On 25 May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union entered into force, accompanied by some uncertainties regarding its application. For example, some legal commentators believe there are “irreconcilable” differences between blockchain technologies and some of GDPR’s core principles, raising doubts as to whether the technology can achieve widespread adoption under the new data protection regime.  Continue Reading GDPR Implications for Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies

In April 2018, Amazon Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of e-commerce giant Amazon, was granted a patent relating to a “technology for a streaming data marketplace” by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The technology underlying the patent is described as gathering (online) data streams from various sources and enhancing those streams “by correlating the raw data with additional data.” The patent description lists a number of potential use cases for the streaming data feeds that participants in the market place are offering subscriptions to. One notable use case relates to “bitcoin transactions,” with the ultimate goal of identifying users of the virtual currency by their Bitcoin addresses. Continue Reading The Bitcoin Implications of Amazon’s New Streaming Data Patent

An increasing number of financial institutions and fintech companies are coming together to create consortia or shared utility service providers that will identify, design, build and provide emerging technologies like blockchain and the possibility of using decentralized, distributed ledger technology that can be accessed and used by market participants to record information. Continue Reading Challenges with the Evolution of Blockchain

Generally speaking, a Blockchain is a peer-to-peer operated distributed digital ledger that records all transactions executed for a particular asset. The ledger is “distributed” because each user of the network has its own copy of the blockchain, and each user’s copy is updated with new information simultaneously. The greatest benefit of distributed ledger applications, in comparison to conventional financial networks, is that exchanges of a particular asset can be verified, monitored and enforced without the presence of a trusted third party or a central institution. Continue Reading Blockchain-Based Applications – Evolving Legal Issues

On 19 October 2015, Amazon filed a patent application for a process that would allow its customers to authenticate purchases with a selfie-photograph rather than a password. The application (Pub. No.:US 2016/0071111 A1) concerns a computer-implemented payment method using selfies in a two-step authentication: In the first step, buyers send a selfie to establish their identity. In the second step, they send another photo or video in which they blink, nod or open or close their mouth to confirm that an actual human being is attempting to be authenticated. Continue Reading Amazon Wants to Patent “Pay by Selfie” Technology

In banking, open data, a common pool of customer data that can be freely used and redistributed by anyone, could provide a number of benefits to customers and could increase competition in banking in the UK as well as in other jurisdictions. For example, open data could be used to improve the ability to make effective decisions about the use and management of money, or enable comparison applications to make more detailed and accurate assessments of how customers can save money. Continue Reading The Development of Data Sharing and Open Data in Banking

Any digital record of bank deposits opens up the possibility that its underlying set of data may be copied and that the nominal amount deposited may be spent more than once. With conventional bank deposits, banks monitor the digital records and are trusted to ensure their validity. With so-called “digital currencies” like Bitcoin, by contrast, the ledger containing the record of all transactions by all users is available to the public. Rather than requiring users to have trust in a central third party, reliance is placed upon the network and the algorithmic rules established to reliably change the ledger. The authentication technologies underpinning Bitcoin – known as distributed ledger or Blockchain-technologies – enable multiple instances of data to be synchronized and updated. Continue Reading Blockchain Technologies Move further into the Mainstream

Virtual currencies, especially Bitcoins, have attracted much public attention as well as scholarly interest. Many related issues have, however, not yet been fully clarified and are still being addressed in specialized literature. Particularly whether, despite the fact that they do not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction, Bitcoins could be qualified as “money”, both from a legal and an economic point of view. From a legal perspective, the question whether or not a medium fulfils economic functions of money has proven to be relevant – for example, some US court rulings have taken a functional approach when qualifying Bitcoins as money in a legal sense. Continue Reading Do Bitcoins Fulfil Economic Functions of Money? Some Courts (and Advocates-General) Seem to Think So