The SEC has made a new crypto move. On July 21, the SEC filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court, Western District of WA against Wahi, a Coinbase employee, and two others alleging insider trading and charging them with securities fraud. The SEC alleged that nine of the crypto assets that Wahi and other defendants traded were “crypto asset securities”: AMP, RLY, DDX, XYO, RGT, LCX, POWR, DFX and KROM. This action is unique; unlike prior SEC enforcement actions brought against Poloniex, Coburn, TokenLot and others, which alleged the existence of digital asset securities being traded on various types of trading platforms, but failed to identify the specific alleged securities at issue or include any legal analysis of those alleged securities, here, the SEC “names names” and offers some analysis, but does not add the issuers of those 9 assets, or the platform upon which they are traded, as defendants.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 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
On March 6th, the Chamber of Digital Commerce held its Fourth Annual D.C. Blockchain Summit. SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce and CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo headlined the event. After the cheers for “Crypto Mom” and “Crypto Dad” died down, Commissioner Peirce and Chairman Ginacarlo shared their general views on next steps for digital asset regulation and principles by which regulators should oversee emerging financial technologies.Read More
By Jim Bulling and Tiarna Meka
A recent report by Forbes Insights and Temenos suggests that wealth managers must embrace the development in Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology in order to sustain a long-term future. The use of AI technology allows financial advisors to provide high quality, customised client advice.
There has been a significant rise in the attitudes of wealth managers towards AI since 2016 with global statistics showing that 52% of wealth managers now view AI as essential in their business operations. In Asia-Pacific, this statistic is substantially higher with 70% of wealth managers viewing AI as essential and 80% deploying or testing AI.
On June 14, 2018, William Hinman, Director of the Division of Corporation Finance at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, shared his views on whether digital assets (such as tokens or coins) that were originally offered in a securities offering can be subsequently sold in a manner that does not constitute a securities offering. CLICK HERE for the full remarks.
In some cases where a central enterprise is no longer being invested in, or where the digital asset is used for consumption (to purchase a good or service available through the network it was created), Hinman believes such an asset would not be considered a security. However, labeling a digital asset a “utility token” does not automatically cause the digital asset to become something that is not a security. Although the Supreme Court has stated that if someone is purchasing something for consumption, it is not a security, Hinman emphasized the Supreme Court’s stance that economic substance, not labels, of the transaction guides the legal analysis.