最有看点的互联网金融门户

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全新的互联网金融模式国际资讯投融资监管与政策

SEC要开始监管ICO了吗?

加密代币众筹(Initial Coin Offerings,后文简称ICO),是指利用以区块链为基础的代币进行大规模融资。近一年多来,ICO产业发展迅速,引发的质疑声音也越来越多。路透社近日发布的一份报告显示,美国证券交易委员会(后文简称SEC)可能会对ICO发起更严密的监控,尤其是在相关企业是否借道ICO逃避证券法规监管方面展开调查。

ICO 还是 IPO?

ICO与IPO的基本原理类似。不同在于,参与IPO的投资者获得是公司的股票,而ICO投资者获得的是代币。虽然无法等同于股票,但是通常情况下ICO投资者是可以将代币兑换为现金的。正是由于这种区别,ICO产品通常不能归类为"证券",因此也不会受到SEC的监管。

来自监管方的担忧

显然,如果一个企业利用ICO逃避证券法规监管,那么势必会引起SEC的注意。虽然SEC目前还没有针对ICO发表相关正式声明,但是前几个月以来几份ETF申请被否事件似乎已经显示出了监管方的态度,比如SEC对代币产业风险的高度关注。面对ICO这种新兴产业,SEC必须权衡好各方利益:既不打击新兴企业融资形势,同时也要保证投资者相关利益。

ICO融资的速度之快可谓令人震惊,因此已经有不少人呼吁SEC对这一领域给予适度指导。而且问题的核心不是是否要进行监管,而是SEC何时会正式开始监管。不过我们也希望,SEC在出台政策规范ICO产业发展的同时,也能积极遵循"众筹"这一融资概念的基本核心,保护和帮助美国中小企业的健康快速发展。

The exponential growth of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), which are being used to raise huge amounts of money using blockchain based tokens, have been increasingly scrutinized. According to a recent report on Reuters, regulators within the SEC are taking a hard look at the use of ICOs and how they might be a tool to circumvent securities laws.

ICO vs IPO

ICOs are similar to IPOs in that a company raises capital from the public. However, instead of receiving a share in the company, investors who participate in an ICO instead receive a cryptographic token, like Bitcoin, although the companies conducting an ICO create their own unique token. The token usually does not give the purchaser a share of ownership in the company, but oftentimes the token can be redeemed later for cash. Because of that distinction from IPOs, ICOs are not technically a “security” and thus not officially regulated by the SEC. However, ICOs can very much be characterized as the offering of securities in some situations. For an in-depth analysis of when an ICO counts as a security, here’s a great blog post by senior contributor Amy Wan.

SEC Concerns

Obviously, if companies are using ICOs as a way to circumvent securities regulations, the SEC will want to get involved. That’s why, as an anonymous source quoted by Reuters put it, ICOs are “high on [the] radar” at the SEC. The SEC notably hasn’t made any official statements on its position as to ICO’s, however. There were a couple ETF denials related to cryptocoins a few months ago, but those were based on companies trying to create Bitcoin-based listings on different exchanges, the most famous being one funded by the Winklevoss twins of Facebook fame. The denials of the ETFs do imply that the SEC is concerned about the inherent risks of cryptocurrencies. In fact, the SEC laid out their chief concerns in the letters explaining each denial. Still, ICOs present a different and unique problem in that the SEC has to balance two competing interests: capital formation for emerging companies and investor protection.

With many experts questioning the absurdity of the speed at which ICOs can raise huge amounts of capital and some even asking for the SEC give some guidance at the very least, the question isn’t whether the SEC will do anything to regulate ICOs, but when. Hopefully, when they do, the regulations put in place will be congruent with crowdfunding’s inherent goal of helping small businesses grow.


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