Allowing me to extend my August hiatus by a week, Alan Cohn hosts the 229th episode of The Cyberlaw Podcast. He takes a deep dive into all things blockchain and cryptocurrency discussing recent regulatory developments and best practices for users of exchanges.
The episode begins by looking at the landmark decision coming out of the New York Eastern District Court in favor of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Charles Mills provides an overview of the recent New York federal court decision and CFTC victory against Cabbage Tech, Corp. d/b/a Coin Drop Markets and Patrick K. McDonnell of Staten Island, New York, ordering McDonnell to pay over $1.1 million in civil monetary penalties and restitution in connection with a lawsuit brought by the CFTC alleging fraud in connection with virtual currencies, including Bitcoin and Litecoin. In addition, Charles presents a more general overview of CFTC regulations.
Claire Blakey presents a timeline of the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) recent actions regarding ETFs. On August 23, 2018, SEC announced that it would reconsider a decision to reject nine Bitcoin-based exchange traded funds. Earlier this month, SEC staff delayed a decision on the SolidX proposal, stating it needs more time to consider the proposal – the deadline for this decision is September 30, 2018. Claire also discusses CBOE’s filing with SEC for a bitcoin ETF.
Evan Abrams highlights the four takeaways from the Department of Treasury’s Financial Enforcement Network (FinCEN) director’s speech on cryptocurrency. On August 9, 2018, FinCEN Director Kenneth Blanco delivered a speech on the agency’s approach to cryptocurrency where he made a few unexpected remarks. Evan states that this speech offered helpful clarifications and insights, but also left a number of important questions unanswered. In addition, Evan discusses the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s proposed charter for online lenders and other FinTech companies in the coming months.
Finally, Maury Shenk covers the recent reports about the EU finance ministers’ plan to discuss the possibility of cryptocurrency regulation at a meeting in early September. As part of a leaked confidential note, it is expected that EU ministers will discuss anti-money laundering issues amongst other things. Alan and Maury note that while the EU takes a heavier regulatory approach than the US in this area, the process is slow moving but steadily developing. In addition, Maury discusses the European Blockchain Partnership, describing it as an integrated effort for a great blockchain future.
For the interview, the Steptoe team was joined by Sarah Compani, Legal Counsel at Bitfinex. Bitfinex is a full-featured spot trading platform for major digital assets and cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and many more. Bitfinex offers leveraged margin trading through a peer-to-peer funding market, allowing users to securely trade with up to 3.3-times leverage. Sarah took us through the best security practices for users of exchanges, particularly focusing on security settings that users can customize, such as Google Authenticator 2FA, Universal 2nd Factor (U2F), and IP address whitelisting. Sarah provides listeners with three takeaways as she responds to Alan’s questions regarding the future of exchanges, the Bitfinex platform, and potential challenges going forward.
As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!