Tag: ICO

1
Wyoming Moving to Exempt Virtual Currency from its Money Transmitter Law
2
Maltese Government releases consultation paper on DLT and ICOs
3
Hong Kong regulators take action against cryptocurrency exchanges and ICOs
4
Top 5 regulatory changes to watch for in 2018
5
FCA comment on ICOs
6
SEC Cautions “Utility Token” Sponsors and ICO Market Intermediaries
7
France’s Financial Markets Authority considers its options for regulating initial coin offerings
8
New SEC Cyber Unit Obtains Emergency Action Against ICO
9
LabCFTC’s First Primer Covers Bitcoin, other Virtual Currencies, Virtual Tokens and ICOs
10
Initial Coin Offerings “Horrify” a Former SEC Commissioner

Wyoming Moving to Exempt Virtual Currency from its Money Transmitter Law

By Dan S Cohen

With unanimous support, the Wyoming House of Representatives passed House Bill 19, which exempts virtual currencies from the state’s money transmission law. HB 19 defines virtual currency as a digital representation of value that is used as a medium of exchange, unit of account, or store of value, and is not recognized by the federal government as legal tender. If enacted, the Wyoming Money Transmitter Act would no longer apply to the buying, selling, issuing, or taking custody of virtual currency, or receiving virtual currency for the purpose of transmitting that currency within or outside of the United States.

The proposed change comes almost two years after Coinbase announced its indefinite suspension of business in the state due to its belief that the Wyoming Division of Banking interpreted the Wyoming Money Transmitter Act to apply to entities offering hosted wallet services. Wyoming would become the first state to completely exempt virtual currency from its money transmitter law if the bill is adopted. To date, Illinois, Kansas, Tennessee, and Texas have issued guidance excluding some but not all virtual currency activities from their respective money transmitter laws.

HB 19 is one of several virtual currency and blockchain-related bills the Wyoming legislature is considering. Bills to exempt “utility tokens” from securities regulation, and to allow companies to store records and accept shareholder votes through blockchain technology are also under consideration. Wyoming political leaders are clearly moving quickly to adapt to the rise of virtual currency and blockchain technology.

Maltese Government releases consultation paper on DLT and ICOs

By Rizwan Qayyum

The Government of Malta has issued a consultation paper on the framework relating to distributed ledger technology, ICOs and cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet providers dealing in such assets. This follows their initial Discussion Paper on ICOs and Virtual Currencies published in November 2017, which outlined the basis for this consultation paper.

Hong Kong regulators take action against cryptocurrency exchanges and ICOs

By Rizwan Qayyum

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (“SFC”) have issued formal warnings to seven cryptocurrency exchanges and seven issuers of initial coin offerings. This follows their initial statement on ICOs released on 5 September 2017, and represents their first regulatory action.

The SFC has sent letters to seven cryptocurrency exchanges “in Hong Kong or with connections to Hong Kong”, which provides a warning that they should not be trading cryptocurrencies which are “securities” as defined in the Securities and Futures Ordinance (“SFO”) without a licence.  The exchanges responded immediately, either by confirming that they do not provide trading services for such currencies or took rectification measures, including removing relevant cryptocurrencies from their platforms.

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Top 5 regulatory changes to watch for in 2018

By Jim Bulling and Michelle Chasser

As one year has drawn to a close it is time to look forward to 2018 and our tips for the most important 5 regulatory changes for the FinTech industry in Australia.

  1. Increased access to bank data.

The Government has announced its intention to introduce an open banking regime in Australia under which customers will have the ability to give third parties such as FinTechs access to the customer’s banking data. Treasury is currently conducting a review into open banking models, with the report which was due at the end 2017 yet to be released.

Also planned to come in to effect by 1 July 2018 is mandatory comprehensive credit reporting which will give lenders access to deeper and richer sets of data on consumers to base their credit decisions on. Comprehensive credit reporting is currently voluntary.

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FCA comment on ICOs

By Rizwan Qayyum

The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has released a feedback statement on the Distributed Ledger technology discussion paper from April 2017 (DP17/3).

As a part of this, they commented on ICOs, noting:

“On the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) market, the FCA will gather further evidence and conduct a deeper examination of the fast-paced developments. Its findings will help to determine whether or not there is need for further regulatory action in this area beyond the consumer warning issued in September”

The feedback is available here.

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.

France’s Financial Markets Authority considers its options for regulating initial coin offerings

By Claude-Étienne ArmingaudEmilie OberlisAlexandre BalducciSidney Lichtenstein and Alban Michou-Tognelli

The French Financial Markets Authority, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (“AMF”), recently published a white paper requesting the views of stakeholders on the best means of regulating the fundraising activities based on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology and is also launching a digital-asset research program called UNICORN (“Universal Node to ICO’s Research & Network”). In doing so, the AMF is following in the footsteps of the French Ministry of Finance, which published a draft document aimed at adapting the French legal framework to the use of blockchain technology on 19 September 2017 (see our coverage here).

The white paper focuses on initial coin offerings (“ICOs”) which are fundraising activities used to finance technology-based projects at an early stage of development. Participants to an ICO transaction receive tokens issued by the project initiator, in exchange for their investment in cryptocurrency or fiat currency. These tokens (a) have different characteristics depending on the transaction; (b) confer different rights to their owners; and (c) are intended for a technologically-oriented and informed audience that has a good understanding of (i) the nature of the project, (ii) the underlying technology, and (iii) the risks associated with the project.

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New SEC Cyber Unit Obtains Emergency Action Against ICO

By Robert M. Crea and Evan J. Glover

On December 4, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) new Cyber Unit obtained an emergency asset freeze to halt a Canadian initial coin offering (“ICO”) called PlexCoin that had raised up to $15 million from thousands of investors.  The SEC filed its complaint (“Complaint”) in the Eastern District of New York, alleging that the sponsor and his company, PlexCorps, marketed and sold securities to investors in the U.S. and elsewhere under a variety of false pretenses, including that PlexCoin would yield a 1,354% profit in less than 29 days.  The complaint seeks permanent injunctions, disgorgement plus interest and penalties.

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LabCFTC’s First Primer Covers Bitcoin, other Virtual Currencies, Virtual Tokens and ICOs

By Anthony Nolan and Eric A. Love

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) New York-based LabCFTC has released a twenty-page primer (the “Primer”) about virtual currencies, virtual tokens and initial coin offerings (ICOs).  It’s the first in a series of educational primers that LabCFTC will issue in the coming months about innovations in the FinTech industry.

The Primer answers important questions about how CFTC regulations apply to virtual currencies, virtual tokens and ICOs.  Notably, the Primer reiterates that Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are appropriately categorized as commodities and also states that virtual tokens can in some instances be commodities or derivatives contracts even if they are also considered to be securities under the U.S. securities laws.  The Primer notes that, in applying U.S. commodity futures laws to virtual tokens, the CFTC will look beyond form and examine the “actual substance and purpose” of particular activities.

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Initial Coin Offerings “Horrify” a Former SEC Commissioner

By Robert Crea

On Sunday, November 26, 2017, the New York Times published an interview with Joseph Grundfest, former SEC Commissioner and current Stanford law professor.  Professor Grundfest is sharply critical of the posture of initial coin offerings under U.S. federal securities laws.  Given his persuasive voice on securities law matters and his influence in Silicon Valley, this interview may very well serve as a sobering wakeup call to the ICO marketplace.

Some notable quotes:

  • “ICOs represent the most pervasive, open and notorious violation of federal securities laws since the Code of Hammurabi. . . .It’s more than the extent of the violation . . . . It’s the almost comedic quality of the violation.”
  • “These are not hard cases . . . . You don’t need teams of accountants poring over complex financing documents [to bring enforcement actions].”
  • “We’re waiting to see a whole bunch of enforcement actions in this space, and we wonder why they haven’t happened yet. . . .I hope what [the SEC is] doing is planning on a sweep of 50 ICOs.”

The article may be found here.

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