Spearheaded by a myriad of questions surrounding virtual currency (i.e. Bitcoin) and the technology, specifically “distributed ledger technology,” (i.e. Blockchain) behind it, Womble Bond Dickinson co-hosted a thought leader event in its Tysons office on Thursday, November 9 called “Crypto & Cocktails.”

The event was organized by Womble Bond Dickinson’s M&A/Corporate Transactions Partner Jeff Cohen, and Director of Client Service Cameron Hunt, BNY Mellon Wealth Management’s Senior Director Ben Rodgers and Marketing and Event Coordinator Kylie Marinzel, and The McLean Group’s Senior Managing Director Greg Woodford and Marketing and Communications Manager Katie Merchent.

“We’ve been having frequent discussions with clients and colleagues regarding virtual currency and blockchain technology and decided that these would be intriguing topics to discuss at one of our thought leader events,” said Cohen. “We were pleased to have presented three different perspectives from members of the virtual currency community.”

The first perspective was delivered by Peter Van Valkenburgh, a poignantly dubbed “crypto-lawyer,” who addressed the basics behind blockchain. Peter is Research Director for the Coin Center in Washington DC, a leading non-profit research and advocacy center focused on public policy issues facing virtual currency. The center produces and publishes research from notable experts and academics to help educate policymakers and the media on creating sound policy. The goal is to create a clear understanding of these technologies to promote a regulatory climate that preserves the freedom to innovate using them.

The second was a legal perspective from Womble Bond Dickinson on what’s developing on the regulatory side of virtual currency. Stephen Middlebrook, who is leading Womble Bond Dickinson’s FinTech practice with regard to virtual currency, particularly advising banks and other financial institutions on the legal issues surrounding implementation, presented on the topic. Steve has an extensive background in emerging payment technologies having served as the General Counsel at two FinTech companies. He also served for a decade at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and he currently advises the Uniform Law Commission’s Drafting Committee for the Regulation of Virtual Currency Businesses Act.

The evening concluded with a commercial banking and treasury perspective from Vivek Kohli, the Emerging Payment Technology Head for BNY Mellon’s Global Product Management and Treasury Services. Vivek has over 25 years of experience exploring and implementing new domestic and international payment technologies for global financial institutions. Prior to joining BNY Mellon, Vivek helped both JP Morgan and Citi Bank develop global corporate & multicurrency payment, trade and FX products.

“It was a wonderful evening, we had over 60 clients and colleagues in attendance, many of which followed up with positive feedback,” said Hunt. “In fact, we are now considering a “Crypto & Cocktails: Part II” for the spring of 2018, so stay tuned!”