Archive:December 14, 2017

UK Investment Management Industry and FinTech
SEC Cautions “Utility Token” Sponsors and ICO Market Intermediaries

UK Investment Management Industry and FinTech

By Jonathan Lawrence

The UK Treasury recently published its Investment Management Strategy II Report. Building on its 2013 strategy report ‒ which mainly focused on how to improve the UK as a fund domicile ‒ this report sets out the UK government’s strategy to build upon the success of the UK’s investment management industry in the long-term.

One chapter is devoted to FinTech. The government is keen to see FinTech and asset management firms utilising the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Project Innovate, engaging early with the regulator to gain tailored regulatory support and test innovative products in a safe place. It also encourages the sector to take advantage of the FinTech bridges established between the UK to its global partners. Since 2015, the government has established four ‘FinTech Bridges’ – with Singapore, the Republic of Korea, China and Hong Kong. FinTech Bridges provide opportunities for firms to scale up their UK FinTech innovations, internationally. By establishing links between government, regulators and private sectors, FinTech bridges reduce the barriers to entry in a new jurisdiction and link UK FinTech firms to international investment opportunities. The UK’s FinTech Bridges all contain regulatory co-operation agreements negotiated between the FCA and their regulatory counterparts.

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SEC Cautions “Utility Token” Sponsors and ICO Market Intermediaries

By Robert M. Crea

On December 11, 2017, the SEC released a cease-and-desist order against a purported “utility token” sold by Munchee Inc. (“Munchee”) and a statement by Jay Clayton on Cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings.  Two takeaways:

  1. The SEC will scrutinize so-called “utility tokens” under the Howey test, and Chairman Clayton believes that most token sales he’s seen constitute securities offerings.  The familiarity of the Munchee utility framework to other token offerings coupled with Chairman Clayton’s Statement could very well chill the market for utility tokens seeking to avoid application of federal securities laws.
  2. The SEC expects intermediaries operating in crypto, specifically law firms, accountants, consultants and broker-dealers, to be “gatekeepers” of investor protection.

We will be providing a fuller analysis in the next several days.

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