This seminar will examine cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether and Ripple's XRP, and their possible roles as commodities, payment instruments and investments. It will also explore “Initial Coin Offerings” ("ICOs")—fundraises by startups identifying technology-based problems and proposing the sale or financing of technology-based solutions.
Cryptocurrencies and ICOs have recently attracted more attention—and investment dollars—than early stage venture capital. However, governmental authorities around the world worry that they are under-regulated (or unregulated), pointing to a recent spate of fraud, market volatility, and potential money laundering associated with virtual transactions. This seminar will explore the regulatory framework for digital currencies and payments, and examine the evolving reforms and regulatory efforts arising in the sector. The course will cover topics including the differences between key cryptocurrencies; the varying regulation of cryptocurrencies and ICO tokens as “commodities” vs. “securities;” the mechanics of an ICO; and money laundering and bank secrecy laws.