As the popularity of ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) is mounting along market’s instability and other cryptocurrencies fraud around the world, a debate has emerged about the appropriate regulatory policies for cryptocurrencies and ICOs. The most frequently asked questions include the proper division of authority amid the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission), whether authority of these commissions should reach the core of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, as others are expecting that a whole new regulatory rule is required for cryptocurrency and token fundraisers. This blog illustrates the congressional testimony on cryptocurrencies, which aims to reflect the existing regulatory approach that is being used by the regulators to observe and manage ICOs and cryptocurrencies, and how more regulatory clarity can be achieved in such markets.
US Securities laws disclosure system is the prime one, where promoters can easily share information related to their company and management, openly. With SEC, this information is filed later. By dissimilarity, most of the ICO disclosures are enabled via “whitepapers” which are unregulated at this time, focusing mainly on the current technology and on such technologies that are under-development.
Investors and buyers of ICO tokens that are looking for a good return or technology users that are looking forward to contribute and support in an advanced product would have to expect certain disclosures for making a purchase in a conversant way. Some of the disclosures that have been identified by the entrepreneurs themselves are specifically relevant to ICOs transition.
Location of Promotors
According to a study, in 32% of ICOs, it is literally impossible to identify the promoter’s origin. From an investor’s point of view, this is a serious information asymmetry. It won’t be possible to identify what legal protections and rules are. without this information. Moreover, there are few ways through which investor can interact with related public authorities especially in case of fraud, like; loss or theft. So, ICO whitepaper should set out a comprehensive report of where the issuer and its key management are placed.
If we talk about the history of US Securities law, there was no such information important for investors than the financial statements of the issuer. Investors could easily evaluate the past performance of the company by scrutinizing income statements, cash flow and balance sheets, and by doing so, they could make well-versed guesses about the future performance of the company as well as its profitability. A whole ecosystem of third-party auditors, credit rating agencies, and accountants, were settled due to the criticality of financial statements in securities offerings, to make sure the accuracy of financial statements.
ICOs serves for a different purpose as compared to most of the traditional IPOs (Initial Public Offerings). Rather than funding trading companies, ICOs involve products industrialized by startups identifying technology-based issues and offering the sale of solutions based on technology.
It’s not the past performance of the company or financial statements for most of the offerings, but it’s the venture’s technology plan. Therefore, guaranteeing that investors/retail buyers comprehend the crucial contours of the fundamental technology solution is ultimate as ICOs turn out to be a more and more popular way of fundraising.
Moreover, further technical chunks of the ICO whitepaper would be a perfect subject to a system of third-party authentication, especially for larger fundraises. Also, when describing the solution, hyperbole should be avoided by the promoters which are an endemic problem in whitepapers. Plus, investors should be required to identify an objective base for all the upcoming statements as well.
Investors should be well-versed about how the secondary infrastructure works, and how it is going to affect the governance of the token. Also, the consensus method for a virtual currency’s Blockchain should also be revealed as well, along with a summary of how the governance decisions, plus other decisions affect the network, such as; software upgrades, which will be synchronized amid the several investors such as designers, miners, and users.
This is obvious that tokens can have a number of different economic and qualitative features, like; currency, utility, or securities. The disclosures would have to elucidate what it means to a typical holder, if the tokens are created in a technological format, complying with firm guidelines, like; ERC20 standard.
Likewise, if some efforts will be made for listing a token, for example, to list a securities token on an ATS (alternative trading system), or if there are trading limitations on the security, then such facts have to be disclosed in a way that is clear to the owner of the token. The description of token should specify the envisioned use of the coins that are issued in the offering, their quantity, plus whether the advisors will keep the reserve coins, and if they do, then how they’d liquidate them. Promoters should be required to reveal their intellectual ownership of the company’s protocol.
Technical Team Qualification
Common disclosure requirement in registered offerings is the information about the business experience of executive officers as the investors are given a sense of the quality of management and are probably the success of the company once it goes public. In ICOs, companies have restricted histories and the problem may be exceptional, if same information about the offering’s technical team could be evaluated. At the same time, coders have diverging backgrounds, as some are more qualified and experienced than others. Also, to provide investors with an intellect as to the proficiency and reliability of the white paper, many founders should provide all info linked to key engineering experience, skills, qualifications and other relevant features. Plus, it should also be mandatory for developers to provide links to their previous work.
ICOs should involve disclosures regarding the most substantial risk aspects affecting token holders in the offering document. Even though many investors will probably understand that even successful ventures can be later disintermediated by more effectual nonentities. A token holder may get astonished to discover that the product doesn’t function as it’s intended or might develop a purpose all-in-all contingent on the progress of the technology, possibly even less in all likelihood, the requirements of the contributors in the ecosystem. Shareholders should comprehend as well that the greater sectoral risks, including variations in the trade that could demote some designs of blockchain into further parts of the sector, making many tokens worthless. Buyers had to be completely aware of their latent susceptibility to hacking, disruption, and data-loss, also authorized subjects like privacy concerns and information transportability across borders.
No doubt, there are other imperative disclosures as well that should be operationalized in means that are way too much effective.