REGULATION OF INITIAL COIN OFFERINGS
The most recent jurisdictions that have come up with regulatory guidelines for initial coin offerings (ICOs) are Singapore and Switzerland.
In assessing ICOs, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma) said it will focus on the economic function and purpose of the tokens issued by the ICO organiser. The key factors are the underlying purpose of the tokens and whether they are already tradeable or transferable.
Finma categorises tokens into three – payment tokens, utility tokens and asset tokens. It warned that ICO projects are subject to numerous uncertainties given that most of these projects are at an early stage of development and it is uncertain whether contracts executed via blockchain technology are legally binding.
In the case of Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in its document tiled “A Guide to Digital Token Offerings” said it is encouraging companies that wish to offer digital tokens or operate a platform involving digital tokens in the country to seek professional advice from qualified legal practitioners. This is to ensure that the proposed activities are in compliance with the rules and regulations.
Meanwhile, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission stated that ICOs will be a “key focus area” as it looks to update guidance on companies considering raising funds by issuing digital coins or tokens.
At home, the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) has said it does not have plans to introduce more measures to regulate ICOs given that the existing securities laws are sufficient. However, it did not rule out the possibility of “doing more” if needed.
The SC’s stance has been that parties looking to engage in ICOs make contact with the regulator to ensure that there are no issues which will disrupt their plans.