Blockchain Week in Review – April 17, 2017

Below is a summary of some of the significant legal and regulatory actions that occurred over the past week. This alert is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all such developments, but rather a selection of publicly-reported news that may be of particular interest.

U.S. Developments

Regulatory Updates

Washington State Legislators Prepare Bill To Regulate Virtual Currencies
In Washington, Senate Bill 5031 was introduced by Senators Jan Angel and Mark Mullet in January. Both legislative chambers have now approved the bill, which was delivered  Thursday to Governor Insleee for approval. The bill provides new rules for companies that deal in digital currency services.

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Dax Hansen and Josh Boehm Speak at Stanford Cyber Initiative About Blockchain Tokens

On March 29, 2017, Perkins Coie partner Dax Hansen and associate Josh Boehm were invited to the Cyber Initiative at Stanford Law School to deliver a presentation on several cutting-edge legal issues relating to blockchain technology.  Their presentation, which focused on blockchain token sales and treatment of bitcoin under property law, is available here.

Blockchain token sales have been a particularly high profile issue in recent months. As explained by Blockchain Capital’s Brock Pierce in an interview with American Banker last week, available here, token sales represent a potential new model for venture capital financing.  Perkins Coie attorneys are monitoring this trend and will provide updates on future developments.

Blockchain Week in Review – April 7, 2017

Below is a summary of some of the significant legal and regulatory actions that occurred over the past week. This alert is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all such developments, but rather a selection of publicly-reported news that may be of particular interest. Continue Reading

New Whitepaper Published: Treatment of Bitcoin Under U.S. Property Law

In this recently published Perkins Coie whitepaper, the authors analyze the treatment of bitcoin under applicable U.S. property law.  The authors conclude that property interests should exist in bitcoin under such law, and that multiple sources of persuasive authority provide additional support for that conclusion. The paper is divided into 5 parts:

  • Treatment of bitcoin under U.S. state property law — an illustrative analysis using California law
  • Scholarly consideration of bitcoin ownership rights under property law generally
  • Treatment of bitcoin as property under other U.S. legal regimes
  • Possible challenges to treating bitcoin as property
  • Property interest in bitcoins held in custody

Each part offers an in-depth analysis of legal issues.  For example, under the discussion of property interests in bitcoins held in custody, the authors discuss the differences between specific and general deposits and how these concepts could be applied to deposited bitcoin in a custodial arrangement.

Download our whitepaper here.

Dana Syracuse Speaks at The DC Blockchain Summit 2017

Through our longstanding relationship with The Chamber of Digital Commerce, Dana Syracuse presented a blockchain legal and regulatory update at the DC Blockchain Summit held in Washington DC,  March 15-16, 2017. Please find a video of Dana’s presentation here and a copy of the presentation slides here.

The Chamber of Digital Commerce, along with Georgetown University’s Center for Financial Markets and Policy, hosted this second annual gathering featuring the best and brightest in industry and government from around the globe. The program included discussions from the people, companies and government leaders who are driving digital assets, blockchain and distributed ledger technologies forward. Conference highlights can be found here.

As Fintech Platforms Grow Up, Investment Management Firms Face the ‘Problems of Tomorrow’

Read our new article in The Investment Lawyer to learn more about the legal and regulatory implications of emerging technologies, including blockchain and digital ledger technology, investing in fintech companies, robo-advisers and algorithms, and cybersecurity.

SEC Denies Proposed Rule Change

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that it would deny a proposed rule change that would have permitted the first exchange traded fund to track digital currency.  If granted it would have permitted the Bats BZX Exchange, Inc. (“Exchange”) to list and trade shares issued by the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust on the Exchange.  The SEC found that the proposed rule change was inconsistent with the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 as the Exchange would be unable to enter into the necessary surveillance sharing agreements given that many digital currency exchanges are located overseas and largely unregulated.  Notably, the reasons for the disapproval do not appear to be related to the specifics of the filing, but rather to larger concerns about the unregulated nature of bitcoin.  The SEC did indicate that it might consider similar applications in the future stating: “[t]he Commission notes that bitcoin is still in the relatively early stages of its development and that, over time, regulated bitcoin-related markets of significant size may develop.”

 

Blockchain Week in Review – February 17, 2017

Below is a summary of some of the significant legal and regulatory actions that occurred over the past week. This alert is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all such developments, but rather a selection of publicly-reported news that may be of particular interest.

U.S. Developments

California and New York Take Divergent Approaches to Regulating Fintech

After the OCC began developing bank charters for fintech firms, California’s financial regulator sent a letter to 13 fintech companies seeking a “frank, constructive dialogue” on ways to improve on “the lack of consistency and certainty in the current state regulatory regime.” For more information, please visit our sister blog The Fintech Report. Continue Reading

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