Tokens, 'Smart Contracts' and System Governance

45 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2019

See all articles by Diana Vieira Fernandes

Diana Vieira Fernandes

IN+ Center for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research

Date Written: November 23, 2019


Cryptocurrencies embodied or represented in a “smart contract”, at first glance may be a new asset class, where depending on the internal method of classification and use different frameworks may be applicable. Although, most concepts are not necessarily new (inventive). As the digitalization of databases, information and systems do not change, the underlying object.

It is analyzed, in particular, the case of payments tokens (contrasting with other forms of - public - money, in a narrow sense, so as with the hybrid cases, so-called “stable coins”), across jurisdictions, namely Switzerland, the UK, Germany and the US (as having most of the regulatory response or litigation), besides Portugal.

It is broken down from the micro-level (token) to its exchange (as a means of exchange in a given contract) and infrastructure (messages, communications and infrastructure).

There is a need to go beyond the formal representation (and dimensions) of a given entity, or the problem of knowledge representation and the need of (actual) systematic approach, to access function (rather than formal representation) and governance of the blockchain infrastructure.

Keywords: Blockchain, Governance, Cryptocurrency, Decentralization, Smart contracts, Networks, Infrastructure

JEL Classification: K12, K20, G18, P49

Suggested Citation

Vieira Fernandes, Diana, Tokens, 'Smart Contracts' and System Governance (November 23, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Diana Vieira Fernandes (Contact Author)

IN+ Center for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research ( email )

Av. Rovisco Pais
Lisbon, Lisbon 1049-001


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