Coins Stocks and Blockchain

Okay, all the publicity is about crypto-currency, its volatility, its hack-ability ($530M lost yesterday), its potential for fraud (SEC action announced today against a so-called “bank” permitting trades in 700 crypto-coins, or so they said).  While all this is going on, among other wholly legitimate uses of blockchain is the maintenance of corporate stock records.

The dumbed-down description of blockchain is that it is just a set of bookkeeping entries, recorded electronically and accessible to anyone with a computer.  In my subsequent efforts to understand what it is, I did much more reading and discovered it is just a set of bookkeeping entries recorded in electron…. well, you get the idea.

It also seems perfect for keeping a stock ledger, recording holdings and transfers and stop-transfers and the like, replacing registrars and transfer agents and all sorts of intermediaries which have costs to incur.  As it turns out, the methods for doing all that by blockchain seem congruent with the laws that control stock transfers, probably without need to alter those laws.  While one alleged crypto-currency advantage of blockchain, total anonymity, is not possible with share ledgers (companies, brokers,  proxy solicitors, regulators need to know who’s who), there is no reason why names cannot be made accessible to appropriate, and only to appropriate, parties.

An interesting article in The Business Lawyer (vol 73, Winter 2017-18 at 85) describes the experience of one public company the shares of which are handled in this fashion.  The article is suitable for perusal by non-attorneys also as, unlike much legal writing, this piece appears to be written in English; and, the references to the statute (UCC Article 8) are easily skip-able.

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