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There are several money order laws that apply to merchants who accept them. Bitcoin seems to have properties of a money order, but also some aspects of value that are driven by demand.

I'm looking for a clear and reasonable explanation of:

  • How do Bitcoins compare to (and differ from) Money Orders?

  • What aspects of laws that apply to Money Orders are likely to also apply to Bitcoin?

I'm most interested in US, UK, and Australia, but any links would be beneficial.

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    Each jurisdiction could have different regulations. To which jurisdiction specifically are you asking? – Stephen Gornick Mar 23 '13 at 2:10
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In the U.S., FinCEN just determined that decentralized virtual currencies are not like money orders.

Money orders are the mechanism enabling the moving of currency or value that serves as currency from one person or location to another person or different location.

Using bitcoins for making a purchase from a merchant is not the same as moving currency.

Now if instead of providing goods or services the merchant instead delivers currency elsewhere, then that would be transmitting money and in the U.S. State laws specify the restrictions on money transmitters. FinCEN requires that a money transmitter register a Money Service Business (MSB) and keep records according to guidelines.

  • The receiving party doesn't have to transfer currency else where. FinCEN guidance states if send to someone else via P2P currency that isn't for a good or service, sender is subject to regulation and reporting requirements as a money transmitter. As economy goes into toilet and govt becomes very aggressive at stealing (ahem digging for) money any way it can, it will be up to you to prove the ancient transfer was for a bonafide good and service. This is not a small detail that you omitted! Keep records! – Shelby Moore III Mar 23 '13 at 20:24
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    The point is that it is not the government's burden to prove you did something, it is your burden to prove you did not. This is the way the game-of-life works when societies collapse at the end of the 78 year cycle in the sovereign debt BIG BANG. – Shelby Moore III Mar 23 '13 at 20:27

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