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Author Topic: Bitcoin in France: first legal decision directly related to Bitcoin?  (Read 57393 times)
repentance
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October 22, 2011, 11:24:46 PM
 #221

There's something I'm not getting here. If Bank of France doesn't want to cooperate, find another bank! Right? Why spend time trying to force them to cooperate, while wasting your time and the time of your customers in the EU? Just find another bank that offers you (Mt. Gox) the benefit of the doubt; if the bank hasn't been told to handle Bitcoin as a currency, don't do it. There are plenty of banks in the EU, at least some of which - I'd imagine - would be willing to act as an intermediate.

The Banque de France is the regulator - it's decision effectively legally defines MtGox as a money transfer business and prohibits it from operating without a licence.  If it's not operating within the law, then it's likely that no bank is obliged to give MtGox an account and they may even be restrained from doing so, not just in France but elsewhere in the EU.

PayPal had to move its operations to Luxemburg and become registered as a bank there in order to overcome EU legal issues, and they'll already been licensed as an electronic money issuer in the UK prior to that.  PayPal literally now acts as its own bank in Europe.

It's really not as simple as finding another bank because that wouldn't solve the problem of MtGox needing a license in order to continue offering money transfers under its current business model.

If you look at PayPal, it has different legal status in different places - it's a bank in EU, a licensed deposit-taker in Australia, a licensed money transmitter in the US.  In other countries, it's subject to lots of local regulations about whether it can transmit funds across borders, what methods of deposit it can accept, and whether or not it can hold user funds.  They have to run their business differently in different countries - just like any international business must  - and the Bitcoin exchanges will have to do that too.  

Off-shore banks are certainly one option, but they don't necessarily offer any particular advantage over channelling transfers through the existing Hong Kong account.

There is obviously a financial burden which comes with having to operate differently in different locations and it may be that Bitcoin exchanges are more viable if they each stick to servicing one region than if they try to operate in multiple markets which all have different regulatory frameworks.

All I can say is that this is Bitcoin. I don't believe it until I see six confirmations.
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October 23, 2011, 12:48:53 AM
 #222

the same will probably happen to the other bank accounts, look at britcoin/intersango they had an account with barclays i think which got shut down and their HSBC account also just got shut down

This. The banks are continually fucking with us, taking up around 70% of our time and has cost us thousands.

The amount of bureaucratic work we put into keeping the exchange running is unbelievable. This court decision is about the worst possible news ever and threatens to end all the exchanges in Europe. We are worried now.

I recommend people, to not keep more than they absolutely need on the exchanges. You should be doing that anyway. Unfortunately many people use us as a savings account (against our recommendation).
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October 23, 2011, 01:21:19 AM
 #223

[snip]
Thanks for the explanation! I think I understand it better now. It's basically because Mt. Gox stores its user's USD, EUR etc. and needs to transfer these funds to Mt. Gox in Japan that it needs this license.

So wouldn't the solution to this be to not transfer the money between countries? Ie. have a different exchange in each country and then an exchange would only need to store (and not transfer) the users' funds.
A group of people in my country of residence (Denmark) is trying to set up an local exchange (Copenhagen Bitcoin Exchange (CopBE)) which would (unless they charge fees for deposits) be free for me to deposit money to (since my bank takes no fees for domestic bank transfers). They've written that they have applied for a permit that gives them "limited permission to store electronic currency". So it seems they don't have to become registered as a bank because they're only storing currency, and not transferring it between countries.

As far as I can figure out, an option for Mt. Gox could be that they buy this exchange (CopBE), make it a part of Mt. Gox and then they'd have Denmark covered. Repeat for each country in the world.
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October 23, 2011, 01:29:42 AM
 #224

So wouldn't the solution to this be to not transfer the money between countries? Ie. have a different exchange in each country and then an exchange would only need to store (and not transfer) the users' funds.

 no, the problem is not transferring money to another country, the "problem" is storing your value, your credit, like a bank.

 when you transfer 200 $ to mtgox , you got a credit of 200 $ in mtgox, and you can also withdraw them, they are attacking on this point, storing money, to make it simple.

repentance
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October 23, 2011, 01:37:53 AM
 #225

[snip]
Thanks for the explanation! I think I understand it better now. It's basically because Mt. Gox stores its user's USD, EUR etc. and needs to transfer these funds to Mt. Gox in Japan that it needs this license.

So wouldn't the solution to this be to not transfer the money between countries? Ie. have a different exchange in each country and then an exchange would only need to store (and not transfer) the users' funds.
A group of people in my country of residence (Denmark) is trying to set up an local exchange (Copenhagen Bitcoin Exchange (CopBE)) which would (unless they charge fees for deposits) be free for me to deposit money to (since my bank takes no fees for domestic bank transfers). They've written that they have applied for a permit that gives them "limited permission to store electronic currency". So it seems they don't have to become registered as a bank because they're only storing currency, and not transferring it between countries.

As far as I can figure out, an option for Mt. Gox could be that they buy this exchange (CopBE), make it a part of Mt. Gox and then they'd have Denmark covered. Repeat for each country in the world.

I don't think transferring the funds to Japan specifically is the issue.  It seems more to be that it receives, holds, and transmits money belonging to others at all.  Many countries require licences if you're doing that even if all of the transactions are purely domestic.

I also think that people are vastly over-estimating the capacity of the exchanges to fight protracted legal battles in foreign countries.  Such fights are extremely expensive and all of the exchanges are relatively new.  While their turnovers might look big, I suspect that none of them have hundreds of thousands of dollars which they can afford to gamble on court cases they may well lose.  For them to continue to exist at all, the exchanges must remain financially viable for their owners.

All I can say is that this is Bitcoin. I don't believe it until I see six confirmations.
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October 23, 2011, 01:43:00 AM
 #226

So wouldn't the solution to this be to not transfer the money between countries? Ie. have a different exchange in each country and then an exchange would only need to store (and not transfer) the users' funds.

 no, the problem is not transferring money to another country, the "problem" is storing your value, your credit, like a bank.

 when you transfer 200 $ to mtgox , you got a credit of 200 $ in mtgox, and you can also withdraw them, they are attacking on this point, storing money, to make it simple.
P2P exchange would be a good solution...and probably one that no govt would be able to stop...orders need to be announced on a p2p network with matching engines that pair up orders and find a ripple like path to transfer personally issued debt coins.  A distributed routing protocol (similar to BGP) could find optimal paths of credit through the ripple network.  Orders could include a fee that the matching engines collect.  Nodes can monitor the order flow to piece together an order book.  Super nodes in the ripple network could connect lots of users to one another (super nodes could allow people to purchase a certain amount of credit).  People settle up their debts as desired.  The first step would be to figure out how an order would look (which would be partially completed transactions) and how a matching engine would finalize the transactions.

(gasteve on IRC) Does your website accept cash? https://bitpay.com
runeks
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October 23, 2011, 02:03:36 AM
 #227

[snip]
Thanks for the explanation! I think I understand it better now. It's basically because Mt. Gox stores its user's USD, EUR etc. and needs to transfer these funds to Mt. Gox in Japan that it needs this license.

So wouldn't the solution to this be to not transfer the money between countries? Ie. have a different exchange in each country and then an exchange would only need to store (and not transfer) the users' funds.
A group of people in my country of residence (Denmark) is trying to set up an local exchange (Copenhagen Bitcoin Exchange (CopBE)) which would (unless they charge fees for deposits) be free for me to deposit money to (since my bank takes no fees for domestic bank transfers). They've written that they have applied for a permit that gives them "limited permission to store electronic currency". So it seems they don't have to become registered as a bank because they're only storing currency, and not transferring it between countries.

As far as I can figure out, an option for Mt. Gox could be that they buy this exchange (CopBE), make it a part of Mt. Gox and then they'd have Denmark covered. Repeat for each country in the world.
I don't think transferring the funds to Japan specifically is the issue.  It seems more to be that it receives, holds, and transmits money belonging to others at all.  Many countries require licences if you're doing that even if all of the transactions are purely domestic.
OK. It will be interesting to see if the above mentioned exchange (Copenhagen Bitcoin Exchange) gets its permit. In Denmark there are two types of licenses to apply for when handling electronic currency, the "limited permission to handle electronic currency" (that CopBE is applying for) and the full "electronic bank permit". It would be useful if this "limited permission" is easier to acquire than a full permission. I imagine that Denmark could be different from other EU countries with regards to this as we don't use the Euro, but our own Danish Krone (Crown) currency. Anyway, they applied for the license in the beginning of October and the answer should come no later than 60 days after, so in early December we might know.
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October 23, 2011, 03:38:42 AM
 #228

How would regular currency (USD, EUR) work in a P2P exchange? I mean, we need to have something to exchange the Bitcoins for in the P2P exchange. How do we get the USD, EUR etc. in the system?
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October 23, 2011, 03:46:24 AM
 #229

Do you guys predict that the case in France will only impact fiat transactions i/o of Mt. Gox, or could it freeze their core operations in Japan?

P2P exchange would be a good solution...and probably one that no govt would be able to stop...orders need to be announced on a p2p network with matching engines that pair up orders and find a ripple like path to transfer personally issued debt coins.
Steve, listen to these radio interviews and videos (from April). This dude (FellowTraveler/OpenTransactions) is months ahead of you.

http://vimeo.com/28141679
http://vimeo.com/28142096

http://agoristradio.com/?p=234
http://agoristradio.com/?p=246

His bitcoin address: 1NtTPVVjDsUfDWybS4BwvHpG2pdS9RnYyQ

It will be interesting to see if the above mentioned exchange (Copenhagen Bitcoin Exchange) gets its permit. In Denmark there are two types of licenses to apply for when handling electronic currency, the "limited permission to handle electronic currency" (that CopBE is applying for) and the full "electronic bank permit".
Runeks. Can you put me in contact with these guys? I had long chats with my lawyer this summer regarding bitcoin, financial instruments. His coffee-chat conclusion was that I'd need to drop down at least 1 million EUR in Denmark or get a better lawyer. However, he pointed out two facts, (1) while Greenland is under the Danish crown, it is not a member of the EU and (2) many of Greenland's laws have not been harmonized with Denmark since the 1980's, which likely includes such things as 'know your customer' and certainly all EU-financial harmonization.

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runeks
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October 23, 2011, 03:57:02 AM
 #230

[...]
It will be interesting to see if the above mentioned exchange (Copenhagen Bitcoin Exchange) gets its permit. In Denmark there are two types of licenses to apply for when handling electronic currency, the "limited permission to handle electronic currency" (that CopBE is applying for) and the full "electronic bank permit".
Runeks. Can you put me in contact with these guys? I had long chats with my lawyer this summer regarding bitcoin, financial instruments. His coffee-chat conclusion was that I'd need to drop 1 million EUR in Denmark or get a better lawyer. However, he pointed out two facts, (1) while Greenland is under the Danish crown, it is not a member of the EU and (2) many of Greenland's laws have not been harmonized with Denmark since the 1980's, which likely includes such things as 'know your customer' and certainly all EU-financial harmonization.
Interesting. Where are you located? I'm not sure I understand exactly why your lawyer advised you to hire a Danish lawyer. Why is that?
That idea on using Greenland seems worth pursuing.

I don't know these guys personally. I've only relayed what I've read in a post from the user fimp on these forums: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=36158.msg555647#msg555647
In it he mentions that he can be contacted at lo(at)copbe.com. So I guess you could try that or a PM on the forums.
repentance
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October 23, 2011, 03:58:04 AM
 #231

Do you guys predict that the case in France will only impact fiat transactions i/o of Mt. Gox, or could it freeze their core operations in Japan?

The French decision should have no immediate legal impact outside of the EU.  If there are legal challenges in other places, the outcomes will vary according to the specific laws of those jurisdictions.  The issues will be considered de novo in those jurisdictions.

Mark posted a while ago that MtGox was in contact with various financial regulators in Japan.  I don't think he's updated how that's progressing lately but it can take a long time to get decisions about things which don't fit neatly into predefined boxes from regulators.


All I can say is that this is Bitcoin. I don't believe it until I see six confirmations.
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October 23, 2011, 04:23:14 AM
 #232

Would you hire a Greenlandic lawyer? Smiley ... Kidding, our conversations took place in Nuuk. He's in Kbn now. I'll PM. Thanks Runeks. Thanks Repentance.

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October 23, 2011, 08:29:02 AM
 #233

How would regular currency (USD, EUR) work in a P2P exchange? I mean, we need to have something to exchange the Bitcoins for in the P2P exchange. How do we get the USD, EUR etc. in the system?

P2P is peer-to-peer or people to people if you want.  So in a P2P exchange, there is no compensation, escrow or stuff like that.   If you want to sell 1 BTC for 3USD, you find a buyer, you send him the bitcoins, and he sends you the 3USD directly (cash in the mail, wire transfer, whatever...)


It's not as convenient, nor as reassuring as a centralized exchange, but at least it is 100% legal/bureaucrat free.
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October 23, 2011, 02:24:50 PM
 #234

How would regular currency (USD, EUR) work in a P2P exchange? I mean, we need to have something to exchange the Bitcoins for in the P2P exchange. How do we get the USD, EUR etc. in the system?

P2P is peer-to-peer or people to people if you want.  So in a P2P exchange, there is no compensation, escrow or stuff like that.   If you want to sell 1 BTC for 3USD, you find a buyer, you send him the bitcoins, and he sends you the 3USD directly (cash in the mail, wire transfer, whatever...)

It's not as convenient, nor as reassuring as a centralized exchange, but at least it is 100% legal/bureaucrat free.
I think it can be made to be as convenient.  Not sure what you mean by reassuring...nothing about centralized exchanges reassures me...they've not exactly had a good track record from a security perspective.  Wink

P.S. Regarding the earlier post about Open Transactions, I am very familiar with that project (though I haven't experimented with the software yet).  I do think the Open Transactions project might be trying to solve too many problems at once and that jeopardizes its adoption.  I would love it if FellowTraveler focused on nothing but the infrastructure for a p2p/ripple like exchange for bitcoin and put a lot of the other things that open transactions can do on the shelf for a while.  This is a very specific and acute need that bitcoin has.  If it was solved, it would see broad adoption.

(gasteve on IRC) Does your website accept cash? https://bitpay.com
EhVedadoOAnonimato
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October 23, 2011, 03:32:27 PM
 #235

A P2P exchange is the only tenable long term solution at this point.

I wrote this on another topic:

Truly decentralized exchanges can only operate in an OTC fashion, which has lots of trust issues and doesn't scale.

A centralized but anonymous exchange could exists on these lines: http://bitcoinweekly.com/articles/anonymous-money-needs-an-anonymous-exchange
There you could have escrowed exchanges.
Clearly, the hassle for the user of such anonymous exchange is considerable. And the user isn't any more anonymous than in OTC exchanges - he may be unfortunate enough to have his money transferred to an attacker. Plus, implementing such a thing would not be easy.
I wouldn't expect such solution to appear while bitcoin trading is still legal/tolerated.

matonis
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October 23, 2011, 04:13:19 PM
 #236

the same will probably happen to the other bank accounts, look at britcoin/intersango they had an account with barclays i think which got shut down and their HSBC account also just got shut down

This. The banks are continually fucking with us, taking up around 70% of our time and has cost us thousands.

The amount of bureaucratic work we put into keeping the exchange running is unbelievable. This court decision is about the worst possible news ever and threatens to end all the exchanges in Europe. We are worried now.

I recommend people, to not keep more than they absolutely need on the exchanges. You should be doing that anyway. Unfortunately many people use us as a savings account (against our recommendation).

Thanks for the update, genjix

Founding Director, Bitcoin Foundation
I also cover the bitcoin economy for Forbes, American Banker, PaymentsSource, and CoinDesk.
netrin
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October 23, 2011, 10:58:39 PM
 #237

I do think the Open Transactions project might be trying to solve too many problems at once and that jeopardizes its adoption.  I would love it if FellowTraveler focused on nothing but the infrastructure for a p2p/ripple like exchange for bitcoin and put a lot of the other things that open transactions can do on the shelf for a while.

FellowTraveler has already created a generic cypherpunk financial library. The fact that he paid an Indian $1000 to develop a Java app is pure candy. A better question might be: Why are so many developers focusing on other things, recreating the wheel, and not leveraging the OpenTransactions infrastructure?

I hope the same will be asked of Genjix' libbitcoin.

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October 24, 2011, 01:20:00 AM
 #238

I do think the Open Transactions project might be trying to solve too many problems at once and that jeopardizes its adoption.  I would love it if FellowTraveler focused on nothing but the infrastructure for a p2p/ripple like exchange for bitcoin and put a lot of the other things that open transactions can do on the shelf for a while.

FellowTraveler has already created a generic cypherpunk financial library. The fact that he paid an Indian $1000 to develop a Java app is pure candy. A better question might be: Why are so many developers focusing on other things, recreating the wheel, and not leveraging the OpenTransactions infrastructure?

I hope the same will be asked of Genjix' libbitcoin.
Can I make an offer to buy bitcoin for my personally issued debt using Open Transactions?  Can Open Transactions match my order with someone else's?  Can it find a path through a ripple network to make the match and close an irreversible exchange when it successfully finds that path?  This is the only problem I care about right now and if Open Transactions solves it, then I'm all over it.

(gasteve on IRC) Does your website accept cash? https://bitpay.com
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October 24, 2011, 03:52:09 AM
 #239

As I understand: yes. yes. i don't know but that's ripple's problem.
https://github.com/FellowTraveler/Open-Transactions/wiki/Markets
We should take this discussion elsewhere.

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October 24, 2011, 10:10:53 AM
 #240


France wasn't the first. Holding depo's was already in 'the books'.

The first decision from a Central Bank was made a few weeks ago. Everyone will find out in a public release within 3 to 5 weeks.

Its positive.

One country in Europe has 'classified' Bitcoin. Other countries will follow, albiet slowly.

Blah!

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