Global Fintech & Digital Assets Blog

Responsible Financial Innovation Act Offers Clarity, Safeguards for Digital Assets — CFTC and Commodities

Posted in Blockchain, Cryptoassets

The CFTC would take center stage in the regulation of spot digital asset markets under Title IV of the RFIA.

 By Yvette D. Valdez, Adam Bruce Fovent, and Emily Viola

Latham & Watkins presents a blog series on the Responsible Financial Innovation Act, which was introduced in the US Senate on June 10, 2022, to create a framework for digital assets, cryptocurrency, and blockchain technology. This third post in the series covers CFTC and commodities regulatory issues.

Title IV of the Responsible Financial Innovation Act ( RFIA) is arguably the keystone of the proposed regulatory framework and would make various amendments to the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA), ultimately giving the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) principal regulatory authority over digital asset markets. Continue Reading

Responsible Financial Innovation Act Offers Clarity, Safeguards for Digital Assets — Consumer Protection and State Money Transmission Laws

Posted in Blockchain, Cryptoassets

The RFIA would define consumer protection standards for digital assets and introduce new requirements regarding digital asset use in interstate money transfers.

By Jenny Cieplak, Parag Patel, Barrie VanBrackle, and Deric Behar

Latham & Watkins presents a blog series on the Responsible Financial Innovation Act, which was introduced in the US Senate on June 10, 2022, to create a framework for digital assets, cryptocurrency, and blockchain technology. This second post in the series covers consumer protection and state money transmission laws.

Consumer Protection: Disclosures

Consumer Protection issues are covered in Title V of the bill (Responsible Consumer Protections) of the Responsible Financial Innovation Act (RFIA). The RFIA’s customer protection standards are to be enforced by the federal or state licensing, registration, or chartering authority of a digital asset intermediary, or by the appropriate state or federal banking supervisor if a depository institution or other financial institution. Continue Reading

Responsible Financial Innovation Act Offers Clarity, Safeguards for Digital Assets — SEC and Securities

Posted in Cryptoassets

The RFIA would enact a rebuttable presumption that an ancillary asset in connection with an investment contract is a commodity.

By Marlon Q. Paz, Stephen P. Wink, Jenny Cieplak, and Deric Behar

Latham & Watkins presents a blog series on the Responsible Financial Innovation Act, which was introduced in the US Senate on June 10, 2022, to create a framework for digital assets, cryptocurrency, and blockchain technology. This first post in the series covers SEC and securities issues.

Securities issues are covered in Title III (Responsible Securities Innovation) of the Responsible Financial Innovation Act (RFIA). The RFIA would add a new Section 41 to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Securities Offerings Involving Certain Intangible Assets) that would provide much-needed statutory clarity on the allocation of regulatory jurisdiction over digital assets. Continue Reading

Responsible Financial Innovation Act Offers Clarity, Safeguards for Digital Assets

Posted in Cryptoassets

The RFIA is the most wide-ranging crypto bill yet.

Latham & Watkins presents a blog series on the Responsible Financial Innovation Act, which was introduced in the US Senate on June 10, 2022, to create a framework for digital assets, cryptocurrency, and blockchain technology. 

On June 10, 2022, US Senators Cynthia Lummis from the Senate Banking Committee and Kirsten Gillibrand from the Senate Agriculture Committee introduced legislation to create a framework for digital assets, cryptocurrency, and blockchain technology. The much-anticipated bipartisan bill, titled the Responsible Financial Innovation Act (RFIA), is the most ambitious digital asset bill yet put forward to Congress, and covers a broad range of topics. The legislation is designed to balance innovation and responsibility, and seeks to safely integrate digital assets into the existing regulatory fold through definitional and jurisdictional clarity. Continue Reading

Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission Issues Statement on NFTs

Posted in Non-Fungible Tokens

The SFC issued a statement to clarify its regulatory approach in relation to non-fungible tokens and remind investors of related risks.

By Simon Hawkins, Farhana Sharmeen, Adrian Fong, Gen Huong Tan and Shirley Wong

On 6 June 2022, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) issued a statement drawing attention to the risks associated with investing in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and summarising the legal and regulatory requirements applicable to NFTs.

This follows recent guidance from Hong Kong’s banking, securities, and insurance regulators to financial institutions looking to undertake virtual asset activities (see Latham’s Client Alert Hong Kong’s New Crypto Regulatory Framework to Facilitate Greater Institutional Participation). Together, the statement and guidance demonstrate that the regulators are continuing to look closely at the digital asset space. Continue Reading

UK High Court Rules on Liability of Bitcoin Software Developers

Posted in Cryptoassets

The Court held that software developers do not owe a duty of care to bitcoin owners who lost their private keys.

By Christian F. McDermott, Andrew C. Moyle, and Nara Yoo

In Tulip Trading Ltd (TTL) v. Bitcoin Association for BSV and others, TTL claimed that personal computers of its CEO, Dr. Craig Wright, were hacked and the encrypted private keys to two addresses holding around 111,000 bitcoin (currently worth over £3.6 billion) belonging to TTL were stolen. TTL also claimed that the hackers deleted copies of the keys, preventing Dr. Wright and TTL from accessing the digital assets at those addresses.

TTL brought action against 16 core developers (Developers) that allegedly control the software in respect of the four relevant digital asset networks (Networks), consisting of one “original” network and three subsequent blockchain copies. In this case, the Court looked at the extent of the Developer’s liability to TTL for the stolen/lost keys. Continue Reading

FRB Again Highlights Risks in the Stablecoin Sector

Posted in Cryptoassets

Treasury officials believe congressional action is “highly appropriate” this year to address the risks that the latest financial stability report underscores.

By Alan W. Avery, Pia Naib, and Deric Behar

On May 9, 2022, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB) published its semi-annual Financial Stability Report (Report). The Report, which covers a variety of topics, briefly repeated some familiar warnings regarding digital assets and potential risks to the wider financial system. In particular, the FRB expressed concern about funding risks posed by stablecoins. Continue Reading

California Executive Order Foreshadows Stronger Regulation of Digital Assets

Posted in Blockchain, Cryptoassets

The Executive Order aims to strengthen consumer protection and cultivate innovation in digital assets and related financial products and services.

By Christopher D. Frey, Scott D. Joiner, Barrie VanBrackle, Katherine A. Sawyer, and Scott Kanchuger*

On May 4, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order (California Order) calling upon California state agencies to develop stronger regulatory and enforcement mechanisms for blockchain technology, cryptoassets, and related financial products and services. Recognizing the historical costs of reactive government regulation for new technologies, the California Order seeks to draw upon the benefits of early engagement by public institutions to “manage emerging risks and opportunities, with the twin goals of strengthening consumer financial protection and cultivating responsible innovation.”

The California Order is the first of its kind in any state and follows President Biden’s March 2022 Executive Order on Digital Assets, which calls for greater federal regulation and enforcement activity over digital assets and related technologies. The California Order aims to create a “transparent and consistent business environment for companies operating in blockchain … that harmonizes federal and California laws” and “balances the benefits and risks to consumers.” Governor Newsom ordered California state agencies to “work with, and concurrently to, the federal government” to “establish a comprehensive, thoughtful, and harmonized regulatory and business environment for crypto assets.” Continue Reading

Decentralized Autonomous Organizations: Piercing the Digital Veil

Posted in Cryptoassets

A complaint filed in federal court will test the boundaries of protection from liability for individuals behind decentralized autonomous organizations.

By Stephen P. WinkNima H. Mohebbi, Adam Zuckerman, and Deric Behar

On May 2, 2022, a putative class action was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of California against the bZx protocol decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), the DAO’s two individual co-founders, two limited liability corporations (LLCs) that invested in the DAO and participated in its governance, and several other associated entities. DAOs are (in theory) organizations without a centralized leadership structure like traditional corporations or other limited liability entities. Their governance is generally driven by the coded terms of smart contracts maintained on a blockchain ledger, rather than top-down by a management team. And rather than having a hierarchy of control, DAO stakeholders with tokenized voting rights are typically considered “equals” in which one token equals one vote. Continue Reading

Rising Regulation of Fintech Innovation — Implications for PE Investments

Posted in Cryptoassets, Fintech Regulation

Assertive regulators are bringing greater clarity and new challenges as they step up oversight of fintech innovation.

By Stuart DavisTom D. EvansNicola HiggsChristian F. McDermottDavid J. WalkerBrett CarrCatherine Campbell, and Charlotte Collins

As the fast-growing fintech industry thrives, the sector has begun to attract greater regulatory scrutiny. We expect new legal and regulatory focus and oversight of those players operating on the unregulated perimeter of financial services.

While the level of supervision is set to increase and pose challenges for industry participants, a more robust regulatory environment could play into the hands of PE buyers and create opportunities for portfolio companies best able to navigate this rising regulation. In our view, PE firms must pay heed to the tone of more assertive regulators, but that approach coupled with new regulation will create a space in which firms in nascent fintech verticals can legitimately pursue their aims with greater certainty, no longer looking over their shoulders.

While the UK government is keen to stress that the new regulation will be applied proportionately, proposals are likely to result in the redirection of resources and attention of firms, and buyout firms should remain alert to changes that may impact a range of fintech investments. Continue Reading

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