Switzerland introduces the “Innovator License” for Fintechs

On November 30, 2018, the Federal Council (the highest executive authority of Switzerland) published the implementing rules governing the newly introduced Swiss “innovator license.”  The Swiss Parliament has recently enacted this new license category. Younger companies, in particular from the fintech and blockchain space, often engage in taking deposits from the public. Until recently, this activity was reserved for banks. However, fintechs that operate payment systems, including such systems based

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Banking, FinTech, Innovator License, Switzerland

Flat Risk Weight of 800% – FINMA Clarifies Prudential Consequences of Cryptoassets Trading by Swiss Banks and Securities Dealers

Up to now, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) has taken no official position on how to consider cryptoassets for the Basel III capital requirements or liquidity ratios for banks and securities dealers. According to current media reports, however, FINMA is said to have revealed its practice on the issue in a confidential letter sent to EXPERTsuisse, an association representing Swiss trustees and accountants, on October 15, 2018. The

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Banking, Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency, FINMA, Switzerland

EU Blockchain Roundtable meets to discuss future of technology and formation of international association

Brussels, 20 November 2018: The EU Blockchain Roundtable took place with the theme of ‘bringing industries together for Europe to lead in blockchain technologies’. The Roundtable, hosted by EU leaders for digital economy and technology, met with the aim of gathering support for a comprehensive EU strategy to boost exploitation of blockchain technology across Europe.

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EU, International

Launch of First Multi-Crypto ETP at SIX Swiss Exchange

On 22 November 2018, there was a first at SIX Swiss Exchange: Swiss-based startup Amun AG obtained the first license worldwide to offer an Exchange Traded Product (ETP) based on multiple crypto-currencies on a regulated stock exchange. The ETP gives investors access to a diversified, weighted and automatically re-balanced basket of the top four most liquid crypto-assets: Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum and Litecoin. Each cryptocurrency was allocated a certain share within

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Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency, Exchanges, Switzerland

SEC’S First Cases for Improperly Touting ICOs are Brought Against Celebrities DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather

The U.S. SEC has shown it seriousness in cracking down on noncompliant ICOs by pursuing enforcement in a number of different ways.  We have reported on the SEC’s recent first-time enforcement action against an entity for operating as an unregulated national securities exchange and its recent first cases imposing civil penalties solely for ICO securities offering registration violations.  Yesterday marked another new first.  The cases brought against celebrities  DJ Khaled and

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ICO, SEC, Touting, US

LabCFTC Releases Primer on Smart Contracts

LabCFTC, the FinTech engagement arm of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), this week released a primer on smart contracts that provides examples of contract logic, describes a decentralized blockchain, and details applications.  The primer also highlights potential operational and regulatory challenges and risks. The primer acknowledges that a smart contract potentially can be a binding legal contract subject to a variety of legal frameworks. Among them are the CFTC,

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CFTC, Cryptocurrency, Enforcement, US

U.S. District Court Declines to Accept SEC’s Argument that Token is a “Security” Until It Can Resolve Disputed Questions of Fact

On November 27, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California issued a decision that is already being reported as one holding that a token is not a “security.”  That is incorrect.  The court left for another day the issue of whether the token in question meets the securities law definition of a “security.”  It merely held that, for purposes of the request for a preliminary injunction, the

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ICO, SEC, Security Token, US

SEC’s First Cases Imposing Civil Penalties Solely for ICO Securities Offering Registration Violations

On Friday, November 16, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it had settled charges against two companies that sold digital tokens in ICOs.  Munchee, Inc. was the Commission’s first non-fraud ICO registration case and the Commission did not impose a penalty or include undertakings from Munchee, which stopped its offering before delivering any tokens and promptly returned proceeds to investors.  Friday’s cases are the first cases imposing civil

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ICO, SEC, US

U.S. SEC Issues Statement on Digital Asset Securities Issuance and Trading

Last Friday, November 16, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Division of Corporation Finance, Division of Investment Management, and Division of Trading and Markets issued a “Statement on Digital Asset Securities Issuance and Trading.”  The purpose was to note that, while the SEC encourages technological innovation, market participants must still adhere to the Commission’s well-established and well-functioning federal securities law framework when dealing with technological innovations, regardless of whether the

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Broker-Dealer, ICO, SEC, US

SEC Takes First Step in Cracking Down on Digital Token Trading Platforms

On November 8, the SEC settled charges against Zachary Coburn, the founder of EtherDelta, a digital token trading platform.  This is the SEC’s first enforcement action against an entity for operating as an unregulated national securities exchange.  Mr. Coburn consented to the SEC’s order and agreed to pay $300,000 in disgorgement, $13,000 in prejudgment interest, and a $75,000 penalty. In its order, the SEC concluded that EtherDelta’s trading system met

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Cryptocurrency, Enforcement, Exchanges, SEC, US
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