In an interesting development, the Bank of Lithuania announced this week the release of an STO guidance program. Bank officials stated that growing STO interests from the business sector spurred the decision. In an attempt to avoid confusion, the bank decided it was best to help investors and businesses better understand the STO process.
Bank of Lithuania – Cut Fraud
Notably, the Bank of Lithuania is the first financial institution in the region to take such a maneuver. Bank officials hope that the new guidelines will help to spur further STO use in the local economy. Additionally, the bank wants to see a cut in fraudulent ICOs. STOs offer businesses the benefits of a blockchain-based strategy with the legal peace of mind found in traditional investments.
Board member, Marius Jurgilas, took a moment to describe the overall directive of the project. He explained that there was a lack of transparency in the market. He spoke on how the new guidelines aren’t actual regulations, but rather, a way for investors to better classify their investments. Lastly, he discussed the need to avoid confusion caused by misinformation.
Bank of Lithuania Offers Individualized Consultations
For investors that reviewed the guidelines, but are still confused about the classification of a digital asset, the bank offers direct individualized services. A bank official can review your token and clarify exactly what asset class it is. Bank executives explained that each token assessment is done on a case-by-case basis. In this manner, the Bank of Lithuania creates a pro-blockchain environment that entices new investment into the region.
Bank of Lithuania – Host an STO
Parties looking to host an STO in the country need to first assess their assets to see if they fall under the current regulated financial instrument categories available. Additionally, businesses must adhere to both the local and EU securities laws.
Lithuania continues to see further crypto expansion. In June, government officials announced plans to institute new regulations on blockchain firms and people engaging in crypto-related activities. For example, businesses now must prove the identity of their clients prior to conducting any transactions.
Additionally, any crypto profit over $1100 must be reported to officials. This includes fiat-to-crypto as well as crypto-to-crypto transactions. This move echoes that of many other regulators worldwide that require KYC and AML protocols.
Consequently, the institution of these regulations formalized a host of crypto businesses including brokers and exchanges. Lithuania, like much of the EU, recently shifted stances after realizing the true potential of blockchain technology and the inevitability of its integration. Now lawmakers want to entice investors to their shores in the hopes of spurring the local economy.
The Bank of Lithuania isn’t alone in its aspirations to incubate more regulated blockchain crowdfunding. Recently, both the SEC and UK regulators issued similar guides. Uniquely, this latest guidance comes from a financial institution, as opposed to a regulatory body. The news shows a shift in strategy from the traditional sector as more banks open their doors to STOs.
Banko of Lithuania – A Beacon of Light
There is no doubt that the Bank of Lithuania has the right strategy for the digital economic revolution. You can expect to see more traditional financial firms to step up and release some form of guidance for their individual markets in the near future. For now, Lithuanian investors just got a leg up on the competition.
Propine Accepted into MAS FinTech Sandbox
It was recently announced that Propine has been accepted into the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s FinTech Sandbox.
This move sees Propine join iSTOX as a participant within the sandbox. While the iSTOX is working towards serving capital markets, Propine will be testing their custodial capabilities within the program.
Over time, Propine indicates that their goal is to develop a comprehensive suite of services, tailor built for the digital securities sector. The following are a few the capabilities expected to be offered through the platform.
- Asset Servicing
- Trade Settlement
A ‘FinTech Sandbox’ typically refers to a structured program, built to allow for the testing of new technologies and approaches towards the industry. The purpose of such programs is to allow for innovation to flourish, while ensuring that the public retains high levels of protection at all times.
Tuhina Singh, the Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Propine, commented on acceptance into MAS’s Fintech Sandbox:
“We are extremely glad that we are going to be a part of the Fintech sandbox. Singapore is one of the most progressive economies in terms of support and in providing a platform for innovative solutions such as ours to experiment, build and thrive. The regulatory sandbox is a great step for us as we move into a more organized and regulated world for blockchain. A supportive initiative like this will propel the country’s rich history of innovation to much greater heights along with growing companies such as ours”
Founded in 2018, Propine is a Singaporean company, which operates within the digital securities sector. Building off of a specialty in custody services, Propine is actively developing a comprehensive suite of services surrounding digital securities.
CEO, Tuhina Singh, currently oversees company operations.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore is a regulatory body which wears multiple hats. Their roles include acting as, not only the nation’s central bank, but as the financial sectors regulator.
These roles mean that the MAS is responsible for, not only the economic growth of Singapore, but for ensuring the protection of investors through compliance measures enforced within banking, insurance, capital markets, and more.
In Other News
Over the past two years, Singapore has managed to establish themselves as a leader within digital securities. They have managed to do so through the use of programs such as the FinTech Sandbox described here today. The following articles are examples of forward thinking steps involving Singapore and the MAS.
Blockstation Joins the IIROC
The tokenization platform, Blockstation announced on Oct 31, that it will accept a leadership role in the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada – IIROC. The news showcases a push for more regulations in the Canadian security token sector, as well as, stronger positioning of Blockstation in the market.
The IIROC is a Canadian self-regulatory body created to help further development in the security token sector. The group’s primary focuses include broker-dealers, trading, and the institution of Universal Market Integrity Rules (UMIR).
The IIROC includes a huge variety of professionals from various parts of the industry. As such, the group provides a rare opportunity for regulators to collaborate with leading financial, legal, and technological institutions across Canada.
Currently, the group includes regulators, crypto firms, law firms, and three of the largest banks in the country. Specifically, the Crypto-Asset Working Group members are:
- Stephen Allcock (Questrade Financial Group)
- Pam Draper (Bitvo)
- Robin Ford (Robin Ford Consulting)
- Andrew Grovestine (Canadian Securities Exchange)
- François Lavallée (National Bank Financial)
- Julie Mansi (Borden Ladner Gervais LLP)
- Felix Mazer (Coinsquare)
- Linda Montgomery (Coinchange Financial/Blockstation)
- Brian Mosoff (Ether Capital Corp.)
- Souvik Mukherjee (Scotia Wealth Management)
- Laurence Rose (Omega Securities Inc./ 4C Clearing Corporation)
- Duncan Rule (CIBC)
- Phil Sham (Aquanow)
- Sean Shore (Canadian Compliance & Regulatory Law)
- Paul Stapleton (Fidelity Clearing Canada)
- Dino Verbrugge (DV Trading LLC)
- Joseph Weinberg (Paycase Financial)
- Robert Whitaker (Blockchain Intelligence Group)
- Lara Wojahn (Dominion Bitcoin Mining Company Ltd.)
One of the main goals of IIROC is to develop a regulatory framework that supports a robust, thriving digital asset marketplace to further drive innovation in the space. Additionally, the body seeks to integrate more consumer and investor protections in the market.
Blockstation Joins the Team
Blockstation received an invitation to participate in the IIROC after the group recognized the firm as an industry leader in the region. Importantly, Blockstation has experience working with regulators in other jurisdictions to develop its platform.
Today, Blockstation operates a fully compliant tokenization platform. The services provided by the firm include an end-to-end solution for listing, tokenizing, trading, custodianship, clearing and settlement, and lifecycle management of tokenized assets. Specifically, the firm’s Marketing Advisor Linda Montgomery will lend her experience to the IIROC.
Blockstation Makes Headlines
Notably, Blockstation made headlines this week after the announcement that the firm will host a compliant digital securities ecosystem via the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE). This limited pilot will test the trading of Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) according to an April 3, press release.
Jamaica Stock Exchange
The JSE first announced its crypto aspirations back in August. At that time, the JSE signed a master agreement with Blockstation. For its part, Blockstation would develop the tools for the trading of digital assets and security tokens on the JSE.
Blockstation Making Waves
Blockstation is a true pioneer in the Canadian crypto space. Now the firm seeks to help develop the fledgling STO sector into a major FinTech market. You can expect to hear more from these exciting developers as their JSE project continues. For now, Canada looks to be ready to take the next steps in blockchain adoption.
Veritaseum Hit with $8 Million in SEC Fines
In another example of the SEC turning up the heat on firms, the regulatory body hit Veritaseum and its CEO with hefty fines. Veritaseum had been embroiled in an SEC trial since earlier in the year. The SEC alleged the firm illegally sold securities to investors. Now the company must pay $8 million in fines and judgments as part of its retribution.
As previously reported, Veritaseum LLC, its CEO Reggie Middleton, and a sister firm, registered in NY, Veritaseum Inc. faced serious scrutiny from the SEC for its 2017 – 2018 ICO. During the unregistered coin offering, the firm secured $14.8 million in funding from investors.
By mid-2018, the SEC received numerous complaints of fraudulent activity on the part of Mr. Middleton. For example, the SEC report alleged Middleton downplayed the risks involved in the investment. Additionally, he misrepresented the tokens his company offered.
Tokens are not Coupons
On multiple occasions, he referred to the tokens as securities or software. The report states that at least on one occasion, he told investors the tokens were similar to gift cards.
On top of the troubling miss information campaign, Veritaseum had other shady incidents occur during its now controversial ICO. According to Middleton, the company was the victim of a hacker that stole $8 million from funds raised. Of course, these funds were never recovered. Consequently, the incident added to the black cloud accumulating over the Veritaseum camp.
In August of this year, the SEC responded to investor complaints. The regulatory body sent Middleton a cease-and-desist. As part of the complaint, Middleton’s ability to host an ICO or operate his firms was put on freeze.
SEC Enters Talks
The SEC entered official settlement talks with Veritaseum on OCT 9. This decision followed a postponement of the original trial date until Nov. 14, 2019, by the New York Eastern District Court.
According to reports, Veritaseum must now pay $8.4 million in disgorgement fines. Of these fines, $7,891,600.00 goes to defendant liabilities. Additionally, the company is liable for a civil penalty of up to $1 million and a prejudgment interest amount of $582,535.
Veritaseum Hit Hard
The news hit Veritaseum’s market value hard. Since the start of the trial, Veritaseum lost around 35% of its value. The token fell from around $25 per coin to $15, before rebounding slightly to $18.71.
SEC on the War Path
The SEC has been on a mission to crack down on ICOs from the 2017 crypto craze. Regulators already hit Sia with a $225,000 for its 2017 ICO in which the firm raised $120,000. EOS is another example of the SEC crackdown. The company must pay $24 million for its $4.1 billion 2017 ICO. While both firms faced charges for illegally selling securities, neither had such significant misrepresentation claims put against them as Veritaseum.
Veritaseum is Unique
In this manner, Veritaseum is significant. The firm is still operating but Middleton is no longer able to conduct blockchain crowdfunding ventures. It’s hard to say exactly what the long term effects of the settlement will be. For now, the crypto community must watch and wait patiently to see the results.