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J. Dax Hansen helps innovators transform and adopt technology and financial services. He is a technology transactions and regulatory attorney who has pioneered blockchain, digital currency, payments, and fintech law.

On January 10, the Securities and Exchange Commission gave the green light to 11 issuers that applied for bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs). After a false announcement and a course change due to the ruling in Grayscale Investments, LLC v. SEC, the SEC approved spot Bitcoin ETFs for ARK 21Shares, Invesco Galaxy, VanEck, WisdomTree*, Fidelity, Valkyrie, BlackRock, Grayscale, Bitwise, Hashdex, and Franklin Templeton. In a statement made with the release, SEC Chair Gary Gensler stated “[t]hough we’re merit neutral…bitcoin is primarily a speculative, volatile asset”.Continue Reading SEC Approves 11 Spot Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Products

Non-fungible tokens have been widely adopted across a variety of industries. The fast-developing NFT ecosystem of technical and commercial innovation is aimed at the promise of bridging physical world concepts of uniqueness and scarcity with the digital world. As with all forms of technical innovation, NFTs pose unique legal challenges to participants in this ecosystem.

In this post, we provide an updated edition of Perkins Coie’s International Virtual Currency Tracker.

IVCT

Originally posted in 2014, we regularly update the tracker and post an updated version periodically. The chart should be fairly self-explanatory. Countries that have meaningfully weighed in on the topic are listed in alphabetical order along the left-hand side,

We can help. Perkins Coie has identified 34 factors in 5 overarching categories that shape the outcomes of successful enterprise consortia engagement efforts through its analysis of 71 consortia across 12 industries.

In April 2019, Forbes published an article detailing the ways that large companies, including some of the best-known companies in tech, finance, manufacturing and retail, are forming or joining blockchain consortia or other proprietary blockchain projects. The Forbes article reflects an uptick in enterprise engagement with blockchain, a trend Perkins Coie’s blockchain group has also seen in recent months. Specifically, across industries, companies are coming together to form and participate in blockchain consortia, which allows them to address common issues and challenges—in their industry or with each other—by leveraging the tremendous potential of blockchain and distributed ledger technology (“DLT”). Whether to help address business or operational challenges, or unlock new business models and opportunities, DLT is fueling a new collaborative trend among enterprises. Blockchain consortia are emerging as the vehicle enterprises are using to drive toward common goals and desired objectives.
Continue Reading Dear Enterprise, Have You Developed a Sound and Methodical Blockchain Consortia Engagement Strategy?

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub) published a framework on April 3, 2019, for analyzing whether a digital asset is offered and sold as a security under the federal securities laws.

The framework includes “common sense guidance” that provides greater detail and clarity regarding the application

On October 18, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), announced the launch of the agency’s Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub).[1]  FinHub is a resource for industry engagement between financial technology companies (fintechs), market participants, the public, and the SEC.  This client update provides a high-level overview of the FinHub initiative and how the SEC envisions industry participation.

FinHub is designed to serve as a focal point for the SEC to engage with fintech companies.  Led by Valerie A. Szczepanik, Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation and Associate Director in the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance, FinHub provides a portal where the public can engage directly with SEC staff, request a meeting, and receive updates and information about upcoming initiatives.  The SEC’s expectation is that FinHub will provide a clear path for entrepreneurs, developers, and their advisers to engage SEC staff, seek input, and test ideas.  The FinHub portal covers various fintech topics, such as distributed ledger technology (including digital assets), automated investment advice, digital marketplace financing, and artificial intelligence/machine learning.  FinHub also offers a detailed request form, accessible here, that allows submission of background information and supporting documents for a meeting request or request for other assistance.Continue Reading SEC Launches FinHub for Engaging with Fintech and Blockchain Companies

On October 11, 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) released an advisory (the Advisory) intended to help money services businesses (MSBs) and foreign financial institutions better understand how U.S. sanctions on Iran affect their compliance obligations under the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) rules and under the U.S.-Iran sanctions enforced by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC).[1]

While Iran has historically relied upon, among other things, precious metals, such as gold, to evade sanctions and to market Iranian goods abroad, FinCEN views virtual currency as another commodity that Iranians may rely on to avoid sanctions.  Since 2013, Iranians have participated in more than $3.8 million in bitcoin-denominated transactions annually.  As a result, companies subject to U.S. regulation that participate in the virtual currency markets should pay careful attention to the Advisory.

To confirm the importance of the Advisory, OFAC separately issued the Advisory to all persons who subscribe to OFAC updates and listed the Advisory on its website.  This, together with the discussion of OFAC obligations within the Advisory, demonstrates that FinCEN and OFAC may cooperate on enforcement of these obligations.  As a reminder, U.S. sanctions prohibit U.S. persons and U.S.-owned or -controlled foreign entities from entering into transactions involving Iran, the Government of Iran, or Iranian financial institutions.[2]Continue Reading FinCEN Advisory Emphasizes Importance of U.S.-Iran Sanctions and AML/CFT Compliance for Virtual Currency Businesses

From Uncertainty toward Regulatory Clarity: Senior SEC Officials Provide Regulatory Clarity for Digital Assets

Summary is below, please click here for the full alert narrative.

On June 14, 2018, the Director of the Division of Corporation Finance of the Securities and Exchange Commission delivered a speech outlining the framework used by the SEC Staff in

We are pleased to release an updated edition of our smart contracts white paper, originally published in May 2017.   The updated white paper surveys the current academic and industry landscape related to smart contracts, and discusses the key legal issues surrounding smart contract applications. Authors of the white paper are Dax Hansen, Partner and

Just like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is actively policing the virtual currency market.  On January 24, 2018, the CFTC announced an enforcement action against two individuals and a company, My Big Coin Pay, Inc., for fraudulently offering the sale of a “fully functioning” virtual currency. Press Release, CFTC Charges Randall Crater, Mark Gillespie, and My Big Coin Pay, Inc. with Fraud and Misappropriation in Ongoing Virtual Currency Scam (Jan. 24, 2018), http://www.cftc.gov/PressRoom/PressReleases/pr7678-18
Continue Reading CFTC Flexes Its Regulatory Muscle in a Case Involving a Virtual Currency