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I think this would be a cool side gig and I have some ideas about how to make Bitcoin more accessible to the general public. But I don't want to break the law either. These would be normal flea markets where vendors pay $20 for a booth and then sell their wares.

Is there an authority I can ask? Do I need a special license?

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – feetwet
    Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 17:12

4 Answers 4

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Since sales are in dollar and the OP does not specify a jurisdiction, I will assume Washington state US. You may need a business license, depending on the municipality. There are various permits required for sale of certain wares, such as food, explosives or poisons, but otherwise no special municipal permits are required. A state money transmitter license is required, and there are a number of bond and auditing requirements that also have to be obeyed. The state has a website which implies the pertinent restrictions, but does not actually explain them or how to comply: you would need to hire a lawyer to determine what you have to to to be legal.

Those restrictions are not limited to flea markets, they regulate all bitcoin sales in the state, including internet and yard sale.

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  • 9
    I wonder if at some point you become a commodities broker subject to federal regulation on that front.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 15:51
  • 4
    AFAIK, simple sale of bitcoin is not SEC regulated, though bitcoin futures and options are. But, at some point, the interpretation of existing law could be that bitcoin is a security, so that's a further hoop to avoid.
    – user6726
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 16:25
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    My thought was the organized sale and purchase of bitcoin in a flea market stand might put you in the primary business of buying and selling bitcoin as a commodity rather than entering into bitcoin transactions incidental to other commerce.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 16:31
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    @ohwilleke In that sense though, buying and selling bitcoin itself, and not contracts/derivatives relating to bitcoin, is the same as buying/selling grain/sugar/gold/cattle. At least for now, future legal interpretations could change that. You become a commodities broker by not selling commodities, odd as it is.
    – mbrig
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 0:18
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    @ohwilleke: FinCEN still considers bitcoin trading to be a "money services business" and has gone after bitcoin traders for doing so. Mind you, a flea market stall probably won't be accepting transactions large enough to fall under these regulations.
    – Brian
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 14:40
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If you exchange bitcoin for currency (rather than accept it for purchases), you may be required to register as a Money Services Business (and follow the corresponding regulations). I recommend reading FinCEN's 2019 guidance document before operating such a business.

I'll note that FinCEN does enforce these laws, though small-scale offline operators aren't necessarily a priority; FinCEN is more apt to go after businesses that facilitate money laundering (e.g., by operating at scale or by running a mixing service).

Per https://www.fincen.gov/money-services-business-definition , these regulations apply if you have:

An activity threshold of greater than $1,000 per person per day in one or more transactions

So, a low volume flea market business may not fall under these regulations.

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It is highly dependent on the specifics, but this US Federal case in the state of Michigan may give you some ideas of what exactly not to do:

https://www.justice.gov/Usao-wdmi/pr/2021_1018_Boden

TL;DR: selling Bitcoin to "customers" for cash, "customers" turn out to be drug dealers.

-1

As the OP specifies the UK. Firstly Bitcoin has a cooldown time on transactions per time, so Bitcoin Cash may be more suitable (allows more transactions). Street markets often need a license, markets in somewhere like a private field usually don't unless there are structures that need built or traffic is affected etc. When selling Bitcoin you may have to pay capital gains tax on the profit. I know there are some machines across Europe & Africa where you can buy & sell bitcoin but I haven't seen any in the UK, including London. So perhaps there is a specific crypto law. Also if you buy/sell Bitcoin in in USD rather than GBP, all digital transactions using USD at ANY stage in the process have to get recorded with the US government. Even buying any currency with GBP, where banks use USD as an intermediate currency ( which they often do for less major currencies) have to do this.

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  • 1
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    – Community Bot
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 11:10
  • 1
    Where does OP specify the UK? It's not in the question (which in fact implies a country with a currency denominated in $). Is it in a comment since deleted?
    – TRiG
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 14:28
  • 2
    OP didn't specify the UK, another commenter did. Nonetheless, answers for other jurisdictions are welcome.
    – MJD
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 15:51
  • There are definitely bitcoin machines in London (I can think of two near London's Silicon Roundabout/Old street). Also what is the cooldown time? I have not heard of that before. Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 15:54

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