For the first time, the answer is yes, at least according to the U.S. Commodity Future Trading Commission.
After a lengthy case, the CFTC has ordered a trader in San Francisco to stop offering Bitcoin puts and calls.
But, at the same time, the CFTC has cracked open the digital currency worldwide by saying in the order that, simply, trades just have to register to trade digital currency, just like your commodity broker does.
In the order, the CFTC’s premier order finds that Bitcoin and other virtual currencies (and there are dozens) are properly defined as commodities.
The ruling is a huge win for any trader looking to charge a fee for trading digital currencies. It also lends credibility to those who have been digitally mining the currency for years.
Digital currencies like Bitcoin came into their own in in the last three years as a cheap way to, among other things, transfer money across borders with almost no charges.
Bitcoin has become so popular that its ATMs range from the Vegas strip to an Albuquerque tea shop.
This means that just like you can buy a barrel of oil—as well as a pork belly—from the CFTC legally, you can get bitcoin.
Still, it’s buyer beware.
Aitan Goelman, the CFTC’s Director of Enforcement, said in the agency’s news release, “While there is a lot of excitement surrounding Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, innovation does not excuse those acting in this space from following the same rules applicable to all participants in the commodity derivatives markets.”
Regardless, the ruling does give the CFTC some teeth. Since it can now go out and regulate virtual currencies like it does any other commodity, it can also prosecute those that are violating its rules.
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