Blockchain Report

Women, that’s who. Why? Because women “get it,” according to the media. Over the past year, there have been a plethora of articles encouraging women to invest in virtual currencies, and, according to the Wall Street Journal, this effort is beginning to yield results. The WSJ quotes Christine Brown, COO of Robinhood Crypto, as stating that one in four (25%) customers who traded crypto in 2021 was a woman. This is up substantially from the 10%-15% estimate provided by Real Simple in an article earlier this year. (A recent CoinDesk article puts the UK percentage of women investors in…
As tax season heads into full swing, cryptocurrency traders may be in for a surprise when they sit down to complete their 2020 taxes. This year, for the first time, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is including a question about cryptocurrency transactions on the first page of Individual Income Tax Returns, Form 1040. The question asks taxpayers if at any time during 2020 they received, sold, sent, exchanged, or otherwise acquired any financial interest in any virtual currency (the IRS’s term for digital, convertible currency, such as Bitcoin, Dogecoin, and the like.) Image: IRS Form 1040, 2020. The question,…
Mastercard has announced that it will begin supporting select cryptocurrencies directly on its payment network this year. Mastercard made the announcement in February, touting that the change would create “more possibilities for shoppers and merchants,” enabling them to move digital value – traditional or crypto – in a new form of payment. Unlike Mastercard’s previous endeavors in the blockchain space, such as its partnerships with Wirex and BitPay to offer cryptocurrency debit cards, this change would support digital assets on Mastercard’s network directly. In previous projects, cryptocurrencies did not move through the Mastercard network. Instead, Mastercard’s cryptocurrency partners would convert…
On March 11, 2021, a piece of digital art sold for $69,000,000.00 (yes, sixty-nine million United States dollars) at Christie’s Auction House (online, of course). That happened roughly five months after its original sale, meaning that the piece created by the artist known as Beeple sold for over 100,000% of its original price ($66,666.66), pushing Beeple to become one of “the top three most valuable living artists” according to Christie’s. Other than the price, what makes the Beeple sale noteworthy is the fact that the work was in the form of an NFT. What Is an NFT? NFT stands for “non-fungible token,”…
On March 15, 2021, Ed Wilson was quoted in PYMNTS on the creation of sovereign digital currencies. According to the article, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said last month that central banks should explore creating and issuing sovereign digital currencies. The hypothesis is that such currencies—digital dollars among them—could create “faster, safer and cheaper payments,” she said at a virtual conference. Yellen noted that among the many things to consider is how regulators would “manage money laundering and illicit finance issues.” Wilson said the rise of cryptocurrencies demands advanced technologies to close the gap with financial criminals. The opportunity to…
On Thursday, March 11, a piece of digital art – a JPG file – sold for $69 million. Why would a purely digital work of art ever sell for that much? Scarcity and proof of ownership. That’s right, the underpinning of popular cryptocurrencies – blockchain – is being used to create NFTs (nonfungible tokens) to mint unique pieces of art and other digital collectibles. The piece, titled “Everydays – The First 5000 Days” was created by Mike Winkelmann, who goes by the name Beeple. Minted as NFT last month, it consists of a collage of all of the artwork Beeple…
Venable’s elite Trademark Prosecution and Counseling Group recently announced the launch of its Wellbrand service, an innovative naming solution that leverages the firm’s trademark-law intelligence to accelerate the process of finding effective brand names. Currently available only to established clients of the Trademark practice, the Wellbrand service bridges the gap between marketing needs and legal know-how, drawing on a deep well of experience to identify names that are more likely to avoid refusal by the USPTO and challenge by third parties. How can we help you “get to yes” faster? Visit Venable.com/Wellbrand to learn more.…
Technology facilitates legal and illicit transactions alike. Advances in payments technologies and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Monero, and Zcash allow criminal enterprises to dissect, route, and reaggregate small transactions to evade detection by regulatory and enforcement agencies. This is particularly true with international transactions where, for example, the exchange from cryptocurrency to fiat currency takes place outside U.S. financial supervision. To address these challenges, the Federal Reserve Board and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN and together, Agencies) issued a joint notice of proposed rulemaking (Proposed Rule) on October 23, 2020, to amend the Recordkeeping Rule and Travel Rule under…
On July 23, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) released Interpretive Letter #1170 (Letter) confirming that safekeeping and custody of cryptocurrency and crypto-assets (collectively, cryptocurrency) are traditional banking services and, therefore, are permissible activities for national banks and federal savings associations. The Letter also provides the usual admonition that banks may provide permissible services as long as they manage the risks and comply with applicable law, which, for cryptocurrency-related services, involves additional technological and practical challenges. Banks have long provided safekeeping and custody services for their customers, and, over time, these services evolved along with the…
Introduction Are digital tokens issued by blockchain companies securities under U.S. law? Much of the industry, including several prominent law firms, has taken the position that they are not. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has consistently stated that many or even most are securities. It recently issued a “Framework” that laid out a host of criteria that will guide the agency’s analysis. With the framework and its first blockchain no-action letter, the SEC has now articulated three scenarios where a digital token may not be a security: 1) if the token is merely a store of value like Bitcoin;…
Last week the SEC offered its clearest guidance yet on when blockchain tokens and other digital assets would be classified as “securities” under U.S. securities law and subject to SEC regulation. Specifically, the SEC’s Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub) issued its first-ever “Framework for ‘Investment Contract’ Analysis of Digital Assets.” The guidance provides a much-needed framework for analyzing when a digital asset is an investment contract and when offers and sales of a digital asset are securities transactions. In short, the guidance explains how the SEC applies the Howey test to the issuance and sale…
As they say, everything’s bigger in Texas, including initial coin offerings. A Texas federal court recently unsealed a complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against a Texas-based company (the “Company”) that presents itself as the “world’s first decentralized bank” and claims to have provided “the largest ICO to date.”1 Among other things, the Company is accused of engaging in the offering of securities without properly registering with the SEC and defrauding investors in the process. Background on the Initial Coin Offering According to the SEC’s complaint (the “Complaint”), the Company was founded in March 2017 by…
CU Ledger, a consortium of U.S. credit unions, announced on Monday, March 11, that it will work with IBM to develop blockchain solutions to improve services such as identity authentication and know-your-customer (KYC) compliance. CU Ledger also indicated it is looking to blockchain to improve payments and lending. Marie Wieck, General Manager, IBM Blockchain explained that through their collaboration, “credit unions will be able to cooperate and receive shared value from quickly exchanging sensitive data in a permissioned, individually controlled, and transparent way. This decentralized approach using blockchain helps put the customer in control of their own identity.” CU Ledger…
On August 30, 2018, Andrew MacArthur and Ralph Dengler published “How to conduct a blockchain IP audit” in World Intellectual Property Review. Here is an excerpt: The rise of blockchain technology and its many applications, including banking and supply chain, continues to disrupt business. Blockchain provides the benefits of being immutable and decentralized, among others. It integrates distributed networks, cryptography, and consensus algorithms in potentially new and complex ways, forcing companies to reconsider how IP—patents, trade secrets, trademarks, trade dress, and copyright—should be optimized. This is also true as each IP measure has a different duration. Without underlying IP, the…
While industry watchers in Washington, DC eagerly await the next fintech charter pronouncement from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has quietly established itself as one of the main federal fintech regulators. The FTC was not the first federal agency active in the space—that was the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (Bureau) with Project Catalyst; and it has not been the splashiest either—the OCC probably has that honor. But with a combination of enforcement actions, industry outreach, and strategic appointments and initiatives, the FTC has developed a consistent fintech presence.…
Companies involved in global supply chain services are becoming increasingly interested in blockchain technology and how the use of this technology can enhance efficiency and security within the supply chain. Blockchain-based applications have enormous potential to transform transportation and logistics operations in the United States and worldwide. Last month at Transparency 18 in Atlanta, approximately 40 companies performed demonstrations for supply chain stakeholders from around the world exhibiting how software using blockchain and other disruptive technologies could enhance supply chain efficiency. In addition to private stakeholders, government agencies, such as various customs authorities, have expressed interest in using blockchain technology…