A Tale of Two Regulators: Antitrust Implications of Progressive Decentralization in Blockchain Platforms

By Evan Miller, Vinson & Elkins LLP

Competition regulators have identified the potential for blockchain technology to disrupt traditional sponsor-led platforms, like app stores, that have received increased antitrust scrutiny. Enforcement actions by securities regulators, however, have forced blockchain-based platforms to adopt a strategy of progressive decentralization, delaying decentralization objectives in favor of the centralized model that competition regulators hope they will disrupt. This regulatory tension, and the implications for blockchain’s procompetitive potential, have yet to be explored. This Article first identifies the origin of this tension and its consequences through a competition law lens, and then recommends that competition regulators account for this tension in monitoring the blockchain industry and strive to resolve it moving forward.

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