Blockchain and the Law

Category Archives: Regulation: Federal

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CFTC Head Urges Congressional Action on Crypto while SEC Leader Says Crypto Rulemaking is “Years Away”

Both the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and leader of the SEC agree that the crypto markets need regulating, and specific rules may help clarify which agency has authority to regulate various cryptocurrency activities. The client alert below discusses both CFTC Chairman Rostin Behnam’s comments and SEC Chair Gary Gensler’s remarks during … Continue Reading

Rise of Financial Crime in the NFT Market Elicits New Scrutiny from Regulators

With the enduring popularity of certain NFTs and the promise of their use in the Metaverse and beyond, the hype around the new technology has been accompanied by rising concerns over NFTs being the centerpiece of traditional financial crimes like money laundering and wire fraud.  For example, on June 30th, 2022 the Justice Department indicted … Continue Reading

Can We Pay Our Employees in Cryptocurrency? A 2022 Update.

As cryptocurrencies continue to make their way into mainstream consciousness, individuals—even beyond those in the tech sector—have been interested in receiving their pay (or a part of it) in cryptocurrency.  This has prompted an increasing number of employers to consider, compensating their employees with Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other cryptocurrencies.  While a cryptocurrency compensation scheme may … Continue Reading

Cryptocurrency in 401(k) Plans? Might be More Like “Crypto-nite,” Says the DOL in Its Latest Release

Kryptonite is a fictional substance that causes the mighty Superman to lose all his strength. According to a recent release from the U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration (“DOL”), cryptocurrency might carry similar dangers for otherwise strong and healthy 401(k) plan accounts. That is, in DOL’s view, the benefits of cryptocurrency in 401(k) … Continue Reading

President Biden Issues Executive Order Detailing National Policy Objectives for Digital Assets

On March 9, 2022, the President issued an Executive Order (the “E.O.”) that articulates a high-level, wide-ranging national strategy for regulating and fostering innovation in the burgeoning digital assets space.  The strategy is intended to encourage innovation yet still provide adequate oversight to control systemic risks and the attendant investor, business, consumer and environmental concerns. … Continue Reading

Ringing in the New Year: Regulators and Industry Seek to Bring Stability to Stablecoins in 2022. How (Much), Remains a Question.

On December 17, 2021, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (“FSOC”) – a collaborative body formed under the Dodd-Frank Act composed of state and federal regulators and tasked with identifying risks and responding to emerging threats to financial stability – released its 2021 Annual Report (the “Report”). In the Report, the FSOC offered wide-ranging insight into … Continue Reading

U.S. Federal Regulators Turn Up the Heat on Cryptocurrency Trading Platforms

With new types of digital assets and related business on the rise, federal authorities have been busy investigating.  Recently, the SEC, FinCEN and the CFTC have imposed some notable settlements involving cryptocurrency trading platforms for allegedly operating without appropriate approvals from financial regulatory authorities.  This may be the start of the next wave of government … Continue Reading

Kraken Becomes First Digital Asset Company to Receive U.S. Bank Charter

Kraken recently announced that it “is the first digital asset company in U.S. history to receive a bank charter recognized under federal and state law, and will be the first regulated, U.S. bank to provide comprehensive deposit-taking, custody and fiduciary services for digital assets.” Kraken obtained a charter from the State of Wyoming to operate … Continue Reading

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Solicits Public Comments on the “Digital Activities” of Banks

On June 3, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to solicit public input on the “digital activities” of banks and the impact of emerging technologies on the banking industry. Among other technologies, the ANPR includes questions focused on distributed ledgers, cryptocurrencies and cryptoassets. … Continue Reading

Another Blockchain Supply Chain Shipping Consortium Files for Federal Antitrust Exemption

In late May, the Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN), a consortium of ocean carriers and terminal operators, filed a petition with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to obtain an antitrust exemption under the U.S. Shipping Act of 1984. The Act seeks to promote efficient ocean commerce and industry response to international shipping practices by, among … Continue Reading

Issuers of Digital Securities May Benefit from Proposed Changes to Regulation A

In March, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced proposed rule amendments to “harmonize, simplify, and improve the exempt offering framework to promote capital formation and expand investment opportunities while preserving and enhancing important investor protections,” which may increase the viability of conducting issuances of digital securities. Under the Securities Act of 1933, every offer … Continue Reading

Smart Contracts: Best Practices

Proskauer authored an in-depth Practice Note published by Practical Law, which details best practices for the use of smart contracts on blockchains. It discusses functional and legal considerations for both standalone smart contracts and smart contracts used in conjunction with traditional written contracts (hybrid smart contracts) and explores the extent to which smart contracts can independently be legally binding. The full text … Continue Reading

SEC Qualifies Blockstack and YouNow Regulation A Offerings

Blockstack On July 10, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) qualified Blockstack PBC’s (“Blockstack’s”) offering circular, enabling Blockstack to commence sales and distribution of up to $40 million worth of its Stacks Tokens (“Stacks”) under Regulation A. This marks the first time in history that the SEC has qualified a Regulation A offering of … Continue Reading

As Bitcoin’s Price Moves Dramatically, ETF Proposals Remain at a Standstill

On June 26, the price of bitcoin surged to a 12-month high of nearly $13,900 (up about 35% on the month) before losing more than $1,700 in a span of 15 minutes, then rebounding slightly and closing the day at around $12,800. All the while, retail and institutional investors seeking to gain exposure to this … Continue Reading

Blockstack Announces SEC Filing for $50 Million Regulation A Token Offering

On April 11, Blockstack Token LLC (“Blockstack”) filed a preliminary offering circular with the SEC for a $50 million token offering under Regulation A of the Securities Act. The offering circular is now under review with the SEC and must be qualified (i.e., cleared) by the SEC before sales of Blockstack’s tokens (“Stacks Tokens”) can … Continue Reading

U.S. House Continues to Explore Blockchain Regulation

Following up on their recent introduction of the Token Taxonomy Act, Representatives Darren Soto (D-FL) and Warren Davidson (R-OH) have teamed up again to introduce a new slate of bipartisan bills related to virtual currency. The two new bills, H.R. 922 and H.R. 923, were introduced on January 30, 2019 and are cosponsored by Representatives … Continue Reading

Two New Bitcoin ETF Proposals Pending as Cryptocurrency Markets Mature

Two recent proposals for bitcoin exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”) are vying to become the first to receive approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) – one filed by CBOE BZX Exchange, Inc. (“CBOE”) and the other by NYSE Arca, Inc. (“NYSE Arca”). The SEC has yet to approve a cryptocurrency ETF, although several applications … Continue Reading

First Punch: Floyd Mayweather and DJ Khaled Settle with SEC Over Unlawful Touting of ICOs

The SEC recently announced its settlement of charges against boxer Floyd Mayweather and producer DJ Khaled for their failure to disclose payments they received for promoting Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) on their social media accounts. The federal securities laws contain an “anti-touting provision,” which regulates paid promotions of securities offerings. Specifically, Section 17(b) of the Securities Act of 1933 … Continue Reading

CFTC Commissioner: Code Developers May be Accountable for Smart Contracts

Recently at a conference in Dubai, Brian Quintenz, who is a Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Commissioner, expressed his personal opinion (rather than the views of the CFTC) on the conceptual challenges in applying the CFTC’s regulatory oversight to, and fostering accountability for, smart contracts that reside on decentralized blockchains. In particular, Quintenz conveyed his … Continue Reading

Crypto Exchanges Join Virtual Commodity Association Seeking to Establish Industry Standards

Despite the recent setback of having their Bitcoin ETF rejected by the SEC for the second time, the Winklevoss brothers remain undeterred in their efforts to bring cryptocurrency into the investment mainstream. Their latest project is the Virtual Commodity Association (VCA), a self-regulatory organization (SRO) for the virtual currency industry aiming to serve in the same capacity … Continue Reading

First Decision in Class-Action Context Concludes Digital Tokens Can Be Securities

For digitally savvy investors itching to know whether U.S. courts would treat crypto-tokens as securities subject to the regulatory requirements of the Securities Act of 1933, the wait is over—sort of. The first federal judge to decide the issue in the class-action context landed on the same side as the SEC did back in 2017, … Continue Reading

Modernizing Real Estate Records With Blockchain

Despite dealing in one of the most valuable asset classes in the world, the real estate industry largely relies on outdated real estate interest recording systems requiring paper-based filings with local government offices. The administrative burdens, inaccuracies and security issues raised by such systems are well known. Increasingly, both government actors and private parties have … Continue Reading

SEC Flexes Funny Bone in Fictional Token Offering

The Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) has taken to using humor and sarcasm to educate retail investors about the potential risks of purchasing tokens in initial coin offerings (“ICOs”). This week, the SEC issued a press release presenting “a hot investment opportunity.”  The release pointed to a website touting the HoweyCoin—a fictional crypto token … Continue Reading

Regulatory Scrutiny of the ICO Market – What Fund Managers Should Know

Last week, former CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler explained in remarks at M.I.T. that he believes the second and third most widely used virtual currencies—Ether and Ripple—may have been issued and traded in violation of securities regulations.  This comes on the heels of a crackdown on cryptocurrency-related securities by the SEC, which is particularly focused on … Continue Reading
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