Conclusions of the 1st cyber tech & law Congress in Athens – Greece
Athens, 15.07.2017 (10’ reading time)
“Give me control of a nations money and I care not who makes its laws” (Rothschild, 1838)
WHAT IS VCC?
The virtual crypto-currencies (vcc) pose big challenges in legal, economic and administrative science. It's like an unprecedented gym exercise or more like a spagat!
Is Bitcoin, Etherium, XRP, Bitshare, Litecoin, Monero, Zcach etc. a currency?
The answer is NO but they do have purchasing power and they can be converted into real currency (Dollar, Euro, Yen etc.) or into other vcc.
Is it exchange, private money, electronic money, intangible good, personal data or thing?
Most theories converge to the inclusion of vcc in the meaning of the thing from a legal point of view.
A vcc has no third party ledger, is math-based and protected by cryptography.
A feature of the virtual crypto currency is that unlike the traditional financial sector where a recall is feasible, vcc's case is irreversible. Once you have paid by a virtual crypto currency there is no way back (chargebacks). Therefore consumers and traders need to be very careful.
GOOD vs EVIL
Both sides of the story:
The good ones:
• Ideal money.
• The greatest discovery of the past 100 years.
• The digital currency of the modern era.
• Top technical work.
• As the Internet changed the world (access to information), vcc broke the monopoly of the state in the currency.
• The currency that knows no borders.
• The currency that is not inflationary.
• The perfect antidote to capital controls.
• The currency that came to replace the gold.
The dark side of the moon:
• A major threat to the global financial system.
• Ideal for setting up Ponzi schemes (pyramids).
• Popular in the Underworld (Dark net).
• Anarchist tool for dissolution of the state.
• Speculations of inventing in Silicon Valley by anarcho-capitalists to undermine the state.
• Vcc looks like they were designed as a weapon intended to damage central banking with a Libertarian political agenda in mind – to damage states ability to tax and monitor their citizens’ financial transactions.
• New type of crime such as:
- Illegal mining.
- Vcc as ransom.
- As a means of payment for transactions in illicit goods.
- For the financing of illegal acts – terrorism.
- Greater exposure to new forms of fraud.
ANONYMITY vs PRIVACY
Vcc transactions are anonymous but not private, since each transaction is publicly recorded and visible on the blockchain (a new technology). Anonymity refers to staying anonymous.
In other words, a vcc transaction is anonymous if no third party knows who made the transaction.
Privacy, on the other hand, refers to a transaction as private if no third party knows what was bought using vcc and for what amount.
INVESTMENT vs SPECULATION
Investment is the commitment of a certain amount of capital in the current period, which is motivated by the expectation of higher earnings in the future.
Speculation is considered as the sale of assets, which is made in order to secure a profit from the change in their price.
Investment and speculation differences:
- The time horizon of decision
Another feature of vcc is the large and intense variation in their parity which should then be converted into national currency (eg EUR, USD, etc.) and that has to be kept very good in mind by any investor. There is a high investment risk!
Forecasting future prices is not easy.
For example, the price of Ethereum has increased its price by about 5,000% in the last year and about 180% last month.
From $ 8 at the beginning of the year it has exceeded $ 400 in early June 2017.
On Wednesday 21.6.2017, a multi-million dollar sale order happened on the GDAX platform for Ethereum. This triggered a series of events, with the result that Ethereum dropped to 10 cents from $ 300 in a single transaction.
The stop loss orders that followed contributed to the temporary drop.
Vcc seem to have come to stay.
At the middle June of 2017 there were over 1000 vcc.
The total capitalization of the market for crypto currencies was 100B USD (June 2017)
Many big companies, organizations and institutions added since 5 years ago vcc as a payment option.
Vcc are things for the Greek legislation.
Good or bad things?
Answer (as is the case with most generalizations): It depends! On the type of the vcc.
Different vcc are not competitive with each other but they have different possibilities and are offered for different use and purpose by their users.
If a user loses passwords in his digital wallet or falls victim to a hacker attack, he loses his vcc and is almost impossible to claim until today.
The inherent limitations on their circulation made them totally inadequate to play the role of a global payment instrument.
But their future is brilliant as a means of storing, precisely because it has similar properties to gold.
These new technologies (blockchain etc.) and vcc will bring about a redeployment of the global business and financial system.
Governments and state regulators have not decided how to handle ICOs (Initial Coin Offering) and the vcc in general.
They have not as yet taken concrete regulatory actions.
Some countries however have adopted fully fledged regulations and licensing requirements on a number of services related to vcc, such as transmitting, holding, storing or controlling vcc on behalf of others, buying or selling or exchanging to customers and issuing vcc. But those regulations are still in an early stage.
On the other hand countries that vcc have been specifically banned are Bolivia, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh and China.
No global authority has so far been able to control the system of handling and producing vcc.
The international, decentralized and immaterial nature of virtual coins requires:
- Approximation of laws in terms of their nature and treatment.
- Take measures to eliminate the possibility of misuse of virtual currencies as means of extortion and money laundering.
- Joint regulation of the possibility of investigative penetration, mutual legal assistance and the concept of holding virtual currency.
Self-regulation. It is taking place already by the various vcc community members (Miners, exchangers, brokers and the investors in vcc) because they have a self-interest in preserving the smooth functioning and integrity of the whole system.
European Commission: Proposed a Revised 4th AML Directive which addresses the issue; wallet providers and exchangers to become “obliged persons” subject to CDD/KYC obligations.
Directive is currently in the final stages of the “co-decision” process and it is about to be adopted until 2018.
The proposed Definitions by the Directive are:
"virtual currencies" means a digital representation of value that is neither issued by a central bank or a public authority, nor necessarily attached to a legally established currency, which does not possess a legal status of currency or money, but is accepted by natural or legal persons, as a means of exchange, and which can be transferred, stored or traded electronically,
“Custodian wallet provider” means an entity that provides services to safeguard private cryptographic keys on behalf of their customers, to holding, store and transfer virtual currencies."
Moreover, the Commission is asked to consider and report on the necessity (or otherwise) of setting up and maintaining a central database registering users' identities and wallet addresses accessible to FIUs, as well as self-declaration forms for the use of virtual currency users.
To comply with the new EU AMLD provisions, developers, investors, and other actors in the vcc community should seek to develop technology-based solutions that will secure compliance with the CDD obligations.
Application programming interfaces (APIs) could be designed to provide customer identification information or allow obliged persons to limit transaction size or establish conditions to be satisfied before a vcc transaction can be sent to the beneficiary to reduce ML/TF risks. Transmitters of vcc could consider creating an industry association(s) composed of vetted vcc institutions and develop policies and practices for members that allow them to identify specific transactions as coming from a member that has applied appropriate CDD and is conducting appropriate transaction monitoring.
My personal opinion after all the above is that the most likely future scenario is for vcc to co-operate somehow with the existing financial system but through his radical transformation in the next 5 coming years. Especially the technology of blockchain will play a major role not only on vcc but in many aspects of modern life in the 21st century!
Perhaps we should turn to the oracle of Delphi, although even there the priests did not have clear oracles….!
See also bibliography:
• Fernando Pessoa, The anarchist banker, (1922).
“My friend, I've already told you, I've already proved it to you, and I repeat it again. The only difference is this: they are purely theoretical anarchists, I am both theoretical and practical; they are mystical anarchists and I am a scientific anarchist; they are anarchists who bow the knee and I am an anarchist who stands up and fights for freedom. In short: they are pseudo-anarchists and I am an anarchist!”
• Friedrich Hayek, Denationalization of Money, (1976).