Cryptocurrency exchange service is reviewing its listings in light of recent statements on initial coin offerings (ICOs) from the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
In a new blog post, the exchange said that it was launching the review, which could see it delist some of the trading pairs it offers, in a bid to avoid being "mischaracterized as a securities exchange."
As CoinDesk previously reported, the SEC revealed last month that it had been investigating The DAO, the ethereum-based funding vehicle that raised more than $150 million through a token sale. The agency ultimately ruled that those tokens – which were sold and later freely traded on cryptocurrency exchanges – qualify as securities, and that other token sales may fall under this definition as well.
It's in light of this statement that ShapeShift has asked its lawyers to examine whether the Howey Test – a long-standing test used to determine whether certain assets qualify as securities – applies to the tokens it lists. It's a notable development which signals that the SEC statement is having at least some impact on the startups that facilitate the exchange of blockchain-based tokens.
ShapeShift explained in the blog post:
"This means that we may need to delist some types of tokens from the platform, which is unfortunate for our users who have enjoyed the ability to participate in these experimental and innovative technologies. We have thus instructed our counsel to examine the tokens available on ShapeShift, especially through the lens of the Howey Test, which is the test the SEC applies to determine the presence of a security."
As the statement goes on to suggest, US-based customers of ShapeShift may be the ones that feel the biggest impact as the review moves ahead.
"As that analysis is done, certain tokens may be removed from the service for individuals within the United States, who will then no longer be able to interact with these technologies safely or transparently through the ShapeShift platform," the startup said, going on to add that it may "consider the application of the Howey test to all new tokens we list."
Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in ShapeShift.
SEC image via Flickr