Developing a Cryptocurrency Assessment Framework: Function over Form


  • Andrew Burnie UCL and The Alan Turing Institute
  • James Burnie Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP
  • Andrew Henderson Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP



Classification, Altcoins, Ethereum, Tokens


The rise of cryptocurrency as a new sui generis asset class creates a need for a new classification scheme to cover the wide range of functionality for which tokens can be used. By differentiating tokens based on their functional attributes, cryptocurrency tokens can be categorised into crypto-transaction tokens (which act as a cash substitute); crypto-fuel tokens (which underpin generic blockchain applications); and crypto-voucher tokens (which can be exchanged for a predefined asset). This classification is applied to identify important issues when considering whether to participate in a cryptocurrency system, such as the impact of potential forks, token supply expectations and the level of dependence on a few operators (entity-dependence). For crypto-transaction tokens (and crypto-fuel tokens if used in a similar or overlapping role) it shows the importance of the token being seen as a “better” form of money. For crypto-fuel tokens, the popularity of blockchain applications and the utility of the crypto-fuel system in application development is vital. For crypto-voucher tokens, the value of the underlying asset, the token’s exchangeability for that asset and the importance of a digital representation should be considered by participants. The interplay between fundamentals and speculation as drivers of price is considered.

An erratum to this article has been published at as DOI:

Author Biographies

Andrew Burnie, UCL and The Alan Turing Institute

UCL Computer Science Doctoral Student at The Alan Turing Institute.

MSc in Finance (Grenoble Ecole de Management) and BA in Economics and Management Studies (University of Cambridge / Judge Business School).

James Burnie, Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

Associate lawyer at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP in the Financial Institutions Group.

MA in Law (University of Cambridge) and LLM in Corporate and Commercial Law (LSE).

Andrew Henderson, Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

Partner at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP in the Financial Institutions Group.

PhD in Law (University of Cambridge); LL.M and BA in Law (University of Johannesburg).



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How to Cite

Burnie, A., Burnie, J., & Henderson, A. (2018). Developing a Cryptocurrency Assessment Framework: Function over Form. Ledger, 3.



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