Bitcoin Is a Form of Money in DC, Federal Court Rules

Bitcoin is a form of "money" covered under the Washington, D.C., Money Transmitters Act, a federal court said Friday.

Jul 24, 2020 at 5:09 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 9:35 a.m. UTC

Bitcoin is a form of "money" covered under the Washington, D.C., Money Transmitters Act, a federal court said Friday.

  • In the case of United States v. Harmon, Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell wrote that money is "commonly means a medium of exchange, method of payment, or store of value.”
  • "Bitcoin is these things," Judge Howell added.
  • Defining bitcoin as money was integral to the court's decision to not dismiss criminal charges against Larry Harmon, the operator of an unlicensed bitcoin trading platform, for laundering money under federal law.
  • The court's comments mean bitcoin "is treated as money in the context of money transmission licensing in D.C., nothing more," said Neeraj Agrawal, director of communications at Coin Center, a cryptocurrency public policy think tank.

Update (July 24, 17:13 UTC): This article has been updated with a comment from Coin Center.

Update (July 24, 17:29 UTC): This article has been updated with background information on U.S. v. Harmon.

Update (July 24, 19:41 UTC): This article's headline has been updated to further clarify the decision applies to money transmission in Washington, D.C.

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