Category Archives: Jay Clayton

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Educational Hoax ICO Site Launched by US Government

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has produced a website advertising a scam initial coin offering (ICO), in an effort to educate the populace on how to identify such fraudulent websites.

In a Wednesday press release, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton discussed the intent behind the initiative. While acknowledging the rapid growth in the number of ICOs, he explained a need to help give investors the tools they require to recognize fraudulent sites.

”We embrace new technologies, but we also want investors to see what fraud looks like, so we built this educational site with many of the classic warning signs of fraud… I encourage investors to do their diligence and ask questions,”
Clayton detailed.

Howeycoin ‘ICO’

The mock ICO website advertises the fictitious Howeycoin token, reading: ”Howeycoin is the newest and only coin offering that captures the magic of coin trading profits AND the excitement and guaranteed returns of the travel industry. Howeycoins will partner with all segments of the travel industry (air, hotel, car rental, and luxury segments), earning coins you can trade for profit instead of points.”

Information provided on the website looks much like that supplied during a genuine ICO, with statements such as “We anticipate OVER 1% daily returns, with DOUBLE 2% returns on Tier 1 investors in pre-ICO stage secured purchases.”

SEC Chief Council Owen Donley noted the ease at which scammers can utilize convoluted jargon to lure individuals into false investments, but pointed out significant red flags that can indicate fraud.

By clicking on the internal website links, visitors are directed to an SEC site that notifies them of the truthful nature of the website.

The SEC notice explains: ”Our bogus site is a mash-up of a number of different things we’ve seen – any particular fraud may be harder to spot than the red flags here. Here are some of the signs of fraud that are on the Howeycoins site – we hope reviewing these may help you recognize a real fraud in the future!”

Targetting of ICOs

There is certainly an emphasis currently placed on targetting ICOs and cryptocurrency related scams, when in fact around less than 1% of Bitcoin-related transactions have been linked to illicit activities. Although, it is true that several high-profile ICOs have been shut down due to suspected, or convicted fraudulent activity.

While it is certainly necessary to regulate ICOs to ensure they are providing the services and tokens that they are advertising, the current enforcement of numerous subpoenas by the SEC does indicate an arguably overzealous approach towards cryptocurrency start-ups when compared to how mainstream financial scams are currently handled.

 

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Brian Kelly Still Bullish About Bitcoin Climbing

Comments made by BKCM founder Brian Kelly last week, when Bitcoin officially crossed the USD 10,000 line before its subsequent drop, suggested that there were three clear factors that would determine the coin’s next big rally, according to CCN.

The Goldman Sachs factor

Kelly sees the next support levels after USD 10,000 as USD 12,000 and USD 14,000. One factor he cites as being significant in securing this charge, was last week’s announcement by Goldman Sachs confirming the go-ahead to invest customers funds in Bitcoin through a new cryptocurrency trading desk; a decision by the bank largely provoked by customer demand.

Jon Matonis, Bitcoin Foundation founder and Visa executive, is animated with such announcements by major financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs, commenting:

“I think it’s fabulous that they’re getting into it because it brings in new liquidity. They’re going to develop futures markets, options markets — I even think you’re going to start to see interest-rate markets around Bitcoin.”

Matonis sees the move as one which will allow the cryptocurrency market to mature through more public trading of bitcoin. The New York Times reported yesterday that Intercontinental Exchange, owner of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), is also considering allowing customers to buy and hold Bitcoin, which would become the second Wall Street financial institution to consider such a step within weeks.

Defining Bitcoin

Another factor, according to Kelly, is the clarity now being offered by the SEC regarding the description of digital currencies. SEC chairman’s Jay Clayton’s recent suggestion that if Bitcoin is a medium of exchange it, can’t be deemed as a security due to its use as a currency which he sees as a positive mover for Bitcoin. However, Aaron Wright, director of blockchain project Cardozo, recently suggested that there is “superficial appeal” to treating Bitcoin and related tokens as securities, as many of them were still seen as “speculative assets”.

New York Blockchain Week

Another push to Bitcoin’s potential pricing fortunes, according to Kelly, is this month’s Blockchain Week being held in New York. Partnering the New York City Economic Development Corporation in the project, Kevin Worth, CEO of Coindesk, comments about the week’s headline event, ‘Consensus’.

“Consensus is more than just a conference. It’s the largest and must-attend gathering of everyone involved in our rapidly growing ecosystem. We’re proud to partner with companies that continue to innovate and actively work toward taking their projects live.”

 

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Telegram Cancels ICO Amid Tightening of Regulations

From what was rumored to be the biggest initial coin offering (ICO) in history, Telegram has now shut down its much-publicized ICO, as reported by the Independent.

While some have claimed that Telegram already successfully raised its monetary target, it seems more likely that the cancellation was due to the tightening of ICO regulations happening across the world and particularly in the US.

ICOs have collectively raised USD 12 billion in funds since 2014, but perceived connections with scams and fraudulent activities have led the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to scrutinize the legality of these fundraising efforts.

SEC chairman Jay Clayton recently testified before the US Congress, saying, “Many ICOs are being conducted illegally. Their promoters and other participants are not following our security laws.”

Satis Group created a resource to identify ICOs and cryptocurrencies as scams, but Telegram’s fundraising for the Telegram Open Network (TON) coin does not appear to fall into this category. Officials have argued, however, that this could not be accurately identified until the final launch that was scheduled for later this year.

Telegram’s ICO

In the white paper detailing the ICO held by Telegram, the company detailed its objective to create a cryptocurrency that could overcome the limitations of Bitcoin and the other leading cryptocurrencies. The digital currency was advertized to offer lower transaction fees at quicker transaction times.

The white paper reads: “To this day, no consensus-backed currency has been able to appeal to the mass market and reach mainstream adoption. Telegram will use its expertise in encrypted distributed data storage to create TON, a fast and inherently scalable multi-blockchain architecture.”

Frustrated investors

Investors and industry pundits have reacted angrily to the cancellation, which reportedly raised USD 1.7 billion. While this gives Telegram enough finances to launch TON, they have put the cryptocurrency on hold.

ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees is one such frustrated industry specialist who vented on Twitter.

The SEC has created an environment where only the rich (aka “accredited investors”) are able to get access to financial deals. The plebeians must stick to the lottery. Telegram Cancels public sale of tokens due to SEC: https://t.co/jHH4LgMvO5

— Erik Voorhees (@ErikVoorhees) May 2, 2018

Telegram has a long way to go to rebuilding a relationship with the investors. With its ICO promoted as bringing the world the first mainstream cryptocurrency, this is disappointing news for some in the cryptocurrency market.

 

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SEC Chairman Doesn’t Believe Every ICO is a Scam; Japan and South Korea Charge Ahead Toward Regulation

Jay Clayton, the Chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), gave a speech at a Princeton University event that provided fascinating insight into his evolving views on how to approach initial coin offerings (ICOs) as well as how to classify and regulate cryptocurrencies.

Not every ICO is a scam

Essential discussions that delve deeper into blockchain technologies, ICOs and cryptocurrencies are taking place all over the world. Perhaps now that the markets are cooling off, the topic of how to legitimize the lucrative technology is finally on the table.

During the event, the SEC chairman disregarded that all ICOs were fraudulent scams, bearing contrast to his position in February. At a Senate hearing, Clayton declared he was “unhappy” with how ICOs were conducted, based on the fact that they did not follow private placement rules, and that there were some fraudulent ICO operators.

Clayton made a potent remark that brought to light a solution for a lesser-mentioned problem: what happens if the technology continues to have fraudulent actors? He said:

“I think if we don’t stop the fraudsters, there is a serious risk that the regulatory pendulum – the regulatory actions will be so severe that they will restrict the capacity of this new security.”

Overseas efforts

The United States isn’t the only country wrestling with the ICO debate; in Japan, a recent government-backed study revealed that it now is looking to bring forth the proper legal and regulatory frameworks to give the go-ahead on the popular capital-raising method.

The report included guidelines that will identify investors, which will prevent money laundering, which acts as a protection for existing shareholders and debt holders, making “unfair” trading practices such as insider trading a thing of the past for cryptocurrencies.

The report also goes on to classify three types of ICOs:

The “venture company type” is the typical fundraising method and is defined as “fund-raising by venture companies through high-risk, high return investments”.

The second is the slightly lesser known “ecosystem type” which is described as “fund-raising for collaborative efforts in which multiple corporations such as companies and local governments are engaged”.

The third and probably least known of them all is the “large company type”, which is for “fund-raising by companies for certain in-house projects with high risk”.

Advancements in the United States and Japan are steering the future of cryptocurrency in the right direction; BitcoinNews recently reported that South Korea is making preparations to tax cryptocurrencies, which may come off as alarming, but can be a vital spoke in the regulatory wheel.

Rallying support

What makes it even less alarming is that the third largest fiat-to-Bitcoin market in the world is also preparing to have a cryptocurrency for its capital city, and in fact, the United States and Japan are above South Korea in the fiat-to-Bitcoin market listing.

It is evident that despite the constant negative press, cryptocurrencies are part of very progressive discussions taking place in the largest markets in the world. It is these serious pioneering efforts that will make blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies validated as part of the economy.

 

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Nevada Goes Ledger Nano Mad at Christmas

Price protection app Earny has recently revealed that the crypto hardware wallet, Ledger Nano, was US state Nevada’s most popular purchase over the 2017 Christmas season. The wallet is one of the cryptocurrency industry’s most favored along with Trezor and Keepkey.

Although the published data did exclude smart home devices, the survey demonstrates that the popularity of the device in crypto-friendly Nevada is growing.  At least in some states, user interest in cryptocurrency has some momentum. The data reflected purchases made between November 2017 and February 2018 with a range of frequent purchases throughout the country from lava lamps to glue.

Hardware wallets such as the Ledger Nano have grown in popularity as they provide a far more secure storage of crypto assets. This is due to robust safety features for storage and for securing digital payments. The Nano connects to any computer with a secure LED display which requires users to check and double check each transaction with a single tap.

Such wallets are a preferred way of storing cryptocurrencies, as platform-stored assets could be susceptible to online cyber vulnerabilities.

It is not surprising perhaps that Nevada’s crypto trading public has warmed to the Ledger as the state was the first in the US to block taxation on blockchain transactions. The blockchain-friendly bill was introduced last year and received unanimous Senate approval.

The US is starting to becoming increasingly Bitcoin-friendly, state by state, following recent enthusiasm for cryptocurrency shown by both Nevada and Arizona. Along with other states such as Wyoming and Tennessee, numerous crypto-friendly bills have been introduced in houses of state legislatures around the country.

A reflection of this interest on a federal-state level was Washington’s recent SEC and CFTC hearings on 6 February this year which was focussed on cryptocurrency and blockchain issues. Chair of the SEC, Jay Clayton, although not a crypto enthusiast,  said that the role of virtual currencies in a modern financial ecosystem “couldn’t be denied”.

 

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