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A Look at Europe’s Security Token Legislation

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Liechtenstein via TripSavvy

Europe continues to see more counties taking a pro-crypto stance. Countries such as the UK, Switzerland, and Malta, have already made huge strides towards furthering their respective positions in the market. While there are many contributing factors behind these moves, the introduction of security tokens has played a huge roll in these countries decision.

Security tokens allow for the digitization of traditional investments. This method is called tokenization. Tokenized assets are considered more stable than traditional cryptocurrencies by most countries. Currently, security tokens fall under the EU’s MiFIDII regulations.

MiFID II

The EU instituted MiFID II regulations on January 3, 2018. This legislative framework provides investors with added protections. Additionally, MiFID II regulations improve the functionality and efficiency of the market. The legislation is a follow up to the original MiFID (Markets in Financial Directive) regulations which have been in operation since November 2007.

Liechtenstein

The sixth smallest country in the world, Liechtenstein continues to develop their blockchain sector at an impressive rate. Despite being only 62 square miles in total, this tiny country ranks among the highest in terms of GDP per capita. In October 2018, the country released a public draft titled the “National Blockchain Act.”

The document highlighted the counties desire to further their blockchain aspirations. The move was quickly followed by an announcement by the country’s Union Bank AG. Here, the bank described their intention to be the first regulated bank issuing a security token. The bank looks to create a token for interbank activities such as transferring large amounts of funds internationally.

Germany

Germany does not consider cryptocurrencies as financial instruments. In September 2018, the country determined that Bitcoin traders don’t need any licensing and that trading cryptocurrency should remain legal. This was a major ruling in favor of crypto investors. This ruling meant that crypto investors did not need to adhere to Germany’s securities regulations.

Berlin via City Break

Berlin via City Break

In December 2018, Germany’s second largest stock exchange announced plans to launch a crypto token exchange. The Boerse Stuttgart Group partnered with the local Fintech firm SolarisBank to make the project a reality. The exchange’s release date is Q3 2019. According to developers, a variety of cryptocurrencies including utility, security, and exchange tokens will be hosted.

Switzerland

Switzerland has long been a financial epicenter in Europe. Swiss officials are keen on extending their financial influence into the blockchain sector. The country recently opened a blockchain business sector dubbed the Crypto Valley. Here, blockchain startups receive reduced taxes and other benefits provided by the Swiss government.

Aside from financial benefits, Swiss-based blockchain firms benefit greatly from the country’s clear cut blockchain regulations. The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) breaks tokens into four distinct categories. These categories include asset, payment, utility, and hybrid tokens.

Estonia

Estonia was among the first EU members to legalize crypto activities. The country already approved over 900 crypto licenses since changing regulations last year. Those licensed include a variety of crypto businesses such as exchanges, startups,  and blockchain tech firms. Around 400 of the licenses issued belonged to crypto wallet providers according to recent reports.

Estonia managed to go from the poorest country in the EU to a thriving economy through a combination of factors. Tax incentives, a friendly business environment, and easy licensing procedures all contributed to the country’s rise in the blockchain sector. Today, Estonia is one of the most STO friendly countries in the world.

Malta

Malta continues to be a driving crypto force in the region. This country took the crypto reigns through a combination of factors. Malta was the first country in the world to provide a solid regulatory framework for crypto investors and ICOs. The government is pro-active in recruiting new startups to their market.

Today, Malta is one of the best locations in the world to launch your STO. The country already is home to numerous large crypto platforms. The worlds largest crypto exchange by volume, Binance, partnered with the Maltese Stock Exchange (MSX) in September of last year. The two plan to build a new security token exchange within the country in the coming months.

UK

The UK currently does not have crypto regulations in place. The country continues to research the cryptomarket with regulators claiming that it could be years before proper regulatory guidelines can be developed. In March 2018, the countries Crypto assets Taskforce issued a report in which cryptocurrencies were listed in three distinct classes. These classes include security tokens, utility tokens, and exchange tokens.

Currently, the UK crypto debate continues. The British Business Federation Authority (BBFA) released a report in which they detailed how bad regulations would hinder growth in the sector much more than “no regulations at all.” As it stands today, the UK has a strong blockchain community with analysts predicting future growth in this sector.

France

France took a much different approach regarding cryptocurrency firms. The Authorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) released ICO guidelines last year. The new regulations require all ICOs to provide full transparency regarding their offerings. Companies must define their tokens use prior to approval. This demand is required so that officials can determine what type of token the company plans to issue.

France’s stance on ICOs is mimicked by a plethora of other countries around the globe. By making all ICOs operate in full disclosure, the country managed to simultaneously welcome STOs while reducing the number of ICOs in operation. STOs provide a much safer way for investors to participate in blockchain fundraising raising campaigns.

EU Security Tokens are On the Rise

Now that you have a better understanding of the cryptocurrency regulations currently under development in Europe, it’s easy to see why countries like Malta have invested so much into their blockchain sector.

As the global economy continues along the path of digitization, there is much to be gained for the country able to become the epicenter of this technological revolution. Hopefully, more countries around the globe will realize the importance of these developments and how they affect the future of global economics in major ways. For now, the race is on to see which European country is able to take the lead in the blockchain economy.

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David Hamilton is a full-time journalist and a long-time bitcoinist. He specializes in writing articles on the blockchain. His articles have been published in multiple bitcoin publications including Bitcoinlightning.com

Regulation

Bank of China Moves to Regulate STO

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Bank of China to Create STO Regulations

This month, executives from the bank of China unveiled some major announcements regarding the future of blockchain technology in the country. Apparently, the Bank of China will now create its own centralized cryptocurrency. Additionally, the bank intends to roll out a robust security token protocol in the coming weeks.

In the past, Chinese officials have been very critical of cryptocurrencies. The country famously banned exchanges back in 2017. Also, Chinese officials have been hard on miners in the country despite the fact that the Chinese government operates some of the largest mining facilities in the world.

Pivot Towards Blockchain – Bank of China

Now it appears as if Chinese officials got the memo that blockchain technology is here to stay. At the recent Finance Technology Summit in Beijing, the Chief Scientist of the Bank of China, Weimin Guo described the country’s new strategy moving forward.

Chief Scientist of the Bank of China - Weimin Guo

Chief Scientist of the Bank of China – Weimin Guo

National Digital Currency

China now intends to release its own cryptocurrency called China’s Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP). This cryptocurrency will serve as the only national digital currency of the country. Interestingly, the token will be a stablecoin pegged to the Chinese RenMinBi (RMB).

Developers hope that the integration of blockchain and cryptographic technology will streamline the outdated financial practices currently in use. Blockchain tech brings some serious advantages to the table. For one, the tech eliminates the frictions seen in traditional payment systems.

Shade on Bitcoin

After acknowledging the huge benefits gained from blockchain technology, Guo stated that Bitcoin had failed its purpose to provide a safe haven from the traditional market manipulations. He stated that Bitcoin’s launch was poorly timed and its primary goal to disrupt the global economy was “impossible.”

Strict Regulations – Bank of China

While China loosens its blockchain leash, it’s obvious the country wants to keep the technology in check. For example, all STOs are to operate within a strict “regulatory sandbox mechanism” at first. Basically, the country wants to promote innovation with new technology but desires a measured integration to maintain complete control over the sector.

It’s no surprise that China feels the pressure from blockchain adoption. At one time, China controlled a large majority of the crypto market. Since that time, the country continually targeted crypto investors and traders.

Additionally, regulators expressed concern about major tech firms such as Facebook issuing a cryptocurrency. Not surprisingly, regulators only want currency creation to originate from a national bank or government agency.

China’s Big Hope

Chinese regulators now believe that the DCEP has the potential to evolve into a leading global currency. Bank officials seek to integrate the currency into the main economy as soon as possible. This integration will span the scope of the Chinese economic sector from retail all the way to major investment firms.

China Inches Back into the Game

It’s interesting to see how Chinese regulators continue to embrace blockchain technology. China has always been on edge over the emergence of cryptocurrencies, but as it stands today, the country has to embrace the technology or fall to the wayside against the growing competition.

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VNX Exchange Hopes to Get in Front of Upcoming AMLD5 Legislation with Sumsub Collaboration

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VNX Exchange Hopes to Get in Front of Upcoming AMLD5 Legislation with Sumsub Collaboration

Tech Provider

Recently launched platform, VNX Exchange, and compliance expert, Sumsub, have announced a new collaboration. This will see Sumsub provide the necessary technology, which will allow VNX Exchange to ensure compliance with European laws surrounding AML/KYC.

This move is a proactive one, being taken by VNX Exchange. They have indicated that they chose to collaborate with Sumsub, as they possess the ability to remain compliant with the upcoming AMLD5 European legislation.

AML/KYC Importance

Anti-Money-Laundering and Know-Your-Client are important compliance mechanisms used world-over. While their implementation may vary depending on regions, the purpose of each remain the same.

These compliance measures are what allow for regulatory bodies to keep nefarious activity in check. This is done by, first, knowing who they are dealing with. This part is taken care of through KYC checks, which gather information such as legal names, place of residence, passport info, and etcetera. Next, AML puts roadblocks in place, designed to prevent the origins of money from being clouded.

Unfortunately, blockchain based endeavours (including digital securities), remain synonymous with nefarious activity, to date. Much of this stems from past markets that saw the ICOs boom and bust. The entire point of digital securities, however, is to offer the benefits of tokenization, through a regulatory compliant and legal manner. For this to be achieved, and to dispel pre-existing notions (warranted or not) surrounding blockchain based endeavours, AML and KYC remain of utmost importance.

Rival Providers

As indicated above, compliance measures surrounding AML and KYC are of the utmost importance within the digital securities sector. Many companies have recognized this, and are in the midst of developing their own solutions for the issue at hand. The following companies are but a few of those leading the way.

Commentary

Upon announcing their collaboration, representatives from each, Sumsub and VNX Exchange, took the time to comment. The following is what each had to say on the matter.

Alexander Tkachenko, CEO of VNX Exchange, stated,

“VNX Exchange is very serious about all aspects related to compliance and investor protection. For these purposes, we are leveraging the benefits and advantages of innovative compliance systems provided by Sumsub to create a seamless client experience and open access to the new class of liquid digital assets backed by venture capital investments.”

Jacob Sever, Cofounder of Sumsub, stated,

“AMLD5 is soon to gain full power and influence among all financial entities in Europe with reinforced AML demands. With many clients based in Luxemburg, such as JobToday, Wecan Group, etc., we see the demand for compliance and anti-fraud measures, and know how to ensure them. VNX is a serious and mature project, with founders and management from traditional well-respected foundations, so we are happy to provide them with a high-level solution, optimising compliance under the Luxembourg regulations.”

Sumsub

Founded in 2015, Sumsub is a tech provider operating out of London, U.K. Above all, services offered by Sumsub revolve around compliance. This includes KYC/AML, investor onboarding, and more.

CEO, Andrey Severyukhin, currently oversees company operations.

VNX Exchange

Founded in 2018, VNX Exchange operates out of Luxembourg. The team at VNX Exchange has recently announced the launch of their digital securities issuance platform, along with their inaugural STO.

CEO, Alexander Tkachenko, currently oversees company operations.

In Other News

Both, VNX Exchange and Sumsub, have found themselves in our headlines in the past. Now their past work has brought them together, as they work with one another moving forward. The following articles touch on past events pertaining to each company.

VNX Exchange Launches, Calling Luxembourg Home

Sum&Substance Introduced to Polymath ‘Service Provider Marketplace’

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Gladius Fails to Pay SEC Fines

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Gladius Dissolves

The blockchain-based cybersecurity firm, Gladius announced that the company dissolved this week. Unfortunately for Gladius token holders, the company chose to ignore the $12.7 million settlement payment the SEC imposed earlier in the year. Now, Gladius token holders are left holding the bag.

In what seems to be a growing trend, another SEC charged ICO dissolved before repaying investors.  In this instance, Gladius received $12.7 in fines after self-reporting to the SEC in February. Understandably, the SEC showed some leniency towards the firm for their decision to self-report.

A Lenient Approach

As part of the SEC settlement, regulators didn’t impose any additional penalties on the firm. However, they did make the company executives agree to compensate investors fully. Also, the company was to register the tokens as securities. Gladius agreed to the terms but asked for multiple extensions on the repayment date. Rather than repaying investors, the company chose to dissolve.

Gladius Founder Max Niebylski

Gladius Founder Max Niebylski

News of the Dissolution

Investors first received the bad news via a November 22 telegram post. In the post, the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer, Alex Godwin described the decision. He explained that  the firm “ceased operations effective immediately.” He also stated that the firm “no longer has funds to continue operations.”

Rektiers

As you could imagine, investors are furious over the turn of events. Investors feel as if the SEC’s approach lacked enforcement. Investors have even formed a Telegram chat group called the Gladius Rektiers to organize another strategy to reclaim lost funds.

Gladius

Gladius entered the market in April 2017. The firm planned to utilize a combination of blockchain-based technologies to protect users. Specifically, the firm employed decentralized CDN and DDoS protection on the Ethereum Blockchain. Additionally, Gladius platform users could rent out unused bandwidth and computational power.

Gladius Website

Gladius Website

Interestingly, Gladius executives did decide to leave their open-source code available on GitHub. The team even welcomed developers to further their protocol on their now deceased website’s homepage.

Dipping on the Bill

While the Gladius dissolution is bad news, it joins a host of other SEC charged ICOs who skipped out on their deadlines. For example, AirFox missed an October deadline this year. Airfox entered the market as a mobile banking solution before the SEC charged the firm with selling unregistered securities.

Additionally, Paragon Coin missed its investor repayment deadline. As part of Paragon Coin’s SEC settlement, the company agreed to offer to repay investors and pay $250,000 in fines.  For their cooperation, the SEC withheld fraud charges. Also, the company agreed to register their tokens as securities and adhere to all relevant regulations moving forward.

The Paragon Coin saga received premier coverage as it involved a well-known beauty pageant winner and the rapper – The Game. Currently, the Paragon Coin website tells investors that want a refund to submit before November. Notably, their SEC repayment settlement date already pasted back in July.

The Gladius Saga Continues

The decision to dissolve prior to adhering to the SEC’s demands could prove to be a costly one for Gladius. For now, investors are culminating their outrage to organize their next maneuver. Many expect to see additional charges in some shape or form against the company’s owners as regulators decide how to handle the news and investor outcry.

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