Mobile Commerce

California Throws Out Only Pay with US $ Law

Yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown signed a law, passed by the California legislature, which reversed an earlier law—seriously—that said you could only conduct transactions in California with greenbacks. No pesos, Canadian dollars, city currencies, reward points, and yes—no bitcoins, dogecoins, or any other cryptocurrency either. As its sponsor, Assembly Member Roger Dickinson, said, according to the LATimes, “In an era of evolving payment methods, from Amazon Coins to Starbucks Stars, it is impractical to ignore the growing use of cash alternatives."

The bill mentions that there are now many currencies in circulation including local currencies sponsored by cities and towns, points and reward, coupons, and various digital currencies. See here for the bill and discussion.

The Bitcoin press has gone crazy over this claiming that California has made Bitcoin legal. That is sort of right but in reality California just reversed an old law that dated to 1849, didn’t make any sense, and wasn’t enforced. People of course have been using points; businesses near the border take pesos, and people and businesses use crypto-currencies in California. According to economist David Evans, “It is still illegal in Massachusetts to have sex with someone who is not your lawful wife. If the state ever reversed that you could write a headline that says ‘Massachusetts makes teen sex lawful’. That’s technically correct but sort of misses the point. The California law, and the headlines about bitcoin, is sort of the same. Consenting transactors can use any currency they want now including wampum, dogecoins, and kronas."

Dr. Evans went on to emphasize that he is not suggesting that Bitcoin is like teen sex.

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