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In a new Survey, a Majority of Attorneys & Expert Witnesses Call for Increased Cryptocurrency Regulation
  • Sep 9, 2021
  • Latest Journal

By Dr Stephen Castell CITP

A recent Survey conducted by Advice Company [1] has found that, while half of the surveyed experts and attorneys (49%) see cryptocurrency as very speculative, and one-in-five (18%) see it as a fraud or Ponzi Scheme, an equal number ‘wish they had bought some’ [2].  This interesting study, probably the first of its kind, provides a valuable insight into objective, independent assessment and evaluation, by skilled legal and expert professionals, of cryptocurrency, blockchain, digital assets and decentralized finance client matters, projects and disputes.  And it confirms the now rapidly-growing widespread call for tighter regulation of cryptocurrencies, and digital asset products and services.

The Survey noted that cryptocurrencies have recently played a dramatic role in impacting our understanding of financial speculation, cybercrime, and ransomware.  Ever since breaking onto the scene in 2009, cryptocurrencies have continued to remain an intensely polarizing phenomenon.  While cryptocurrency proponents argue it is a revolutionary new form of currency that will democratize finance and change the world, others contend it is nothing more than an elaborate scam.

The Advice Company survey was interested in what highly educated, trained and experienced attorneys and experts thought of cryptocurrencies, and it solicited responses from a diverse group of such professionals, with widely different areas of expertise and varying levels of familiarity with ‘crypto’.  The Survey responses showed a relatively high degree of agreement and some common themes:
•    Half of respondents viewed crypto as very speculative, and the vast majority believed it needs further regulation.
•    Roughly a third (31%) reported personally purchasing cryptocurrencies.
•    Many attorneys had already dealt with cryptocurrency matters (18%), and many more (55%) expected to do so in the future as part of their legal practice.

Bitcoin has little utility value as actual ‘money’.  It is only marginally exchangeable for other currencies, or for paying for goods and services, and is principally a tradeable investment instrument, a highly speculative, and volatile, ‘store of value’: it can be said ‘to exist only to exist’ [3].  There are crypto ‘stablecoins’ and ‘utility tokens’ that, by contrast, are conceived from the start to be of practical business and social usefulness [4].  

One way or another, for the time being, cryptocurrencies are undoubtedly here to stay.  Digital forensics expert Richard Sanders, of CipherBlade, the Blockchain Investigation Agency, has commented: “Most people will be utilizing this innovation within a decade, likely without realizing it … broader society can’t ignore the elephant in the room just because we don’t like or understand it…”, echoing my own analysis in an earlier article in this journal: “ … blockchain applications … are … here to stay, and the majority will be robust implementations by established major corporations, with most of us, as consumers, hardly needing to know any of the details …” [5].

However, as I also pointed out, “… [while a] few of these [crypto innovations] may prove to be commercially-successful, disruptive game-changers, and usher in the possibility of a new global ‘crypto-economy’ paradigm … many have tended to have been significantly fuelled by the ‘black cash’ of drug-dealers, money-launders, traffickers and the like”.  This growing ‘dark crypto underbelly’ sadly continues to be entrenched and confirmed, not least by recent headlines such as the FBI’s seizure of millions of dollars in bitcoin from the Colonial Pipeline Hackers, and clearly cryptocurrencies will continue to create growing, and new, challenges for law enforcement and the legal system.

I recently proposed for the crypto industry a self-regulatory protocol, the CryptoSure Trust Model [6], and either something like that, or enforced imposed statutory controls, will have to be put in place, bringing cryptocurrencies into the embrace of a regulated system of Trusted Third Parties operating firmly within the Rule of Law.  Absent such regulation, we will see a continuing escalation of crypto scams, frauds, failures, investigations, criminal prosecutions and civil disputes which would not be healthy for establishing ‘Decentralized Finance’ as a robust and reliable part of the financial system, nor for society at large.

References
1.  Advice Company (www.AdviceCompany.com) has provided information and services over the Internet since 1995, and its current websites include www.ExpertPages.com.  It is headquartered in Sausalito, California. USA.  Contact: Gerry H. Goldsholle, ceo@adviceco.com, +1 415.339.6510.

2.  https://www.pr.com/press-release/840773
Vast Majority of Attorneys & Expert Witnesses Call for Increased Cryptocurrency Regulation in New Advice Company Survey.  July 20, 2021.

3.  ‘“I, Bitcoin”: As told to Stephen Castell’, Dr Stephen Castell, The World Financial Review, June 16, 2021, https://worldfinancialreview.com/i-bitcoin-as-told-to-stephen-castell/.
Inspired by, and paying homage to, the quintessential 1958 essay on free-market economics, “I, Pencil”, by Leonard Read (https://fee.org/resources/i-pencil/), Dr. Stephen Castell adapts and refashions its lyrical narrative to illuminate bitcoin’s multidimensionality: the cryptocoin’s digital complexity, existential vacuity, absence of the Invisible Hand, and potentially damaging environmental impact.

4.  See for example: https://www.worldfree.com/; and the link to the recording of the author’s interview about his QE2-Coin proposal to the UK Government, on the Digital Bytes Show on Blockchain Radio, February 26, 2021: https://www.mixcloud.com/BlockchainRadio/digibytesguest210226/.

5.   ‘Blockchain vs Trust: The Fundamental Expert Dilemma’, Dr Stephen Castell,  pp 8, Expert Witness Journal, Winter 2019.

6.  ‘Slaying the Crypto Dragons: Towards a CryptoSure Trust Model for Crypto-economics | Blockchain vs. Trust: The Expert’s View of the Crypto Scammers’, Dr Stephen Castell; Chapter in the Springer-SIST book “Blockchain Technology and Innovation in Business Process”, 03/2021, pages 49-65, ISBN 978-981-33-6469-1, DOI:10.1007/978-981-33-6470-7_4.
The eBook ISBN  – 978-981-33-6470-7 (https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-33-6470-7).
The Chapter DOI: 10.1007/978-981-33-6470-7_4 (https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-981-33-6470-7_4).

Biographical Note
Dr Stephen Castell CITP CPhys FIMA MEWI MIoD, Chairman of CASTELL Consulting, is an award-winning independent ICT expert, management consultant and project manager professional, and FinTech visionary, with extensive experience in risk assessment, quality assurance, and dispute resolution.  For over thirty years Dr Castell has acted internationally as an expert witness in major complex computer software and systems litigation, increasingly in cryptocurrency related disputes.

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