The financial watchdog of the United Kingdom is set to take a deeper look at Initial Coin Offering which has hitherto ridden on the back of Bitcoin popularity. This comes on the heels of the Chinese and South Korean ban of the near double of IPO except that ICOs are largely unregulated.
There has been a lot of activities this year by companies and groups, especially startups which have leveraged the ease of participation to raise funds for their projects. The scheme, which has in some cases raised stunning figures in record time has attracted a lot of attention from investors as well as regulators. The SEC has released statements that are indicative that they are getting ready to roll out a set of guidelines to govern ICOs.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which is the British agency with oversight functions over securities are the latest national regulatory body to issue a statement on the murky ICO issue. The agency expressed concerns about the high risk and speculative nature of ICOs. The same wordings that have become a mantra of sorts since ICO became the focus of financial markets.
ICO stands for Initial Coin Offering, a term used to describe the activity by which companies offer digital tokens based on the blockchain technology to investors who purchase them with the hope that the value would appreciate or that it would enable them to access the products or services of the company selling the token. 2017 will be remembered as the year ICO took center stage as a new form of crowdfunding which showed that the capital market has a large demography that it has not really connected with or catered for.
The FCA said that it needed to study the ICO field more deeply since it is a rapidly evolving phenomenon. Their intention is to determine if there is a need for interventions and regulatory activities, especially in tandem with international regulatory authorities. They also hope to engage financial and technological companies to map out ways to develop and use ICO as a crowdfunding tool especially in the UK.
The announcement of Financial Conduct Authority was made during a presentation on Distributed Ledger Technology DLT, another way of describing blockchain, the same technology on which Bitcoin and ICOs operate on. DLT has become a subject of interest due to its decentralized nature that makes it difficult if not impossible to be manipulated. Financial institutions and many other services are seeking ways to adopt the technology and save costs. Blockchain as a decentralized platform eliminates the need for middlemen or third parties and its utilization could save institutional adopters millions of pounds in third-party fees.
The FCA said it will continue monitoring developments in the ICO field in collaboration with other government institutions such as HM Treasury and the Bank of England to ensure that the Distributed Ledger Technology is harnessed in an appropriate way.