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Tuesday, 12 September 2017

FCA Weighs In On #InitialCoinOfferings

The Financial Conduct Authority has just published its thoughts on "initial coin offerings" (ICOs), the issue of cryptographic tokens or 'currency'. There is already a wide variety of purposes for ICOs, making them much harder to classify than your typical stock market "initial public offering" (or IPOs) with which some people seem to be equating them.  The FCA has also provided links to guidance from: 
Many additional risks also arise from the fact that the nature of the 'coins' or cryptographic currency and whether there is a market for those - quite apart from the purpose for which funds are being raised and/or invested in - as well as the distributed ledger in which they and related transactions are based. We are a long way from the usual stakeholders (like regulators) understanding and engaging with the new technology, let alone standardising any kind of process for doing ICOs as 'efficiently' as IPOs or even traditional technology projects (hopefully more so!).

I have no reason to think ICOs won't necessarily become fairly commonplace in due course, but it's appropriate for the regulators to be treading cautiously at present - although they should be supportive of genuine attempts to innovate in this area and engage positively with issuers while warning investors of the risks.

Here's a helpful ICO 'tracker' from CoinDesk.