Blockchain technology utilizes a distributed digital ledger to record and track information, and can be leveraged to gain transparency and certainty in transactions ranging from cryptocurrency to supply chain tracking.  This blog provides information on the legal developments surrounding implementation of blockchain technology, with an initial focus on the financial services sector.

  • On December 17, 2020, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) released a Digital Assets Primer to provide updated information to the public about emerging concepts in digital assets.

  • On December 18, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) released a proposed rule for virtual currency transactions involving unhosted wallets.

  • The SEC announced on December 3rd that its Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology, FinHub, will become a stand-alone office. 

  • The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve are soliciting comments on a joint notice of proposed rulemaking which proposes to amend the Bank Secrecy Act to affirmatively apply Recordkeeping Rule and Travel Rule regulations to Convertible Virtual Currencies, and also proposes to reduce the monetary threshold for reporting and recordkeeping requirements. 

  • In response to market participants’ request for guidance on how the customer protection provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act (“Act”) and the Regulations (“Regulations”) of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission  (“CFTC”) apply to virtual currencies deposited by futures customers or cleared swaps customers with futures commission merchants (“FCMs”), the CFTC’s Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight (“DSIO”) issued an advisory on October 21, 2020 (“Advisory”) regarding the holding of virtual currency in segregated accounts.  The Advisory provides FCMs with its views on accepting and holding customer virtual currency assets.  The Advisory also sets forth guidance on practices to consider in developing and maintaining risk management programs in accordance with Regulation 1.11 when holding virtual currency as customer funds.  With the issuance of this Advisory, FCMs holding virtual currencies as customer funds should consider themselves on notice of these requirements and should immediately incorporate these requirements into their risk management programs.    

  • On September 30, 2020, a New York federal judge agreed with the SEC that Kik Interactive Inc.'s sale of its cryptocurrency, Kin, violated securities laws.  The case had been one of the most hotly contested concerning the application of securities laws to the sale of cryptocurrency.