Bitcoin Maybe Is Money?

New case, new judge, new ruling.

Photo credit: BTC Keychain, CC BY 2.0.

Earlier this year, a Florida judge ruled that Bitcoin does not count as money because, instead of being a tangible asset that you can hide under a mattress (which was a real part of her argument), it’s a cryptocurrency that uses unique addresses and digital keys to prove ownership, and those addresses/keys can live in Bitcoin wallets, on hard drives, inside plastic coins, even on pieces of paper—all items that can be put under a mattress, as I noted back in July.

Florida Judge Rules: Bitcoin Is Not Money

Now we have a new ruling from Federal Judge Alison Nathan, stating that Bitcoin is in fact money.

Federal judge says Bitcoin is money in case connected to JP Morgan hack

In his motion to dismiss the unlicensed money transfer business charges, Murgio claimed that, because Bitcoins are not considered “funds,” he was not operating an illegal business.

In her order, Nathan denied Murgio’s argument, writing, “Bitcoins are funds within the plain meaning of that term. Bitcoins can be accepted as a payment for goods and services or bought directly from an exchange with a bank account. They therefore function as pecuniary resources and are used as a medium of exchange and a means of payment.”

“Pecuniary,” which I looked up to make absolutely sure, is defined as “of, relating to, or consisting of money.” Bitcoin is definitely related to money even if it does not consist of money, which makes it… almost money? Money enough, in this case.

Here’s the real question: how many of these cases do we need to go through before they start establishing a judicial precedent? Will we learn whether Bitcoin is (or isn’t) money primarily through people who use it for illegal purposes—and will that ruin Bitcoin for everybody else?

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