Florida Authorities Can Target Unregulated Bitcoin Sales, Court Ruling Suggests

A recent case in which a Miami Beach man sold bitcoin to an undercover detective has recently taken a turn thanks to a court decision that could make it easier for Florida’s authorities to target those who are selling cryptocurrencies in unregulated deals.

This week, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled that a Miami judge who had previously dismissed felony charges against the Miami Beach man, Michell Espinoza, was wrong. The website designer had in the past been charged with illegally transmitting and laundering $1,500 worth of bitcoin.

At the time, according to the Miami Herald, his defense team argued BTC wasn’t money under Florida law, a move that saw a judge dismiss the charges after claiming the flagship cryptocurrency is no more than “poker chips that people are willing to buy from you.”

The appeals court this week, however, noted Espinoza made a profit selling BTC to the undercover detective, and was engaged in “unregulated money transmitting,” as he didn’t register with Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation. The court ruled:

Espinoza’s bitcoins-for-cash business requires him to register as a payment instrument seller and money transmitter.

The ruling will now see felony charges against the man be reinstated, and could mean those selling BTC in the state of Florida will have to register with Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation to avoid a similar situation.

According to John Londot, a Tallahassee lawyer who’s part of the Digital Currency & Ledger Defense Coalition, noted that most of his clients have already registered as money transmitters, as “that’s been the trend in Florida.”

Charles Evans, a Barry University economics professor quoted by the Miami Herald, added that while he disagreed with the court’s decision, it shows the virtual currency industry is “finally starting to grow up.” He was quoted as saying:

The Wild West days are over. The regulators and prosecutors are trying to bring order to all the chaos — and this is part of the process.

A Landmark Case for Bitcoin in Florida

Espinoza’s case was a notable one for the flagship cryptocurrency in the state. While in the US regulators haven’t decided on an approach to regulate cryptocurrencies, the Miami Beach man’s case saw lawmakers in the state add “virtual currency” to the Florida law targeting money laundering.

Per the Miami Herald, the appeals court’s recent decision noted it’s up to the jury to decide whether Espinoza is guilty of money laundering, as the undercover detective who approached him to buy BTC claimed he’d use the cryptocurrency to buy credit card numbers stolen by Russian hackers.

Espinoza was approached by the undercover detective back in 2014, after he was found advertising a bitcoin sale on peer-to-peer exchange LocalBitcoins, which has recently been breached by an ‘unauthorized source’.

In the first two meetings, Espinoza made an $83.17 and $167.56 profit on the transactions, and two meetings later was arrested at a Miami Beach hotel.

Crypto Market Update for 24 February 2020: BTC, ETH, ADA, and TRX

Siamak Masnavi

This article provides an overview of how Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Cardano (ADA), and TRON (TRX) have been doing over the past 24-hour period, and covers recent news that might have affected their prices (or might do so in the future).

To give you a rough idea of how well the crypto markets are doing today, 18 out of the top 20 cryptoassets (by market cap) are currently in the red (against the dollar).

All market data used in this article was taken around 10:00 UTC on 24 February 2020 from CryptoCompare, which also provided the price charts shown in this article.

Bitcoin

BTC-USD 24 Hour Chart on 24 Feb 2020.png

BTC-USD is trading at $9,715. This means that the Bitcoin price has been under the $10K level since February 20. Still, Bitcoin has still managed to gain +37.60% against USD in the year-to-date (YTD) period.

As for why Bitcoin is having trouble breaking through the $10K level, one theory is that Bitcoin is currently being seen more as a "risk-on" rather a "risk-off" asset; another is that Bitcoin whales are manipulating the market.

Here is prominent crypto analyst/trader Josh Rager with some technical analysis of Bitcoin's latest price action:

Ethereum

ETH-USD 24 Hour Chart on 24 Feb 2020.png

ETH-USD is trading at $265.99. Although ETH-USD has dropped 0.92% in the past seven-day period, for the YTD period, it is up +103.37%.

Cardano

ADA-USD 24 Hour Chart on 24 Feb 2020.png

ADA-USD set a six-month high on February 14 when it hit $0.07083. Since then, it's been going downhill.

Although the 7-day and 10-day pictures look bad, Cardano's return-on-investment (ROI) figures (against USD) for the 30-day, YTD, and 90-day periods look quite decent, being +36.99%, +76.77%, and +60.44% respectively.

On February 21, IOHK tweeted that the Cardano network had successfully carried out a scheduled network upgrade (a hard fork) to bring in Ouroboros BFT (a new consensus mechanism):

 TRON

TRX-USD 24 Hour Chart on 24 Feb 2020.png

TRX-USD is trading at $0.0204, which means that TRON is currently the 16-th most valuable cryptoasset by reported market cap.

TRX-USD has dropped -6.35% in the past 7-day period, but so far in 2020, it is up +54.45%.

Earlier today, in an article for Coindesk, Alexander S. Blum, the Chief Operating Officer of crypto finance firm Two Prime, wrote:

"Viewed through the lens of traditional finance, TRON is acting pretty predictably. It is acquiring more market share through the acquisition of weakened competitors, like BitTorrent, and their networks while promoting their retail financial product. They’re performing a balancing act between being a financial product and a technical one...

"Justin is leading TRON as a for-profit business pretty well. Why does that irk many hardcore developers? For those in the Western world sticking up their noses at TRON, it’s worth reflecting on how deeply elitist it is to judge from a position of pure technical idealism...

"The emergence of TRON in highly competitive Asian markets is commendable. They are pioneering a new business model and creating wealth ex nihilo – out of thin air – because they focus on what works today. Their users share the company’s pragmatism. TRON, EOS and Ripple are pioneering community-centric financial products that offer exciting new models for wealth creation."

Featured Image by "AhmadArdity" via Pixabay.com