Bitcoin has received considerable media attention in recent months as its value soared to $20,000 in December 2017, then retreated to around $9,000 in February 2018, fueling growing speculation regarding its future. While some investors embrace bitcoin, many members of the general public struggle to understand it. And despite the interest in cryptocurrency by investors, as evidenced by the high market value of bitcoin (even after the recent drop in value), very few retailers and merchants accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment. Retailers and merchants appear to (wisely) be taking a cautious approach. The below article considers the reasons why.

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Due to volatile and record-breaking valuations, cryptocurrencies and their underlying technology, blockchain, have been at the forefront of financial news headlines. Blockchain technology is, very simply, a decentralized digital ledger that records economic transactions in a way that cannot be copied or destroyed, therefore eliminating fraudulent or duplicative transactions. Bitcoin is perhaps the best known cryptocurrency, and for which blockchain technology was invented. Bitcoins are discovered through “mining,” a process whereby computers use processing power to solve difficult puzzles. The miner who finds the solution receives bitcoins, essentially digital tokens, as a reward. Unlike traditional currencies, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies do not require a third party or central authority for its users to transfer value.  Continue Reading Cryptocurrency and the Concern for Retailers

As reported on the Insurance Recovery blog, earlier this week, retailer Tesco Plc’s banking branch reported that £2.5 million (approximately $3 million) had been stolen from 9,000 customer bank accounts over the weekend in what cyber experts said was the first mass hacking of accounts at a western bank. The reported loss is still being investigated by UK authorities but is believed to have occurred through the bank’s online banking system. The loss, which is about half of what Tesco initially estimated, is still substantial and serves as a strong reminder that cyber-related losses are a real threat to retailers and other industries. According to reports, Tesco Bank spent £500 million (approximately $618 million) building up its technology platform over the past seven years. Even that very substantial expenditure was not enough, however, to prevent the recent hack, illustrating the need for robust cyber insurance as a component of any comprehensive cyber protection program.

On April 4, 2016, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) announced a $10 million whistleblower bounty, its largest to date.

Similar to a program administered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), CFTC whistleblowers are eligible for an award worth 10 to 30 percent of an enforcement penalty if they bring original information to the CFTC which leads to an enforcement action that nets more than $1 million in sanctions. Continue Reading CFTC Awards Record Whistleblower Bounty

In a ruling of particular importance to the digital currency community, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for the first time has definitively ruled that Bitcoin and other digital currencies (also known as virtual currencies or cryptocurrencies) are commodities subject to the CFTC’s jurisdiction. Specifically, in an enforcement action announced on September 17, 2015, the CFTC issued an order against an online platform and its CEO for facilitating the trading of Bitcoin options contracts. We discuss some of the implications of this order below.

Continue Reading CFTC Defines Bitcoin and Digital Currencies as Commodities

On August 4, 2014, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the “OCC”) of the US Department of the Treasury issued new guidance outlining sound banking practices related to consumer debt sales to third-party debt buyers. The bulletin sets forth the OCC’s expectations for banks that engage in debt-sale arrangements and applies to all OCC-supervised banks.

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