Canadian regulators taking a closer look at murky world of cryptocurrency ICOs

  • Canadian securities regulators are taking a closer look at technology companies that offer digital currencies such as bitcoin to raise funds, to make sure they abide by the right set of rules.
  • Similar to an initial public offering, or IPO, of a stock, a flurry of Canadian technology companies have recently raised money via ICO — initial coin offerings — in which digital tokens or coins are given to early investors in exchange for money, which the tech companies use to create their product.
  • But while the digital coins being exchanged are often established cryptocurrencies like bitcoin or ethereum, sometimes they are something else entirely, which is why regulators are looking to clarify the rules to determine whether such fundraising deals should be treated similarly to equity investments, or more like conventional money — on a case-by-case basis.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission recently ruled that a major cryptocurrency offering known as the Decentralized Autonomous Organization, or DAO, which raised $150 million US last year, was in fact a securities offering, and as such breached the rules it should have been bound to.
  • While broadly receptive to more clarity on the rules, many in the cryptocurrency world are wary of an over-reach by regulators that would see them treat all such fundraising plans as securities offerings when, in fact, they should be treated the same way other private currencies are.

Canadian securities regulators are taking a closer look at technology companies that offer digital currencies such as bitcoin to raise funds, to make sure they abide by the right set of rules.
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