Blockchain regulation moves in fits and starts

But experts say the pace is picking up, in part due to ICOs

Blockchain technology has multiple faces. In some cases, blockchain is used for internally regulated activity, subject to each chain’s governance structure—such as a trade-based blockchain. At the same time, it continues to be seen as something between the Wild West and anarchy, particularly in regard to cryptocurrencies, notably the very volatile Bitcoin, which is built on a blockchain foundation. Cryptocurrencies enable “ICOs”—initial coin offerings, a means of raising capital via virtual currencies. Many benefits are cited, as are many risks, ranging from unregulated securities dealing to the potential for money laundering.

Yet another aspect of blockchain technology concerns many applications in distribution and recordkeeping, ranging from securities clearing to tracking the flow of agricultural goods, all within the context of a distributed ledger with access shared by all entitled to participate in the blockchain.

All uses of blockchain technology invite discussion, and sometimes controversy, but those use cases where blockchain technology essentially produces “money” rank the most controversial, said Jamie Elizabeth Smith, CEO of the Global Blockchain Business Council, during a panel discussion about blockchain regulation at the recent Money 20/20 Conference.

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