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Welcome to Crypto Bytes, a short briefing on some of the week’s developments in the world of crypto currencies world.

If you would like to discuss any of the points we raise below, please contact me or one of our other lawyers.  

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Claire Cummings

020 7585 1406
claire.cummings@cummingslaw.com
www.cummingslaw.com


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Cryptocurrency Needs More Regulation than other Commodities says former CFTC Chairman

In an interview with Bloomberg, Former CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler commented on the importance of protecting investors and preventing illegal activity and he stated that “pure cash cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, need more protection than frankly, even the oil markets, or corn and wheat.”  While he recommends regulation of cryptocurrencies, he also believes that blockchain technology itself should not be regulated in an effort to promote innovation.  He commented on the challenges of regulating cryptocurrencies stating that that, “It’s always a challenge…that was true when the internet came along in the 1990s…but I don’t think that means we give up.”  (Source: “Cryptocurrency Needs More Regulation than other Commodities: Fmr. CFTC Chair”, 16 October 2018, available at https://www.ccn.com/cryptocurrency-needs-more-regulation-than-other-commodities-fmr-cftc-chair/).


 

Cummings’ Take:  

This is not the first time that Mr. Gensler has commented on cryptocurrencies.  He has previously stated his position that in order for blockchain technology to really work, it needs to come within the public policy framework.  He believes that such a framework can promote innovation while simultaneously protecting investors and ensuring market integrity.  This is consistent with the SEC’s position that ICO tokens classify as securities and the US Justice Department is coordinating with the SEC and CFTC over future cryptocurrency regulations.  It is likely that we will soon see more a more consistent regulatory approach to cryptocurrencies in the US.


block-bullet.jpg Gary Cohn has joined a blockchain startup as an adviser
 
Former chief economic aide to President Donald Trump and president of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Gary Cohn, will serve as an adviser to blockchain-technology startup Spring Labs.  Spring Labs wants to use DLT to allow lenders and data providers to exchange credit and identity information more efficiently and hopes that Cohn will help them provide solutions that are regulatory compliant. (Source: “Gary Cohn has joined a blockchain startup as an adviser”, 12 October 2018, available at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-12/gary-cohn-joins-blockchain-startup-spring-labs-as-adviser).

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Fidelity launches cryptocurrency trading platform

The new trading platform, Fidelity Digital Asset Services LLC, will allow both trading and custody services to hedge funds, family offices and other market participants.  Fidelity hopes that this new platform will make digital assets more accessible to investors and provide investors with tools to make digital assets easier to understand and use.  (Source: “Fidelity launches cryptocurrency trading platform”, 15 October 2018, available at https://www.marketwatch.com/story/fidelity-launches-cryptocurrency-trading-platform-2018-10-15.)


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Cryptocurrencies jump as tether falls

The price of major digital currencies such as bitcoin, ether and XRP rose by about 7% higher on Monday as stablecoin tether fell more than 2%.  Questions about whether Tether Limited actually holds enough fiat reserves to match the amount of tether tokens in circulation and rumours about a possible delisting of tether on various exchanges have contributed to the decreased price of tether, despite Tether Limited’s claim that it does have enough reserves.  
 (Source: “Major cryptocurrencies jump as the controversial dollar-pegged token tether falls”, 15 October 2018, available at https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/15/bitcoin-other-cryptocurrencies-jump-as-dollar-pegged-tether-falls.html).


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World Bank President Talks Blockchain’s Huge Potential At IMF Event
 

At a news conference during the annual meetings of the IMF, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said that Blockchain technology has huge potential and embracing this technology is essential.  He noted that the World Bank Group had not kept up with the latest developments and its failure to do so has been disadvantageous to its clients.  He commented on the future potential of DLT stating “We think distributed ledger [technology] has real potential and we issued the first blockchain bond in August where we created, allocated, transferred, and managed the entire bond through blockchain technology.”  He also pointed out the use of the technology for fighting corruption and improving financial inclusion. (Source: “World Bank President Talks Blockchain’s Huge Potential At International Monetary Fund (IMF) Event”, 12 October 2018, available at https://bitcoinexchangeguide.com/world-bank-president-talks-blockchains-huge-potential-at-international-monetary-fund-imf-event/).


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Blockchain could be used to stop the sale of illegal art and bring liquidity to this very illiquid asset

The European Fine Art Foundation reported that “More and more of the art world is interested in blockchain technology…[to] help establish artwork authenticity and combat fraud and offshore dealings”.  Blockchain could serve as a source of verifying the authenticity and ownership of a work of art through the use of timestamps on transactions and cryptographic signatures. In addition to providing security in the art marketplace, blockchain is also been used as both the subject of art and a medium. (Source: “Is blockchain the future of art? Four experts weigh in”, available at https://www.artbasel.com/news/blockchain-artworld-cryptocurrency-cryptokitties).


 

TeamBlockchain’s take:

The art world is taking notice of blockchain – both as a means of security and as art itself.  75 percent of auction houses, 33 percent of dealers, and 20 percent of galleries intend to utilize blockchain within the next five-years.  Blockchain provides the ability to attach a tamper-proof label so one can track where the work of art is located.  Blockchain technology is being used to help stop the illegal sale of works of art and it is also possible to tokenise the ownership of works of art thereby offering the ability for investors to own a percentage of unique and individual art pieces and allow the owners to raise capital from their holdings without selling the actual piece.


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Another country looks to harness the power of Blockchain

Rojava, also known as the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, is looking to cryptocurrency as a means to overcome economic sanctions.  Erselan Serdem, a leader of Rojava's technological development program, told CoinDesk that alongside a system of self-governing communes, Rojava plans to implement new technological academies, with a particular emphasis on cryptography and cryptocurrency.  Initial steps will be to equip local currency exchanges with bitcoin, provide locals with digital wallet software, and deploy payment infrastructures.  Rojava is also contemplating using blockchain in areas beyond finance just as government infrastructure.  Serdem said "With technologies like blockchain we can have a system, like a network, between all the communes we're going to create in the future” and "With the base of the blockchain we can create a process of self administration. We can distribute all the roles in the society." (Source: “A War-Torn Country in Syria Will Use Crypto to Power an Anarchist State”, 11 October 2018, available at https://www.coindesk.com/a-war-torn-country-in-syria-will-use-crypto-to-power-an-anarchist-state/).


 

TeamBlockchain’s Take:

Interesting as Cryptocurrencies decline in in value we are seeing multinational organisations and governments look at embracing blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.  It is rather ironic that blockchain was originally used to transfer assets with anonymity outside of the banking system, which sometimes led to people using Bitcoin for nefarious activities.  We now have governments using the same technology to combat fraud and fight the black economy that is so prevalent in many countries. 
 


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Fieldfisher and TeamBlockchain launch Blockchain and Crypto Telephone Surgery to offer rapid bespoke legal advice to businesses in the cryptocurrency and digital payment platforms sector

International law firm Fieldfisher and consultancy TeamBlockchain have launched a Blockchain and Crypto Telephone Surgery for companies looking for expert professional guidance on cryptocurrency and digital payments.   Focusing primarily on issues affecting tokenisation and distributed ledger financial technologies (fintech), the surgery will also offer advice and insights on the wider fintech universe.  Fieldfisher partners and TeamBlockchain consultants will give advice on different regulatory and legal issues in the context of specific industries, supported by relevant, real life examples of how organisations are using blockchain and the increasing role of cryptocurrency in digital business.  Surgery sessions will last between 40 minutes, in the form of one-on-one appointments or small group discussions, as clients prefer. Sessions will be interactive, enabling participants to get a better understanding of the subjects under discussion.  Clients will be asked to provide some prior briefing on their sector of interest, objectives and concerns in order to maximise the benefits they receive from surgery appointments.  This type of consultative support has proved helpful for professional advisors and their clients, who want to be more active in the cryptocurrency and blockchain sectors but lack the in-house skills to realise their ambitions. 
 
Fieldfisher and TeamBlockchain's experts are independent advisors who provide clients with honest, pragmatic advice on a range of fintech issues day-to-day.   These surgeries are designed to provide, swift, tailored advice on an as-need, no obligation basis, with follow-up support available as required.  The cost of each surgery is £500 +VAT and includes a pre-briefing, phone consultation and follow-up materials. For more information, please contact one of the Surgery Team: claire.cummings@cummingslaw.com; tim.bird@fieldfisher.com; and jonny.fry@teamblockchain.net.


 

 


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Cummings

Tel: + 44 20 7585 1406
Mob: + 44 7734 057 327

Cummings Law
42 Brook Street
London Greater London W1K 5DB
United Kingdom

www.cummingslaw.com

19 12 2018

 
 

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