Bitcoin, Virtual Currencies, and the Struggle of Law and Regulation to Keep Pace

93 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2018  

Lawrence J. Trautman

Western Carolina University

Date Written: May 30, 2018

Abstract

At less than a decade old, Bitcoin and other virtual currencies have had a major societal impact, and proven to be a unique payment systems challenge for law enforcement, financial regulatory authorities worldwide, and the investment community. Rapid introduction and diffusion of technological changes throughout society, such as the blockchain that serves as Bitcoin’s crypto-foundation, continue to outpace the ability of law and regulation to keep pace. During 2017 alone, the market price of Bitcoin rose 1,735 percent, from about $970 to $14,292, causing an investor feeding frenzy. As of March 31, 2018, a total of 1,595 cryptocurrencies are reported, having an approximate market capitalization of $266.97 billion at that date. A brief history of the fast moving adoption of blockchain-based technology is provided, along with a look at the efforts of regulators to keep up with the staggering worldwide growth in the usage of virtual currencies.

In the United States, enforcement actions for violations of law involving virtual currencies are brought primarily by: The Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC); The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and The Department of The Treasury through the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). This Article contributes to the literature and our understanding of the constant struggle of law and regulation to keep pace with rapid technological developments.

Keywords: AML, Asset Class, Bitcoin, Blockchain, CFTC, Consumer Protection, Criminal Law, Crypto-Currency, Digital Currency, E-Commerce, Electronic Payments, Federal Reserve, Financial Regulation, Initial Coin Offering (ICO), Internet, New York BitLicense, SEC

JEL Classification: A10, B25, C99, D12, D23, D44, D63, D71, E40, G21, H26, K11, K14, K34, L82, L83, L86, M30, O34, P50

Suggested Citation

Trautman, Lawrence J., Bitcoin, Virtual Currencies, and the Struggle of Law and Regulation to Keep Pace (May 30, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3182867 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3182867

Lawrence J. Trautman (Contact Author)

Western Carolina University ( email )

204 Forsyth
Cullowhee, NC 28723
United States
828-227-2642 (Phone)

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