A Miami court ruled that the Bitcoin is not money and money laws do not apply to it in a case, closely watched by the cruptocurrency community.
The lawsuit was against Michel Espinoza who had an account on a website, localbitcoins.com, where he allegedly sold Bitcoin for a profit. He was accused of unlawfully engaging in business as a money services business and money laundering, after selling $1500 worth of Bitcoin to undercover police who said they were going to use it to buy stolen credit card numbers.
Judge Teresa Mary Pooler, however, ruled Bitcoin is not “backed by anything” and is “certainly not tangible wealth and cannot be hidden under a mattress like cash and gold bars”, hence it is not money and transactions of Bitcoin cannot be considered transaction of money. “Attempting to fit the sale of Bitcoin into a statutory scheme regulating money services businesses is like fitting a square peg in a round hole,” she noted in her verdict and released Espinoza because he did nothing wrong.
In spite the firm stance of the judge on whether Bitcoin is money or not, her ruling does not have legal bearing outside of Florida, especially considering that in 2013 the US federal agency the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), published new guidelines stipulating that bitcoin-related businesses should be considered Money Services Businesses under US law.
Either way, there is not a single position on whether cryptocurrencies are real money or not – neither on national level in the US, nor the EU, even though the European Commission has already made some steps towards their regulation. Certain countries, like Japan, are embracing the use of cryptocurrencies for payments, while Russia is considering banning all existing ones and introducing its own.