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27 Jan 2023

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Wall Street's ISDA Issues New Crypto Definitions to Mitigate Concerns

Cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology that lies beneath them remain controversial. They are often seen as dangerously speculative assets for investors in the developed world, while feared and loathed by governments who see threats to their financial sovereignty.

Yet there is also a group of people who retain confidence in their potential to act as safe currencies in the developing world for blockchain-based transactions such as real-estate records keeping, local agriculture and commodities markets, and disease tracking and other big healthcare issues.

Now the International International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA), a New York-based organization supported by a variety of Wall Street and global financial services organizations, has published documentation that covers the trading of digital asset derivatives, legal issues, and definitions. The definitions report is available for $350 for ISDA members and $700 for non-members.

“The definitions initially cover non-deliverable forwards and options on Bitcoin and Ether, but could be expanded in future to cover additional product types, including tokenized securities and other digital assets executed on distributed ledger technology (DLT),” according to the ISDA.

“Recent failures in the crypto market have emphasized the importance of having a clear, consistent contractual framework that spells out the rights and obligations of both parties following a default. All customers, whether retail or institutional, should know their assets are protected and understand their rights in the event of a default,” said ISDA Chief Executive Scott O'Malia in publishing the new materials.

“This latest work to establish legal definitions and recommend improved customer protection in bankruptcy through the application of a consistent set of global contractual standards adds to the extensive work ISDA has already published to bring greater legal and operational certainty to digital assets executed on both centralized and decentralized platforms.”

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