In January 2021, the U.S. District Court docket for the Southern District of New York thought-about a movement to dismiss a category motion lawsuit filed in opposition to Helbiz, Inc. and different defendants that involved Helbiz’s issuance of HelbizCoin, a cryptocurrency. The swimsuit included claims arising beneath United States securities legal guidelines. The Court docket granted the movement as a result of it held the cryptocurrency purchases didn’t happen in america, regardless of computing exercise occurring in america that made the purchases potential.
Helbiz allegedly promoted the acquisition of HelbizCoin because the unique foreign money that Helbiz would settle for for its Helbiz transportation rental platform. The HelbizCoins have been issued in an preliminary coin providing (ICO) to HelbizCoin purchasers in trade for fiat foreign money. Helbiz would then use these funds to construct out its rental platform.
Regardless of Helbiz’s alleged promise to solely settle for HelbizCoins in its rental enterprise, it in the end accepted fiat currencies as effectively. That truth meant HelbizCoins by no means gained their anticipated worth. They misplaced most, if not all, of their worth. Earlier than the value collapsed, Helbiz and different defendants supposedly offered a lot of the HelbizCoins they nonetheless possessed.
The courtroom held that HelbizCoins met the definition of “funding contracts” beneath the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Change Act of 1934, and have been thus “securities” regulated by these acts. Part 10(b) of the Securities Change Act of 1934 makes it illegal to “use or make use of in reference to the acquisition or sale of any safety” a “manipulative or misleading devise or contrivance within the contravention of such guidelines and laws because the [SEC] might prescribe.” The courtroom famous that the U.S. Supreme Court docket has held that for securities not listed on an American inventory trade, Part 10(b) solely ruled securities bought or offered “in america.” HelbizCoin was not listed on an American inventory trade
The HelbizCoin providing supplies said that U.S. residents, U.S. residents or inexperienced card holders couldn’t take part within the HelbizCoin ICO. The one proof submitted of who had bought HelbizCoins have been declarations of particular person purchasers with no obvious related connection to america. The plaintiffs however argued that the transactions had extra nexus with america than every other nation as a result of a lot of the Ethereum blockchain nodes (referred to as “Ethernodes”) that validated the HelbizCoin transactions have been positioned in america. For that purpose, the plaintiffs believed that Part 10(b) did apply. Blockchain nodes are computer systems that file, transmit after which confirm cryptocurrency transactions with different blockchain nodes, they usually carry out different capabilities as effectively.
The courtroom accepted that america had extra Ethernodes than every other nation, nevertheless it held that truth was irrelevant as to if Part 10(b) utilized. The courtroom noticed that “all that equipment for producing, administering, and delivering the bitcoin may very well be positioned in Kansas, Germany or Brazil with out affecting the situation of the supply and acceptance of the acquisition.” (emphasis added). The courtroom concluded that as a result of the acquisition didn’t happen in america, Part 10(b) didn’t apply.
The plaintiffs’ claims have been dismissed with out prejudice to refile them within the acceptable jurisdictions. Some commentators have speculated about how blockchain node geographic distribution may have an effect on jurisdictional questions. Based mostly on this courtroom’s reasoning within the circumstances introduced on this case, the reply is that blockchain node location is irrelevant. The choice has been appealed.
 See Barron v. Helbiz, Inc., 2021 WL 229609 (S.D.N.Y. 2021), Opinion and Order on Movement to Dismiss.
 Morrison v. Nationwide Australia Financial institution, Ltd., 561 U.S. 247 (2010).
 “. . . Ethereum is an open-source, blockchain-based, decentralized software program platform used for its personal cryptocurrency, ether.” Jake Frankenfield, Ethereum, Investopedia (Feb. 18, 2021), https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/ethereum.asp. The Ethereum community also can assist different cryptocurrencies. See Why Most New Tokens Are Ethereum ICOs, Skalex (2017), https://www.skalex.io/why-ethereum-icos/.
 The Court docket presumably used the time period “bitcoin” colloquially in a method to embrace HelbizCoin.
 See, e.g., John Salmon and Gordon Myers, Blockchain and Related Authorized points for Rising Markets, 63 EM Compass – IFC, a member of the World Financial institution Group 1 (2019).