In this fourth installment of our five-part series highlighting the legal issues presented by blockchain, we’ll consider application to the aviation industry. Blockchain has the potential to increase airlines’ profitability by lowering transaction costs as well as improving efficiency and transparency, while simultaneously enhancing customer experiences.

As we discussed in the post “Taking Control of Your Identity,” digital identity verification is difficult and lacks trust – problems the blockchain can solve. And where is identity verification more important than when you’re standing in a long check-in line at the airport? Securely storing passenger information and identification on the blockchain will streamline passenger identity verification and may even reduce those long lines. Different airlines, airports and other entities can use the same shared, secure blockchain to create a universal digital identity system, significantly reducing operational costs. One blockchain startup is already developing a digital token that would contain all of a passenger’s travel documents and passport/identification in one place.


Continue Reading

One of the most intriguing uses of the blockchain may be the enhancement of identity solutions.

As we know, the blockchain offers enhancements over current mechanisms for creating and storing digital identities, such as security and resilience built in by design, a greater ability to control the uses of encrypted information, and the ability to provide standardization across a range of legacy IT systems.  But what does this actually mean for identity applications in different industries?

A lot, actually.  Identity validation for internet applications is a persistent problem.  As the New Yorker cartoon famously says, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”  Yet as we have seen, the use of fraudulent identity on the internet leads to mistrust in electronic transactions, a mistrust of the identity of individuals and organizations posting materials to social media, crowdsourced reviewing applications, and other sites, and an inability to take forward applications such as internet polling and voting.


Continue Reading

This week, we will have a five-part series highlighting the legal issues presented by blockchain applications in a number of different industries. Today, we’re looking into the legal considerations of implementing the blockchain in the pharmaceutical industry.  Among other benefits, distributed ledger technology can help reduce sales of counterfeit drugs and improve supply chain management, increase the security of digital patient records, improve processing of health insurance claims, and enhance the reliability and accuracy of clinical trials.

One of the biggest problems in the pharmaceutical industry is the proliferation of counterfeit drugs, which are increasingly difficult to detect and regulate.  Sales of counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a billion-dollar business, and pharmaceutical companies invest enormous resources in sophisticated efforts to prevent and investigate counterfeiting of their products all over the globe.  But the impact of this problem goes far beyond dollars and cents – because it places consumers’ lives directly at risk.


Continue Reading

An appellate decision from a provincial high court in northeastern China may help to shed some additional light on the Chinese government’s regulation of virtual currency exchanges in China, the anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) expectations placed on these exchanges, and the liability that might accrue to exchanges in the event of criminal activity involving virtual currencies.

The Lekuda (OKCOIN trading platform) case was initially filed in the civil division of the intermediate court of the municipality of Suihua (绥化) in northeastern China, Heilongjiang Province. Coincidentally, China’s northeastern region is also known for Bitcoin mining.  In China, there are three types of litigation (三类诉讼), each with their own set of procedural rules and jurisprudence, and the Lekuda case filed in Suihua was styled as a tort case, a type of civil litigation.  While characterized and classified as a civil tort case, the case also implicates certain criminal and administrative issues at its periphery.

The decision that was recently made publicly available was the July 2016 decision of the second instance court (an appellate decision). The underlying Suihua intermediate court decision has not yet been made publicly available, but may eventually become so.  That said, from the appellate decision, we can learn the basic facts.


Continue Reading

Following the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, polls show that Americans identify terrorism—more than any other issue—as the most important problem facing the US.  In this environment, some media outlets have predicted a pending “crackdown” on digital currencies, particularly by European governments, because of the risk that the technology could be used to fund terrorism.

But do digital currencies like bitcoin actually pose a unique threat when it comes to funding terrorist networks?  Jason Weinstein published a post on Medium earlier this week—“Combating Bitcoin Use by Terrorists?”—that seeks to answer this question.


Continue Reading

In an area that is growing and evolving as fast as FinTech, it’s often difficult to take a step back and take stock of where we are, and where we’re headed. So kudos to CoinDesk, which recently issued its State of Bitcoin report for the second quarter of 2015, its seventh such report since February 2014. The report is a great read that contains a number of terrific insights into trends and developments in Bitcoin and other digital currencies. One of the most interesting aspects of the report related to the significant number of banks throughout the world that are experimenting with use cases for blockchain technology. The report cited Santander, Barclays, UBS, and BNY Mellon as among the global banks exploring the potential of the blockchain.

Continue Reading

On Thursday, April 23, I spoke at the Bretton Woods Committee seminar, “Digital Payments and Currencies: Global Threat or Opportunity?”  The panel discussed the changes digital currencies and payment systems have brought to the market and the disruptive potential of a future in which they may become more conventional.

An audio clip of the seminar

It’s only been about a week since New York’s outgoing Superintendent of Financial Services Ben Lawsky released the long-awaited “BitLicense” rules for digital currency businesses operating in New York, but it’s not too early to try to assess the potential impact of those rules on the development of Bitcoin-related businesses and emerging financial technologies.

The primary question on everyone’s mind: Are the BitLicense regulations – the product of a nearly two-year rulemaking process – good or bad for Bitcoin? The answer: A little of both. The truth is that the BitLicense rules are a mixed bag, and how you perceive them depends to some extent on whether your glass is half-full or half-empty.


Continue Reading