United States

Topic: Fintech

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Changing securities laws and regulations for the digital token age

While federal courts last year recognized that virtual currencies based on blockchain platforms could qualify as securities and/or commodities, there has been some concern that these regulatory structures may not fit all digital tokens under all circumstances. In a recent New York Law Journal column, Robert Schwinger, a partner in the New York office of … Continue Reading

New virtual currency bills introduced in the U.S. Congress

Two new bills were introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of January aimed at recommending possible legislative changes to regulate and promote virtual currencies, also known as cryptocurrencies. The first bill, H.R. 922, Virtual Currency Consumer Protection Act of 2019 aims to promote fair and transparent virtual currency markets by examining … Continue Reading

SEC takes aim at digital tokens and smart contracts

On the heels of the first-ever judicial holding this past summer that a cryptocurrency could qualify as a “security” under federal securities laws, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has brought a wave of new enforcement actions targeting blockchain-based digital token ventures under a variety of provisions in the securities laws. In a recent New … Continue Reading

Commissioner Peirce warns the SEC not to cast Howey’s net too wide

On February 8, 2019, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce delivered a speech at the symposium ”Protecting the Public While Fostering Innovation and Entrepreneurship: First Principles for Optimal Regulation.” Her remarks, entitled “Regulation: A View from Inside the Machine,” provide insight into how SEC regulators currently view certain technological innovations and how they interpret and apply the … Continue Reading

FINRA to examine member firms’ digital assets activities for compliance with securities laws

On January 22, 2019, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) released its 2019 Risk Monitoring and Examination Priorities Letter (Regulatory Notice No. 18-20) in which it identifies topics FINRA will focus on in the coming year. FINRA indicates that this year the securities self-regulatory organization will review “firms’ activities through its membership and examination process … Continue Reading

US Federal and State legislators propose exempting certain digital tokens from securities laws

On January 4, 2019, two Colorado senators introduced the “Colorado Digital Token Act,” a bill seeking to exempt digital tokens and cryptocurrencies from certain Colorado state securities laws. In filing the Colorado Digital Token Act, the senators proposed that digital tokens with a “primarily consumptive purpose” that are not marketed to be used for “speculative … Continue Reading

Personal jurisdiction in the age of blockchain

As commercial activity increasingly intertwines with applications of blockchain technology with participants around the world, courts have had to grapple with the personal jurisdiction implications of such arrangements. Will participants in these blockchain applications based outside the United States find themselves subject to U.S. jurisdiction when disputes arise, based on how they have conducted their … Continue Reading

Transition period under New York cybersecurity regulation ends March 1, 2019

The two-year transitional period under the New York State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) Cybersecurity Regulation, 23 NYCRR 500 (the “Regulation”), will expire on March 1, 2019, with the final remaining requirement becoming effective. Entities covered by the Regulation that utilize third party service providers, which include not only banks and insurers, but also other … Continue Reading

New bipartisan bills aim to regulate and promote blockchain and cryptocurrencies

Legislation has been introduced in the US House of Representatives directed at regulating virtual currency.  In a post from the Norton Rose Fulbright Project Finance blog available, Deanne Barrow analyzes the bills. Readers interested in learning more about cryptocurrency can sign up for updates on our FinTech law and regulation page.… Continue Reading

CFTC seeks public comment on crypto-asset mechanics and markets

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) published a Request for input on December 17, 2018, seeking public comment and feedback on a set of twenty-five (25) questions to better inform the CFTC’s understanding of the technology, mechanics, and markets for virtual currencies beyond Bitcoin. … Continue Reading

Banking agencies and FinCEN encourage innovative efforts by banks to combat money laundering and terrorist financing

On December 3, 2018, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), (collectively, the “Agencies”) issued a joint statement (“Joint Statement”) urging banks to consider, evaluate and potentially implement … Continue Reading

SEC issues statement on digital asset securities issuance, investment and trading

On November 16, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued a statement on the application of federal securities laws to the issuance and trading of, and investment in, digital asset securities. While the statement encourages technological innovations that benefit investors and capital markets, it emphasizes that market participants must still adhere to federal securities … Continue Reading

SEC announces first enforcement action against EtherDelta for operating an unregistered exchange for ERC20 digital tokens

On November 8, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced that it settled charges against Zachary Coburn, founder of EtherDelta, a digital token trading platform, for operating an unregistered national securities exchange. This is the SEC’s first enforcement action based on findings that a digital token trading platform operated as an unregistered national securities … Continue Reading

What auditors need to know about the blockchain

Yet another U.S. regulator has weighed in on the use of the blockchain. The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) is a nonprofit corporation established by the U.S. Congress to oversee the audits of public companies in order to protect investors and the public interest by promoting informative, accurate and independent audit reports. The PCAOB … Continue Reading

Alibaba successful in temporarily shutting down third party using its name to sell “AlibabaCoin”

On October 22, 2018, a U.S. federal trial court in Manhattan granted web services conglomerate Alibaba Group Holding Limited’s request for a preliminary injunction against several defendants that were offering cryptocurrency for sale, under the name “AlibabaCoin.” (Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. v. Alibabacoin Foundation, No. 18-CV-2897 (JPO) (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 22, 2018) Although neither Alibaba nor … Continue Reading

Conference of State Bank Supervisors files Federal lawsuit to stop OCC fintech charter

On October 25, 2018, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (“CSBS”) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) seeking to stop the OCC from issuing any special-purpose national bank charters to financial technology companies that do not receive deposits … Continue Reading

CFTC Commissioner Brian Quintenz warns smart contract code developers may be held liable for violations of CFTC regulations

On October 16, 2018, Commissioner Brian Quintenz of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) shared his views on smart contract regulation by the CFTC. In his speech at the 38th Annual GITEX Technology Week Conference, in discussing a hypothetical where code in a smart contract was specifically designed to enable a type of activity regulated … Continue Reading

Regulators bring enforcement actions against 1pool Ltd.

On September 27, 2018, both the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) filed charges against Marshall Islands-based firm 1pool Ltd. (“1pool”) and its Austria-based CEO and owner, Patrick Brunner, for (i) failing to register as a security-based swaps dealer with the SEC, (ii) failing to register as a futures … Continue Reading

New York Attorney General issues report on cryptocurrency platforms

On September 18, 2018, the New York State Attorney General issued a 32- page report on its findings on the state of cryptocurrency platforms with respect to consumer protections. The Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative Report summarizes the results of the New York Attorney General’s April 2018 survey sent to 13 cryptocurrency platforms, including some located … Continue Reading

Cryptocurrencies held subject to US federal securities laws

For the first time, a US federal court has ruled that in appropriate circumstances cryptocurrencies can be subject to the provisions of US securities laws. In U.S. v. Zaslavskiy, No. 1:17-cr-00647, slip op., 2018 WL 4346339 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 11, 2018), Judge Raymond Dearie of the Eastern District of New York upheld a criminal indictment for … Continue Reading

Latest issue of Global Asset Management Quarterly now available

The tenth edition of our Global Asset Management Quarterly is now available. You can also register to automatically receive each issue as it is released. This publication highlights key developments that will be of interest to, and affect, our asset management clients, including market trends and developments in tax and buy-side regulation globally. Articles in … Continue Reading

New York State Department of Financial Services again sues OCC over bank charter for fintechs

On September 14, 2018, New York State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) Superintendent Maria T. Vullo filed a lawsuit against the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) in connection with the OCC’s recent decision to begin accepting applications from nondepository financial technology companies (“fintechs”) for special purpose national bank charters (the OCC’s “Fintech … Continue Reading

Compliance date for next set of DFS cybersecurity regulations is September 4, 2018

On August 8, 2018, the Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services issued a reminder to DFS-regulated financial services businesses that starting September 4, 2018, they were required to be in compliance with the next set of requirements in the DFS cybersecurity regulations located at Part 500 of the New York State … Continue Reading
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