It was only a matter of time until regulators caught up with cryptocurrency ICOs. These coin offerings have gone unregulated for quite some time now, while raising millions in funding. Anyone buying into these token sales in the US is – according to the law – buying securities, which require special licenses from the company holding the ICO. With US regulators aiming to venture into the cryptocurrency ICO world, things could get quite interesting moving forward.
US Regulators and Cryptocurrency ICOs Won’t Mix Well
Various aspects of cryptocurrency will never be subject to traditional regulation. Virtually all of these projects are decentralized, with no single entity responsible for issuing the coins or controlling the majority of funds circulating on the network. The only entity regulators can go after are the third-party service providers found within the world of cryptocurrency. Wallet providers, exchanges, and investment schemes are bound to see more attention from US regulators moving forward.
Which brings us to cryptocurrency ICOs, the modern-day crowdfunding efforts without regulation or oversight. Everyone in the cryptocurrency world knows how ICOs are growing in popularity and seemingly raise more money than ever before. Projects raising over US$10m in funding are slowly becoming the norm rather than an exception right now. However, there are a lot of legal questions regarding the ICOs and how the tokens are distributed.
It is believed the SEC is currently taking a very close look at any cryptocurrency ICO on the agenda. This does not bode well for most of the projects out there, as very few of these teams have someone with the necessary legal knowledge on board. It is only normal US regulators want to pay close attention to what is going on in this regard, as ICOs can be seen as a way to launder money, in their opinion. A group of people raising millions of dollars overnight without regulation or oversight is suspicious, regardless of how you want to look at it.
The bigger question on people’s mind is whether or not they buy tokens or securities. According to the US legislation, a cryptocurrency token can quickly turn into a security, which causes all kinds of legal issues. If a security is created – voluntarily or by accident – it needs to be overseen and regulated by the SEC, regardless of its ties with cryptocurrency or otherwise. This confusion needs to be avoided at all costs, but for now, there are no clear regulatory guidelines whatsoever.
Rest assured it will not take all that long until the SEC will introduce some form of cryptocurrency ICO regulation moving forward. For now, it remains anybody’s guess as to what we can expect from such a decision. If ICOs are put on the same level as IPOs, things will look very dire for cryptocurrency companies looking at this mechanism as a way to quickly secure funding. Although the SEC is apparently investigating this matter, it may take years until they come to a conclusion.
Moreover, there is the topic of trading these ICO tokens across cryptocurrency exchanges. A lot of tokens can be traded against fiat currencies, which can pose some new challenges as well once regulation materializes. For the time being, the cryptocurrency ICO sector has nothing to worry about just yet. However, this situation could change at any given moment, and a lot of teams will find themselves in an awkward position because of it.
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