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.
New investment vehicles and opportunities have flooded the financial services industry over the past few decades, but arguably none have grown in popularity at a rate comparable to cryptocurrency. A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency typically based on a decentralized network that utilizes blockchain technology. In other words, this decentralized feature allows a network of users to verify and record transactions without relying on any central authority, which permits the cryptocurrency to exist without government interference.
On January 4th, 2023, the New York State Department of Financial Services made public that a $100 million settlement with the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc. (Coinbase) has been agreed to. The settlement follows an enforcement action imposed this past August aiming to regulate cryptocurrencies. With a lot of discussion happening given the recent collapse of FTX and anti-money laundering violations by Robinhood Markets, this action begs the question: should the digital currency industry be regulated nationwide and, if so, what should these regulatory agendas look like?
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.
Despite last-ditch efforts by lobbyists for the crypto community, controversial new cryptocurrency tax requirements buried in the massive bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the US Senate in early August will likely remain unaltered by the House which has committed to vote on the $1 trillion dollar bill by September 27, 2021. The new reporting rules are sending ripples of concern through the cryptocurrency industry and even have some national-security officials worried that their breadth and overreach will only succeed in pushing illicit activities and actors further underground. Overly aggressive regulations risk forcing illegal activity “deeper into anonymizing methods and corners of the internet that would make it more difficult for law enforcement,” according to Jeremy Sheridan, assistant director of the U.S. Secret Service’s investigations office. Moreover, overregulation could also have a chilling effect on domestic innovation and result in the U.S. falling behind other countries that adopt laws and regulations that are more favorable to new technologies. “The U.S. has to make a decision if it wants to be a center of. . . transformational technology that can bring more people into the financial ecosystem. . . [or] get left behind,” said Sigal Mandelker, a former undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence in the Treasury Department. Mandelker is now with a private venture capital firm which invests in the crypto markets.