The cryptocurrency industry has been fueled by Initial Coin Offerings (ICO’s) over the past few years. While they continue to attract the interests of investors, they are also getting some closer scrutiny from government organizations such as the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) as well as the US House of Representatives.
In a recent article on Financialservices.House.Gov, everything from more balanced regulations to an outright ban is currently being discussed as they relate to ICO’s. Last Thursday, April 26, there was a hearing at the US House of Representatives concerning this very matter. A regulator from the SEC and a member of Congress engaged in a heated debate over the concept of a ‘balanced approach’ towards ICO regulation.
The report identifies William Hinman as the director of the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance. From the onset of this hearing entitled “Oversight of the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance” Hinman touched on the idea that digital assets and ICO’s “continue to evolve.” He was quoted as saying, “We are striving for a balanced approach and one that ensures capital formation while maintaining a strong focus on investor protection.”
One of the main reasons for the hearing was to address the issue of a decline of Initial Public Offerings (IPO’s) across the country. Committee member Bill Huizenga posed the question that suggested ICO’s could be a solution to curbing this decline. He also questioned if all ICO’s need to be regulated. Hinman’s response to these observations and questions was quoted as, “in theory, there is a time when a coin may achieve a decentralized utility in the marketplace, or… there may be coins where a lack of a central actor may make it difficult to regulate.”
Hinman when on to echo the same sentiments as SEC Chairman Jay Clayton that most ICO’s should be viewed as securities. The SEC would be part of the process with entities looking to release tokens to ‘verify that the offerings were regulated or not qualified as securities’ as mentioned in this report.
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Another committee member to an opposing view when Brad Sherman from California disagreed that ICO’s could potentially replace IPO’s. Part of respondents stated that an IPO “provides jobs in the real economy” and ICO’s do “the opposite”. A direct quote from his response went on to add, “It takes money out of the economy, it takes people willing to invest and risk, and says don’t use that ability to risk, don’t use those animal spirits to help create a job for a person who needs one, let alone build a factory for thousands, sit there and trades back and forth in the ICO.”
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