London mosque accepts bitcoin during holy month

A man works on a laptop beneath the Bitcoin logo. (Reuters)
Updated 28 May 2018
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London mosque accepts bitcoin during holy month

  • East London mosque accepts cryptocurrencies
  • On track to double donations in a year

Looking for a new way to give money to charity as part of Ramadan? A mosque in Britain’s capital is willing to receive your donation — in bitcoin.

The Shacklewell Lane Mosque in Dalston, east London, has decided to accept bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in a bid to widen its donor base and cut down on currency conversion fees, mosque leaders said.

“For a donor that already has a bitcoin or an ethereum account, the effort of converting cryptocurrency into say British pounds or dollars can be quite burdensome. The mosque effectively takes the burden on themselves,” said blockchain consultant Lukasz Musial, who helped the mosque set up the technology.

“For the donor, it’s just the click of a button to transfer to an account provided by the charity. From the mosque’s perspective, it opens a new stream of donations coming from all over the world,” Musial said.

Egypt’s Grand Mufti, the nation’s top Sunni Muslim official, said this year bitcoin was not permitted according to Islamic law, Egyptian media reported, but Shacklewell imam Abdalla Adeyemi defended the mosque’s decision.

“Bitcoin is like any other currency. It’s ... accepted by a group of people ... We ourselves are not trading. We are not involved ... we are a charity,” Adeyemi told Reuters.
The mosque says it is one of a handful to accept cryptocurrencies out of hundreds in London and its move is yielding results. It said it is on track to double its donations this year to more than £10,000 ($13,300).

Muslims with the means are religiously obliged to give alms, often calculated based on Islamic texts as being 2.5 percent of their wealth, and many do so during the holy month, a time when Muslim charities are most active.


EU launches in-depth probe on Amazon over data use

Updated 6 min 7 sec ago
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EU launches in-depth probe on Amazon over data use

  • Formal investigation opens a new chapter in the EU’s campaign to address the dominance of US tech firms
  • At the heart of the case is Amazon’s service to third party merchants

BRUSSELS: The EU’s powerful antitrust authority launched an in-depth investigation into Amazon on Wednesday, amid suspicions the US-based online behemoth misuses merchant data hosted on its website.
The formal investigation opens a new chapter in the European Union’s campaign to address the dominance of US tech firms with Google, Facebook and Apple also regular targets of regulators in Brussels.
With its probe, the EU competition watchdog is seeking to expand its oversight powers to data, the most prized asset for Silicon Valley giants that now dominate web-use worldwide.
“I have ... decided to take a very close look at Amazon’s business practices and its dual role as marketplace and retailer (and) to assess its compliance with EU competition rules,” the EU’s anti-trust commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
At the heart of the case is Amazon’s service to third party merchants who use the world’s biggest online retailer to access customers and broaden their reach.
In providing this service, Amazon “continuously collects data about the activity on its platform,” the commission said.
Preliminary findings, according to the statement, indicate that Amazon “appears to use competitively sensitive information — about marketplace sellers, their products and transactions on the marketplace.”
The opening of a formal investigation procedure does not prejudge its outcome, but if fault is found the sanctions by the EU can reach up to 10 percent of sales.
“The stakes for the digital economy are high, because any action by the Commission can have an impact on the business model of web giants, which is based on data accumulation,” said Andrea Collart, of the consulting firm Avisa in Brussels.
The investigation, which has no deadline, is likely to be the final offensive by Vestager against big tech before the end of her current mandate on October 31.
In an email to AFP, Amazon said: “We will cooperate fully with the European Commission and continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow.”
The probe adds to Vestager’s long list of cases against US Big Tech.
During her five-year term, Brussels has slapped Google with a combined $9.5 billion in antitrust fines and scrutinized Apple and Facebook for breaches of competition, tax and data rules.
Amazon in 2017 was ordered to pay back taxes of about €250 million to Luxembourg because of illegal tax breaks.
The company also settled with Brussels over its distribution deals with e-book publishers in Europe.