Physical Bitcoin Mint Reopens

Had shut down after feds started asking questions


If you want to get your hands on some cold hard bitcoins — literally — you're in luck. The Utah entrepreneur who mints metal versions of the world's most popular digital currency is at it again.

Mike Caldwell shut down his bitcoin mint last month, after the federal agency that regulates money transmitters started asking him questions, but on Tuesday, he said he was reopening his Casascius Coins business — with some changes. He'll still sell his real-world bitcoins, but it will be up to individual customers to actually back these physical coins with digital currency.

Caldwell is making the move in response to a November 15 letter from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FINCEN, the Treasury Department agency that interprets federal anti-money laundering regulations. The agency said that he was required to register as a money transmitter and had not done so. "FINCEN decided that I was a money transmitter," he says, "and I didn't want to argue with them."