State and federal regulators are opposing a billion-dollar deal between the cryptocurrency exchange Binance.US and the bankrupt cryptocurrency lender Voyager. The regulatory intervention is part of an ongoing struggle between Binance, the ultra-dominant cryptocurrency exchange, and U.S. regulators. Tensions between the two appear to be nearing a boiling point. The dispute also highlights an American regulatory environment that is increasingly hostile toward the cryptocurrency industry writ large, particularly in the wake of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange collapse.
Since the beginning of 2023, the cryptocurrency market has faced legal action from multiple U.S. agencies in efforts to control a sector that, until recently, mostly operated beyond the bounds of conventional financial regulation. As a result of the executive order issued by the Biden Administration in March 2022, various federal agencies examined the risk and benefits of cryptocurrencies and have issued official reports. These reports have led to coordinated action against the crypto market. The administration aims to “ensure that cryptocurrencies cannot undermine financial stability, to protect investors, and to hold bad actors accountable.” In their attempts to promote regulation, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of Treasury, have acted against the crypto market on several fronts, frightening off bank allies, suing crypto firms for violating investor protection laws, and targeting exchanges connected to money laundering.
On June 22nd, ten-year-old Yuna was reported missing by her teachers. Just one week later, the police discovered a sedan in the southernmost coast of South Korea, two hours away from Yuna’s home. The three bodies recovered belonged to Yuna and her parents, both in their thirties. The police suspected suicide. Among the parent’s last online searches included “LUNA,” “sleeping pills,” and “how to commit suicide.” Evidence further suggested that Yuna’s parents were unemployed, invested their lives savings into the cryptocurrency market, and struggled from financial debt of $100,000.
On Wednesday, April 6, 2022, Senator Pat Toomey of Virginia released a discussion draft of the Stablecoin Transparency of Reserves and Uniform Safe Transactions Act of 2022, also known as the Stablecoin TRUST Act (“the TRUST Act”). This new legislation, introduced in the United States Senate, aims to create a three-pronged regulatory framework for the issuers of stablecoins in the United States. Like similar bills on the topic of stablecoin, such as the Stablecoin Innovation and Protection Act of 2022, the bill is short at only fourteen pages long. Where the bills differ is immediately noted in the more robust definitions section of the TRUST Act which lays out a six-part definition of “payment stablecoins” that covers the design intent of a stablecoin, who can issue a stablecoin, whether the holder can inherently earn interest, and where the stablecoin transactions are recorded.
The popularity of NFTs has been rapidly increasing over the past year, but regulations and guidance relating to the tax consequences of buying and selling NFTs has been slow to keep up. Despite also living on the blockchain, NFTs and cryptocurrencies are not created equally in the eyes of the IRS. The IRS has addressed the rising popularity of cryptocurrencies and published guidance for crypto-investors but has not yet published any specific guidance for NFTs. This leaves many investors in a position of uncertainty regarding the tax consequences of their investments.
On Tuesday, February 15, 2022, Congressman Josh Gottheimer released a draft of the Stablecoin Innovation and Protection Act of 2022 (“the bill”). This legislation attempts to both define stablecoins as well as provide a legal framework in which the issuers and users of stablecoins can safely and legally operate. The bill is surprisingly brief, only nine pages long, but Gottheimer claims that it will provide greater direction and certainty to the marketplace in order to boost innovation while also protecting consumers.
Cryptocurrency has an air of mystery about it. It seemingly burst onto the scene a decade ago, and while some of the stories about it may seem outlandish, many of them are true. The first known Bitcoin purchase was for two pizzas and prices can fluctuate wildly based off of tweets. With the origins of such a thing being the subject of internet humor and its value being so volatile, what level of attention and care is due to it?
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are emerging digital assets with numerous rights and obligations. However, regulations and laws in the United States are only barely beginning to catch up, and NFTs consume nearly as much energy as a small country. Without NFT regulation, climate change catastrophes are likely to be evident sooner than expected.
In October 2021, the cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase released a proposal for a regulatory framework that would designate a single regulator for the digital asset markets. This proposal comes less than a month after Coinbase’s CEO had a public meltdown on Twitter after the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) sent the firm a Wells Notice, a warning of potential litigation, about their planned cryptocurrency lending platform allegedly violating securities regulations. As the digital asset market grows and the financial institutions involved become more influential, regulators continue to struggle with jurisdictional and definitional questions around the new products.
Earlier this year, Bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies writ large, occupied many financial headlines as onlookers began to divert their attention to the “unexplained” rise, and subsequent fall in the price of one the more popular (and maiden) cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin. Naturally, because many of the onlookers didn’t realize what Bitcoin was (or is), the media took lead on the story. Earlier this month, Bitcoin began to make its appearance in headlines, once again.