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Sturm College of Law


Cryptocurrency, Regulation, Fiduciary duty, Super bowl, Advertising, Defined contributions, Retirement savings, 401(k)


Regulating cryptocurrency’s place in America’s most popular retirement savings vehicle generates thorny legal, ethical, and social justice dilemmas. Too little regulation could hurt those at highest risk of underfunded retirement. Too much could exacerbate existing racial, ethnic, and gender inequities.

Though recent regulatory efforts suggest 401(k) administrators violate their fiduciary duty of care by offering cryptocurrency investment options to plan participants, the established fiduciary regime protects 401(k) plan participants from cryptocurrency risk while respecting their savings preferences. Yet, the current framework falls short of ethically and equitably serving all plan participants, particularly members of underserved communities — a problem largely unaddressed in academic, industry, or regulatory discourse.

This Article demonstrates how regulators’ needlessly paternalistic approach toward cryptocurrency options could disproportionately impact minority retirement savings participation. Applying the existing fiduciary framework and practical mechanisms that plan fiduciaries currently use would minimize cryptocurrency risk to participants without rewriting the rules governing plan administration. This Article also proposes a novel, scientifically supported method by which fiduciaries should convey retirement planning information to improve retirement outcomes for all: via non-traditional media.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform



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