An official statement out of Berlin is one big step toward legitimacy and acceptance for Bitcoin.
Germany’s Ministry of Finance is on record acknowledging the digital currency as “private money” and a “currency unit,” meaning it’s something that can be taxed when used in commerce but not as a personal asset.
Germany is in an especially interesting position to deliver the first official proclamation from a world government, as its economy is seen by many as the linchpin in the Eurozone. The acknowledgement on its part could be a good sign for Bitcoin users throughout the EU.
Bitcoin has become increasingly popular as private persons have put less and less trust in banks. An alternative currency to the euro would be welcome for many investors, wary of haircuts to their bank accounts, as we saw in Cyprus.
This comes on the heels of a ruling from a US judge in Texas, who ruled that Bitcoin was indeed a “legitimate currency.”
That ruling came after an American businessman was charged with operating a Ponzi scheme with his Bitcoin hedge fund. The charges included scamming investors out of $4.5 million in Bitcoins.
The defendant claimed that Bitcoin is not real money and thus not subject to regulation, which the court dismissed.
That ruling rankled core Bitcoin users, who feel the currency is not subject to regulation of any kind by design and fear its co-option.
Thus, the German ruling is a double-edged sword, as it validates Bitcoin to some extent, but perhaps at the expense of one of the currency’s key benefits.