Zář 15

SEC and Institutional Investor Backing: A Question of Custody

One of the last major hurdles to the widespread institutional adoption of cryptocurrency is the issue of custody — where to securely store all those high-paying clients’ assets. Fortunately, several companies are currently working on a solution to this piece of the puzzle.


A Universal Question

Custody is a question that perhaps anyone who has owned crypto has considered — or failed to at their own peril. I.e., Where am I going to keep my Bitcoin (BTC) 00 — or other tokens —safe?

In the early days, some were happy enough to leave their crypto in the safe hands of the exchange where it was bought. Until a series of high profile hackings highlighted just how untrustworthy those hands may be.

The crypto community possesses online desktop and mobile wallets, hardware wallets, and even paper wallets, depending on how sensible/paranoid we are. Now imagine dealing with millions of dollars worth of someone else’s money.

Assured Security

Institutional investors are accustomed to having their assets safely stored or FDIC insured. For institutions holding assets of over $150 million dollars, use of a third party custodian is an SEC requirement. So for larger companies, self-custody (managing their own private keys) is not even an option.

Smaller retail and family offices may utilize offline cold-storage methods or even keep assets on an exchange. But there is a clear need for some entity to fill the role of secure, regulated custodian. Managing private keys in the way that Wall Street custodians manage traditional asset classes.

Regulatory Scrutiny

One of the companies aiming to fill that niche is BitGo. Yesterday BitGo became the first regulated service for storing digital assets when it received a state trust company charter from the South Dakota Division of Banking.

https://medium.com/@mikebelshe

CEO and Co-founder, Mike Belshe said:

This is the missing piece for infrastructure — it’s a treacherous environment today… Hedge funds need it, family offices need it, they can’t participate in digital currency until they have a place to store it that’s regulated.

The Alternatives

Aside from BitGo, there are several companies vying for a place at the custodial table. They include Coinbase, Gemini, Ledger and ItBit, who are all developing solutions. Nomura partnered with Ledger and Global Advisors to announce plans for a custody solution in May. Even Goldman Sachs recently announced plans for their entry into the market.

An influx of institutional investors could be the exact boost the current crypto-market needs. For the SEC to get on board and realize this vision, there really is no alternative to a regulated custodian service.

What are your thoughts on custodial services in the crypto landscape?


Images courtesy of Medium, Shutterstock.

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Srp 23

SEC Rejects Applications for 9 Bitcoin ETFs

The SEC has said no to applications for nine different Bitcoin ETFs. Applications came from ProShares, Direxion, and GraniteShares.  


Nine applications to list and trade different Bitcoin ETFs were rejected by the SEC, according to three different releases dated August 22nd.

The regulatory agency (predictably) rejected five proposed ETFs from Direxion, two from Proshares, and two from GraniteShares. The SEC cited concerns over fraud and manipulation as the main reasons for the rejection.

The official deadline for the ProShares decision was August 23, while GraniteShare’s offering was slated for September 15. Many were curious to see how the SEC’s decision would play out, as any sort of positive news would certainly send Bitcoin price 00 upwards.

Many were curious to see how the SEC's decision would play out, especially since any sort of positive news would certainly send Bitcoin prices trending upwards.

A Flurry Of Rejections

In each report, the SEC listed specific reasons that led them to reject each application. But in all three releases, the agency wrote:

[T]he Commission is disapproving this proposed rule change because, as discussed below, the Exchange has not met its burden under the Exchange Act and the Commission’s Rules of Practice to demonstrate that its proposal is consistent with the requirements of the Exchange Act Section 6(b)(5), in particular the requirement that a national securities exchange’s rules be designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices.

The SEC also noted how none of the applications convinced them that the Bitcoin futures market was of “significant size.” According to the SEC, this failure is important because the applications have “failed to establish that other means to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices will be sufficient, and therefore surveillance-sharing with a regulated market of significant size related to bitcoin is necessary.”

However, the SEC did note:

Its disapproval does not rest on an evaluation of whether bitcoin, or blockchain technology more generally, has utility or value as an innovation or an investment.

The latest round of rejections by the SEC is nothing new to cryptocurrency enthusiasts who are excited about the idea of a Bitcoin ETF.

Echoes of Previous Rejections

The latest round of rejections by the SEC is nothing new to cryptocurrency enthusiasts who are excited about the idea of a Bitcoin ETF.

Last year, the agency rejected an ETF proposal from Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, known as the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust. In July, the SEC rejected a rule change proposal the two brothers submitted after the initial rejection.

The agency said they denied the proposal due to concerns about investor protection. At the time, the regulatory body pointed out how Bitcoin was subject to fraud and manipulation carried out from offshore markets that were unregulated.

Now, all eyes are set to wait for the SEC’s decision about the CBOE Bitcoin ETF proposal. Some legal experts think the SEC will probably hold off until 2019 on making a decision about their proposal. In the meantime, CBOE has been fairly active in working with the SEC to mitigate concerns.

What do you think about the SEC’s latest rejections? Will the commission eventually approve a crypto ETF? Let us know in the comments!


Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, Shutterstock

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Srp 09

Pantera Capital CEO Says Investors ‘Overreacting’ to Bitcoin ETF Delay

Dan Morehead, CEO of Pantera Capital, calls for calm in light of the delayed SEC decision on Bitcoin ETF.


In a continuing saga between investors and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Dan Morehead calls for long-term thinking. This assurance comes amidst a tumultuous affair involving legislators, regulators, and investors alike.

10,000 Years?

According to CNBC, Morehead says the following in regards to Tuesday’s SEC decision:

I still think it will be quite a long time until an ETF is approved. The last asset class to be approved for ETF certification was copper, and copper has been on earth for 10,000 years.

After the SEC postponed its decision on a Bitcoin 00 ETF Wednesday, a bearish dip ensued. Subsequently, Morehead went on to acknowledge the following regarding the dip and ensuing fears:

The main thing to remember is that bitcoin is very early-stage venture, but has real-time price feed — and that’s a unique thing. People get excited about the price and overreact

Rather than feeling pessimistic, the Pantera Capital man pointed towards new ventures like the Starbucks Bakkt project saying:

That is going to be a very profound impact over the next five or 10 years for the markets, and, to my mind, that’s what people should be focused on.

A Positive Outlook

Morehead says “It’s all perspective,” as he pointed towards the fact that cryptocurrencies retain an 82% consistency. CNBC’s Chloe Aiello notes that,

Bitcoin was last down 6.3 percent at $6,288.30, which still makes it about 82 percent higher year on year[…]

Regardless of bearish markets and often unstable outlooks, Morehead remains a proponent of optimism in an ever-changing financial landscape.

What do you think about Dan Morehead’s insight? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!


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Čvc 02

Did the SEC Just Make it Easier to Launch a Blockchain Based ETF in the US?

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this week approved plans for public comment which would make it easier for investment companies to bring new exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to market. Could these new rules enable the creation of more blockchain-based ETFs?


The SEC’s proposed changes would remove the need for many ETFs to seek special permission from the SEC and is targeted towards what the industry describes as “plain vanilla” ETFs. The proposal met with unanimous approval from SEC commissioners.

New Rule Will Apply to Most ETFs

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton says the new rule would “level the playing field” and that:

The proposed rule would cover most ETFs operating today and all similar ETFs that sponsors may seek to launch in the future.

Clayton did qualify his statement by explaining the new rule wouldn’t cover all products, some would require greater scrutiny. Complex leveraged products sometimes called “exotic” ETFs, for example, would not be eligible for the new process the rule would create.

In theory, the change could open up the market for investment firms offering blockchain-based ETFs. That is, ETFs which – instead of investing in cryptocurrencies themselves – invest in companies developing, or based on, blockchain technology. Blockchain-based ETFs can be viewed by traditional investors as a less risky way to capitalize on the new blockchain economy.

In practice, there has been no clarification as to whether blockchain-based ETFs would require “greater scrutiny.” They might not if they meet the industry definition of “plain vanilla,” simply based for example, on share options or bonds with no “exotic” features like extra rules for meeting a certain price point before becoming active.

New Rule Will Apply to Most ETFs

Impact on Bitcoin-based ETFs

Though the SEC has yet to specifically mention blockchain or bitcoin-based ETFs in reference to these discussions it is almost certain that bitcoin-based ETFs, which invest directly in cryptocurrencies themselves, are unlikely to see any favor from the proposed new rules.

The SEC is currently reviewing applications for a number of bitcoin-based ETFs and is holding back on the approval due to unanswered questions pertaining to the cryptocurrency markets and the way coins are valued and regulated. According to reports, the SEC has rejected over a dozen applications already.

Dalia Blass, SEC Director of Investment Management, penned a letter in March 2018, outlining the SEC’s concerns regarding bitcoin-based ETFs.

The approval of a bitcoin-based ETF would be significant, with some experts predicting this might now happen sooner rather than later.

Indeed, the SEC is seeking public feedback on an application by CBOE Global to list an ETF with bitcoin shares backed by VanEck and SolidX in documents published on the SEC website on June 26th, 2018. The move by the SEC could well signify a change in its attitude towards ETFs that invest in cryptocurrencies.

If the new rules proposed by the SEC are implemented it will be interesting to see whether blockchain-based ETFs are treated in the same way as ETFs investing in more traditional companies and technologies. If the SEC is actually targeting “plain vanilla” ETF structures with the more relaxed approach this could be the case.

The SEC could also decide that blockchain-based ETFs require “greater scrutiny,” however, the loosening of the regulatory pressure on the $3.6 trillion USD market for ETFs still marks progress which could eventually see both blockchain-based and bitcoin-based ETFs as common features of institutional markets.

Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF & mutual fund research at CFRA Research, told Reuters the proposed rule change could:

Support new ETF launches, particularly tied to long-term thematic approaches, from small independent asset managers.

The SEC has approved seven blockchain-based ETFs in 2018 to date and Canada approved its first blockchain-based ETF in February 2018.

Do you think the proposed changes will enable the creation of more blockchain-based ETFs? Will it open the door for Bitcoin-based ETFs? Let us know in the comments below.


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Kvě 24

From Russia with Love: How Cryptocurrency and Blockchain are Finding Their Feet

· May 23, 2018 · 9:00 pm

In the West, crypto markets continue to battle with the regulatory uncertainty as the SEC and other regulatory bodies take their time to decide which camp they sit on. At the same time, things are not much rosier in the East either where China is yet to warm up to cryptocurrencies.


Blockchain has been around “long” enough to show the proof of concept in that by utilizing blockchain it is possible to streamline a number of processes, both on the governmental and also corporate levels. This then has prompted an exponential rise in fintech start-ups looking to challenge the status quo and disrupt the standard ways of storing, organizing, and extracting data sets. However, the actual implementation of blockchain technologies across much of Western Europe and even the US has been constrained by the regulatory uncertainty.

On the one hand, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) are yet to put a fundamental framework forward to appease concerns surrounding utility vs security token model. While in Europe, an introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is perfectly suitable for blockchain applications, is being rushed through by compliance and HR departments with such haste that blockchain is far away on their radar.

In Blockchain We Trust

In Blockchain We Trust

Russia is an interesting case when it comes to the world of ICOs. On the one hand, it is a great place to source technical experts for your blockchain related ventures. The price tag might be astronomical but at least you know what you are getting for the labor and that is quality, reliability and of course security. So, with one piece of the puzzle sorted comes the tricky bit, finding a suitable business partner and this is where things go wrong… really wrong.

One of the most depressing and worrying statistics that has come out of the Russian Association of Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain (RACIB) is that around half of the ICO funds in the country that were raised in the past year – amounting to $300 million – have gone to pyramid schemes.

Economic and political uncertainty, together with numerous corruption scandals has really dented investor appetite for projects in the country. It is very much high-risk, high-reward based game when it comes to investing in Russia and when combined with the volatile nature of the currency, this perception is unlikely to change anytime soon. The regulation and oversight by the government can help alleviate some of the concerns relating to fraudulent activities but at least for now, the crypto community is yet to “sanction” Russian projects altogether.

In the meantime, the likes of Blackmoon (BMC) will remind budding entrepreneurs and investors of the success stories and there is, of course, hope that the government, which is actively looking at ways to promote and integrate digital economy, will not be overly involved in regulation aspect.

On the subject of regulation, it was reported that the Russian State Duma’s Committee for Legislative Work will support the first reading of an initiative that will add the basic norms of digital economy to the Russian Federation Civil Code. The initiative itself does not mean that digital currencies will now become a legitimate means of payment and instead, a separate law developed by other regulatory bodies, will outline conditions for using digital currencies as a payment method. The initiative will also look to treat a digital confirmation by a user in a smart contract is equal to his written consent.

What Does Russia’s Future Hold?

Over the course of 19-20 May 2018, Moscow hosted one of the largest cryptocurrency summits of 2018, with over 200 speakers and over 3000 participants taking part in the event. While the event may not carry the same weight as Consensus, which took place earlier this month, or d10e, it was an important event for the country that stands at a crossroads with the technology. The decisions that will be made by the government need to be made in the spirit of blockchain and with the aim to further technological, as well as economical, advancement as opposed to being the means to destabilize the Dollar.

The commissioning of the crypto-rouble is not far-reaching enough. Anyone looking for inspiration should turn to Dubai and their smart-city plans. According to Smart Dubai, which is conducting government and private organization workshops to identify areas that will benefit from the overhaul, the strategy could save 25.1million man hours, equivalent to $1.5 billion in savings per year for the emirate. It has been noted that the fast majority of improved efficiency will come from moving to paperless government.

What do you think of the latest developments in Russia and can it reform and lead the way in providing a sound base for crypto projects? 


Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Shutterstock

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Kvě 18

US Securities and Exchange Commission Launches ‘HoweyCoins’ ICO

· May 17, 2018 · 8:00 pm

In a surprising turn of events, the US Securities and Exchange Commission has launched its own initial coin offering dubbed HoweyCoins.


‘A Hot Investment Opportunity’

Anyone looking for a hot new initial coin offering (ICO) should look no further than the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s brand new token sale for HoweyCoins. States the regulatory authority in an official press release:

If you’ve ever been tempted to buy into a hot investment opportunity linked with luxury travel, the Securities and Exchange Commission has a deal for you.

Check out the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy’s mock initial coin offering (ICO) website that touts an all too good to be true investment opportunity. But please don’t expect the SEC to fly you anywhere exotic—because the offer isn’t real.

Unsurprisingly, the SEC isn’t actually launching its own token sale. Rather, the independent agency of the United States federal government has set up a mock website in order to educate investors about the perils of investing in fraudulent ICOs.

Clicking “Buy Coins Now” on HoweyCoins.com — a tongue-in-cheek reference to a landmark US Supreme Court decision in 1946 — will not actually sell you coins, but rather offer tools and advice from the SEC and other financial regulators.

The website has reportedly been set up to protect regular investors, and “features several of the enticements that are common to fraudulent offerings, including a white paper with a complex yet vague explanation of the investment opportunity, promises of guaranteed returns, and a countdown clock that shows time is quickly running out on the deal of a lifetime.”

The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy’s Chief Counsel, Owen Donley — aka HoweyCoins’ Josh Hinze — explains:

Fraudsters can quickly build an attractive website and load it up with convoluted jargon to lure investors into phony deals. But fraudulent sites also often have red flags that can be dead giveaways if you know what to look for.

Likewise, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton states:

The rapid growth of the ‘ICO’ market, and its widespread promotion as a new investment opportunity, has provided fertile ground for bad actors to take advantage of our Main Street investors. We embrace new technologies, but we also want investors to see what fraud looks like, so we built this educational site with many of the classic warning signs of fraud. Distributed ledger technology can add efficiency to the capital raising process, but promoters and issuers need to make sure they follow the securities laws. I encourage investors to do their diligence and ask questions.

HoweyCoins.com does indeed look a lot like the vast majority of websites offering ICOs and may be interpreted as a clever and funny way to educate investors against fraudulent schemes — as opposed to simply providing bullet points on a government website.

What do you think of the SEC’s new mock ICO? Do you think this is a positive move in the education of investors against fraudulent ICOs and bad actors in the cryptocurrency space? Be sure to let us know in the comments below! 


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Bře 04

SEC Subpoenas TechCrunch Founder’s Crypto Fund — And Everyone Else, Too

· March 4, 2018 · 12:30 pm

While the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission dishes out subpoenas to cryptocurrency projects like a generous house doles out candy on Halloween, TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington’s $100 million cryptofund has also come under investigation.


‘They Just Have to Figure out What They Want.’

TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington’s $100 million cryptofund has been subpoenaed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission — which is no skin off Arrington’s back. He told CNBC on Thursday:

We received a subpoena. Every [crypto]fund I’ve talked to has received one. That’s fine. They just have to figure out what they want. They need to set up rules so we can all follow them, and the market is begging them for that.

SEC

Too Much Confusion

Indeed, the SEC apparently has no idea exactly what it wants, having already indicated that regulations in regards to securities laws do not apply to digital coins. The confusion created by the SEC has even caused many cryptocurrency firms to ban U.S. investors from getting involved in the projects.

Meanwhile, the SEC’s New York, Boston, and San Francisco offices have been issuing subpoenas like it’s their job, in an attempt to learn as much as possible about the burgeoning billion-dollar industry. Said Jason Gottlieb, partner at Morrison Cohen, who is defending PlexCorps against charges of fraud:

Clearly it’s a coordinated, grand investigation. I would expect it’s going to continue throughout this year.

Goodbye, USA

According to Arrington, the negativity and confusion created by the SEC is driving innovation away from the United States. He told CNBC:

That’s a shame, The U.S. has just frozen itself. The stuff coming out of Asia is uniformly high quality.

US flag

The US is not the only country struggling with regulation, of course. South Korea has ping-ponged back and forth while China has outright banned Initial Coin Offerings. Japan has somewhat successfully implemented a licensing system for cryptocurrency exchanges, while European financial authorities in Germany and France are calling for a global crackdown.

Still, the US remains in the spotlight and risks driving out innovation while the SEC dithers. Says William Mougayar, author of The Business Blockchain:

I hope they don’t go [down] the slippery slope of trying to classify tokens because it’s a grey zone throughout. Rather, focus on requiring disclosures that are well-defined, while not being too restrictive yet.

For now, we’ll just have to wait and see.

What do you think about the SEC’s subpoena-issuing spree? Do you think effective, innovation-supporting regulation will come from its investigation? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Reuters, Wikipedia Commons, Flickr.

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Úno 28

So Why Did Goldman Sachs-Backed Circle Really Buy Poloniex?

· February 28, 2018 · 10:00 am

Goldman Sachs-backed startup Circle made waves earlier this week when it acquired cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex. A couple of experts share their thoughts on the implications for the soon-to-be first compliant US crypto exchange and its customers.


Most Crypto Exchanges ‘Over-Regulate Themselves’

As the dust settles on Circle’s acquisition of Poloniex, U.S. regulators are keeping a close eye on KYC/AML compliance of cryptocurrency exchanges.

Joseph Weinberg

Joseph Weinberg, OECD Think Tank Special Advisor and Chairman of Shyft, a blockchain protocol that will create a new standard for the KYC/AML mandates, shared his comments with Bitcoinist. He states:

Most crypto exchanges that are processing fiat to crypto transactions are very compliant and, in some cases, even more so than banks. It all really depends on jurisdictions and the compliance policies given by countries to crypto exchanges.

He continued:

For crypto exchanges, the challenge lies in how little formal guidelines there are from regulators. As a result, most of the industry has been doing self-compliance in absence of clear procedures. To err on the safe side, crypto exchanges over-regulate themselves. For example, most exchanges ask for passport verification in order to confirm users’ identities, whereas most banks only require government-issued IDs, such as drivers licenses.

Interestingly, Circle acquired the crypto exchange over a year after announcing it was shifting focus from Bitcoin to blockchain-based services. At the time, the company informed its Bitcoin customers that they can can cash out or transfer their balances to Coinbase, if they wished to continue to use the cryptocurrency.

So why did Circle decide to jump back into the crypto game?

It appears that Poloniex was struggling to keep up with the unexpected surge in new users as prices skyrocketed in the second half of 2017. Additionally, being based in the United States, the company also had to keep up with rising compliance costs as it rolled out its new KYC policies late last year.

Weinberg explains:

In the past, Poloniex had a lot of issues with onboarding new users and properly building out its KYC process, mainly due to the large amounts of time it takes to verify users. Given the level of KYC that exchanges force themselves to go through, scaling compliance is almost a separate product that the exchange has to build out.

According to him, this is where Circle comes in with their KYC/AML expertise. He says:

Through this acquisition, Circle will deploy more people to help handle compliance—more employees to build and process KYC due diligence faster. This is the same type of issue traditional banks have when it comes to scaling. Compliance costs keep multiplying, and yet, they aren’t always found to be effective.

The SEC Is Watching

Meanwhile, another takeaway has been put forth by Nathaniel Popper, author of Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money.

Popper noted on Twitter that the SEC informally suggested to Circle that no enforcement action will occur if the Boston-based startup “cleans up Poloniex and turns it into a regulated exchange.” He adds:

The SEC seems to be saying here that it’s okay if you broke the rules, as long as you get acquired by a legitimate player before we crack down on you.

The question now seems to be whether the SEC will apply this same thinking to other virtual currency exchanges if they are acquired by large players.

In addition to facilitating compliance, Circle also announced that it will add fiat bridges and expand operation to other markets. Namely, the company promised to explore “USD, EUR, and GBP connectivity that Circle already brings to its compliant Pay, Trade, and Invest products.”

This would imply that the exchange must also become compliant and answer to regulators from across the pond, who are currently scratching their heads on how to approach cryptocurrencies without stifling innovation in the process.

Therefore, regulators in the U.S. and abroad could be playing the carrot and stick strategy by providing an incentive for crypto exchanges to get acquired by the large players, such as Goldman Sachs, before a potential crackdown. Admittedly, this could also be a clever way for traditional finance to not only appear innovative through association but also assimilate would-be future competitors.

If true, the strategy may be futile and usher in the Streisand effect to boot. As technology advances, so do new methods of exchanging cryptocurrency. Therefore, assimilating centralized exchanges like Poloniex could force users to migrate en masse to decentralized exchanges and further bolster their development.

Why do you believe Circle acquired Poloniex? Share your comments below!


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Zář 12

UK Issues a Warning on ICOs But Some Are Already Immune

· September 12, 2017 · 8:00 am

Less than a year after the industry began, running a Blockchain business using a digital token has suddenly become a lot more complicated.


ICOs Float Between A Rock And A Hard Place

The free-for-all of the first six months of 2017 when Blockchain startups and ‘projects’ created and sold tokens at will, often for hundreds of millions of dollars, has changed thanks to snap regulatory decisions.

The context of regulator reactions continues to dictate digital token or ICO market performance.

SEC Issues Warning for ICO Organizers and Investors

In more liberal settings such as the US, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has sought to create a wary environment among Blockchain businesses looking to issue a token. According to its exact functions and technical make-up, a token may or may not conform to the legacy description of a ‘security,’ and issuers must act accordingly to stay above the law.

The UK has become the latest major economy to publish official guidance on the phenomenon. Literature released Tuesday, September 12 by the country’s Financial Conduct Authority closely tracks the SEC.

“Whether an ICO falls within the FCA’s regulatory boundaries or not can only be decided case by case,” it states.

Most recently, however, a considerably harder route to ICO market control has come from China. Together with the US, it constitutes the largest participant in the industry, accounting for $398 million of its total $1.7 billion value.

As of September 2017, digital token sales are banned in China, a decision even affecting completed sales retroactively, compelling some businesses to refund sale proceeds.

First Movers Dictate The Golden Rules

The situation poses obvious problems for China-based projects, who are now considering how to continue operating in a market where even fiat-to-crypto exchange could soon become illegal for the second time.

Not a lot of countries have any type of regulation in place,” Blackmoon Crypto CEO Oleg Seydak told Bitcoinist about the current status quo.

Token issues will pay major attention to jurisdictions which have a position on the matter like USA, Singapore, China and comply with that regulation or avoid interactions with their citizens. Blackmoon Crypto is a Blockchain-based platform for tokenized investments, also preparing to launch an ICO. Like international platforms such as LakeBanker, the project faces a regulatory headache launching in such an uncertain global environment.

Tezos and Other Exciting New ICOs

When asked what industry participants should do to bulletproof themselves against unpleasant regulatory challenges, Seydak’s immediate reaction is to create as strong an offering as possible.

“The best solution is to be cross-blockchain startup. But it’s hard from a technical point of view,” he said. “At the same time, it becomes more and more easy with each day.”

Shutting The Door For How Long?

Imbued against regulatory shuffling by technical design are ICO projects which have been years in the making, such as Vinny Lingham’s Civic.

A steadfast delivery and plan for token use has come on the back of a highly controlled yet innovative token sale that ensured few doubts remained about developer integrity.

But so far, the interim method of choice for ICO-implicated businesses has simply been to deny participation to US and Chinese citizens.

The consequences of being lax about adherence are plain to see. This week, China’s regulators ordered even completed ICO campaigns to refund investors, while the scenario of a re-worked regulated ICO industry appearing in the country remain pure speculation.

ICO

Ahead of its planned ICO campaign, LakeBanker is therefore reviewing its options for both the short and long term. One thing is for certain: few cues will come from Civic, the platform having labelled Lingham’s sale “North Korean” in an article in August.

“At the beginning we will focus our resources on countries other than the US and China,” Lakebanker CSO Andrew McCarthy explained to Bitcoinist.

Our choices of the locations are based on two criteria: where our services are needed most and where legal overheads are not beyond reasonable. There are many countries that meet these two criteria better than the US or China.

The company has already converted to a de facto non-Chinese operation, having previously had only little involvement with the market. Chinese investors will also face initial exclusion.

In future, however, things could readily change, and such eventualities are already implanted into the platform’s roadmap.

“For the US and China some preparation work of the markets can be done in parallel, which include compliance/licensing, recruitment, and technology,” McCarthy added.

We will definitely shift our focus to the two biggest economies in the world in a year or two, when we have more streamlined processes, experienced operational teams, and good track records from other markets.

LakeBanker’s ICO is due to commence September 15 as a fixed-price sale, followed by a phase 2 Dutch auction in October.

Do you agree with the tactics of the ICO’s mentioned? Does the industry need more regulations? Let us know below!


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Srp 01

ICO Haven Sent Packing; Singapore follows SEC Lead to Regulate Securities-type Token Sales

· August 1, 2017 · 5:15 pm

Exactly one week ago, the SEC issued a report concluding that certain token sales could be considered securities, and hence were subject to regulation. Today, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued a similar statement, clarifying that, in some cases, Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) were essentially equivalent to securities, and should fall under the same regulatory procedures.


I can’t help but feel slightly responsible. After all, just five days before the SEC report was published, I wrote an article describing many of the recent ICOs as tantamount to “buying shares in a stranger’s start-up.”

Oops!

SEC Issues Warning for ICO Organizers and Investors

Say What Now?

Sure, the SEC report was a direct response to the hack on the Ethereum side project, the DAO hub, almost a year ago… So I guess that can’t be my fault, but the timing is more than a little suspicious, wouldn’t you say?

Okay, the SEC focussed more on the risks to investors, and (quite rightly IMHO) ascertained this. If the token issued is promising to give investors a return (i.e. dividend), then it should fall under the realm of the SEC, and be subject to regulation. These rules are there to protect investors, so really it would be churlish of us to complain.

They also decided that they wouldn’t press charges at this point, but that future ICOs should be wary of where the often hazy line is drawn. Many token sales already prohibit U.S. citizens from participating for just this reason, so it’s not something we weren’t already aware of.

But Singapore? They Were Like… Totally Chill Man!

Well, yes and no. Singapore’s recent experiments with the tokenization of its currency were seen as an implicit embracing of all things crypto, with local authorities stating that they don’t consider digital tokens as securities. However, this is also the place where you can be fined $100,000 dollars and spend two years in jail for chewing gum.

The report is very clear and states:

The function of digital tokens has evolved beyond just being a virtual currency. […] Where digital tokens fall within the definition of securities in the SFA, issuers of such tokens would be required to lodge and register a prospectus with MAS prior to the offer of such tokens

So the Party’s Over?

No. Not by a long shot. Both the SEC and MAS reports specifically stop short of claiming that all cryptocurrency tokens and ICOs will fall within their remit. The MAS explicitly states that their “position of not regulating virtual currencies is similar to that of most jurisdictions.”

As would be expected, no specific definition is provided as far as what will or will not count as a security. But implicit in these reports is the assertion that this isn’t going to affect your Bitcoin, or your Ether, or your Just-doing-this-for-a-joke-Coin, whatever.

If a coin functions as a coin, then it should be fine. If a coin functions as a token for the purchase of service or product within an eventual eco-system, then that should also be fine.

If a coin is promising dividends based on a company’s profitability, then… yeah. If it sounds like a share in a stranger’s start-up…

But… but… but…

Let me repeat once again that these regulations are here to protect us, the investors.

Yes, our eyes may spin like a cartoon character’s until the pupils resemble dollar signs at the mere thought of that near-mythical level of profit that a friend of a friend down the pub told us about but we would all be sick to our stomachs to find out that the ICO we just plowed our hard-won life-savings into was just an elaborate Ponzi scheme after all.

To ignore the risk of one for the sake of the other would make us not investors. It would simply make us gamblers.

What do you think of the SEC and MAS’ recent reports? Will it have an impact on which ICOs you choose to invest in? Have you found yourself frozen out of an ICO because of where you live? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Fotolia

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