Tag Archives: Blockchain

A Thanksgiving Feast: SEC Sets the Table for More Crypto Enforcement Servings to Come

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC or Commission) November 16 announcement charging two cryptocurrency companies—CarrierEQ Inc. (d/b/a Airfox) and Paragon Coin Inc. (Paragon)—with conducting an initial coin offering (ICO) in violation of the securities registration rules should not come as a surprise to those in the industry. The SEC has repeatedly emphasized that issuers of … Continue Reading

Blockchain in the Retail Industry

In a recent Client Alert, Alan Cohn, Jason Weinstein, and Meegan Brooks discuss the impact of blockchain technology in the retail industry, which will likely see more disruption in the next few years than it has seen in decades. What role will blockchain technology play in that disruption? Instead of completely disrupting the retail industry, blockchain … Continue Reading

Blockchain Takes Over Episode 229 of the Cyberlaw Podcast

On September 4th, Alan Cohn hosted the 229th episode of The Cyberlaw Podcast.  We took a deep dive into all things blockchain and cryptocurrency discussing recent regulatory developments and best practices for users of exchanges.   Our episode begins with Charles Mills discussing the landmark decision coming out of the New York Eastern District Court in … Continue Reading

National Law Journal Names Weinstein, Cohn Trailblazers in Cryptocurrency, Blockchain & FinTech

Steptoe partner Jason Weinstein and of counsel Alan Cohn have been named to The National Law Journal’s list of Trailblazers in Cryptocurrency, Blockchain and FinTech. The list of 50 lawyers is featured in a special supplement in the September issue of the legal publication. Weinstein and Cohn co-chair Steptoe’s global Blockchain and Cryptocurrency practice and are recognized for their … Continue Reading

Blockchain Takes Over the Cyberlaw Podcast

On May 21st, Alan Cohn hosted the 217th episode of The Cyberlaw Podcast. We took a deep dive into all things blockchain and cryptocurrency discussing recent regulatory developments and the current state of play of the industry. Jack Hayes discusses the status of regulation surrounding cryptocurrencies including anti-money laundering and sanctions compliance, the Department of Treasury’s … Continue Reading

A “One-Stop” Guide to Blockchain Regulation and Best Practices for Responding to Investigations

Government regulators are increasingly focused on blockchain and cryptocurrency activity, a development that some, such as IMF head Christine Lagarde have called inevitable. In the US, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have issued statements, enforcement actions, and penalties involving blockchain and … Continue Reading

Can Your Cryptocurrency Get a Clearance?

You know that federal entities like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have all issued guidance concerning cryptocurrencies.  But get ready to add a new agency to the list—the Department of Defense’s Defense Security Service (DSS). Standard … Continue Reading

Steptoe Applauds CFTC Decision on Cryptocurrency Rulemaking

Today, Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s Blockchain and Digital Currency practice applauded the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) decision to propose, through the rulemaking process, an interpretation defining the term “actual delivery” in the context of retail commodity transactions involving cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. “We are pleased that the commission has chosen to respond to Steptoe’s petition … Continue Reading

Alan Cohn Featured on the Future Tech Podcast

Alan Cohn was recently featured on the Future Tech Podcast. In an interview with Richard Jacobs, Editor of Crypto News Insider and Organizer & Host of the Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Blockchain Super Conference 2018, Alan discusses the recent regulatory changes and guidance related to cryptocurrency such as the recent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Investigative Report on the … Continue Reading

Blockchain and Cryptocurrency: The Emerging Regulatory Framework

This summer, US and international regulators have brought enforcement actions, issued guidance and explanatory documents, and sharpened previously-taken positions regarding regulation of cryptocurrency and crypto-tokens under the anti-money laundering, derivatives, securities, and tax laws. These actions provide a better sense of the way in which US regulators will approach the blockchain and digital asset space … Continue Reading

Alan Cohn Quoted on the Recent Blockchain Regulatory Guidance

The Street quoted Alan Cohn  in an article on August 20 titled “How Federal Regulators Are Playing Catch-Up With Bitcoin Craze.” The article looks at the most recent enforcement actions and regulatory guidance from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission … Continue Reading

Significant FinCEN Action Against BTC-e, Implications for Virtual Currency Exchangers

On July 26, 2017, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the US Department of the Treasury assessed a civil monetary penalty of $110,003,314 against Canton Business Corporation (BTC-e), one of the largest virtual currency exchanges by volume in the world, and a $12,000,000 penalty against Alexander Vinnik, a Russian national who allegedly controlled, directed, and … Continue Reading

SEC Begins Offering Guidance on Initial Coin Offerings

On July 25, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued its first guidance on how it will interpret token issuances or “Initial Coin Offerings” (ICOs) under relevant securities laws. The headlines—“SEC Finds DAO Tokens are Securities”—come from Release No. 81207, “Report of Investigation Pursuant to Section 21(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934: … Continue Reading

SEC Weighs in on the Distributed Autonomous Organization’s Tokens

The SEC announced yesterday that “offers and sales of digital assets by ‘virtual’ organizations are subject to the requirements of the federal securities laws.”  Although not coming as a surprise, the SEC’s announcement affirms that companies seeking to involve US investors in an initial coin offering (ICO) must register offers and sales with the SEC … Continue Reading

IEEE Standard Association’s Blockchain Podcast Features Alan Cohn

Alan Cohn was recently featured on IEEE Standards Association’s Blockchain Podcast Series.  In an interview with Maria Palombini, Director, Emerging Communities & Opportunities Development, Alan and Maria discuss the legal issues surrounding blockchain smart contracts. In particular, Alan opines on why government agencies find blockchain technology promising, whether or not smart contracts are legally binding, and what blockchain-based smart … Continue Reading

Three ways to indemnify your business (or your client’s business) from smart contract risks

This post builds on our previous exploration of indemnification for smart contract risks.  Today, we suggest three tools to address these risks:  (1) cybersecurity insurance policies, (2) indemnification agreements with outside vendors, and (3) “make whole” agreements among the smart contract parties themselves.  Collectively speaking, insurers, vendors, and other contract parties can provide the best … Continue Reading

Implications of S. 1241, the Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017

Congress has become increasingly interested in the current state of knowledge about potential links between terrorist financing and money laundering.  In the House of Representatives, the Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance held a hearing on June 8, 2017, titled “Virtual Currency: Financial Innovation and National Security Implications.”  In the Senate, Senator … Continue Reading

My smart contract just ate $14 million—now what? Re-thinking indemnification for smart contract risks.

A Canadian digital currency exchange (QuadrigaCX) reported recently that a malfunction in a smart contract is responsible for a $14 million dollar loss of the cryptocurrency ether.  You can read more about the company’s technical explanation here, but the upshot is that a software upgrade performed by the company had an error in the code that … Continue Reading

Finding Resiliency in Microgrids

This is the fifth and final in a series of posts that breaks down our article, “Smart After All: Blockchain, Smart Contracts, Parametric Insurance, and Smart Energy Grids,” recently published in the Georgetown Law Technology Review. We have discussed the enforceability of blockchain-based smart contracts under ESIGN and UETA and a few promising smart contract … Continue Reading

Rethinking the Energy Industry with Smart Meters

This is the forth in a series of posts that breaks down our article, “Smart After All: Blockchain, Smart Contracts, Parametric Insurance, and Smart Energy Grids,” recently published in the Georgetown Law Technology Review. We previously discussed the enforceability of blockchain-based smart contracts under ESIGN and UETA and the application of blockchain-based smart contracts for … Continue Reading

New Models of Insurance: Parametric Insurance

This is the third in a series of posts that breaks down our article, “Smart After All: Blockchain, Smart Contracts, Parametric Insurance, and Smart Energy Grids,” recently published in the Georgetown Law Technology Review. We previously discussed the enforceability of blockchain-based smart contracts under ESIGN and UETA and the application of blockchain-based smart contracts for … Continue Reading

Efficiency Gains in the Insurance Industry

This is the second in a series of posts that breaks down our article, “Smart After All: Blockchain, Smart Contracts, Parametric Insurance, and Smart Energy Grids,” recently published in the Georgetown Law Technology Review. We previously discussed the enforceability of blockchain-based smart contracts under ESIGN and UETA and will now look at the application of … Continue Reading

The Enforceability of Smart Contracts

This is the first in a series of posts that breaks down our article, “Smart After All: Blockchain, Smart Contracts, Parametric Insurance, and Smart Energy Grids,” recently published in the Georgetown Law Technology Review. First, we will discuss the enforceability of blockchain-based smart contracts followed by four use cases: simple insurance contracts, parametric insurance, smart … Continue Reading
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