PRIMER: US cryptocurrency ICO regulation

Author: Olly Jackson | Published: 27 Apr 2018

Issuers of initial coin offerings (ICOs) have been avoiding the US for a while, preferring other jurisdictions and their less onerous regulatory frameworks. The number of US regulatory bodies play their part in muddying the waters, but even more confusing is the question of whether an ICO can be classed as anything other than a security.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Jay Clayton has reversed on his initial reluctance that ICOs cannot be anything other than a security. He has recently suggested that an ICO could be something different, which is likely to be satisfying for issuers to hear. Compliance with securities regulation in the same way as an initial public offering is a difficult task for a lot of startup companies and a change could see more ICOs registered in the US.

The US has federal and state-by-state oversight. The SEC, the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and...