers, heavy stacks of coffee-stained documents and long queues are a thing of the past.

  • Clouds now manage your information

Personal information, including security, is no longer stored on the ground where everyone else would have been able to access it. As businesses have transferred everything to the cloud, IT systems have evolved accordingly to manage information and keep abreast of current trends.

There is always opportunity to make the cloud system faster, to become more innovative and to add features that enable efficiency in a competitive marketplace. Information is readily available and up-to-date, and this improves financial decision-making speed.

  • You can be everywhere by being right where you are

Tech efficiency has evolved so much just by providing a solution to what people don’t have time to do. Business owners no longer have the time to rush out of the office to make it to the bank on time, and as such, tech has provided apps for services that were time-sensitive.

With this comes safety. Deposits of large sums can now be cashless, through streamlined payments. Other advantages of conducting online payments are integrated billing and mobile payments, right from where you are.

  • Coffee won’t mess on your files

The need to print documents has decreased significantly due to the ease of storing them on internal drives and other tech software. Tax submissions are also catered for electronically because they can be calculated and completed by cloud accounting systems and submitted online. You can also make quicker payments through faster online invoicing.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted. (E&OE)

Cryptocurrencies: Everything You Need to Know

1.1 Background to Bitcoin

Bitcoin, Ether and Litecoin. These are some of the most prominent cryptocurrencies on the market today. Bitcoin is by far the best-known cryptocurrency due to the substantial increase in the price that was experienced in the past couple of years.

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency – a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses cryptography to control its creation and management, rather than relying on central authorities. Bitcoin was developed by an anonymous creator – Satoshi Nakamoto – to enable society to operate with a digital cash system, without the need for third-party intermediaries which are traditionally required for digital monetary transfers.

Should you wish to read the original paper used to introduce bitcoin to the word, please follow this link:  https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf.

1.2 Tax consequences of cryptocurrencies

For the most part, South Africans have only been able to enter the crypto market locally for a short while, which has drawn the attention of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to cryptocurrencies.

SARS released a statement on the 6th of April 2018, declaring its stance regarding the taxation of cryptocurrencies. The following is an extract from the statement:

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) will continue to apply normal income tax rules to cryptocurrencies and will expect affected taxpayers to declare cryptocurrency gains or losses as part of their taxable income.”

The statement further indicates that for purposes of the Income Tax Act, SARS does not deem cryptocurrencies to be a currency (due to the fact that wide adoption has not been reached in South Africa and crypto can’t be used on a daily basis to transact), but rather defines cryptocurrencies as assets of an intangible nature.

The definition has the effect that cryptocurrencies will be treated as any other investment for tax purposes. The onus lies on the taxpayer to declare all cryptocurrency-related taxable income in the tax year which the taxpayer received or accrued.

Should a taxpayer thus trade in bitcoin, the trades will be deemed to be income in nature and the profit and loss on the trades should be included in the taxpayer’s taxable income. However, if the taxpayer holds the bitcoin as a long-term investment (the same way some investors hold a share portfolio for long-term investing), the income derived from the disposal of the bitcoin will be deemed to be capital in nature, resulting in capital gains tax needing to be declared on the disposal.

1.3 Conclusion

Whether you are for or against cryptocurrencies, it is evident that cryptocurrencies have formed a part of the modern era and will likely remain relevant. This new form of currency/investment has caused quite a stir at SARS and taxpayers are advised to familiarise themselves with the tax treatment of these currencies to prevent any unexpected tax consequences.

Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency and blockchain has been the hot topic in the media the past year.  It is a concept that few truly understand, and could change the future for everyone in a major way.

But what is cryptocurrency and blockchain?

Per the online dictionary:

A cryptocurrency is a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.

The most popular currently in the market is Bitcoin; others include Eutherian and Litecoin. There are various platforms on which to trade in cryptocurrency, for example Luno. Luno functions like the JSE, where willing buyers and willing sellers transact in shares / cryptocurrencies.

Blockchain is a digital ledger in which transactions made in Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically and publicly.

An example to demonstrate how blockchain works:

Pete wants to buy Bitcoin from Mary. They both use Luno as platform to trade on.

By joining Luno, Pete and Mary effectively each receives a copy of the big overall “ledger” that shows where each unit of Bitcoin is at that point in time and where each unit of Bitcoin has been.

Each transaction is represented as a block. Each time a transaction is authorised, a block is then added to the other blocks already in place creating a chain, hence the term “blockchain technology”.

The chain is then compared between all the copies of the “ledgers” that are spread out over the world to validate them. You can actually add Bitcoin to your own account without actually purchasing any, but as soon as your ledger compares to the others around you, it will see the unauthorised transactions and reject your version.

Bitcoin is severely encrypted, therefore to be able to finalise a transaction, there are people in the market who solve very complex mathematical problems using a significant amount of expensive computing power to authorise the transaction. These people are called “miners”. They receive one Bitcoin for every transaction they finalise.

As soon as the transaction between Pete and Mary is authorised by the miner, the “ledger” is updated by adding another block to the chain.

The question that then arises is why would hackers not just hack and authorise transactions for themselves? This is where the magic of blockchain technology comes in – the computing power required to solve the complex problem is so expensive, that is more costly to hack than to rather just act as miners themselves and earn Bitcoin. Therefore, no one needs to trust each other and the technology allows the users to trust the system.

It is this level of technology that will regulate the future, effectively eliminating the need for lawyers and banks. The concept is throwing governments across the globe into a state of panic as there is currently no proper regulation embedded in current tax laws.

Like Da Vinci’s inventions, the technology is a little ahead of its time and the rest of the world needs some time catching up. It is therefore critical to keep an eye on further developments as this will impact the way business is done in future.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)