By: Lindsay Martin Ripple Labs provides an international payment network that allows financial institutions to transfer money more cheaply and quickly than traditional international payments. Ripple’s native digital currency, XRP, supports global payments by acting as intermediate currency between different currencies, eliminating correspondent bank’s need to hold deposits in foreign currencies. In an ongoing class action lawsuit, XRP purchasers claim that the digital asset qualifies as a security under federal securities laws and that Ripple illegally offered and sold XRP as an unregistered security. Given Ripple’s rising prominence as a tool for financial institutions, this pending case will impact cryptocurrency markets and international payments. Because XRP is most likely a security subject to regulation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), this matter poses an existential threat to the Ripple network. This note examines the legal issues leading up to the Ripple litigation and explains why XRP is most likely a security. It concludes by discussing the SEC’s likely approach to Ripple’s unregistered Initial Coin Offering (ICO). Download Full Article (PDF) Cite: 19 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 1
Defining and Regulating Cryptocurrency: Fake Internet Money or Legitimate Medium of Exchange?
By: Susan Alkadri Digitalization makes almost everything quicker, sleeker, and more efficient. Many argue cryptocurrency is the future of money and payment transfers. This paper explores how the unique nature of cryptocurrencies creates barriers to a strict application of traditional regulatory strategies. Indeed, state and federal regulators remain uncertain if and how they can regulate this cutting-edge technology. Cryptocurrency businesses face difficulty navigating the unclear regulatory landscape, and consumers frequently fall prey to misinformation. To reconcile these concerns, this paper asserts cryptocurrency functions as “currency” or “money” and should be treated as such for regulatory purposes. It also proposes each state implement a uniform cryptocurrency-specific framework following the Uniform Regulation of Virtual-Currency Business Act. Such a harmonious approach would reduce compliance costs for cryptocurrency businesses, protect consumers, and provide satisfactory state and federal oversight. Download Full Article (PDF) Cite: 17 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 71
Initial Coin Offerings: Innovation, Democratization, and the SEC
By: Jay Preston Initial coin offerings are a source of controversy in the world of startup fundraising, and their legality is, at best, an open question. Amid soaring valuations and rumors of looming SEC action, investors and issuers alike are scrambling to forge a path forward for the token-based startups of tomorrow. While issuers may soon be forced to comply with United States securities laws, the existing regime is inadequate because it does not allow startups to capture the unique benefits of coin sales and, more importantly, it does not allow eager American investors to take part in funding the world’s next generation of technology companies. Download Full Article (PDF) Cite: 16 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 318
Collection of Cryptocurrency Customer-Information: Tax Enforcement Mechanism or Invasion of Privacy?
By: Austin Elliott After granting permission to the Internal Revenue Service to serve a digital exchange company a summons for user information, the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California created some uncertainty regarding the privacy of cryptocurrencies. The IRS views this information gathering as necessary for monitoring compliance with Notice 2014-21, which classifies cryptocurrencies as property for tax purposes. Cryptocurrency users, however, view the attempt for information as an infringement on their privacy rights and are seeking legal protection. This Issue Brief investigates the future tax implications of Notice 2014-21 and considers possible routes the cryptocurrency market can take to avoid the burden of capital gains taxes. Further, this Issue Brief attempts to uncover the validity of the privacy claims made against the customer information summons and will recommend alternative actions for the IRS to take regardless of whether it succeeds in obtaining the information. Download Full Article (PDF) Cite: 16 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 1