That day the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) released "interpretive guidance" stating that those administering or exchanging virtual currencies such as bitcoin should be considered "money transmitters," subject to state licensing, federal registration and Bank Secrecy Act rules designed to help the feds uncover money laundering, tax fraud and other crimes.
On March 18, 2013, the government dropped a bombshell on Coinbase, a two-man San Francisco startup that had attracted 30,000 users to its cloud-based "wallet" service for buying, storing and spending bitcoins.
That week the pair fired their lawyer and hired a new one. They had been operating with $600,000 from angel investors and were trying to raise Series A funding. The decision to register would add millions to Coinbase's costs but also give it a strong selling point. At that time the most well-known venture capitalist who had publicly expressed interest in bitcoin was Union Square Ventures partner Fred Wilson. When Ehrsam and Armstrong pitched USV, Wilson grilled them on their approach to regulation. Their compliant stance helped win them a deal.
Coinbase president Fred Ehrsam immediately called the company's lawyer. "He said, 'It's [only] guidance, and you guys are small, and it's going to be a pain in the butt to comply. It's going to take a lot of your time and money to do it,' " Ehrsam recalls. "So his advice to me was to try to make a good argument as to why it [registration] didn't apply to us and avoid it for the time being."
But that night Ehrsam and Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong had a come-to-Jesus discussion. They agreed that skirting registration was wrong for their brand. While beloved by tech-savvy libertarians, bitcoin had taken a hit to its reputation after being sullied by hacks, Ponzi schemes and its use on the Silk Road dark-net drug market. Coinbase wanted to be seen as the easy, safe and legitimate way for a wider population to use cryptocurrency.
Hyq – The Four-legged Robot For Disaster Zones
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong (Christian Peacock for Forbes)
Coinbase president Fred Ehrsam (Christian Peacock for Forbes)
Here's why one investor is way more comfortable with marijuana than bitcoin
Cryptocurrency ETFs proved too risky for ETF Managers Group Founder and CEO Sam Masucci, but he threw caution to the wind with his latest marijuana ETF â and it's paying off. "The business is
bitFlyer Launches in Europe and Becomes the World's First Bitcoin Exchange to Be Regulated in Japan, the US and … – Business Wire (press release)
Japan bitcoin bourse group stages Europe expansion Financial TimesWorldÂ´s biggest Bitcoin exchange wins backing for European launch Daily MailBloomberg all 4 news articlesÂ Â»
SEC 'Looking Closely' at Public Company Blockchain Pivots, Says Chairman
The head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said today that the securities market regulator is "looking closely" at the trend of public companies that have announced new focuses on blockch
Bitcoin Slides More Than 10 Percent to Near $10,000 Level
The price of bitcoin is down more than 10% today, according to CoinDesk's Bitcoin Price Index (BPI).
At press time, the cryptocurrency's price is trading around $10,237.25, a decline of roughly 11.
US Senators Blast Venezuela's Oil-Backed Cryptocurrency Plan
U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R.-Fl) and Robert Menendez (D.-NJ) have denounced Venezuela's planned cryptocurrency in a new letter.
In an open letter addressed to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchi
Coinbase Taps Twitter Vet to Bolster Customer Support Team
Cryptocurrency startup Coinbase has hired a former Twitter executive in an effort to shore up its customer support teams.
Tina Bhatnagar will serve as vice president of operations and technology, a
IMF Calls for International Cooperation on Crypto
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), an organization that aims to foster global monetary cooperation and financial stability, has called for global coordination on cryptocurrencies, warning of the r
Commodity Merchant Louis Dreyfus Trials Blockchain for Soybean Trade
Louis Dreyfus, a major commodities trading company, has announced that it has piloted a blockchain-based transaction system developed by a group of financial institutions including ING.