Feds Take A Step Closer To Trying To Regulate Bitcoin
from the control-control-control dept
Recently, they took a step in the direction of trying to gain some tiny bit of control over Bitcoin by having the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issue new guidelines concerning rules for (unnamed) "de-centralized virtual currency." Basically, the rules say that "money services businesses" including "money transmitters" will have to report "potentially suspicious transactions" to the government -- which potentially could involve a decent number of Bitcoin transactions. The question was who qualifies, and the new rules basically suggest if there's a connection to another currency (say... US dollars), then you've got an issue. Users of Bitcoin are clearly exempted, but with sellers... it's not so clear. As Tim Lee explains:
On the other hand, "a person that creates units of convertible virtual currency and sells those units to another person for real currency or its equivalent is engaged in transmission to another location and is a money transmitter," and is therefore subject to federal regulations.Of course, with an unclear rule, you can bet that some people are going to test the boundaries -- and that could eventually lead to a very interesting case, challenging specific aspects of Bitcoin.
However, this may only apply to those who perform money transmitting services "as a business." FinCEN says that "a user of virtual currency is not an MSB under FinCEN's regulations and therefore is not subject to MSB registration, reporting, and record keeping regulations." But with a peer-to-peer currency, the line between a "user" and an "administrator or exchanger" is not at all clear. The regulations define an exchanger as someone who "engaged as a business in the exchange of virtual currency for real currency."