Varying approaches to cryptocurrency are being explored by officials around the globe. Some seek to forge regulations aimed at providing a framework for crowdfunding, while others issue warnings and ask businesses to back off from cryptocurrency-related services, such as consulting. Southeast Asia has been considered particularly active in its approach to initiating regulation.
In Vietnam, for instance, on January 30, 2018, local sources reported that officials at the State Securities Commission asked businesses to suspend cryptocurrency-related services – including brokerage, consultancy, issuance, and transaction settlement – pursuant to the publication of a regulatory framework. Likewise, the commission has issued a warning to cryptocurrency investors, citing a lack of regulation as a risk factor.
Days before, Vietnamese Ministry of Justice Deputy Director of the Department of Civil and Economic Laws, Nguyễn Hồng Hải, said that the anonymity surrounding cryptocurrencies makes them a vector for criminal trading and money laundering. In addition, Nguyễn mentioned that investors are exposed to hacking and a lack of management regulation.
Meanwhile, officials at Thailand's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have revealed that a recently-performed study on investment capital in ICOs shows that 95 percent of those projects will fail. The remaining 5 percent, however, were found to generate a significant profit. According to the SEC, high-risk, high-failure-rate investments (such as these crowdfunded token offerings), require government oversight.
SEC secretary-general Rapee Sucharitakul expressed that it is difficult to assess the failure rates of startups engaging in token offerings, because they can be thrown off-course by changes in technology, and have no established history of success:
"The SEC has proposed a balanced regulatory framework for ICOs. We will open a specific ICO track called 'investment participation'. But first the scheme needs to be approved at the government level [by the Finance Ministry] to supervise digital currencies and the direction of the regulatory framework."
In the local report, Thai officials define "investment participation" as "instruments representing rights, divided into units, each with highly standardised terms and conditions, where such instruments are issued for raising funds from the public." Holders of the issued instruments have rights to take part in benefits from "pooled contributions," such as dividends. The accounts are collectively managed and investors have no power over day-to-day operations.
The SEC had previously published a draft of ICO framework, for which public hearings were extended twice. It is expected that the SEC, alongside the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Thailand, and the Anti-Money Laundering Office, will finish discussions next month; and the ensuing regulations are expected to be published by mid-2018.
Per the guidelines proposed by the SEC, ICOs that solicit the public in order to raise capital must now do so through an official portal based in Thailand. In addition, the minimum amount of registered capital must equal 5 million baht, roughly $159,100.00.
Although Thailand's measures may curtail some investments, Rapee acknowledged it would be difficult to cap it off completely, thanks to secondary marketplaces.
"The regulations may limit retail investors in the primary market, but will be unable to do such [a] thing in practice, as they could invest in ICOs from the secondary market, which has a higher cost [than] the primary market," said Rapee.
ETHNews will provide follow-up reports on the regulatory requirements issued by both Thailand and Vietnam, for the framework of the countries' respective economies.