An Israeli official gave a talk in Tel Aviv today regarding the challenges with regulating ICO’s and bitcoin. Professor Shmuel Hauser, Head of the Israeli Securities Authority, expressed fear and concern about cryptocurrencies. He seemed to see digital tokens as representing a threat, and he urged regulators to be more “paternalistic” in their oversight of ICO’s.
Investors Cannot Look After Themselves and do Not Understand Cryptocurrencies
Hauser elaborated on his position, saying, “We have to address today what is happening with bitcoin, blockchain and ICOs that are challenging the current regulation around the world. It is here at the gates of the stock exchange. It is a new economy where the companies have no faces, and the investors have no faces. Our task is to get ready now in a proactive fashion before an event will occur that will hurt Israeli investors.”
In this sense, it appears Hauser is attempting to alert regulators of the world to prepare for more digital currencies and ICO’s to spread. Hauser suggested many people invest in digital currencies and they do not understand them. He implied they need government protection, because 67% of people cannot look after themselves. Overall, 60% of the public have been exposed to digital investment opportunities.
Does the World Need Regulators?
Hauser mentioned bitcoin is not a passing fad. It is here to stay. Regulators have to be prepared. He said the SEC recently rejected a bitcoin ETF. He said this because regulators do not yet comprehend cryptocurrency. They do not know how to go about creating a regulatory framework. He also mentioned there are already IPO’s without a prospectus.
Gentlemen, this is not a passing phenomenon. It is here at the gates of the capital market. It is here at the gates of the stock exchange. Is it a widespread phenomenon, is it a phenomenon that requires the protection of the state? Regulators? In this new economy, there are no faces for investors and there are no faces for companies.
He finished his thought by asking one important question: does the world even need regulators anymore?
How Should Regulators Handle ICO’s?
Hauser answered his own question by bringing up the topic of ICO’s and how they should be regulated. Currently, he said ICO’s are funds that are generated via the creation of blockchain, bitcoin, and similar cryptocurrencies, and they ignore the current supervisory system. In other words, there is no oversight or protection for investors or speculators.
Hauser then detailed all the different ICO’s and the kind of revenue they have generated, saying, “Israeli Bancor, which raised $153 million in three hours for a conversion protocol; Gnosis, which raised $12.5 million in ten minutes for building a platform for predicting events; Brave, which raised $35 million in 24 seconds for developing a browser; Aragon, which raised $25 million in 15 minutes for decentralizing companies; and more.”
He asked what these new tokens should be considered for regulatory purposes. He started thinking out loud. They are not like business IPO’s. Investors do not actually gain ownership in the company. Nor did the startup undergo any kind of organizational process or submit a prospectus to a regulatory agency. The ICO simply generates new tokens and people invest in it because it could harbor value in the future. Hauser admitted these new digital assets are not like a stocks or bonds. They are a different animal entirely. In his final analysis, Hauser said cryptocurrencies in an ICO are closer to an IPO in some regards, and he believes that is a starting point to begin thinking about outlining some regulations.
Do you believe regulators will have more challenges regulating Bitcoin and ICO’s in the future? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Shutterstock and financemagnates.com
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