What has been happening around Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrencies this week? The most relevant local and international developments as well as appealing background reports in a pointed and compact way in retrospect in our weekly review.
In December, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin proposed new KYC (Know Your Customer) regulations for the crypto industry. These regulations would go far beyond the existing ones and would require exchanges and other service providers to forward a significant amount of user data to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The new regulations would also have affected self-managed wallets. The proposal made waves, with broad opposition forming. In over 7,500 comments, industry participants expressed their concerns about the proposed regulation. Due to the change in administration, the proposal has now been put on hold. In an announcement, the Biden administration said it wants to give its commissioners enough time to review the rules.
In the last year, a lot has happened in the regulatory area of cryptocurrencies. After a long period of restraint, significant legislation around digital assets has emerged, particularly in the US. U.S. banks received permission from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to hold digital assets for their customers, and to use private stablecoins for payment processing. That said, several regulators are active in different areas. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), is responsible for regulating the securities market and protecting investors. In dealing with cryptocurrencies, the authority stepped in visibly around the "Initial Coin Offerings" (ICO's) launched in 2017/18. The main issue here was the classification of the issued tokens, which can be appropriately classified as securities and are thus subject to specified fundraising procedures. While the developers of the EOS Blockchain reached a settlement with the SEC, a lawsuit against Ripple, the creators of the XRP Token, has been underway since December. As part of last year's CFC conference, CVJ.CH was able to interview SEC Commissioner Hester M. Peirce to better explore the topics of crypto regulation, classification of securities, and the role of the U.S. in the international arena.
The crypto industry has grown and the first companies intend to go public. At least eight crypto companies are planning an IPO in the near future. Companies from the mining sector, as well as certain crypto exchanges are among the candidates. The planned IPO of the exchange operator Coinbase is considered the most prominent case. A "pre-IPO" futures contract values it at nearly $75 billion. Demand for the largest U.S. crypto exchange appears to be strong. The Coinbase IPO will allow a broader investor community to participate in the highly profitable crypto trading space via stock for the first time. Some of the existing crypto exchanges have their own traded tokens. These "utility tokens" allow holders to use services on the relevant network. In the case of exchanges, they usually grant reduced fees when trading cryptocurrencies. As a portion of these tokens is bought back in the open market depending on the course of business and subsequently destroyed, the supply of these tokens is reduced over time. Accordingly, the tradable tokens have a market value. In a remote sense, they have characteristics of a common stock. The Coinbase IPO is an interesting moment in terms of the valuation of crypto exchanges and their respective tokens.
Moreover: Trademark protection is a philosophically controversial issue. But even if opponents of copyright laws see it as a basis for stagnation, it is an integral part of the economy. For startups, trademark protection should be a high priority from a pragmatic point of view. Brands or company names can ultimately become a company's most valuable asset through strong marketing. Pascal Hügli leads through the elements of a brand and its benefits from a start-up's point of view.
Selected articles in the weekly review:
FinCEN's expanded regulatory requirements prompted widespread opposition in the crypto industry. The Biden administration postponed the effective date of the decision for 60 days for the time being.
A conversation with SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce on crypto regulation, classification of securities, and the role of the U.S. internationally.
Some crypto companies are planning an initial public offering in 2021. The planned IPO of US crypto exchange Coinbase will mark the beginning of a new era in the industry.
Philosophically, the topic of brand protection may be controversial, but from a pragmatic point of view it is essential for companies. The importance of trademark protection should not be underestimated, even in the startup sector.
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