Nevada and Maryland authorities issue new bitcoin advisories

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Authorities in Nevada and Maryland have issued new warnings and advisories on bitcoin, indicating a growing state-level awareness of virtual currencies. The Financial Institutions Division of the Nevada Department of Business and Industry released a “consumer and investor guidance” statement on virtual currencies, while Maryland’s Department of Labour, Licensing and Regulation published an advisory titled “Virtual Currencies: Risks for Buying, Selling, Transacting, and Investing.” Both documents have fairly similar tone, and cite common concerns for bitcoin investment such as price volatility, lack of regulation, potential for losses via malware and bitcoin’s ongoing use in criminal transactions.

The documents are very similar to warnings issued by various world governments earlier in the year, and clearly have consumer protection in mind. Both documents are virtually identical, and appear to come from the same source material. Although both urge caution and doing “your homework” on any bitcoin investment, neither document has a particularly negative tone.

The Maryland document could even be read as tentatively supportive of bitcoin:

The increased interest in virtual currency and other payments innovations has led to the rapid emergence of different types of currencies and payments mechanisms. As these are released into the marketplace, it is important for consumers and investors to educate themselves with accurate information to make informed decisions about this innovative and evolving industry.

There were no indications in their statement about looming actions related to bitcoin by either state. Given the lack of federal guidance, and bitcoin’s still ambiguous legal standing, it’s likely that many other states will issue similar statements in coming months.

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