Chapman Law Review


The Catawba Digital Economic Zone (“CDEZ”) achieved a number of firsts when it launched in late 2022: the world’s first entirely virtual special jurisdiction devoted to financial services using technologies like blockchains, cryptocurrencies, digital assets, and artificial intelligence (fintech); the first time that a Native American tribe has claimed exclusive jurisdiction over a broad field of commerce; and the first special jurisdiction in the United States to offer its own civil laws and legal system. If all proceeds as planned, the Zone will soon also host the first Native American public bank in the United States. These firsts follow naturally from the CDEZ’s pioneering mission: to bring the rule of law to the fintech frontier. This paper, written by one of a team of coders hired to help build the zone’s legal framework, reviews the project’s recent progress. The CDEZ launched with a comprehensive Civil Ordinance and quickly added to it: an Administrative Procedure Regulation to regulate the issuance of new rules; a Digital Assets Regulation legally defining Blockchain, Non-Fungible Token, and other fintech entities; and a Resolution making the Uniform Law Institute’s newly published Uniform Commercial Code Article 12 for digital assets locally binding. The Zone Authority has begun rulemaking proceedings for regulations addressing distributed autonomous organizations, stablecoins, and banking and commercial services. These efforts show a strong start for the CDEZ, a Native American special jurisdiction that aims to become the first choice for fintech.



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