Bitcoin is 'an electronic form of currency unbacked by any real asset', the supply of which is 'based on an algorithm which structures a decentralized peer-to-peer transaction system'. In short, a virtual currency of fluctuating value. Trendon Shavers, the founder and principal of Bitcoin Savings and Trust (BST; formerly First Pirate Savings & Trust, perhaps not a name to inspire confidence) offered a group of Texas investors the opportunity to purchase Bitcoin through investments in BST. A number of them lost money and the Securities and Exchange Commission became interested, alleging that Shavers had misrepresented the nature of the investments. Shavers challenged the jurisdiction of the SEC to regulate Bitcoin investments at all, arguing because Bitcoin is not money, an investment in Bitcoin is not an 'investment in money' and therefore not a 'security' under the 'investment contract' branch of the definition of that term (which is predicated on there being an investment of money in a common enterprise with the expectation of profits derived from the efforts of the promoter or a third party).

In a brief judgment the US District Court in Sherman, Texas has concluded that Bitcoin is 'a currency or form of money' because it can be used to purchase goods and services, and can be exchanged for conventional currency. The other components of the 'investment contract' definition were also satisfied: the investors had clearly relied on Shavers's expertise and efforts in the expectation of making a profit from their investment. See SEC v Shavers (ED Tex, 6 August 2013).
 
It is likely, of course, that the same result would obtain under Canadian securities laws, which define 'security' to include an 'investment contract' in the same broad terms as US securities legislation.