Bitcoin Has a Florida Problem

Since its genesis, regulators and courts around the world have struggled with whether to and how to regulate it. Depending on where you are in the United States, for instance, it either is or is not illegal to sell your bitcoin for cash without a state license. That’s because depending on where you are, bitcoin is either money or it isn’t, and selling bitcoin is either money transmission or it’s not.

And in some places, it may be, but no one has decided. So, you need a license to sell your bitcoin… unless you don’t.

As a first-generation member of the rapidly emerging crypto legal community, I have seen how regulatory inconsistencies increase the cost of innovation and drive businesses from jurisdictions that lack clear guidance or take a hostile view of the blockchain and virtual currency industry. Following the Third District Court of Appeal’s Florida v. Espinoza decision, Florida now does both.

As explained below, this is due to a widespread and fundamental misunderstanding of the very nature of bitcoin.

The recent appellate opinion decided that selling bitcoin requires a Florida money service business license, overruling the trial court’s order that dismissed criminal charges against Mitchell Espinoza who was alleged to be operating an unlicensed money service business by selling bitcoin.


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