Amid a flurry of calls for more clarity within the cryptospace, two leading SEC crypto experts released a document this week called the Framework for Investment Contract Analysis of Digital Assets. The document isn’t an official SEC regulation. Rather, the guide helps investors and companies determine the classification of a particular token.
A token’s classification determines what regulations, including taxation, it falls under. Token classification concerns have risen sharply since the SEC began targeting ICOs at the start of 2018. Over the last two years, multiple companies allegedly sold unlicensed securities according to the SEC. These companies now face fines and possible jail time. Also, the SEC requires that these firms return all raised funds to investors.
One such example of the SEC’s recent interventions is the Paragon Coin sagaParagon Coin saga. In this case, Paragon allegedly sold securities without a license. Additionally, the promoters of the now defunct project, which include the famous rap artist The Game and a former Miss Iowa, Jessica VerSteeg, now face SEC charges for their participation.
In at least one instance, a company was spared the wrath of the SEC for self-registering their ICO before the SEC stepped in. Gladius Network Llc avoided hefty fines and potential jail time by “taking steps to rectify the situation” according to SEC officials. In the end, investors received refunds and no charges were filed. Now, the SEC hopes that the Framework for Investment Contract Analysis of Digital Assets can alleviate any future confusion.
The Howie Test
The SEC released statements in the past regarding token classification. In most instances, the Howie Test is the SEC’s main recommendation. While this information helped investors, many requested a more concrete explanation of the evaluation process. In other words, investors seek a classification model that includes blockchain terminology.
Recognizing the need for more clarity, two SEC agents released the Framework for Investment Contract Analysis of Digital Assets. These agents consisted of the Director of the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance, Bill Hinman and Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation, Valerie Szczepanik.
Both of these individuals are very familiar with the crypto space, with the latter dubbed – the Crypto Czar by her co-workers. These individuals took note that applying the 71-year old Howie Test to the new digital economy is difficult. This reasoning led these two crypto specialists to provide this in-depth framework.
Speaking on the document, Hinman explained how much of the Framework for Investment Contract Analysis of Digital Assets’ criteria focus on the instruments used to issue and utilize the tokens in question. He described how a tokens distribution plan, offer terms, and economic inducements are critical when determining if a token falls under security regulations.
Hinman also took a moment to describe how an interested party could find additional information at FinHUb. FinHub is also known as the Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology. Here investors can find information to verify if an ICO is actually a security token offering (STOs).
No More Sidelines
These latest maneuvers showcase the SECs determination to get more involved in the cryptospace. With the advent of security tokens, more businesses are open to the idea of hosting a blockchain-based crowdfunding campaign. The financial benefits are obvious and now that regulations are in place, you can expect to see the STO market expand significantly.
Stellar Chosen by Wevest for Security Token Offering Platform
Wevest announced their decision to utilize Stellar as a platform for issuing digital securities. This announcement was made after what was called an ‘extensive diligence and testing’ phase, determining which of the industry’s various offerings best suited the companies goals.
With wevest catering towards SMEs, this decision was made, as it will lower the barriers of entry for attaining capital. Stellar provides the wevest STO platform with a scalable solution, which is diverse enough in its functionality to allow for the integration of compliance measures as well. This includes KYC, AML, and more.
In their press release, representatives from, both, wevest digital and Stellar, took the time to comment on the development discussed her today. The following is what each had to say on the matter.
“Stellar was an obvious choice — it combines simplicity, speed, cost efficiency and met all our requirements. We are glad to join the Stellar ecosystem along with several other European companies, contributing to the adoption of blockchain-based products and providing SMEs with easy and efficient access to equity financing through electronic securities.”
“We’re thrilled for wevest to become the latest German fintech to join the Stellar ecosystem…wevest’s investment platform takes advantage of what the Stellar network does best — facilitating the efficient transfer and exchange of value — and we look forward to the upcoming launch of their platform.”
Wevest is a German company that was founded in 2018. Wevest specializes in offering a variety of banking services to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). These range from corporate finance to wealth management, and now the facilitation of security tokens offerings.
Operations are overseen by Managing Director, Jens Siebert.
Stellar is one of the world’s leading blockchains. Firmly entrenched in the top ten assets (per CoinMarketCap at time of writing), Stellar is a fast, versatile solution. This popular blockchain allows for the use of smart contracts, cheap fees, and high speeds; A perfect trio of attributes for a company like wevest.
Stellar has seen major adoption over the past year, by various major companies. One case of note, is IBM – a partnership seemingly headed towards great things.
In Other News
Stellar is only the latest in a line of blockchains seeing adoption by the digital securities sector. While most platforms utilize Ethereum for their smart contract needs, we have seen the usage of others like Ravencoin, TRON, and others. Here are a few articles which relate to a few of these blockchains in use.
Vtoken Exchange Celebrates SEC Filing in Time Square
The largest decentralized exchange in the world, Vtoken, obtained its SEC filing from the United States Treasury Department this week. The firm took to the world-famous NASDAQ billboard in Time Square to celebrate the move. This is the second time the company graced this iconic attraction seen by millions. Also, the move symbolizes further blockchain integration into traditional securities markets.
Speaking on these developments, Vtoken’s Chief Advisor to the Asia Pacific Region explained how his firm plans to cultivate a robust blockchain ecosystem. He took moment to discuss recent global developments in the security token space. Specifically, he touched on how both Chinese and American markets experienced a huge surge in blockchain-based firms.
The Vtoken combines the regulatory protections found in the traditional securities markets with the efficiency of a blockchain -based system. The company offers transfer agents flexible solutions to many of the current issues plaguing the securities markets.
For example, traditional securities can take three days for trades to complete. This delay leaves investors in a less than optimal position. In contrast, Vtoken’s blockchain-based system can complete trades in a matter of hours. Consequently, the platform enables a more nimble trading experience.
Real World Experience
Vtoken is a unique hybrid of technology, compliance, experience, and professional customer service. The firm handles a wide range of clients but specializes in Regulation A transactions. To date, Vtoken’s clients include NASDAQ, NYSE, OTC-listed firms, IPO-issuers, and private investors.
Vtoken’s strategy is unique in that the firm created a complete blockchain ecosystem. Here, investors can get all the information they need to host a compliant STO. The company offers a full range of solutions for both enterprise and private investors. These services include pre and post token issuance and management, smart contract programming, and ownership protection.
The latter feature is unique to V-token. This functionality allows investors to restore lost or stolen tokens, an option not usually available in the blockchain space. More importantly, Vtoken is now in a very exclusive class of decentralized exchanges registered with the SEC.
Vtoken shares many of its core developers with Ripple. Additionally, Vtoken utilizes graphene underlying technology. The token has a trading gateway that is similar to Stellar Lumens. This enables the platform to maintain optimal transaction speeds. Currently, Vtoken can process transactions faster than the third-generation crypto EOS.
Last month, Vtoken made headlines after forming a strategic partnership with blockchain payment platform PayDex. The PayDex platform functions on Vtoken’s public blockchain. The system provides global crypto settlement with support for BTC, ETH, VToken, USDT, VRT, YEC, EOS, LTC, and VUST. PayDex seeks to bring crypto payments to the masses through a simplistic mobile interface.
Vtoken’s all-inclusive approach to the market is crucial to its overall strategy. V-Token provides users with everything they need to become a player in the security token market. You can expect to see this firm continue to make headlines s the platform expands in the coming months.
AlphaPoint and Elevated Returns to Develop Secondary Market
‘Making Illiquid Assets Liquid’ – That is the guiding sentiment behind AlphaPoint, a young company which utilizes blockchain to facilitate tokenization.
This idea is one step closer to becoming a reality, as AlphaPoint has just announced a partnership with Elevated Returns – A forward thinking company which specializes in real-estate.
In this announcement, the pair has indicated that they will be developing a secondary market for trading digital securities backed by real-estate. It is through secondary markets that traditionally illiquid assets, such as real-estate, will become easily tradable – all the while opening up fractionalized ownership, and opportunity for exposure to retail investors.
Elevated Returns will focus these efforts on Asian markets, following their expansion into the region roughly one month ago. At the time, the company acquired a large share in a Thai broker-dealer – a move allowing for them to commence operations through previously attained licensure.
“Elevated Returns prides itself on our reputation as a pioneer in the digital securities space. To that effect, we have a policy to partner with the best in class companies across industry verticals; AlphaPoint’s technology solutions for unlocking digital asset liquidity are unparalleled. Having already demonstrated the capability to integrate with the token standard that we are developing on the Tezos blockchain, AlphaPoint was the clear choice to facilitate the adoption of our tokenized real estate initiatives.”
AlphaPoint is a United States based company that was founded in 2013. With their sights set on ‘making illiquid assets liquid’, AlphaPoint has successfully serviced global customer through their various service offerings.
Since opening their doors, AlphaPoint has seen their diligent work towards growth land them customers in 5 continents, to date.
Company operations are overseen by CEO, Salil Donde.
Elevated Returns is a United States based company, which specializes in investments surrounding real-estate. Recognizing the potential of digital securities, Elevated Returns operates with a goal of acquiring assets viable for tokenization.
One such example was the noteworthy tokenization of the St. Regis Resort; A high-end ski resort that successfully sold digital securities representing ownership within the resort, becoming one of the first to do so.
Company operations are overseen by President, Stephane De Baets.
In Other News
We have detailed developments pertaining to both AlphaPoint and Elevated Returns in the past few months. Check out the following articles to learn a bit more about what each of these companies has been up to in this time.
- Stellar Chosen by Wevest for Security Token Offering Platform April 21, 2019
- Vtoken Exchange Celebrates SEC Filing in Time Square April 20, 2019
- AlphaPoint and Elevated Returns to Develop Secondary Market April 19, 2019
- Due Diligence Process Delays tZERO Investment April 18, 2019
- Brian Collins, CEO at Horizon Globex – Interview Series April 18, 2019