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Crypto-assets: Law, Ethics and the Quest for Legitimacy

Research by Dr Ilias Kapsis

Dr Ilias Kapsis is currently under research on the title: “Crypto-assets: Law, Ethics and the Quest for Legitimacy”. Crypto-assets is an innovative digital financial ecosystem based on blockchain and cryptography, which comprises a number of diverse types of assets led by Bitcoin that perform a variety of functions including as mediums of exchange, stores of value, and units of account. 

Dr Kapsis’ s timely work will make a valuable contribution to the global efforts to regulate the ecosystem by proposing a set of legal rules and principles in this direction. The monograph will also review the ethical issues surrounding the emergence and use of crypto-assets and will propose an ethical framework, which will ensure that they comply with the broader values accepted by society.

The ecosystem which has grown exponentially in recent years remains largely unregulated, which raises serious issues and concerns about the rights of the parties involved, consumer protection, crime prevention, and market stability and integrity. The need for a regulatory framework acquired urgency after the announcement by Facebook in 2019 of its intention to launch a global digital payment system and financial infrastructure, based on Libra, a proposed cryptocurrency owned by it. In response, central banks around the world have been actively considering the issuing of their own digital currencies, which could offer more protections but face their own legal challenges, to compete against Libra and the other privately-issued crypto-assets. These dramatic market developments, which are driven by revolutionary technologies and business models, and transform the digital financial landscape, currently remain without the necessary legal cover. The search for legal solutions that will offer legitimacy to the innovations and safety to consumers is ongoing and Dr Kapsis’s work will contribute to them. This work will be published as a monograph by Routledge, Taylor Francis in December 2020.