Bitcoin caught a very big break in legal land, and no one even noticed.
While an admittedly small percentage of the Bitcoin world was busy ganging up on me for saying sensible, yet unorthodox things in my coverage... like the fact that most Bitcoiners expected the price to be much higher post-2016 halving, like the fact that the amount of energy Bitcoin users spend attacking Ethereum shows they might be threatened by its rapid growth in market share, like the ongoing blocksize issue that puts a freeze on future Bitcoin expansion... you know, topics that may not make Bitcoin look absolutely sterling perfect, but topics that a thinker and journalist and researcher might bring up if he had a space in which to do so on a major site.
Bitcoin PR man I am not, but I'm also not out to "get" Bitcoin. It is just another technology in the growing fintech revolution, another tool in the sound money movement's arsenal. Where is its place, long term? Where do the newer technologies fit in? That's my job, deciphering that path, as it unfolds.
And in that vein, there was a judge's ruling out of Miami, Florida that is phenomenally beneficial not only to the unfolding of Bitcoin's future place in the financial world... it is beneficial to all of the cryptocurrency and digital asset industry's stakeholders, at practically every level.
The Washington Post's headline sums up what happened: "Bitcoin's not money, judge rules as she tosses money-laundering charge."
Wait, this sounds bad. How is this good, Seaman?! Are you saying more bad things about the precious Bitcoin?
Right, so although it may sound superficially bad that a judge has ruled Bitcoin is "not money," experts tell me it bodes very well for the industry.
The fear some developers had of ending up in court, or in prison, for innocuous transfers of value in crypto land -- that fear is now quelled, to a degree (at least in some jurisdictions) by this judge's ruling.
In an eight page opinion piece, the judge shared that "Nothing in our frame of references allows us to accurately define or describe Bitcoin."
I could not agree more, and this is an unusual amount of humility to emerge from an influential judge's chambers. It vibes with the growing stance within Bitcoin and Ethereum that blockchain innovation should be "sandboxed" to prevent new regulation from encroaching too fast, too soon on brand new tools that are not fully understood yet. This is a view shared increasingly by policymaking friends of blockchain tech both in the United States and in Europe.
We have to remember, Bitcoin is only seven years old. It was created and released to the world by an unknown person, or persons, in 2009. Ethereum is only one year old. It was invented by a 22 year old. So it's probably a good sign to see this humility from a state judge: we just don't know what cryptocurrency is, exactly. We know it has value. We know it could change a major segment of the modern financial landscape. But to treat some guy in Florida buying a little Bitcoin off an Internet stranger at his local Häagen-Dazs like a hardened mafia boss tumbling $100 bills in a basement dryer somewhere -- at least in the eyes of that judge, not so fast.
But maybe I'm totally wrong, and this totally sucks for Bitcoin, because now the public will just think "this is not money, the legal system is not even taking it seriously yet." And that'd be bad.
I'll be giving several versions of the same presentation in San Francisco and in the Valley the 29th to 31st. It focuses on blockchain innovation and decentralized next generation social networks.
I hope you'll join me -- I'll tweet the addresses and times at least a day before each. I'm sure we will also figure out a way to stream it.
And get my wildly popular crypto newsletter if you don't already. The trolls are getting me down on Twitter, they are out in full force lately, so I'll be sharing my views and market commentary less often over there: 140 characters is constricting, anyway.
Although I don't give financial advice and I only own two coins myself (Bitcoin and Ether), the reality is that this is my job -- fintech research and innovation has been my M.O. for the past 3.5 years. We have to move away from the old crumbling financial systems and build new ones that serve us better, faster, cheaper.
The movement to do this is already large and exciting, and it gets larger every day. I travel all over the world talking to people about their blockchain projects, learning from them.
I've interviewed the founders of Ethereum and many other exciting crypto projects on my YouTube channel, I invest in crypto ideas that show promise -- some fail, some succeed wildly (like Ethereum, so far at least; readers are up about 1,600% since my issue in December analysing its prospects). This industry is what I love, and I have more time than almost anyone to devote to tracking it, so that explains the growth of the newsletter -- I never thought I'd be a "newsletter guy" in the media, either. I hated newsletter guys. If I start selling hats or bumper stickers, please shoot me squarely in the face.
Full disclosure: Not financial advice, provided for educational purposes only. Not intended as a recommendation to buy or sell any cryptocurrency or asset. At time of publication, I do hold some bitcoins and ethers in my long term portfolio.