This new course, to be offered jointly by NYU's Law School and Stern School, will study Bitcoin and other alternative payment mechanisms. Interest in this topic...More >>
This new course, to be offered jointly by NYU's Law School and Stern School, will study Bitcoin and other alternative payment mechanisms. Interest in this topic has exploded over the past five years, as Bitcoin and an increasing pool of competitors have risen in value and gained acceptance as payment devices. Advocates for Bitcoin praise it as a superior payment mechanism â€“ one that operates outside the control of governments, is international in scope, is more secure than prior electronic payments vehicles, and carries within it a locked-in protocol for increase in supply which is impervious to inflationary temptations. At the same time, the growth of these innovations has led to heightened concerns about their use. Governments worry that Bitcoin facilitates illegal transactions. Investors and governments worry that these currencies have a highly speculative value and trade in markets which themselves are vulnerable to fraud and theft. Some governments are concerned that private payments systems will undermine efforts to control the value of their currencies. Governments also worry, more fundamentally, that they could lose hundreds of billions of dollars of seigniorage if virtual currencies become the norm. These concerns have triggered actual or threatened regulatory actions: Bitcoin is banned in Russia, strictly regulated in China, and subject to increasing scrutiny in Switzerland and other countries. So far, however, the United States regulators have allowed the experiment to continue without significant regulation. The course will cover topics such as the essential nature of money; the origin and function of Bitcoin; the nature and instability of bank-created money; Bitcoin and monetary economics; other nonbank payment vehicles; Bitcoin as an investment; using Bitcoin as a consumer; using Bitcoin as a business; the legal treatment of Bitcoin; and regulating Bitcoin trading. It is also anticipated that the course will take account of new developments in this rapidly evolving topic.