Bitcoin company Bitonic has launched a crowdfunded campaign to support efforts to define bitcoin as money in the Netherlands.
Bitcoin is Geld will use the funds to promote legislation beneficial to bitcoin users in the Netherlands, effectively defining bitcoin as money in the country.
The campaign website indicates that the campaign was formed after a Dutch judge stated that bitcoin is not considered 'real' money and it now plans to take "the judge's statement to a higher court by giving reasons as to why bitcoin should be defined as money".
"Labelling bitcoin as a medium of exchange instead of money could have a big impact on individuals and companies who are engaged with this virtual currency. With this campaign, Bitonic and the community examines the question as to what could be expected if bitcoin, by law, would be treated the same as money."
Highlighting pros and cons
The first goal is to raise a minimum of €15,000-worth of bitcoin, with Holland-based Bitonic contributing around a third of that total (10 BTC and €2,500), which will go towards hiring lawyers to spearhead the campaign. If fundraising goes well, other experts will also be taken on board.
The campaign aims to highlight the differences between treating bitcoin as a medium of exchange and treating it as money, which has far-reaching implications for taxation and estate law, as well as anti-money laundering (AML) provisions. As a result, the campaign argues, the regulatory framework should be changed.
"The aim is to point out [the] conclusion that civil law will become more efficient and organized when bitcoin and money are equated. In order to continue this campaign, [the] appeal needs to be funded, by integrating crowdfunding they are hoping to accomplish this goal," the website states.
Bitconic executive Daan Kleiman explains:
"The current interpretation needs to be changed and improved and this is the reason why we are bringing the case to a higher court. In the first stage, the law firm SOLV will provide the judge with arguments as to why the current interpretation needs to be improved. This first step is the most important one since it requires the judge to reconsider the previously made statements and will hopefully change the current laws and regulations in order to prevent mistakes in future bitcoin-related cases."
Kleiman argues a victory for bitcoin in the Netherlands would benefit other jurisdictions as well.
"Our campaign has currently been funded for 90+% in a very short time period. We still have more than 50 days to go so we have a very positive outlook towards our goal and are convinced that we will hit the target," he told CoinDesk.
Calls for community discussion
The Bitcoin is Geld campaign already has its share of critics in the country's cryptocurrency community, though.
One of them is local bitcoin activist and investor Paul Buitink, who shared his views in a video discussion last week (Dutch language), along with fellow critic Martijn Wismeijer and Bitonic's Pieterjan Goppel and Daan Kleiman.
Buitink later told CoinDesk that he does want bitcoin to be treated like fiat currencies or forex, as that is the only way of making it a truly successful means of exchange. He argues that more relaxed regulation would benefit startups and small companies rather than stifle innovation in the block-chain space.
However, he is not convinced that the campaign is the right way forward:
"With regards to the initiative, I think Bitonic needs to halt it and first have a good and honest discussion with the Dutch bitcoin community that clearly isn't supporting this to the extent they hoped. The Dutch Bitcoin Foundation, Stichting Bitcoin Nederland, should become more transparent and explain how they're funded and involved with this."
Crowdfunding image via Shutterstock