U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan recently declared bitcoin was money and qualified as “funds” under federal law adding to the confusion to bitcoin’s classification. The decision is at odds with other recent cases, including a case in Florida, which held that bitcoin is not money. The recent Second Circuit decision now brings bitcoin within the meaning of money and funds under federal anti-money laundering statutes, similar to the conclusion reached by the Second Circuit in a 2014 case.
Judge Nathan’s conclusion that bitcoin is money followed her rejection of a motion to dismiss charges related to operating an unlicensed currency exchange in which the plaintiff argued bitcoin did not classify as money under the statute. The ability to use bitcoin as a currency and a store of value was central to Judge Nathan’s decision. She stated, “Bitcoins can be accepted as a payment for goods and services or bought directly from an exchange…They therefore function as pecuniary resources and are used as a medium of exchange and a means of payment.”