Together with the explosion of interest in the digital currency and all its implications for new and traditional companies, the legal impact of these new technologies and currencies needs to be made clearer. Given that governments around the world, regulatory agencies, central banks, and other financial institutions work to understand the nature and significance of digital money, individual investors can invest in this new environment. On the other hand, when buying and selling cryptocurrencies, investors assume certain legal risks.
Although digital currency is easy to confuse for traditional electronic money, this is not the same; similarly, as it is not physically owned and carried between parties, it is unlike conventional cash currencies. The fact that space has only been popular recently in comparison to more conventional currency and payment systems is part of the uncertainty of the legal status of the digital currency. Below, we will discuss some of the new legal ramifications of cryptocurrency investment.
What is Cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is virtual tradable money that is generated through a combination of authentication, decentralized IT technology, a worldwide computer network, economic incentive and consensus algorithms that barely provide digital information. Data scarcity is an essential feature of cryptocurrencies, otherwise, information representing the currency could be replicated unlimitedly, rendering digital currency useless by unlimited numbers of copies. For the present article, a digital shortage operates only on a network and only if the network’s members agree on the legitimacy of cryptocurrency transactions.
The consensus system used will ensure that digital money can not be spent double, stopping counterfeit money from using the cryptocurrency edition. Most cryptocurrencies use a “blockchain” technology to monitor ownership, build numeric scarcity and prevent duplication of spending.
Cryptocurrencies as Property
How the central government views cryptocurrency investments is a vital legal concern for any cryptocurrency investor. In the United States, the IRS has described cryptocurrencies not as currencies but as assets. It ensures that individual investors are protected by the capital gains tax law when reporting in their annual tax returns on their cryptocurrency expenditures and earnings, irrespective of where digital coins are bought.
This dimension of the cryptocurrency environment adds confusion and ambiguity to US taxpayers, but it doesn’t stop. It remains unclear if digital currency investors who have acquired their foreign-exchange assets will face taxation with additional monitoring steps. A study from CNBC reported that “Another regulation-Foreign Account Tax Complying Act (FATCA-Foreign Bank) or financial accounts (FBAR)-requires some of the U.S. taxpayers to identify their overseas accounts on Form 8938 when they apply taxes with the IRS.” A report is released by CNBC that the document is “usually necessary to file with the Treasury Department every year.
The potential risk factor for the individual investor is also one of the great draws for many digital currencies. It’s decentralized, meaning that Bitcoin has no physical presence and is not supported by central authorities, which paves the way for other cryptocurrency types. While governments worldwide are working in different ways to demonstrate their regulatory power, BTC and other digital currencies remain unrelated to any expertise or organization.
This liberates investors, on the one hand, from their commitment to those institutions. This could lead to legal complications, however, on the other hand. The value of the digital currency is entirely dependent on the interest that it earns from other proprietors and investors. In case of problems of transactions or ownership, shareholders will remain in a state without a central authority that maintains the value of digital currency.
Another potential risk associated with the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies concerns the transaction details. Currency with a physical presence changes hands in most other transactions. For electronic money, the creation and settlement of loans and debt claims involve a trusted financial institution. Such principles do not extend to transactions in cryptocurrencies.
Due to this fundamental difference, legal confusion is a real possibility between parties in different kinds of digital currency transactions. Also, the way legal remedies can be difficult to assess due to the decentralized nature of these currencies.
Business Registrations and Licensing
That number of companies are using digital currencies as a payment method. As with other financial fields, companies may have to register and receive licenses for certain jurisdictions and activities. This field is far less evident to companies operating in the crypto-market, because of the complicated and changing legal status of digital currencies. For example, businesses that recognize only cryptocurrencies may not have to register or obtain licenses at all.
On the opposite, depending on their expertise, they may be required to take a special account. It is the responsibility of business owners and managers to ensure that service at the local and state levels is subject to proper legal procedures. For example, at the federal level, financial institutions must continue to carry out certain activities relating to money laundering and fraud protection, transfers of funds, and more. Therefore, companies dealing with digital currencies also have such concerns.
Fraud and Money Laundering
Cryptocurrencies are widely held to provide a new means for committing fraud, money laundering and various other financial crimes for criminal organizations. This may not directly affect many stakeholders in cryptocurrencies who do not plan to use this new technology for crimes. Investors who are unfortunate victims of financial crimes typically do not have the same legal options as the typical fraud victims.
This issue also concerns virtual currencies ‘ decentralized status. For example, there is often no standard practice for the recovery of missing funds when a cryptocurrency swap is hacked and customers ‘ assets robbed. There are also some risks for digital currency investors through the purchasing and keeping of cryptocurrency assets. This is why digital currency developers and start-ups concentrated so much on creating safe means to carry digital currencies and tokens.
Nevertheless, while new wallet types are being continuously released and while cryptocurrency exchanges are always increasing security measures, the legal risks associated with possession of cryptocurrencies could not yet be fully eliminated by investors and they probably never will.