Security token offerings (STOs) are now commonplace in the cryptomarket. This unique fundraising strategy gives companies the ability to easily monitor, distribute, and regulate their campaign utilizing blockchain technology. STOs combine the best features of ICOs with the stringent regulations found in particular markets.
Aside from the benefits achieved by companies that use an STO strategy, there are also many reasons why an investor would seek out this type of investment. For one, STOs are far more transparent than an ICO. Companies involved in STOs must reveal sensitive company information including their address, upper management, and financials.
This information further protects investors from the ramped scamming that occurs in the ICO markets. One report published by the Statis Group showed that as much as 80-percent of the ICOs conducted in 2017 turned out to be scams. It’s exactly this fraudulent activity that led to the development of security tokens.
Now that security tokens are more popular, many countries want to host STO related businesses. In order to entice these businesses onto their shores, government officials are ready to make some serious concessions. Below are the best countries to launch your security token.
The island country of Malta is one of the premier locations to launch your security token. The country embraced blockchain technology from the start. The Maltese Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, issued a public statement this year in which he acknowledged both the fears of regulators “and the fact” that this technology is quickly changing industries across the globe.
Maltese officials are serious about their desire to be the leading blockchain country in the world. In the same statement, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of heading the digitization of the economy. He went as far as to state – “we must be the one that others copy.”
Malta is home to some of the largest security token projects currently in the works. In September the Malta Stock Exchange (MSX) announced a partnership with Binance, the world largest exchange by volume. Binance seeks to create a new security token platform in the country in the coming months.
Lithuania made some significant headway last year towards their goal of becoming EU’s security token capital. The country introduced security token friendly regulations. The country’s Minister of Finance issued broad security token regulations that covered the taxation, accounting, issuance, and compliance.
Blockchain companies send their project to a supervisor of financial markets and their office well send back a reply regarding the status of your token. Basically, Lithuanian officials do their version of the Howie Test to your project and give you a solid answer prior to your firm moving forward on their project.
Since Lithuania is a member of the EU, they gained a huge advantage by legalizing and regulating STOs in their country. Government officials hope to entice all of the EU to host their STOs in the country.
Switzerland has a long history as a financial safe haven. The country features low taxes and a crypto friendly environment. Switzerland was one of the first countries to adopt cryptocurrency regulations.
Switzerland has had a pro-crypto stance since 2014 when regulators released a report detailing the significance of cryptocurrencies. Interestingly, the report acknowledged cryptocurrencies handle the same tasks as money but stopped sort of labeling it legal tender due to the lack of an issuing country.
STOs submit their project to the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA). This regulatory body reviews each STO to confirm what designation the project falls under. Token labels include payment, utility, asset, and hybrid tokens.
Israel is home to numerous blockchain-based startups. The country leads the world in research & development according to a recent Bloomberg report. The report placed Israel in the number two spot, only behind South Korea in terms of innovators. Israel welcomed blockchain companies by cutting crypto taxes in half in October of this year.
According to a Cryptoslate report, Israel started 2018 with 88 blockchain startup in operation. In March 2018, Israel released an interim report which detailed the regulations for ICOs. The report was intended to strike a “balance between technological innovation and the protection of investors.”
The Israel Security Authority’s ex-head, Prof. Shmuel Hauser went as far as to recommend the country foster the creation of an international blockchain center on his retirement. This move ensures Israel remains a dominant force in the cryptomarket.
Canada continues to lead the North American crypto revolution. The Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) announced in February plans to launch a new securities token platform. The platform is based on the Ethereum Blockchain.
Toronto, Canada is the birthplace of Ethereum and the city continues to be a strong hub for crypto activity. Additionally, the platform allows users to launch their own security token easily. This decision is consistent with Toronto’s desire to be an industry leader.
According to the press release, the new security token platform is designed to give companies an alternative to the ICO space. Kabuni Technologies is the first security token scheduled for launch on the platform. The company also filed a prospectus with the British Columbia Securities Commission (BSCE).
Dubai remains a powerful influence in the cryptomarket. The country was one of the first to issue a state-backed cryptocurrency back in October 2017. In February of this year, The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) began to facilitate a market in cryptocurrencies.
The DMCC is a member of the Global Blockchain Council. The project initially began as part of the Dubai Smart City initiative. Speaking on cryptocurrencies, the project’s director, Franco Bosoni, discussed how he could see a commodities-like future for these digital assets. Dubai is now in the middle of developing a robust framework for the security token commodity to operate within.
Security Tokens – A Smart Move
The countries exemplify the innovative spirit and their decision to position their markets in line with the digitization of the economy is sure to pay off. The security token market continues to expand and these countries are now seeing the benefits of their pro crypto stance. You should expect more countries months.
Bank of Russia Looks to Retcon Regulations Surrounding Digital Assets
A pilot program, sanctioned by the Bank of Russia, was developed, and recently completed, by Russian mining industry giant, Nornickel.
This pilot, which took place within the bank’s regulatory sandbox was structured as a means to test the veracity of the benefits surrounding digital assets, and the potential role they can play in finance.
The pilot saw a platform developed by Nornickel, which provides its clients with various capabilities surrounding digital assets. Through the use of ‘hybrid tokens’ the platform provides, but isn’t limited to, tokenization of…
The goal hoped to be achieved through offering these services is two-fold, like most tokenization platforms.
- Provide companies easier access to financing opportunities
- Provide investors with an increase palette of investment choices.
The Bank of Russia did not embark on this endeavour for the fun of it. They have noted the potential role that digital assets will play in the future of finance, and are looking to prepare themselves accordingly.
As such, they have now submitted framework surrounding digital assets, in hopes of seeing new amendments made to Russia’s current laws governing crypto – Framework established during Nornickle’s time in the bank’s regulatory sandbox.
We have previously taken a look at a few of the laws governing blockchain in Russia, which the nation’s central bank hopes to see amended. Make sure to peruse the following article to see the areas which stand to, potentially, be altered.
As stated, the Bank of Russia, only today, released a statement on the successful completion of the pilot program. The following is a translation of commentary provide by the bank.
Ivan Zimin, Director of the Financial Technology Department of the Bank of Russia, states,
“It was one of the largest sandbox projects. We have studied in detail the new business model and its compliance with the needs of the market. An important part of the service is the use of hybrid tokens, which make it easy to adapt to the needs of business and consumers and provide flexible solutions to attract investment. As a result of the piloting, the Bank of Russia proposed to include in the draft federal law “On Digital Financial Assets” the provisions necessary for the introduction and development of such solutions in the emerging market of digital assets, which were supported by the government agencies and business.”
Seeking a Friendly Hand
Establishing a clear framework surrounding digital assets is clearly of importance when gauging industry development. As industry participants look to continue expanding their products and services, we have seen many begin seeking out nations which have had the foresight to implement such framework.
One company, recently covered, that is doing just that, is Smartlands – a UK based tokenization platform. Smartlands recently announced that they would be basing their future moves on the Liechtenstein Blockchain act.
While news of a potential implementation of government backed framework is, no doubt, welcome, Russia has remained skeptical of the cryptocurrency industry at large. Tokenization of assets and financial instruments in a regulated manner are one thing, but cryptocurrency transactions are another beast entirely.
Russia has taken a trepidatious stance towards cryptocurrencies, as they link them to potential money laundering schemes. This stance has been reiterated as recently as February 17, 2020 by the Bank of Russia, as they look to update ‘Directive 375-P’ – essentially a manual for identifying illicit financial activity.
SEC Charges Opporty for 2018 ICO
This week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) continued its ICO crackdown. This time, the firm levied charges against project Opporty Founder and Brooklyn-resident Sergii Grybniak. The firm alleges that Grybniak broke the law when his firm raised approximately $600,000 during its 2018 ICO.
News of the charges first broke via Jan. 21 press release. In the release, the SEC reveals the charges laid against Grybniak in detail. Importantly, the primary charge is participating in the unregistered sale of securities. Additionally, the SEC claims that Grybniak made false statements in order to encourage more investor participation.
These statements include a myriad of exaggerated and completely fake claims. In one instance, Opporty claimed that its 2018 ICO was “100% SEC-compliant.” Unfortunately, this claim proved to be the tip of the iceberg. Apparently, Opporty also claimed to have thousands of “verified providers” who were ready to work with the platform.
This claim became so overblown that in one piece of marketing material, Opporty suggested it had a business database that included around 17 million participants. In actuality, the firm had no partnerships. Unfortunately, these claims served one main purpose, to push more investment capital into the ICO.
Major Software Firm
As if the shower of lies put forth weren’t enough, Opporty also made some very specific partnership claims that proved to be bunk as well. According to the SEC, the firm lied about a partnership with a major software company. This lie was to help ease investor doubt about the ability of developers to deliver on their hefty platform promises.
SEC Steps In – Opporty
It doesn’t take much research to see why Opporty ended up in the SEC’s crosshairs. Now, the SEC seeks injunctions against all future digital offerings by the company. On top of the cease-and-desist, regulators require Opporty to return all the funds the company raised during its 2018 ICO. Also, the firm is to face a variety of civil penalties for its actions.
Opporty executives sold the concept to investors as a blockchain-based ecosystem for small businesses. The platform was to provide these small-to-medium sized companies with access to advanced blockchain systems. For example, businesses could list their services and lock in their clients via smart contracts.
United States Investors
Aside from the obvious scamming that took place, Opporty made another key error in its strategy. You see, unlike many similar ICOs, the offering did not explicitly exclude U.S. investors from participating. The 2018 ICO included investments from around 200 US citizens. In this way, the firm invited the SEC to monitor its actions throughout its entire crowdfunding campaign.
An Oppurty Lost
Given the long list of violations this firm now faces, it’s easy to imagine a scenario in which Opporty decides to close its doors. Already, numerous SEC-charged firms have taken similar measures prior to refunding clients’ funds. For now, Opporty has a long legal battle and hefty fines to deal with. You can expect to hear more from this case as the SEC pursues its charges against Grybniak.
Disguises, Fake Identities, and an Illegal ICO – The SEC Looks to Lay Charges
The SEC is hard at work ousting, and holding accountable, those in the world of blockchain that have breached securities laws. Most recently, the SEC has turned their attention to an ICO hosted by a pair of companies operated by a duo of devious individuals.
- CG Blockchain Inc.
- BCT Inc.
This pairing of companies was marketed as developing technology to disrupt hedge funds, and the way they operate.
The Ring Leaders
- Boaz Manor (alias ‘Shaun Macdonald)
- Edith Pardo (alias ‘Edith Mehler’)
In all endeavours, it is believed that Boaz Manor was at the helm, with Edith Pardo acting as a ‘front-woman’, deflecting attention from Manor’s past.
In this particular case, the pair of companies, and the aforementioned individuals, are accused of facilitating/hosting a ‘fraudulent and unregistered offering of digital asset securities’.
$30 million worth of these securities were sold to investors, under the guise of a utility token ‘BCT’. Beyond simply selling illegal securities, those responsible flat out lied to their investors on a variety of fronts.
- Fake Identities
- Fake chain of command
- Product state of development
- Product Adoption
- Investments by founders
The list goes on. Simply put, they were not who they said they were, and the companies did not have a developed product gaining traction within the industry.
This next bit is not an everyday occurrence – rather, it was something you would see in a movie. Knowing full well that their activities were in violation of various securities based laws, Manor and Edith Pardo felt it prudent to hide their identities.
In order to do this, and distance themselves from their past activities (more on that, later), the pair went to great lengths. The SEC states,
“During the scheme, Manor employed a number of deceptive devices related to his fake identity and to the concealment of his background and role.”
Some of the tactics used to conceal their identities included dying hair, growing beards, attaining fake identification under the alias ‘Shaun MacDonald’, etc.
There are few reasons to justify hiding one’s identity in the manner that Manor did – either you’ve done something bad, or are doing something bad. In this particular case, Manor is guilty of both.
We’ve discussed the illegalities associated with his actions in the aforementioned ICO, however Manor has a history of such activity. Dating back to 2005 in Canada, Manor was found to be running a fraudulent hedge fund, valued at nearly $750 million.
When light was shed upon his operation, Manor proceeded to flee the great white north, becoming a fugitive in the process. After eventually returning, and completing a prison sentence of 1 year, Manor went on his way, staying out of the limelight until now.
Due to the great lengths gone to by the pair to partake in the aforementioned illegal activities, in addition to the sum of money raised, the SEC is taking a strong stance. The following is an excerpt from their court filing.
“Unless Defendants are restrained and enjoined, they will again engage in the acts, practices, transactions, and courses of business set forth in this Complaint or in acts, practices, transactions, and courses of business of similar type and object.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission is a United Stated based regulatory body, tasked with creating, an enforcing, regulation surrounding securities. The goal of which is to foster and maintain a fair, transparent, and efficient market for all participants.
Chairman, Jay Clayton, currently oversees company operations.