Posts in Cryptocurrencies.
Time 3 Minute Read

On April 17, 2024, Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced a bill entitled the Lummis-Gillibrand Payment Stablecoin Act. The bill is the latest bipartisan effort by the two senators to provide a comprehensive federal oversight regime for the regulation of stablecoins.

Time 3 Minute Read

In a reversal of a policy that has spanned two administrations, on January 10, 2024, the SEC approved applications for 11 Bitcoin spot exchange traded funds, or ETFs. The SEC approved the order by a 3-2 vote, with Chair Gensler forming a majority with the two Republican commissioners, and the two Democratic commissioners voting against the action.

Time 3 Minute Read

On September 18, 2023, the New York Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) announced new proposed guidance for BitLicense holders and certain limited-purpose trust companies (“VC entities”) seeking to list virtual currencies on their platforms. The proposed guidance would replace existing DFS procedures and establish new protocols for listing virtual currencies that are not subject to the DFS greenlist.  

The proposed guidance seeks to provide a framework under which VC entities may seek DFS approval to self-certify the listing of new coins. In order to self-certify ...

Time 3 Minute Read

On August 28, 2023, the SEC settled enforcement charges against a Los Angeles-based media and entertainment company for conducting an unregistered offering of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The case represents the SEC’s first foray into the NFT space.

Time 4 Minute Read

As we previously reported in our summary of the Ripple case, a federal district court judged determined that under certain circumstances the offering of a digital asset does not create a security. The reasoning in the Ripple case has been criticized by leading to an outcome that places institutional investors ahead of retail investors and employees. In a separate, recently decided case involving digital assets, another federal district judge has declined to follow the ruling in Ripple.

Time 7 Minute Read

On June 8, 2023, Judge William H. Orrick of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted a default judgment in favor of the CFTC against Ooki DAO, a cryptocurrency decentralized autonomous exchange. The court also permanently enjoined Ooki DAO from operating its website and awarded the CTFC $643,542 in monetary damages. The court found that Ooki DAO’s lack of participation in the litigation and refusal to appear in court contributed to the default judgment. This decision brings to a close the closely-watched case that establishes new precedents for the legal liability of decentralized autonomous exchanges.

Time 2 Minute Read

On May 5, 2023, New York Attorney General Letitia James released proposed legislation that seeks to regulate all facets of the cryptocurrency industry. Entitled the “Crypto Regulation, Protection, Transparency, and Oversight (CRPTO) Act,” if enacted the draft bill would substantially expand New York’s oversight of crypto enterprises conducting business in the Empire State.

Time 3 Minute Read

As reported on the Hunton Insurance Recovery Blog, blockchain technology has been touted as inherently reliable for years. More recently, collectors of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) have explored expanded uses for that novel technology. Some courts have bought in and, in doing so, recently authorized a use that perhaps no one had imagined when NFTs first entered the mainstream: service of process.

Time 13 Minute Read

The metaverse is brimming with multifaceted, thought-provoking legal issues. We can help you develop and execute strategies to traverse this modern frontier.

Hunton Andrew Kurth LLP’s Metaverse practice benefits from the skills of our lawyers across the firm. Many of our attorneys have been advising on related matters for some time, including blockchain, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), cryptocurrency, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), data privacy, cybersecurity, and rights to digital assets. These lawyers have joined forces to seamlessly advise clients who are focused on the metaverse and other emerging technology issues. In this alert, they address some of the questions you may have as your company considers doing business in the metaverse.

Time 5 Minute Read

On February 15, 2023, by a 4-1 vote, the SEC proposed new rules regarding an investment adviser’s obligation to custody assets. Unlike the existing rules, if adopted, the new rules would apply to all crypto assets.

Time 6 Minute Read

When investors are considering investments in cryptocurrency, it is critical to understand the terms of asset ownership and transfer. Current and potential cryptocurrency investors should be aware that the Southern District of New York (SDNY) recently ruled that holders of cryptocurrency investments with the now-bankrupt cryptocurrency lending company Celsius Network LLC are not the true owners of these assets.

Time 4 Minute Read

On December 16, 2022, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (Council) published its 2022 annual report. The report highlights a number of key policy recommendations for federal financial regulators, including four recommendations for further legislation or regulation in the digital asset space.

Time 2 Minute Read

On December 1, 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) made public an administrative order denying Nexo Financial LLC’s (Nexo) petition to modify the Bureau’s civil investigative demand.  The order represents the first publicly known Bureau investigation of a digital asset company, in this case, over Nexo’s “Earn Interest” crypto lending product.

Time 1 Minute Read

On November 22, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law a two-year moratorium against granting permits to crypto mining operations that “are operated through electric generating facilities that use a carbon-based fuel.” Renewable sources of energy are not impacted.

Time 2 Minute Read

Thursday, December 1, 2022
1:30–2:30 pm ET

Feeling at sea about crypto and NFTs? Well, no wonder: existing laws that govern the transfer and financing of assets were last updated just before Captain Jack Sparrow first appeared on the big screen. An innocent time, when we knew how to transfer and finance not only gold doubloons, but many other assets. But nobody envisioned wanting to transfer and finance intangible digital assets such as crypto. The proliferation of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets, and the related new financing and investment structures, have caused ...

Time 2 Minute Read

On November 10, 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) announced the publication of a “complaint bulletin” analyzing consumer complaints relating to crypto assets. The CFPB periodically releases a “complaint bulletin” to summarize key trends among the financial products and services complaints it receives. By devoting an entire bulletin to crypto assets, the CFPB may be foreshadowing greater scrutiny of the asset class and increased enforcement activity in the space.

Time 2 Minute Read

On October 18, 2022, the European Commission published a report, titled Information Frictions and Public Policies: Approaching the Regulation and Supervision of Decentralized Finance (“DeFi”) (the “Report”). The Report discusses the need to adapt existing policy frameworks to account for the change brought about by DeFi to the underlying information structure upon which financial services are provided. Unlike traditional finance, DeFi applications provide financial services based on blockchain technology, i.e., without requiring any intermediary agent and instead relying on automated protocols that are encoded in public digital contracts universally accessible and maintained by an open pool of pseudonymous miners.

Time 1 Minute Read

In a seven-part series delving into issues relating to insurance coverage for digital assets, we provide a comprehensive understanding of the types of loss that can be sustained, who can sustain them, the availability of coverage under traditional insurance policies, and the emergence of new insurance products.

Time 4 Minute Read

On October 3, 2022, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (“FSOC” or “Council”) released a report outlining the risks posed by digital assets to the financial stability of the United States. The FSOC is charged broadly with identifying emerging threats to financial stability, and is comprised of the heads of each major federal financial regulator, chaired by the Secretary of the Treasury. The FSOC’s initial position in 2015 was that digital assets generally do not pose a significant financial stability risk due to limited use and a lack of ties to the traditional financial system. President Biden asked the FSOC to reconsider their position in his “Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets.”

Time 2 Minute Read

The SEC instituted settlement proceedings against Kim Kardashian on Monday, alleging that the reality television star and entrepreneur violated the SEC’s anti-touting statute when she failed to disclose compensation that she received in exchange for an Instagram post endorsing cryptocurrency tokens.  The promotion, which Kardashian posted to her Instagram account on June 13, 2021, encouraged her 225 million followers to visit a website operated by EthereumMax, an online company that offers and sells digital “Emax tokens.” Kardashian’s Instagram post included an ...

Time 4 Minute Read

From IRS rulings that “virtual currency” is taxed as “property” to an SEC lawsuit claiming that digital assets are “securities” under federal law, meteoric growth of the largely unregulated crypto industry has raised numerous questions about whether crypto-related risks are covered by insurance. In the latest example of the intersection of crypto and insurance, a California federal court recently held that cryptocurrency stolen from a Coinbase account did not constitute a covered loss under a homeowner’s insurance policy. The fundamental issue was whether the stolen crypto met the policy’s requirement for “direct physical loss to property” and, more specifically, whether the losses were “physical” in nature. The court ruled against coverage, reasoning that lost control of cryptocurrency is not a direct physical loss as a matter of California law.

Time 3 Minute Read

In a series of parallel actions announced on July 21, 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) initiated criminal and civil charges against three defendants in the first cryptocurrency insider trading case.

Time 4 Minute Read

LCX AG, a cryptocurrency exchange based in Liechtenstein, recently lost nearly $8 million in digital assets from a cyberattack. The perpetrator’s identity was unknown. Through the public ledger, LCX found the blockchain address that received the stolen assets, and quickly filed a complaint in New York to freeze certain of those assets.[1] Without any other way to contact the perpetrator, the court permitted LCX to serve the wallet address with an NFT containing a hyperlink to the required legal notice documents.[2] This may be the first example of service-by-NFT.

Time 2 Minute Read

In one of the first criminal cases brought under US sanctions laws involving cryptocurrency transactions, a federal magistrate judge approved the Department of Justice’s criminal complaint. In the opinion unsealed on May 13, 2022, US Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqi ruled that the Department of Justice demonstrated probable cause in accusing an unnamed defendant of transmitting more than $10 million in bitcoin to a “comprehensively sanctioned” country.

Time 4 Minute Read

A small but growing number of employees are asking for cryptocurrency as a form of compensation.  Whether a substitute for wages or as part of an incentive package, offering cryptocurrency as compensation has become a way for some companies to differentiate themselves from others.  In a competitive labor market, this desire to provide innovative forms of compensation is understandable.  But any company thinking about cryptocurrency needs to be aware of the risks involved, including regulatory uncertainties and market volatility.

Time 2 Minute Read

Please join Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP for a webinar:

Intellectual Property and the Blockchain, Part 1

Cryptocurrency, NFTs, and Retail:  Protecting Your Brand With Trademarks

Tuesday, April 26, 2022
12:30 pm ET

It is well-known that a trademark is a word, name, symbol, design, or phrase used to identify and distinguish a product or service, and to indicate the source of the product or service. But, do you know whether your cryptocurrency brand may function—or receive protection—as a trademark? Or how you may use your existing retail brand in connection with an NFT?

In this ...

Time 8 Minute Read

What Happened:

On March 8, 2022, President Biden issued an Executive Order (the “March 8 Executive Order”)1 prohibiting the importation of Russian-origin oil, liquified natural gas (“LNG”), and coal into the United States and prohibiting US persons from making new investments in Russia’s energy sector.  The March 8 Executive Order also prohibits US persons from providing any approval, financing, facilitation, or guarantee to a foreign person seeking to import Russian-origin oil into the United States or make new investments in Russia’s energy sector.  The March 8 Executive Order follows on a series of significant US sanctions actions against Russia in recent weeks.  The US Department of Justice and Treasury Department also announced additional efforts and guidance intended to emphasize US sanctions efforts and to provide guidance on detecting and preventing efforts by blocked persons to evade sanctions, including through the use of cryptocurrency.  On March 9, 2022, President Biden issued an Executive Order (the “Executive Order on Digital Assets”) directing US government agencies to study and report on cryptocurrencies and other digital assets and consider, among other things, the use of digital assets to circumvent US sanctions.2

Time 3 Minute Read

On January 20, 2022, the Federal Reserve Board published a discussion paper on the potential for a US central bank digital currency, or CBDC.  Entitled “Money and Payments: The U.S. Dollar in the Age of Digital Transformation,” the paper provides further insight into the public policy concerns guiding the Fed as it deliberates whether to adopt a US CBDC.

Time 6 Minute Read

On November 15, 2021, President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (the “Infrastructure Bill”), which significantly expands tax information reporting for certain cryptocurrency transactions. The Infrastructure Bill includes an information reporting requirement for cryptocurrency asset exchanges and custodians on an IRS Form 1099, and an information reporting requirement for certain persons who accept large payments in cryptocurrency in such person’s trade or business on an IRS Form 8300. The effective date of these changes will apply to any information return required to be filed after December 31, 2023.

Time 2 Minute Read

On December 1, 2021, Freddie Mac published Bulletin 2021-36 for Freddie Mac sellers to provide updated guidance on eligibility criteria for qualifying mortgages. Freddie Mac publishes such bulletins on a regular basis for loan originators who wish to resell mortgages to Freddie Mac, and Bulletin 2021-36 covers a number of routine topics such as 2022 conforming loan limits, certain credit underwriting criteria and document custody. The bulletin is notable, however, because it specifically addresses requirements related to cryptocurrency’s use in the mortgage qualification process.

Time 3 Minute Read

On November 23, 2021, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs sent a series of letters to prominent stablecoin issuers and cryptocurrency exchanges. Citing the recent President’s Working Group on Financial Markets report on stablecoins, the letters seek to clarify basic operational features of various stablecoins which the Committee believes is critical to improving its understanding of digital assets.

Time 4 Minute Read

On 25 October 2021, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), the regulatory body of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), announced that it implemented a regulatory framework for investment tokens issued or traded within the DIFC (Regulatory Framework for Investment Tokens), which follows from the Consultation Paper No. 138 (Regulation of Security Tokens) it issued earlier in March this year. Consequently, the UAE advances its status as a hub for technological innovation (and entrepreneurs); it fully embraces the global adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies, as well as the demand for Investment Tokens, and the number of companies within the DIFC that are eager to issue, and trade in them, is steadily on the rise.

Time 15 Minute Read

On November 1, 2021, the President’s Working Group (PWG) released a long-awaited report on stablecoins (the “Report”).1 The Report outlines a number of significant legislative recommendations for Congress to consider as well as a number of interim measures that agencies should adopt under their existing authorities to protect against prudential risks in the near-term.

Time 4 Minute Read

What Happened: On October 15, 2021, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued “Sanctions Compliance Guidance for the Virtual Currency Industry” and related updated FAQs.

Time 4 Minute Read

A recent dispute over trademark ownership to the name of meme-fueled Dogecoin highlights the importance of trademark rights in the ever-growing world of cryptocurrencies.

Time 3 Minute Read

In 15 recent enforcement actions, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced charges against various digital asset exchanges for failure to register appropriately as futures commission merchants (FCMs). This series of actions is the latest in an ongoing regulatory crackdown across federal agencies involving cryptocurrency and other digital asset trading platforms.

Time 3 Minute Read

On September 21, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued an Updated Advisory on Potential Sanctions Risks for Facilitating Ransomware Payments (the “Updated Advisory”) on the sanctions risks associated with facilitating ransomware payments.

Time 3 Minute Read

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) recently published a request for information in the Federal Register that encourages credit unions and other industry participants to provide information on the current and potential impact of digital assets and related technologies on federal credit unions.

Time 3 Minute Read

On July 20, 2021, New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General announced that the State’s Bureau of Securities issued a Summary Cease and Desist Order to stop BlockFi, Inc. from selling unregistered securities in the form of interest-bearing cryptocurrency accounts. While commentators frequently focus on the enforcement activities of the Securities and Exchange Commission in the crypto space, New Jersey’s action against DeFi platform BlockFi serves as a reminder that state securities regulators also actively police this marketplace.

Time 3 Minute Read

Mark Alexander Hopkins, known as “Doctor Bitcoin,” pled guilty in the Northern District of Texas on June 29, 2021, to illegally operating a cash-to-cryptocurrency conversion business. According to a press release from the Department of Justice (DOJ), Hopkins pled guilty to one count of operation of an unlicensed money transmitter business.

Time 4 Minute Read

On June 10, 2021, the Texas Department of Banking issued an industry notice addressing the authority of Texas state-chartered banks to provide virtual currency services to customers. This is a notable development as Texas has the most state-chartered banks of any state in the country.

Time 1 Minute Read

On May 20, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced a proposal that would require any cryptocurrency transaction of $10,000 or more to be reported to the Internal Review Service. As a supplement to President Biden’s American Families Plan, which focuses on investments in American children and families, the Treasury detailed the cryptocurrency reporting requirement and other tax compliance initiatives in a new report titled The American Families Plan Tax Compliance Agenda.

Time 4 Minute Read

On May 11, 2021, staff in the Division of Investment Management (IM) at the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a statement (the Statement) on “Funds Registered Under the Investment Company Act Investing in the Bitcoin Futures Market.” The Statement provides a series of warnings to retail investors about certain risks associated with investments in registered mutual funds whose portfolios include Bitcoin futures. But the Statement also provides further insight into the way SEC staff analyze the market for Bitcoin Futures more broadly.

Time 4 Minute Read

In a wide-ranging hearing before the House Financial Services Committee on May 6, 2021, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler addressed a number of SEC regulatory priorities, including the recent short-squeeze on so-called “meme stocks,” gamification of securities trading, broker-dealer payment for order flow, and climate change disclosure. During his first testimony before Congress as SEC chair, Gensler also answered a series of questions on cryptocurrency and digital asset regulation.  The statements on crypto regulation begin to shed some light on his official approach to regulating the digital asset security ecosystem.

Time 5 Minute Read

Texas is seeing considerable momentum with respect to a proposed digital asset law that is being considered in the 2021 legislative session in the form of House Bill 4474 (the “Virtual Currency Bill”). As the second largest economy in the United States, and the ninth largest economy in the world by GDP, the legislation could have one of the biggest impacts on digital asset industry since the New York BitLicense was introduced. In short, the Texas Virtual Currency Bill provides a basic legal framework for companies dealing with virtual currencies.

Time 2 Minute Read

In some of her first remarks on the subject of digital assets since Senate confirmation, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sounded an alarm on Bitcoin. Her views on the regulation of digital assets more broadly are sure to influence policy in the coming years at the various offices and bureaus within the Treasury Department that oversee the asset class, including the OCC, IRS, OFAC and FinCen.

Time 1 Minute Read

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) settled with BitPay, Inc. for $507,375 to resolve 2,102 apparent violations of multiple US sanctions programs for allowing individuals located in sanctioned jurisdictions to use digital currency on its platform to transact with merchants in the United States and elsewhere.

Time 2 Minute Read

In the past week, Canadian securities regulators approved the offering of the first two Canadian Bitcoin ETFs. By holding Bitcoin, the Canadian funds intend to provide investors with economic exposure to the US dollar and Canadian dollar price of Bitcoin through an ETF structure. For ETF investors, the structures have the potential to eliminate much of the friction associated with holding Bitcoin or investing in the asset directly. The ETF units have been conditionally approved for listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Additional details are available in the respective ETF prospectuses, which are publicly available here and here.

Time 4 Minute Read

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued Interpretive Letter 1174 on January 4, 2021, clarifying the authority of national banks and federal savings associations to buy, sell, and issue stablecoins and participate in independent node verification networks (INVNs) in order to conduct payment activities and other bank-permissible functions.

Time 4 Minute Read

Newly-proposed federal legislation would require all issuers of stablecoins and certain other digital asset companies to obtain a bank charter as a condition to operation. Referred to as the Stablecoin Tethering and Bank Licensing Enforcement (STABLE) Act, the draft legislation is intended to shift certain digital currency activities into the regulated banking framework.

Time 2 Minute Read

Only a few states have issued guidance on the sales tax treatment of digital currency transactions. On November 2, 2020, Kansas joined this group, with Notice 20-04, Sales Tax Requirements Concerning Digital Currency Under the Retailers’ Sales and Compensating Tax Acts (the “Notice”), issued by the Kansas Department of Revenue (the “Department”).

Time 5 Minute Read

The Wyoming Division of Banking issued a No-Action Letter (NAL) in October 2020 in response to a request from a Wyoming-chartered public trust company seeking the Division of Banking’s position on the ability of the company to custody digital assets as well as hold itself out as a “qualified custodian.” The NAL prompted the Staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue a public statement seeking public comment on matters concerning the definition of “qualified custodian” under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (the “Advisers Act”) and Rule 206(4)-2 thereunder (the “Custody Rule”).

Time 2 Minute Read

Recently, a group of central bankers issued a report entitled “Central Bank Digital Currencies:  Foundational Principles and Core Features.”  Released on October 9, 2020, the report lays out common foundational principles and core features of a central bank digital currency, or CBDC.  It is a joint product of the Bank of Canada, European Central Bank, Bank of Japan, Swedish Riksbank, Swiss National Bank, Bank of England, the US Federal Reserve and the Bank for International Settlements.

Time 4 Minute Read

PayPal released a press release on Wednesday, October 21, 2020, announcing the launch of a new cryptocurrency service that will enable its users to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrencies. The press release comes on the heels of the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) announcement that PayPal was granted the state’s first “conditional BitLicense.”

Time 3 Minute Read

On Monday, October 19, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced a $60 million civil money penalty against Larry Dean Harmon, the founder, administrator and primary operator of unlicensed convertible virtual currency “mixers” for alleged violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and its implementing regulations. Mr. Harmon allegedly operated and administered two separate convertible currencies from 2014 to 2020 without completing required registration with FinCEN.

Time 2 Minute Read

On October 8, 2020, the Department of Justice’s Cyber-Digital Task Force released an 83-page report entitled “Cryptocurrency: An Enforcement Framework.” In an accompanying press release, Attorney General Barr remarked, “Cryptocurrency is a technology that could fundamentally transform how human beings interact, and how we organize society.  Ensuring that use of this technology is safe, and does not imperil our public safety or our national security, is vitally important to America and its allies.” The DOJ report highlights many of the legal and enforcement risks posed in the burgeoning crypto marketplace, and includes various enforcement case studies as well as informative graphics.

Time 5 Minute Read

On Monday, September 21, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) issued an interpretive letter on the authority of national banks and federal savings associations to hold stablecoin reserves (the “OCC Interpretive Letter”). That same day, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (“FinHub”) issued a statement on the OCC’s interpretive letter. While not an official joint statement, the federal agencies were clearly aligned as FinHub’s statement on the OCC Interpretive Letter was posted on its website before the OCC published its letter.

Time 4 Minute Read

In a recent speech entitled “Reinventing the Wheel (with More Automation)”, Andrew Bailey, Governor and chief executive of the Bank of England, discussed the future of digital currencies. According to Governor Bailey, we have reached the point in the cycle of innovation in payments where it is essential that we set the standards and thus the expectations for how innovation will take effect. It should not, in his opinion, happen the other way round, with the standard setting playing catch up.

Time 2 Minute Read

As a show of continued interest in the development of cryptoasset solutions, Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, recently sent a letter to Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks. Chairman Crapo’s letter requested an update on findings of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and information regarding next steps the OCC intends to take with respect to blockchain and distributed ledger technology.

Referencing the OCC’s June 4 advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on digital activities in ...

Time 5 Minute Read

Effective August 1, 2020, Louisiana has adopted a Virtual Currency Business Act. In doing so it becomes the second state after New York to require certain operators of virtual currency businesses to obtain a virtual currency license in order to conduct business in the state.

Time 3 Minute Read

On July 22, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) published an interpretive letter clarifying the authority of national banks to provide cryptocurrency custody services for customers. This latest guidance is just one of many recent developments coming out of the OCC focused on modernizing the regulatory framework at the national level.  Since Brian Brooks took over as acting Comptroller of the Currency on May 29, 2020, the agency has announced a number of significant initiatives designed to allow national banks to capitalize on technology and innovation.

Time 2 Minute Read

On June 30, 2020, the full Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a virtual hearing entitled “The Digitization of Money and Payments.” The hearing focused on stablecoins and the prospects for a US central bank digital currency, or CBDC.

Time 3 Minute Read

On June 24, 2020, the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) announced a series of five initiatives involving virtual currency. The announcement was timed to coincide with the five-year anniversary of the launch of New York’s BitLicense for operators of certain virtual currency businesses.

Time 2 Minute Read

Last week, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (the OCC), the primary federal regulator of national banks, issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking relating to the regulation of digital activities in banking, and in particular their activities involving cryptocurrency and distributed ledger technology.  The OCC is soliciting public feedback on how national banks and their customers are currently utilizing new digital technologies to inform future updates to OCC regulations and allow banks to better harness new technologies and innovations.  The OCC has requested public feedback by August 3, 2020.

Time 2 Minute Read

On May 29, 2020, the Digital Dollar Project, an organization seeking to advance the development of a United States central bank digital currency (CBDC), published a detailed white paper entitled “Exploring a US CBDC.”  The white paper posits that if the US dollar is to remain the world’s primary reserve currency, it cannot remain an analog instrument and unit of account for assets increasingly denominated as digital tokens. Instead, the white paper reasons that the dollar must itself become a digital tokenized currency that measures, supports, and transacts with other digital assets.

Time 3 Minute Read

On March 28, 2020, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued final interpretive guidance (Guidance) clarifying its position with respect to retail commodity transactions and the “actual delivery” exception in the context of digital assets.

Time 3 Minute Read

On April 14, 2020, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) issued a consultative paper entitled “Addressing the Regulatory, Supervisory and Oversight Challenges Raised by ‘Global Stablecoin’ Arrangements.” The paper considers various risks and vulnerabilities of global stablecoins, or GSCs, which are defined to include a crypto-asset that aims to maintain a stable value relative to a specified asset, or a pool or basket of assets, in each case with a potential reach and adoption across multiple jurisdictions and the potential to achieve substantial volume. The white paper then surveys existing regulatory, supervisory and oversight challenges, particularly in the cross-border context; contemplates the role of international standard setters in GSC governance; and makes high-level recommendations for regulatory, supervisory and oversight responses.

Time 3 Minute Read

On April 16, 2020, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a civil enforcement action (Complaint) against two Florida-based crypto companies and their founder and sole owner (Defendants). According to the CFTC, the Defendants raised $1.6 million from hundreds of customers by fraudulently marketing and soliciting a digital asset to be used in connection with the Defendants’ proprietary foreign exchange (forex) algorithm called ART.

Time 3 Minute Read

On March 24, 2020, federal Judge P. Kevin Castel issued a long-anticipated opinion in the SEC’s ongoing efforts to block Telegram’s $1.7 billion initial coin offering. Judge Castel found that Telegram’s planned distribution of Gram tokens constitutes a securities offering under federal law for which no exemption from registration is available. He therefore granted the SEC a preliminary injunction blocking Telegram from distributing its Gram tokens to investors.

Time 2 Minute Read

On March 9, 2020, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) introduced H.R. 6154, the Crypto-Currency Act of 2020.  The bill is the latest effort to provide federal oversight to the burgeoning market for crypto-assets.

Time 2 Minute Read

On February 20, 2020, the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) announced a Bank Secrecy Act enforcement action against a federal savings bank (Bank). This is one of the first, if not the first, public enforcement actions against a bank related to banking cryptocurrency-related operations. Banks that currently provide banking services to cryptocurrency-related companies, or are considering providing banking services to such companies in the future, should carefully review this enforcement action and consider where the quality of the bank’s AML compliance program is commensurate with these high-risk customers.

Time 3 Minute Read

As we previously reported, the US Treasury Department recently announced its 2020 National Strategy for Combating Terrorist and Other Illicit Financing (the 2020 Strategy). The 2020 Strategy identifies the US government’s top anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) priorities and serves as a roadmap of Treasury’s plan to stay ahead of evolving illicit finance threats. Additionally, the 2020 Strategy provides private sector financial institutions a window into upcoming legislative efforts and enforcement trends, which should in turn inform compliance efforts through the coming years. Digital assets feature heavily in the 2020 Strategy.

Time 1 Minute Read
At the conclusion of its February meeting in Riyadh, the Group of Twenty (G20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors issued a communiqué discussing a wide range of topics, including digital assets and stablecoins. The G20 reiterated its view that technological innovations can deliver significant benefits to the financial system and the broader economy. It remains vigilant to potential risks arising from financial innovations, including those risks related to financial stability, consumer and investor protection, anti-money laundering and countering the financing ...
Time 1 Minute Read

As recently reported on the Hunton Privacy & Information Security Law Blog, the European Commission released a suite of documents including its White Paper on Artificial Intelligence and two communications—its European strategy for data and a Digital Strategy document.

The materials note that decentralized digital technologies such as blockchain offer a further possibility for both individuals and companies to manage data flows and usage, based on individual free choice and self-determination. Such technologies will make dynamic data portability in real time possible ...

Time 3 Minute Read

As has been widely reported, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce (aka “Crypto Mom”) recently delivered a thoughtful speech entitled “Running on Empty: A Proposal to Fill the Gap Between Regulation and Decentralization,” including with it a model rule on digital token sales. The model rule has made waves in the crypto community because it proposes a three-year safe harbor from SEC registration while a development team builds out a functional, decentralized network.

Time 3 Minute Read

Most retailers have yet to fully embrace blockchain technology. Perhaps for good reason. Applying new technology, particularly that aimed at changing legacy systems, comes with certain risks. That being said, cryptocurrencies and blockchain have the potential to transform retail and commercial real estate. As previously shared by the Hunton Retail Industry Law Blog, blockchain can be used to streamline inventory management, administer consumer loyalty programs and authenticate high-value assets or the supply chain, generally. Blockchain can also be used more simply to boost consumer sales or process tenant rent payments. Shifting away from the consumer end of retail, below are some novel ways blockchain technology, specifically tokenization, can modernize real estate acquisitions, dispositions and financing.

Time 1 Minute Read

As reported last week on the Hunton Insurance Recovery Blog, crypto-asset losses continue to rise and the industry is taking steps to protect clients and investors through insurance. Crypto-exchange and custody provider, Gemini Trust Company, LLC (“Gemini”), recently launched its own captive insurance provider, Nakamoto, Ltd. Captive insurance is an alternative to self-insurance whereby a company creates a licensed insurance company to provide coverage for itself.

Continue Reading

Time 1 Minute Read
In connection with its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on January 24, 2020, the World Economic Forum announced the creation of a Global Consortium for Digital Currency Governance. The initiative is touted as the first of its kind “to bring together leading companies, financial institutions, government representatives, technical experts, academics, international organizations, NGOs and members of the Forum’s communities on a global level.” The consortium will focus its efforts on developing solutions for what it describes as a fragmented regulatory system ...
Time 2 Minute Read

In 2019, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s structured finance and securitization team closed a number of substantial transactions, developed novel structures for our clients and advised on important tax, regulatory and other industry developments, including emerging uses of blockchain solutions.

Time 2 Minute Read

In an investor alert issued on January 14, 2020, staff in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy warned investors in initial exchange offerings (IEOs) to “use caution before investing  . . . through online trading platforms.”  According to the SEC staff, “Claims of new technologies and financial products, such as those associated with digital asset offerings, and claims that IEOs are vetted by trading platforms, can be used improperly to entice investors with the false promise of high returns in a new investment space.”

Time 2 Minute Read

In a recent op-ed, Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s chief economist, posited that “digital currencies will not displace the dominant dollar.” In particular, the dollar’s status is supported by the “institutions, rule of law, and credible investor protection” that the United States provides. She also expressed her view that a synthetic hegemonic currency—a digital basket of reserve currencies recently proposed by outgoing Bank of England governor Mark Carney—faces steep obstacles to implementation. While the world would benefit from a greater role for the euro and the renminbi, Gopinath suggests that their institutions require greater development. Instead, the US may be developing an advantage in making the dollar the dominant digital currency through its efforts to combat money laundering and terrorism.

Time 2 Minute Read

On December 10, 2019, FinCEN Director Kenneth Blanco delivered prepared remarks to a banking conference held in Washington, DC. Among topics he discussed were trends in suspicious activity reporting (SARs) since FinCEN published updated guidance on convertible virtual currency (CVC) in May 2019.

Time 2 Minute Read

On December 11, 2019, the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) published proposed guidance regarding adoption or listing of virtual currency by holders of a BitLicense. Specifically, under the proposed guidance, DFS seeks comment regarding two proposed changes affecting coin listings, both of which are intended to streamline and expedite the process.

Time 2 Minute Read

On December 10, 2019, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) published its inaugural report on market risk in the Swiss economy. The report provides an overview of what FINMA believes are the most important risks currently facing Swiss supervised institutions and describes the resulting focus of its supervisory activity.

Time 2 Minute Read

At a mutual fund industry conference held on December 3, 2019, Dalia Blass, director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Investment Management, previewed a new structure for registered mutual funds seeking to invest substantially in digital assets and related investments.

In particular, Director Blass indicated that an unnamed registered closed-end interval fund with a bitcoin futures strategy is preparing to launch. As a result of recent industry feedback and engagement, and in response to issues the SEC staff previously identified:

  • The fund expects to ...
Time 1 Minute Read

In a television interview on November 19, 2019, CFTC Chairman Heath Tarbert discussed digital assets and the importance of U.S. leadership in this space. Notably, he stated:

“I want the United States to lead, particularly in the blockchain technology that underlies digital assets… [U]ltimately I could see it overtaking the internet or being effectively parallel to the internet in using a variety of different kinds of transactions, not just the financial system, but in other types of transactions as well… I think whoever ends up leading in this technology will end up writing ...

Time 4 Minute Read

The Federal Reserve Board’s most recent semi-annual Financial Stability Report, issued November 15, 2019, includes a lengthy discussion of potential systemic risks posed by stablecoins. In the report, the Fed observed that innovations fostering faster, cheaper and more inclusive payments could complement existing payment systems and improve consumer welfare if appropriately designed and regulated. But the Fed also warned that the emergence of global stablecoin payment networks introduces important challenges and risks related to financial stability, monetary policy, money laundering and terrorist financing, and consumer and investor protection.

Time 4 Minute Read

The United Kingdom tax authority, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), has issued revised guidance regarding the tax treatment of cryptocurrency.

Separate guidance has been published for individuals on the one hand, and businesses on the other.

The revised guidance represents more of an elaboration of the basic principles set out in prior guidance than any significant change in HMRC’s approach to the taxation of the receipt and disposal of cryptoassets.

Time 2 Minute Read

On October 28, 2019, staff in the SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets provided a no-action letter to Paxos Trust Company, LLC permitting it to pilot a blockchain-based clearance and settlement platform for a limited number of U.S.-listed equity securities for 24 months. The staff’s action enables the further development and commercialization of a blockchain platform for clearing and settling U.S. securities trades.

Time 3 Minute Read

In the wake of the recent controversy surrounding the proposed Libra cryptocurrency, two members of Congress have begun circulating draft bills that would tighten federal regulation of certain stablecoins.

Time 2 Minute Read

A recent speech by Fed Governor Lael Brainard entitled “Digital Currencies, Stablecoins, and the Evolving Payments Landscape” discusses a number of topics of interest to the crypto community, including the development of stablecoins and their potential impact on the global payments system. In particular, Governor Brainard opined that the widespread adoption of stablecoins could have implications for the role of central banks and monetary policy.

Time 3 Minute Read

On October 3, 3019, the Liechtenstein Parliament unanimously approved the Token and TT Service Provider Act (the Act). The Act, sometimes referred to as “TVTG” based on its German acronym, provides a comprehensive framework regulating the issuance, storage and conveyance of blockchain tokens in Liechtenstein. According to Liechtenstein’s embassy in Washington, Parliament’s approval began a 30-day public comment period that runs through November 8, 2019. If there is no adverse public comment by the citizens of Liechtenstein, the embassy anticipates that the Act will take effect soon thereafter.

Time 1 Minute Read

Today the CFTC, SEC and FinCEN issued a joint statement on digital assets. In particular, the joint statement reminds persons engaged in activities involving digital assets of their anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) obligations under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). The entire joint statement is available here.

 

Time 2 Minute Read

On October 9, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service (Service) released Revenue Ruling 2019-24. The revenue ruling considers whether taxpayers should realize gross income under two common scenarios involving cryptocurrency and includes a number of illustrative examples. The Service concluded that a so-called “hard fork” on a cryptocurrency blockchain does not create taxable income if a taxpayer does not subsequently receive new units of cryptocurrency, but taxable ordinary income is generated by “airdrops” following a hard fork that delivers new units of cryptocurrency to a taxpayer.

Time 2 Minute Read

On September 19, 2019, the House of Representatives by voice vote approved H.R. 2613, a bipartisan bill entitled the “Advancing Innovation to Assist Law Enforcement Act.” The bill instructs the director of FinCEN to study and prepare a report to Congress on emerging technologies, including blockchain, in an effort to combat money laundering and other forms of illicit finance. Though somewhat modest in scope, the bill is among the first to be approved by one of the chambers of Congress on the topic of blockchain.

Time 4 Minute Read

On September 24, 2019, the House Financial Services Committee held an oversight hearing entitled “Oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission: Wall Street’s Cop on the Beat.” The format of the hearing was somewhat unusual in that the sole witnesses were the five sitting SEC commissioners. Though it is common for the SEC chair to testify before Congress, the other commissioners testify very infrequently, and the assembly of all five at a single hearing is extremely rare, with the last such joint testimony coming back in 2007. While the hearing covered a wide range of issues related to securities regulation and enforcement, it also touched on a number of topics of particular interest to crypto and blockchain businesses, including the application of the securities laws to digital assets.

Time 2 Minute Read

Effective September 1, 2019, lawmakers in Texas passed legislation clarifying the ability of businesses organized under Texas law to incorporate blockchain technology into their entity recordkeeping and communications. In doing so, Texas joins the ranks of several other states that have similarly amended their corporate formation statutes.

Time 1 Minute Read
The Federal Trade Commission reached a settlement with the promoters of chain-based cryptocurrency schemes—Thomas Dluca, Louis Gatto, Eric Pinkston and Scott Chandler—in which the defendants promised recruits big rewards in exchange for a small payment of bitcoin or Litecoin. In reality, the defendants’ schemes, promoted through YouTube videos, social media and in conference calls, depended on continual recruitment of new participants to generate revenue. Under the FTC settlement, each defendant is permanently banned from operating, participating in or ...
Time 3 Minute Read

As we first reported in April, the New York Attorney General has been locked in a complicated dispute with a virtual currency exchange operator over the authority of the Attorney General to investigate its activities.  In its defense in court proceedings, the crypto exchange asserted that the Attorney General lacked both personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction over it because of its efforts to avoid doing business in New York state.  In a ruling ultimately siding with the Attorney General, a New York trial court on August 19 permitted the regulatory investigation to continue.  The judge’s opinion underscores the difficulty faced by crypto entrepreneurs seeking to avoid contacts with U.S. customers in order to avoid the jurisdiction of U.S. courts and regulators.

Time 2 Minute Read

The United Kingdom (UK) tax authority, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), has taken the first steps toward recovering tax that it believes may be outstanding from UK resident cryptocurrency investors: it has been reported that several crypto exchanges have received demands from HMRC relating to customer details and their transactional activity.

The Hunton Andrews Kurth Blockchain Blog features opinions and legal analysis as we follow the development and use of distributed ledger technology known as the blockchain.

Search

Subscribe Arrow

Recent Posts

Categories

Tags

Authors

Archives

Jump to Page