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Cryptoassets

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The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced a ban on the sale of crypto-derivatives and exchange traded notes (ETNs) that reference certain types of crypto-assets (crypto-ETNs) to retail consumers. Firms who carry out marketing, distribution or selling activities in or from the UK of the relevant products to retail clients, will need to comply with these rules by 6 January 2021. The FCA’s policy statement and final rules can be found here. Which assets…

As we previously reported, in May 2020, the Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Transformation (MDT) carried out a public consultation in relation to the draft text for a law relating to virtual assets. On September 16, 2020, the Ukrainian Parliament registered the draft law “On Virtual Assets” (the “Draft Law,” available here in Ukrainian). One significant change brought about by the public consultation is that the Draft Law now defines a virtual asset as a separate…

On July 22, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) issued an interpretive letter confirming that national banks and savings associations may provide cryptocurrency custody and related services. National banks have long provided safekeeping and custody services for a wide variety of customer assets, including both physical objects and electronic assets, and the extension of these services to cryptocurrency is a modern form of these traditional activities. In the letter, the OCC…

Summary On December 13 2019, in the case of AA v Persons Unknown [2019] EWHC 3556 (Comm), the UK Commercial Court granted an interim proprietary injunction over Bitcoin, thereby confirming its status as property. Background In October 2019, cyber-attackers hacked into the computer system of a Canadian insurance company and installed malware which encrypted those systems, preventing anyone but the hackers from accessing them. The hackers then offered decryption software to the insurance company in…

A UK Government-backed, industry-led initiative has published an expert legal statement recognising cryptoassets as property and smart contracts as enforceable agreements under English law. The statement is published by the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce (UKJT), a taskforce of the UK’s Lawtech Delivery Panel. The report concludes that: Cryptoassets are, in principle, to be treated as property under English law. They are not disqualified from being property by their distinctive features (intangibility, cryptographic authentication, use of a…

The Securities and Futures Commission (“SFC”) has taken another major step towards establishing a regulatory framework for virtual asset trading platforms, and is now inviting licensing applications from platform operators who are willing and able to comply with new licensing criteria and continuing compliance requirements outlined in the SFC’s recently published Position Paper – Regulation of virtual asset trading platforms (“Position Paper”). Licensing applications are open from 6 November 2019. Background In November 2018, the…

IOSCO (the International Organization of Securities Commissions)  has recently published a consultation focusing on how platforms which trade crypto-assets are regulated. The global standards setting body considers that promoting innovation must be balanced with appropriate regulatory oversight. For these purposes, IOSCO defines crypto-assets broadly as “a type of private asset that depends primarily on cryptography and DLT or similar technology as part of its perceived or inherent value, and can represent an asset such as…

On July 8, 2019, the staffs of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Trading and Markets and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”)  issued a joint statement articulating various considerations relevant to questions they had received concerning the application of the federal securities laws and the rules of FINRA to the potential intermediation—including custody—of digital asset securities and transactions. At the outset, the Statement made clear that novel issues have been raised.  It…

The UK Jurisdiction Taskforce (“UKJT”) recently published a consultation paper on the status of cryptoassets, DLT, and smart contracts under English private law. The UKJT is one of the six taskforces of the LawTech Delivery Panel created by the Law Society of England and Wales. The LawTech Delivery Panel was set up in October 2018 and is formed of a team of industry experts and leading figures from government and the judiciary, aimed at helping the…

The trend of established banks partnering with technology companies to offer digital asset-related services continues in Switzerland.  Around the end of February 2019, Julius Baer, one of Switzerland’s largest and oldest banks, announced plans to offer access to digital assets through a partnership with SEBA Crypto, a Swiss-based start-up. This development follows similar arrangements between technology companies and other established banks such as Falcon Private Bank, Vontobel, and Gazprombank. This trend underscores Switzerland’s reputation as…