SEC Official: ICO Market Shows Need for Securities Regulation

An SEC commissioner warned that initial coin offerings could be fraudulent, but consumers cannot necessarily identify fraud.

AccessTimeIconApr 30, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:53 a.m. UTC
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The initial coin offering (ICO) ecosystem is what the wider securities marketplace would look like without regulation, a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) commissioner said Monday.

Speaking to CNBC, commissioner Robert Jackson made the comparison when talking about the agency's role in regulating cryptocurrencies and ICO-derived tokens – and the prospect of tighter controls in the market.

"If you want to know what our markets would look like with no securities regulation, what it would look like if the SEC didn't do its job? The answer is the ICO market," he told the network.

Jackson notably remarked that "what I'll say about bitcoin, in general, is that space has been full of troubling developments," going on to say:

"Investors are having a hard time telling the difference between investments and fraud."

Like SEC chairman Jay Clayton, Jackson said he has not yet seen an ICO token which does not look like a security.

Later in the interview, Jackson said that while the SEC is largely limiting itself to seeking enforcement actions against illegal activities in the market at present, the agency might step up its regulation of the space more broadly in the future.

"We are right now focused on protecting investors who are getting hurt in this market and down the road, we will be thinking about, I think we should be thinking about ways to make those investments work with our securities laws," he said.

Markets chart image via Shutterstock

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