On May 13, 2020, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) Director Kenneth Blanco delivered remarks to the Consensus Blockchain Conference regarding the agency’s recent observations in connection with virtual currencies, including the current risks of criminal exploitation of virtual currency, significant issues FinCEN anticipates for virtual currencies in the future, and the industry’s compliance with the Travel Rule.
Continue Reading FinCEN Director Addresses COVID-19 Related Virtual Currency Issues at Consensus Blockchain Conference

A Washington state federal court recently addressed claims relating to rates that cryptocurrency mining companies pay for electricity in Grant County, Washington. The court rejected all of the miner’s legal claims. The dispute focused on the rate classification that this utility applied to crypto miners as explained below.  Due to various risks, the electric utility assigned the miners to a newly created rate class referred to as “Evolving Industries,” resulting in a higher rate class for the miners.  The miners were I-“rate” with this decision.
Continue Reading Cryptocurrency Miners I“rate” At Energy Rate Decision

For the first time since 2007, the Recording Industry Association of America is reporting that the United States retail music market is on its way to becoming a $10 billion market. Streaming royalties account for a majority of this growth along with new use cases entering the marketplace. New technologies and content offerings have and continue to drive this growth. Innovation in the music production and distribution spaces lowered the barriers to entry, allowing unsigned artists to create professional recordings and distribute their music worldwide. This changing landscape ⸺ including the proliferation of music streaming and new licensing schemes ⸺ has underscored the need for advancements to streamline licensing processes, track, collect and pay royalties, and facilitate more efficient contractual processes. 
Continue Reading Blockchain Technology Continues to Support a Flourishing Music Industry

Last week we reported that FinCEN had issued new guidance addressing cryptocurrency and other convertible virtual currency. The need for compliance was reinforced this week. In a speech by Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, during blockchain week in NY, a stern warning was issued. The message was clear. Regulatory compliance is not an option and you must do it right from the start – not just after you got a call from regulators or law enforcement.
Continue Reading FinCEN – We Will Identify Where Compliance Is Not Taking Place And Take Appropriate Action

FinCEN has issued  2 new guidance documents addressing cryptocurrency and other convertible virtual currency (CVC). The guidance does not establish any new regulatory expectations. Rather, it consolidates current FinCEN regulations, guidance and administrative rulings that relate to money transmission involving virtual currency, and applies the same interpretive criteria to other common business models involving CVC. FinCEN’s rules define certain businesses or individuals involved with CVCs as money transmitters subject to the same registration requirements and a range of anti-money laundering, program, recordkeeping, and reporting responsibilities as other money services businesses. It also warns of threats posed by virtual currency misuse.
Continue Reading FinCEN Updates Guidance on Crypto

A new bill, the Token Taxonomy Act was introduced to congress to amend the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to exclude digital tokens from the definition of a security, to direct the Securities and Exchange Commission to enact certain regulatory changes regarding digital units secured through public key cryptography, to adjust taxation of virtual currencies held in individual retirement accounts, to create a tax exemption for exchanges of one virtual currency for another, to create a de minimis exemption from taxation for gains realized from the sale or exchange of virtual currency for other than cash, and for other purposes.
Continue Reading New Effort to Exempt Crypto Currency from Certain SEC, Tax and Other Regulatory Burdens

On April 3, 2019, the SEC issued its first no-action letter for a crypto token! This is a significant step in providing regulatory clarity for when a token is NOT a security or at least when the SEC will take no action on enforcement. The same day it also issued Framework for “Investment Contract” Analysis of Digital Assets (which we will cover in a separate blog post).
Continue Reading SEC Issues First No Action Letter on Crypto Tokens

The use of blockchain (or distributed ledger) technology for games (a.k.a blockchain games) and token-based digital collectibles is on the rise. The overnight popularity of CryptoKitties was as significant to raising the awareness of digital collectibles as Pokémon Go was to location-based AR games. However, the ecosystem extends well beyond CryptoKitties, and is growing rapidly. The ecosystem includes cross-platform crypto currency and tokens, digital asset marketplaces, digital collectibles, decentralized virtual worlds and more. A significant amount of investment is going into this space. Blockchain gaming startup Forte has announced a deal with Ripple’s Xpring crypto currency platform to invest $100 million in game developers who make games based on blockchain technology. While the opportunities in this space are real, there are a number of legal issues that can arise depending on how a company implements its offerings.
Continue Reading Blockchain Games and Collectibles – Patents and Other Legal Issues

The use of digital securities or security tokens has coincided with the explosion of crypto-currencies and efforts to establish Internet-traded coins or tokens with utility as a form of currency. Lost amidst the enthusiasm over the revolutionary implications of crypto-currencies is the simple fact that security tokens which use block-chain technology and smart contracts have significant advantages over traditional platforms for issuing, holding and trading securities.
Continue Reading Security Tokens — A Superior Platform for Securities Holding and Trading

Over the past couple of years, the crypto industry has come under heavy scrutiny from skeptical regulators seeking to root out fraud and protect investors amid the initial coin offering boom that generated over $4 billion in 2017. However, this skepticism is starting to give way to a more business-friendly attitude.

Crypto firms have made notable headway with regulators in recent months, securing authorizations to act as custodians of digital assets and working towards approval of the first bitcoin-based exchange traded fund (“ETF”). These developments may reflect an evolving collaborative environment that bodes well for the future of blockchain-based innovations.
Continue Reading Crypto Firms Make Inroads with State and Federal Regulators