Congress is speaking out too.
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
For the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the U.S. has Las Vegas. For blockchain technology and sweet new startups, Malta, aka “Blockchain Island,” has the DELTA Summit. So in a sense, the DELTA Summit has become the CES of blockchain technology.
Malta has become the tropical breeding grounds for technologically innovative blockchain startups. This year has been the year of regulatory exploration. Whether we are talking about the U.S. or international authorities, the entire cryptocurrency community, as well as the blockchain technology enthusiasts, have all wanted the answer to one question — How can we do this without getting in trouble?
Related: Entrepreneurs Are Flocking to Europe to Open Cryptocurrency Businesses
Dubbed “Blockchain Island” for a reason, Malta, in its allowance of newly-innovative projects to establish themselves on the island, wants to show the rest of the world how it can lead, especially when it comes to regulation.
The DELTA Summit.
Earlier this month, Malta held its blockchain conference, DELTA Summit, attracting more than 3,500 industry experts and government officials. The Summit operates as a platform for investors and experts to share their experience and opinions, specifically on the controversially debated issue of regulation, with fellow entrepreneurs and investors of all ages.
Congress speaks out.
Blockchain and cryptocurrency has sneaked up on all of us and has shot into the kind of relevance that many are calling long-term. The result is that it isn’t just crypto-enthusiasts that are asking for guidance in the regulatory framework anymore, Congress is speaking out as well.
Last month, more than a dozen members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton, urging him and the agency to provide clear guidance to investors on how it plans to regulate cryptocurrency.
Since the 1946 U.S. Supreme Court decision SEC v. W.J. Howey Co., the Howey Test has been used for clarifying whether or not an asset was considered to be a “security” versus a “commodity.”
Under Howey, the Court held that a transaction is an investment contract, or security, if “a person invests his money in a common enterprise and is led to expect profits solely from the efforts of the promoter or a third party.”
Currently, the SEC believes U.S. Securities law to be guidance in itself for this newly created digital asset class. While Bitcoin and Ether have both been declared “commodities” by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), all other assets are currently regulated under the Howey Test.
The SEC, prior to the recently received Congressional letter, has made it clear that there would be no exceptions to U.S. Securities law made for cryptocurrencies.
Related: What It’s Actually Like to Work at a Crypto Startup
“We are not going to do any violence to the traditional definition of a security that has worked for a long time,” Clayton said in a previous CNBC interview. “If you have an ICO or a stock, and you want to sell it in a private placement, follow the private placement rules. But, if you want to do any IPO with a token, come see us.”
In Clayton’s eyes, the U.S. has already built a $19 trillion securities market that the world looks to for guidance, but according to investors and crypto-enthusiasts, this isn’t so cut and dry, and if there isn’t clear guidance, innovation could be driven elsewhere, overseas perhaps.
From AngelList to straight up compliance.
The U.S. has previously passed legislation allowing for the creation of companies such as AngelList, Kickstarter and Indiegogo. As we have seen, new companies like the AngelList spinoff, Republic, has taken shape, redefining the bounds of regulation.
Back to the DELTA Summit, it was extremely exciting for the sponsored companies like Binance, OKEx and ABCC aim to be a regulatory model for their own demographic. After the Summit concluded, ABCC’s CEO, Calvin Cheng, spoke about what it takes to be a leader in this space and what they had done to make it into the Top 5 category of mobile applications in the Google Play Store. “What distinguishes our exchange from similar ones is our team and commitment to long term sustainability,” he said.
Cheng said that in a year full of data breaches like Equifax and Facebook, they have begun to jump on board with various insurance companies, looking at readily available “cyber-insurance” policies which the space has been lacking for quite some time.
Related: Why Entrepreneurs Shouldn’t Panic About the Bitcoin Slump
This highlights another problem that the blockchain space has faced. Sure blockchain is getting hotter right now, but how long will it last? The partnerships with insurance companies to create a cyber-insurance policy, such as ABCC has done, is an approach many other platforms are now adopting. In my opinion, it is an absolutely necessary step as the entire nature of blockchain is to handle information and often sensitive information. This is a step in the right direction for the regulation of the every growing blockchain space.
The relevance of Malta and the DELTA Summit is that it offers enthusiasts and entrepreneurs in the space and avenue to meet, innovate and hence, they are not waiting around for governments to do the work of regulation. There are enough people and even governments enthusiastic enough to both adopt it, invest in it and to push for proper regulation.
If that doesn’t spell long-term for you, then I don’t know what will.