If I would lend a fellow Jew a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, Cardano, Dogecoin, Polygon, Etherium, etc. would there be a ribbis issue?

Do we look at it like lending someone a dollar which there would presumably be no ribbis regardless whether or not the US dollar deflates in value? There is a cryptocurrency line "One Bitcoin is always worth one Bitcoin" which is designed to imply that it is always the same.

Is it even halachically recognized as a currency?

Would things change as cryptocurrency becomes more widely used as a currency?

There are major differences between the various cryptocurrencies. Do they all have the same laws?

If he would try to pay me back in a different cryptocurrency or in dollars/stablecoins, should he pay me based on the value at the time of the loan or at the the time he is repaying me?

If the service he is paying me back with takes a 2% cut, can he pay me back 2% extra so I get the correct amount amount in the end?

I am aware that there is no way of knowing whether it would go up or down in value, so that may make things better.

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    Do you mean to lend with interest? This is a critical factor. And if you do lend with interest, why do you believe it should be at all different from lending regular currencies? If you lend a kilo of flour and expect 1.2 in return, it is also ribit
    – mbloch
    Commented May 28, 2021 at 5:57
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    Speak to a rabbi before doing anything like this, but people take dollar loans in Israel all the time and we don't worry about the fluctuating dollar-sheckel exchange rate- a dollar loan is paid in dollars, a sheckel loan is paid in sheckels. Commented May 28, 2021 at 13:07
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    @JoshK do you mean loans from an institution with a heter iska? Or do you mean loans from individuals with interest? Surely those would be prohibited.
    – mbloch
    Commented May 28, 2021 at 14:19
  • For reference: thehalachacenter.org/library/shaila/category/ribbis
    – shmosel
    Commented May 28, 2021 at 18:50
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    @mbloch I am referring to private interest-free loans between private individuals with or without a shtar (say your friend's wife's computer breaks so she is unable to do her job and you lend them $500 to get it fixed) and the interest-free loans provided by gemach organizations Commented May 30, 2021 at 8:11

1 Answer 1


A complete answer is well beyond me, but let me just state one of the basic rules:

Even if Bitcoin is considered a currency, at this point in time it would only be considered a foreign currency, since most people would not accept it as payment.

When lending a foreign currency, it is the same as lending a commodity like gold or flour, and at commercial quantities (i.e. not pocket change amounts), the general rule is that when not returning the original item, one must establish the value of the commodity at the time of lending and return that value of the commodity at the time of payment, if the value has gone up. (Y.D.162:1)

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