US SEC Commissioner Supports “Non-Exclusive Safe Harbour” for Tokens at Singapore Event

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In a recent Convergence Forum in Singapore on July 30, 2019, held by the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS)  Commissioner Hester Peirce of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) expressed interest in building a “non-exclusive safe harbour” for the offer and sale of certain tokens, which would permit issuers to offer tokens under an alternative regime with robust requirements.

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To address cross-border regulatory concerns, Peirce stated:

“Regulators have had to follow the lead of the markets and work with their foreign counterparts. But international communication and internationalization of markets need not lead to the internationalization of our regulations. Absent an explicit decision by citizens of a jurisdiction to cede their regulatory authority to an international organization, a jurisdiction should determine what rules work best for its investors and markets. “

At the panel discussion on “How Will Blockchain Change the Plumbing of the Financial System?”, Wijitleka Maromefe, director of the Financial Technology Department at the Bank of Thailand, noted:

“Blockchain will have a positive effect on the financial system in terms of know-your-customer (KYC), security and privacy, and the Bank of Thailand has widely deployed and used blockchain.” Dr. Zhao Yao, a researcher at the Research Centre for Payment and Settlement under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said: “Existing blockchain technology is incapable of supporting highly extendable payments compared with traditional payment systems, yet, we can look forward to blockchain being widely used in post-transactions, such as settlement.”

At the panel discussion on “Asia vs the US: Where is the Future of Blockchain? – Institutional vs. Open Use Cases”, Remington Ong, Partner at Fenbushi Capital, pointed out:

“In China, an increasing number of projects are caught in a grey area due to unclear regulatory frameworks and major challenges in compliance.” Maomao Hu, Partner at Eigen Capital, said: “In the US, although operating costs are increasing due to strict, expensive and time-consuming project scrutiny by different federal and state governments, blockchain innovation is quickly gaining momentum.”

Emily Parker, the co-founder of Longhash and the host of the panel discussion, triggered a round of heated discussions on questions in relation to the Chinese authorities’ attitude toward blockchain and tokens and the current state of the market.

At the panel discussion on “Evolving Token Distribution Models: Policy Risks and New Opportunities”, attendees discussed some regulatory environments faced by token issuers, especially compliance around the issuance of security tokens.

Taiwanese legislator Jason Hsu said:

“Taiwanese policies are more favourable for the issuance of digital currencies, allowing security token offerings (STOs) by qualified investors via some exemptions.”

Jenga CEO Iris Xu pointed out:

“…the essence of tokens is to create ‘network effects’. Project managers need to pay attention to three important aspects when designing token models: fundraising, a community of real users, and legal compliance. Models that are sustainable and capable of delivering long-term value need to strike the right balance.”

As for STOs, Iris noted:

“Singapore’s policies on functional token issuance are very favourable and clear, but STOs still need to be implemented under the framework of traditional securities laws. For specific regulation around STO issuance, Singapore lags behind the US.”

Dr Caroline Lim, Senior Lecturer, Marketing Programme, School of Business at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), offered simple tips for individual investors in the token ecosystem, saying that whether or not the white paper token model is readable and understandable, individual investors should be less speculative and enhance their awareness of the blockchain and the token economy by continually educating themselves.

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About Richard Kastelein

Founder and publisher of industry publication Blockchain News (EST 2015), a partner at ICO services collective Token.Agency ($750m+ and 90+ ICOs and STOs), director of education company Blockchain Partners (Oracle Partner) – Vancouver native Richard Kastelein is an award-winning publisher, innovation executive and entrepreneur. He sits on the advisory boards of some two dozen Blockchain startups and has written over 1500 articles on Blockchain technology and startups at Blockchain News and has also published pioneering articles on ICOs in Harvard Business Review and Venturebeat. Irish Tech News put him in the top 10 Token Architects in Europe.

Kastelein has an Ad Honorem - Honorary Ph.D. and is Chair Professor of Blockchain at China's first Blockchain University in Nanchang at the Jiangxi Ahead Institute of Software and Technology. In 2018 he was invited to and attended University of Oxford's Saïd Business School for Business Automation 4.0 programme.  Over a half a decade experience judging and rewarding some 1000+ innovation projects as an EU expert for the European Commission's SME Instrument programme as a startup assessor and as a startup judge for the UK government's Innovate UK division.

Kastelein has spoken (keynotes & panels) on Blockchain technology in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Beijing, Brussels, Bucharest, Dubai, Eindhoven, Gdansk, Groningen, the Hague, Helsinki, London (5x), Manchester, Minsk, Nairobi, Nanchang, Prague, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara (2x), Shanghai, Singapore (3x), Tel Aviv, Utrecht, Venice, Visakhapatnam, Zwolle and Zurich.

He is a Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Métis) whose writing career has ranged from the Canadian Native Press (Arctic) to the Caribbean & Europe. He's written occasionally for Harvard Business Review, Wired, Venturebeat, The Guardian and Virgin.com, and his work and ideas have been translated into Dutch, Greek, Polish, German and French. A journalist by trade, an entrepreneur and adventurer at heart, Kastelein's professional career has ranged from political publishing to TV technology, boatbuilding to judging startups, skippering yachts to marketing and more as he's travelled for nearly 30 years as a Canadian expatriate living around the world. In his 20s, he sailed around the world on small yachts and wrote a series of travel articles called, 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Seas' travelling by hitching rides on yachts (1989) in major travel and yachting publications. He currently lives in Groningen, Netherlands where he's raising three teenage daughters with his wife and sailing partner, Wieke Beenen.

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