Smart Money for the People: Using Financial Innovation and Technology to Promote ESG

By: Frank Emmert Traditional fiat currencies managed by governments and central banks have had negative impacts on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals. Central banks in mature democracies pursue policies that prioritize economic growth and high employment. However, these policies often lead to inflation, eroding the savings and pension funds of average citizens and encouraging risky behavior by banks and entrepreneurs. The pursuit of endless growth is socially and environmentally unsustainable. Leaders in developing countries and dictatorships use expansive monetary policy to maintain their positions, further exacerbating the situation. Convertible fiat currencies moving across borders in untraceable transactions evade regulation and taxation, with trillions hidden in offshore tax havens. Virtual or crypto currencies on a blockchain can address these issues. Transactions on a public blockchain are transparent, traceable, and immutable, and monetary policy is controlled by algorithms, free from political influence. However, existing crypto currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have failed to align with ESG goals and have harmed the environment. They favor large capital holders and allow illicit money movements. Blockchain technology can be used differently, however. A virtual currency with strong governance, pegged to a currency basket, could be designed to build trust and appreciate in value, promoting

Tribal Lending After Gingras

By: Max King   Online payday lenders pose serious risks for consumers. Yet, for years, these lending companies have skirted state regulation by pleading tribal sovereign immunity. Under this doctrine, entities that are so affiliated with tribal nations that they are “an arm of the tribe” are immune from suit. Without comprehensive federal regulation, tribal sovereign immunity has served as a trump card at the pleading state for online payday lenders. The Note argues that change may be on the horizon. In the recent decision Gingras v. Think Finance, the Second Circuit held that the Supreme Court’s holding in Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community permitted injunctive suits against tribal affiliates, acting in their official capacity off reservation, based on state law. If other courts adopt the Second Circuit’s reasoning, states and consumers will be far better equipped to tackle online payday lenders. Download Full Article (PDF) Cite: 19 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 122

Consumers Beware: How Are Your Favorite “Free” Investment Apps Regulated?

By: Siqi Wang The proliferation of free or low-cost investment apps has disrupted the financial industry in recent years. Major brokerage firms have been pressured to go to zero fees due to intense competition from their fintech counterparts. While these apps have extended their products and services to those underserved by traditional brokers, some of their practices raise consumer protection concerns. Namely, the practice of “payment for order flow,” which helps fintech startups sustain a zero-commission model, could lead to subordinating customers’ best interest to market makers who acquire their retail orders from these fintech startups. Further, “cash management accounts,” newly popular among fintech startups with an ambition to compete with chartered banks raise questions about the use of idle customer assets and the protections afforded to these accounts in case of liquidation. This Note considers the products and services of these investment apps in the context of existing U.S. regulations and regulators for broker-dealers, investment advisors, and chartered banks. To illustrate this, this Note analyzes the potential consumer financial protection issues arising out of these fintech-based investment platforms’ distinctive business models and the services they provide. Download Full Article (PDF) Cite: 19 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 43

SEC Reporting Requirements for Publicly Traded Companies Should Not be Expanded Despite Advancements in Information Technology

By: Lindsey Kell Advancements in information technology allow information to be collected and analyzed quickly within a corporation. As a result, technology also allows the quicker release of information to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC)—much quicker than the Form 10-K and Form 10-Q releases that are currently required for publicly traded companies. Although publicly traded companies must also disclose certain significant events in Form 8-K, the reporting requirements for publicly traded companies are not nearly as expansive as they could be considering the easy access these companies have to their business information. Even with this in mind, the SEC is well into a reevaluation of Regulation S-K primarily because requirements have accreted over time to become not just burdensome to companies but also blinding to investors who are overwhelmed by the volume of disclosure thrown at them. This paper expounds on these arguments and posits additional arguments for why the SEC should not expand reporting requirements for publicly traded companies. Specifically, expanded requirements are associated with high compliance costs; market forces already induce higher-quality disclosures; the more information companies file with the SEC, the more advantages they give to their competitors; and both the liability concerns and the doctrinal issues

The Frontiers of Peer-to-Peer Lending: Thinking About a New Regulatory Approach

By: William S. Warren The growth of online alternative lending presents several advantages for both those seeking credit and those with excess capital to lend. Over the past decade, several different models of peer-to-peer lending have emerged in the US and U.K. Each of these models has developed in response to the different regulatory system it faces, which has led to the models’ different risk and reward profiles. However, the current regulatory framework for regulating peer-to-peer lending, especially in the U.S., leaves much to be desired. The inadequate regulatory regime not only hampers the potential for growth and further innovation in the industry, but also creates risks for consumers, lenders, and, as the sector grows, entire markets. There is no clear or easy answer as to the optimal regulatory regime, but regulators should at least consider the basic functions of peer-to-peer lending and how to address risks with a more comprehensive and sensible model for regulation. Download Full Article (PDF) Cite: 14 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 298

Periodic Reporting in a Continuous World: The Correlating Evolution of Technology and Financial Reporting

By: Daniel C. Rowe The evolution of technology has drastically altered what it means to be a reporting company in the eyes of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Technological development has also played a large role in the shifting trend from periodic reporting to continuous reporting, as is particularly apparent in the evolution of the Form 8-K. It is true that the increasingly technological world of continuous reporting does not come without disadvantages. This issue brief, however, argues that despite the increased risks and challenges of continuous reporting, its net effect on disclosure, and the investing community generally, is positive. With that benefit in mind, this paper further suggests four new amendments to the Form 8-K. Download Full Article (PDF) Cite: 13 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 248