On July 20, 2021, New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General announced that the State’s Bureau of Securities issued a Summary Cease and Desist Order to stop BlockFi, Inc. from selling unregistered securities in the form of interest-bearing cryptocurrency accounts. While commentators frequently focus on the enforcement activities of the Securities and Exchange Commission in the crypto space, New Jersey’s action against DeFi platform BlockFi serves as a reminder that state securities regulators also actively police this marketplace.
Mark Alexander Hopkins, known as “Doctor Bitcoin,” pled guilty in the Northern District of Texas on June 29, 2021, to illegally operating a cash-to-cryptocurrency conversion business. According to a press release from the Department of Justice (DOJ), Hopkins pled guilty to one count of operation of an unlicensed money transmitter business.
On May 28, 2021, President Biden released some of the legislative items that would be added by his American Families Plan, which includes a provision that could impact tax information reporting for cryptocurrency asset exchanges and custodians. If enacted, this proposal could require substantial effort to implement and administer.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, recently announced the organization of the Committee’s Digital Assets Working Group. At this time, the working group’s roster appears limited to Democratic Members.
On June 10, 2021, the Texas Department of Banking issued an industry notice addressing the authority of Texas state-chartered banks to provide virtual currency services to customers. This is a notable development as Texas has the most state-chartered banks of any state in the country.
In the past month, the Federal Reserve, FDIC and OCC have each detailed their upcoming focus on digital asset activities in the banking industry. So far, state banking regulators have often outpaced their federal counterparts in terms of issuing formal regulations and guidance around digital assets. Many banks are waiting to explore potential digital asset products and services until the functional federal bank regulators provide concrete guidance to complete the picture. Continue Reading Federal Bank Regulators Move to Provide Further Guidance on Digital Asset Activities
On May 20, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced a proposal that would require any cryptocurrency transaction of $10,000 or more to be reported to the Internal Review Service. As a supplement to President Biden’s American Families Plan, which focuses on investments in American children and families, the Treasury detailed the cryptocurrency reporting requirement and other tax compliance initiatives in a new report titled The American Families Plan Tax Compliance Agenda. Continue Reading U.S. Treasury Announces Cryptocurrency Reporting Requirements
On May 11, 2021, staff in the Division of Investment Management (IM) at the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a statement (the Statement) on “Funds Registered Under the Investment Company Act Investing in the Bitcoin Futures Market.” The Statement provides a series of warnings to retail investors about certain risks associated with investments in registered mutual funds whose portfolios include Bitcoin futures. But the Statement also provides further insight into the way SEC staff analyze the market for Bitcoin Futures more broadly.
In a wide-ranging hearing before the House Financial Services Committee on May 6, 2021, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler addressed a number of SEC regulatory priorities, including the recent short-squeeze on so-called “meme stocks,” gamification of securities trading, broker-dealer payment for order flow, and climate change disclosure. During his first testimony before Congress as SEC chair, Gensler also answered a series of questions on cryptocurrency and digital asset regulation. The statements on crypto regulation begin to shed some light on his official approach to regulating the digital asset security ecosystem.
A recent rulemaking petition to the SEC requests that the agency issue a concept release on nonfungible tokens, or NFTs. The petition is hopeful that an SEC rulemaking paired with an opportunity for public input will resolve regulatory uncertainty for parties looking to create NFTs and facilitate their sale. Continue Reading Rulemaking Petition Seeks SEC Guidance on NFTs