Emerging Technology’s Unfamiliarity with Commercial Law

Reyes, Carla L. | February 14, 2024

Over the course of a four-year, collaborative process that was open to the public, the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) and the American Law Institute (ALI) undertook a project to revise the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) to account for the impact of emerging technologies on commercial transactions. The amendments, approved jointly by the ULC and ALI in July 2022, touch on aspects of the entire UCC, but one change has inspired ire and attracted national media attention: a revision to the definition of “money.” The 2022 UCC Amendments alter the definition of “money” to account for the introduction of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), such as the Bahamian Sand Dollar, and create a separate asset classification category, a controllable electronic record, for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. Opponents of this change point to concerns that the UCC seeks to “ban” cryptocurrency or otherwise advantage central bank digital currencies and disadvantage cryptocurrencies. This Essay examines this dispute over the 2022 UCC Amendments and argues that it stems from a misunderstanding of core commercial law concepts. Ultimately, it seems that diminishing familiarity with commercial law—a side effect of expanding reliance on emerging financial technology products—stands as a key obstacle to the enactment of legal changes designed to give the objectors the very legal effects they desire.


Robert G. Storey Distinguished Faculty Fellow and Associate Professor of Law, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law; Faculty Fellow, Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity, Southern Methodist University Lyle School of Engineering; Affiliated Faculty, Indiana University Bloomington Ostrom Workshop Program on Cybersecurity and Internet Governance; Research Associate, University College London Center for Blockchain Technology.

Copyright  2024  by  Carla L. Reyes

Cite as: Carla L. Reyes, Emerging Technology’s Unfamiliarity with Commercial Law, 119 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 31 (2024), https://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1340&context=nulr_online