The crypto world was sent reeling last week at the news that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had fined two ICO operators, Paragon and Airfox, $250,000 each. The two companies will also have to reimburse harmed investors in their ICOs and register their tokens as securities. This ruling signaled to those in the crypto space that tokens would be considered as tradable financial assets, and thus, securities regulations would be strictly enforced on ICOs in the country.
In a statement, representatives of the agency wrote, “We wish to emphasize […] that market participants must still adhere to our well-established and well-functioning federal securities law framework when dealing with technological innovations, regardless of whether the securities are issued in certificated form or using new technologies, such as blockchain”.
SEC Chairman Jay Clayton reiterated this strict stance on Monday in an interview with CNBC. “To the extent that an ICO is being conducted offshore or pursuant to a private placement exemption, fine; to the extent that you’ve conducted a public offering in an ICO, it’s non-compliant.”
Though this ruling affected coin prices negatively, there was a bright side: a step closer to institutional adoption.
“The SEC’s move was definitely a welcome one. More and more large industries are coming to accept that cryptocurrencies are becoming an integral part of the financial system, but in order for the blockchain industry to become truly mainstream, the industry needs ground rules and guidance,” Cryptology Exchange CMO Herbert Sim commented to the Bitcoinist.
Another piece of American blockchain news that was recently released was that DragonChain had been granted a U.S. patent on their InterChain technology. DragonChain, a open-source software company created by Disney in 2016, aims to help companies easily incorporate blockchain into their business applications. Though we’ve seen blockchain patents in the past, they have mostly been filed by institutions such as Bank of America, Barclays and Mastercard. This is one of the few instances of a blockchain company being awarded a patent on a technology which is also being developed by other platforms as well. Rather than having answers, we have more questions. What will happen to other companies that have been working on InterChain technology? Will every blockchain company file their own patents now? Does that go against the decentralized ethos of the community?
Though both pieces of news discussed above are specific to certain companies, they could cause a global shift. We’ve seen America leading the way for more regulation in the blockchain industry, especially in cryptocurrency. South Korea comes to mind instantly as they are deliberating whether to lift their ICO ban. This latest decision from SEC will certainly have an effect on their thoughts.