94 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2020 Last revised: 30 Jun 2021
Date Written: February 20, 2020
Blockchain technology is transforming how markets work. Blockchains eliminate the need for trusted gatekeepers like banks to execute, verify, and record transactions. In the financial markets, their disruptive potential threatens both Wall Street banks and Silicon Valley venture capitalists. How blockchain technology is regulated will determine whether it encourages or inhibits competition. Some blockchain applications present serious fraud and systemic risks, complicating regulation. This Article explores the antitrust and competition policy challenges blockchain presents and proposes a regulatory strategy, modeled on Internet regulation and net neutrality principles, to unlock blockchain’s competitive potential. It contends that financial regulators should promote blockchain competition—and the resulting market decentralization—except in cases where specific applications are shown to harm consumers or threaten systemic safety. Regulators also should ensure open access and non-discrimination on dominant blockchain networks. This approach will not only serve traditional antitrust goals of lowering prices and promoting innovation, but it also might achieve broader economic and social reform by reducing the power and influence of the biggest financial institutions.
Keywords: Blockchain, Antitrust, Competition Policy, Regulation, Financial Services, Securities
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