Liberty Reserve Shuts Down – Lessons for Bitcoin

Reported yesterday in Forex Magnates, emerging market payment solutions provider, Liberty Reserve has shut down its operations. The cease of

Reported yesterday in Forex Magnates, emerging market payment solutions provider, Liberty Reserve has shut down its operations. The cease of operation is the result of the company’s owner, Budovsky Belanchuk being arrested last Friday in Spain as part of an international operation by multiple authorities in relation to money laundering and other financial criminal accusations.

The news is especially affecting traders using brokers that cater to emerging markets, such as countries in South East Asia and Africa where credit card and bank to bank funding solutions either don’t exist or are very expensive. A Dubai based brokerage firm who wished to remain anonymous quoted to Forex Magnates that “We average around $250,000 to half a million in monthly deposits, mainly from Asia and Africa. Forex traders have faced issues with payment providers in the past, like with e-gold, a digital currency provider that was found guilty of money laundering by US authorities”.

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Liberty Reserve is part of a slate of payment providers that act as financial middlemen with merchants and customers. Customers would open accounts directly with Liberty Reserve, and fund the account via a bank transfer or at physical store locations. Payment transfers are then operated between accounts.

In relation to bitcoin, the news proves two important points. First, the fact that firms like Liberty Reserve exist show that there is strong demand for internet based, anonymous, and cross border payment systems which bitcoin provides. It also relates that as much as bitcoins are viewed as an ‘off grid’ solution, providers that are accepting bitcoins or offering exchange services are still at the mercy of local regulators and authorities. Similar to MtGox’s issues with Dwolla, once a company elects to receive funds from multiple countries, it automatically places itself within that region’s jurisdiction.

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