On April 23, the Federal Reserve Board (the “FRB”) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPR”) to “simplify and increase the transparency,” while maintaining “consistency” to its determination of whether an entity “controls” a bank or a savings association (collectively, “depository institution”). According to the FRB’s announcement, the NPR is a first draft of a “comprehensive regulatory framework for control determinations.” FinTech companies seeking to become depository institutions should pay close attention to the NPR as it provides clear guidelines for when its investors would become subject to the Bank Holding Company Act (“BHCA”).Read More
On 30 April 2019, Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) released the first of seven “drops” of software code into the “Customer Development Environment”. This marks the beginning of the introduction of the new equities clearing and settlement system, which ASX is developing to replace the existing CHESS system. The new system is based on distributed ledger technology (DLT) and promises to provide customers with access to real-time, synchronised, source-of-truth data.Read More
On April 25th, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB” or “Bureau”) issued a request for information (“RFI”) asking for input about the scope of its Remittance Rule (the “Rule”), whether the Bureau should exempt certain small financial institutions from the Rule, and how the expiration of the Rule’s “temporary exemption” for insured depository institutions and credit unions would adversely affect consumers. Comments are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.Read More
In the lead up to the annual G20 Summit, to be hosted by Japan, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe has commissioned the creation of a cryptocurrency governance manual. The manual, which will be distributed at the G20 Summit, supports a uniform approach to regulating cryptocurrencies and contains regulatory proposals and justifications relating to the following issues:
- protecting customer assets;
- international security protocols; and
- providing customers with information (particularly in the event of a hack).
On 2 April 2019, the European Commission announced the launch of the European Forum for Innovation Facilitators (“EFIF”). The EFIF will serve as a joint platform designed to foster collaboration and experience sharing among European financial supervisors on their engagement with FinTech firms through sandboxes and innovation hubs. On an ad-hoc basis, the European Supervisory Authorities (“ESAs”) and EU Member States’ National Competent Authorities (“NCAs”) will also be joined by third-countries’ authorities to exchange best practices, identify regulatory obstacles and share knowledge.Read More
By Jim Bulling and Andrew Fay
In January 2019, Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, QuadrigaCX, announced that it had lost $180 million of virtual currency, prompting calls for tighter regulatory oversight of the industry.
Canada is home to 18 publicly listed cryptocurrency companies, more than any other jurisdiction in the world. This puts Canada at the heart of the issue, and has also put the Canadian Public Accountability Board (CPAB) on notice. The CPAB, which regulates auditors, has confirmed that it has been reviewing how existing Canadian audit standards apply to the cryptocurrency industry. Canada, like Australia, subscribes to the International Financial Reporting Standards.Read More
In December 2018, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) settled an enforcement action with Wealthfront, one of the industry’s leading robo advisors. This came after Wealthfront made false statements about its software’s ability to implement a ‘tax-loss harvesting’ strategy. Wealthfront failed to properly execute the strategy, resulting in losses to a significant number of clients. Wealthfront ultimately agreed to pay a $US 250,000 penalty.Read More
In a flurry of activity today, the U.S. SEC’s Strategic Hub for Innovation and Technology (“FinHub”) issued a “Framework for ‘Investment Contract’ Analysis of Digital Assets” and the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance (“CorpFin”) issued a historic No-Action Letter to Turnkey Jet, Inc. (“TurnKey Jet”) in connection with its offer and sale of digital assets. The Framework doesn’t contain anything substantially new for U.S. securities law practitioners who have been giving guidance to companies regarding digital assets (or utility tokens, security tokens or digital securities depending upon your term of choice) for some time, but serves as a good reminder of the SEC staff’s thought process in this area for those new to the space.
And in case you missed Footnote 1 to the Framework, Bill Hinman (SEC Director of CorpFin) and Valerie Szczepanik (SEC Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation) released a Statement on the Framework reminding everyone that the SEC has not approved or disapproved of the content and it is not a rule or regulation. These types of Frameworks are often how the internal staff at the SEC get the ball rolling on regulatory innovations (recall the legendary Project Aircraft Carrier of 1998). The Framework applies the factors set forth in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Howey case to digital assets, without going further. Therefore, it’s worth questioning whether Director Hinman has lost the argument internally at the SEC that he posited in his June 2018 Digital Asset Transactions remarks, in which he included “does application of the Securities Act protections make sense” in his list of considerations for assessing whether a digital asset offering is an investment contract.Read More
On 18 March 2019, the Federal Australian Government announced its plan to establish the national blockchain roadmap (Roadmap) which intends to focus developing regulation, skills and capacity building, innovation, investment and international competitiveness in the emerging local blockchain industry.Read More
On March 13, 2019, the American Bar Association’s Derivatives and Futures Law Committee published a white paper called Digital and Digitized Assets: Federal and State Jurisdictional Issues. As stated in its preface, this White Paper was prepared by members of the Jurisdiction Working Group of the Innovative Digitized Products and Processes Subcommittee (“IDPPS”) and their colleagues, who generously contributed substantial time and effort to this ambitious undertaking. The authors have sought to provide a comprehensive explanation of federal and state laws that may apply to the creation, offer, use and trading of digital assets in the United States, along with summaries of key initiatives outside the United States. The White Paper also recommends an analytic framework for considering potential issues of jurisdictional overlap between the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission under the separate federal statutes they each are responsible for administering.Read More