A supboena, issued by a US District Court Judge in Maryland, requiring the seizure, at a local credit union, of an account used to trade the digital currency known as Bitcoin, has demonstrated the position of the United States on digital currency exchanges. Bitcoin traders, which are not regulated by a financial institution or governmental body, must register as money transmitters, with both the financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and the state where they operate, according to a recently FinCEN Guidance on digital currency.
The United States has a take-no-prisoners attitude towards unlicensed money service businesses, as we learnt to our dismay in the Rosemont Financial case. If Bitcoin traders, and other digital currency exchange houses, where the digital items are redeemed for dollars, fail to register with Federal and state regulators, the Bitcoin industry could suffer an early exit from the United States.
Apparently, the trading company, targeted by Homeland Security Investigations, told the credit union that it was not required to register as a money transmitter. Should your bank have any current customer who may be engaged in the cash redemption of Bitcoins, you should turn all your information on that customer to outside legal counsel immediately, and request an opinion on whether the account should be closed, and whether your bank should take other action.