On January 16, 2020, Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-Washington) and David Schweikert (R-Arizona) introduced H.R. 5635, the Virtual Currency Tax Fairness Act of 2020. Under current IRS guidance, taxpayers who sell virtual currency must recognize any capital gain or loss on the sale, subject to any limitations on the deductibility of capital losses. Taxpayers can also recognize gains due to fluctuations in exchange rates between virtual currencies and fiat currencies.
Continue Reading Congress Considers Virtual Currency Tax Fairness Act

In an investor alert issued on January 14, 2020, staff in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy warned investors in initial exchange offerings (IEOs) to “use caution before investing  . . . through online trading platforms.”  According to the SEC staff, “Claims of new technologies and financial products, such as those associated with digital asset offerings, and claims that IEOs are vetted by trading platforms, can be used improperly to entice investors with the false promise of high returns in a new investment space.”
Continue Reading SEC Cautions Investors About Initial Exchange Offerings

In a recent op-ed, Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s chief economist, posited that “digital currencies will not displace the dominant dollar.” In particular, the dollar’s status is supported by the “institutions, rule of law, and credible investor protection” that the United States provides. She also expressed her view that a synthetic hegemonic currency—a digital basket of reserve currencies recently proposed by outgoing Bank of England governor Mark Carney—faces steep obstacles to implementation. While the world would benefit from a greater role for the euro and the renminbi, Gopinath suggests that their institutions require greater development. Instead, the US may be developing an advantage in making the dollar the dominant digital currency through its efforts to combat money laundering and terrorism.
Continue Reading Central Bankers Discuss Stablecoins

On December 10, 2019, FinCEN Director Kenneth Blanco delivered prepared remarks to a banking conference held in Washington, DC. Among topics he discussed were trends in suspicious activity reporting (SARs) since FinCEN published updated guidance on convertible virtual currency (CVC) in May 2019.
Continue Reading FinCEN Director Discusses Virtual Currency Reporting Trends

On December 11, 2019, the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) published proposed guidance regarding adoption or listing of virtual currency by holders of a BitLicense. Specifically, under the proposed guidance, DFS seeks comment regarding two proposed changes affecting coin listings, both of which are intended to streamline and expedite the process.
Continue Reading New York Proposes Virtual Currency Guidance

On December 10, 2019, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) published its inaugural report on market risk in the Swiss economy. The report provides an overview of what FINMA believes are the most important risks currently facing Swiss supervised institutions and describes the resulting focus of its supervisory activity.
Continue Reading Swiss Regulator Warns of Blockchain Risks

At a mutual fund industry conference held on December 3, 2019, Dalia Blass, director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Investment Management, previewed a new structure for registered mutual funds seeking to invest substantially in digital assets and related investments.
Continue Reading Senior SEC Official Discusses Digital Asset Fund

In a television interview on November 19, 2019, CFTC Chairman Heath Tarbert discussed digital assets and the importance of U.S. leadership in this space. Notably, he stated:

“I want the United States to lead, particularly in the blockchain technology that underlies digital assets… [U]ltimately I could see it overtaking the internet or being effectively parallel to the internet in using a variety of different kinds of transactions, not just the financial system, but in other types of transactions as well… I think whoever ends up leading in this technology will end up writing the rules of the road for the rest of the world. My emphasis is on making sure that the United States is a leader.”
Continue Reading CFTC Chairman Discusses Digital Assets

The Federal Reserve Board’s most recent semi-annual Financial Stability Report, issued November 15, 2019, includes a lengthy discussion of potential systemic risks posed by stablecoins. In the report, the Fed observed that innovations fostering faster, cheaper and more inclusive payments could complement existing payment systems and improve consumer welfare if appropriately designed and regulated. But the Fed also warned that the emergence of global stablecoin payment networks introduces important challenges and risks related to financial stability, monetary policy, money laundering and terrorist financing, and consumer and investor protection.
Continue Reading Federal Reserve Discusses Global Stablecoins and Financial Stability

On October 28, 2019, staff in the SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets provided a no-action letter to Paxos Trust Company, LLC permitting it to pilot a blockchain-based clearance and settlement platform for a limited number of U.S.-listed equity securities for 24 months. The staff’s action enables the further development and commercialization of a blockchain platform for clearing and settling U.S. securities trades.
Continue Reading SEC Staff Supports Blockchain Clearance and Settlement Platform