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Understanding the World of Cryptocurrency

Monet Valdez

The world of cryptocurrency can be a challenge. Understanding that world takes patience and an element of tech know-how.

To third-year California Western student Monet Valdez, this was a challenge she had the courage to take on and she has been rewarded with the distinction of having her first scholarly article published in DESC (Direito, Economia e Sociedade Contemporânea), the Journal of the Graduate Program in Law of PPGD FACAMP, one of Brazil’s most prominent colleges.

The article, Estonia's Success and Chile's Failure, is a comparative analysis of cryptocurrency regulations and the impact on anti-money laundering in Estonia and Chile.

Valdez credits her mentor, California Western Associate Dean for Experiential Learning James Cooper, for igniting her interest in blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

“When I got the opportunity to write a comparative paper for Professor Cooper, I knew that I wanted to include Latin America,” recalls Valdez. “If you have ever chatted with Professor Cooper for any extended period, he will make you fall in love with blockchain and the dark hole that is cryptocurrency. I knew then that I wanted to write about the subject but make it digestible for someone that perhaps has never read anything about blockchain, through the lens of my interest in foreign relations.”

The article analyses and compares the lack of cryptocurrency regulations in Chile against the pro-cryptocurrency rules that have been adopted in Estonia. It assesses other factors that may also be impacting Estonia’s decrease and Chile’s increase in economic crimes, including money laundering.

“I appreciate the emphasis on international bridges cryptocurrency builds between whole continents,” says Valdez. “The transparency that blockchain technology can bring to corporate governance, the attraction to foreign investment, not to mention the need for creative new policies reveals endless avenues to walk down in crypto-land.”

Valdez went back and forth on whether she should try and publish her article in the U.S. or abroad, and ultimately, she thought it best to search abroad to highlight her interest in international settings.

“Professor Cooper, California Western’s gatekeeper to all secrets of international law, put me in touch with DESC,” says Valdez.

“It is great when our students publish in journals, but especially gratifying when our students publish in international journals,” says Professor Cooper. “Monet’s law review article in the FACAMP signature publication came out of the IBT course and explores the different legal regimes that regulate crypto currency. It’s cutting edge, fascinating stuff.”

Valdez’s passion for social justice is what drove Valdez to study law. At a young age, she watched her parents deal with those same challenges and decided that if she could interpret for her parents at a courthouse, she could interpret for others on a larger scale.

Valdez describes her time at Cal Western as rewarding and challenging, and she has appreciated the intimate setting that the law school provides and its commitment to diversity. The study abroad CILE program was a highlight for her, and she got the opportunity to study in Ireland.

“After studying and living in Ireland, I came back to the States and researched how I could go back after law school. Living abroad, although only for a short period, opened my eyes to the possibility of working abroad, too,” she says.

More scholarly articles are on the horizon for Valdez, but she says these will have to wait until after graduation, bar prep, the bar, and taking an overdue break from all things student-related.

“This past year has been nothing if not challenging during the pandemic,” says Valdez. “But if law school taught me anything, it’s how resilient I am. Pandemic or not, commencement or not, I came to law school, and I’m finishing it on a high note.”

Read Monet Valdez’s complete article, Estonia's Success and Chile's Failure, here.