On November 16, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) Division of Corporation Finance (“Corp. Fin.”), Division of Investment Management, and Division of Trading and Markets issued a joint public statement on “Digital Asset Securities Issuance and Trading.” The public statement is the latest in the Divisions’—and the Commission’s—steady efforts to publicly outline and develop its analysis on the application of the federal securities laws to initial coin offerings (“ICOs”) and certain digital tokens. These efforts have combined a series of enforcement proceedings with public statements by Chairman Jay Clayton and staff, including a more detailed statement of the SEC’s analytical approach in Corp. Fin. Director William Hinman’s speech on digital assets in June 2018. Continue Reading SEC Divisions’ Issue Public Statement on Digital Assets and ICOs, Echoing Recent Enforcement Actions
On September 26, 2018, a federal court in the District of Massachusetts found that virtual currencies are a commodity under the Commodity Exchange Act, 7 U.S.C. § 1 et seq, (“CEA”). This marks the second time that a court has accepted the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (“CFTC”) position and upheld the agency’s authority to regulate unleveraged and unmargined spot transactions in virtual currency under the agency’s anti-fraud and manipulation enforcement authority. Most notably, however, the reasoning behind its decision potentially expands the scope of the CFTC’s oversight of the market. Continue Reading Second District Court Determines Virtual Currencies Are Commodities
On Tuesday, September 11, 2018, Judge Raymond J. Dearie of the Eastern District of New York issued a decision holding that Initial Coin Offerings (“ICO”) may qualify as securities offerings and therefore be subject to the criminal federal securities laws. This ruling came as two U.S. regulators—the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”)—announced separate actions under securities laws against companies engaged in the cryptocurrency marketplace, including the sale of digital tokens. As the popularity of cryptocurrencies grows and businesses and entrepreneurs increasingly turn to ICOs to raise capital, these developments may serve as guideposts for how cryptocurrencies and ICOs will be viewed by courts and federal regulators in cases to follow. Continue Reading Federal Court, SEC, and FINRA Scrutinize Cryptocurrencies and ICOs
On June 27, 2018, Equifax Inc., the credit reporting agency, agreed to implement stronger data security measures under a consent order with the New York State Department of Financial Services (“NYDFS”) and seven other state banking regulators. The order imposes detailed duties on Equifax’s Board of Directors in response to criticisms raised by the regulators during an examination of Equifax’s cybersecurity and internal audit functions. The examination followed the company’s massive 2017 data breach, which exposed sensitive personal information of nearly 148 million customers. Equifax agreed to the order without admitting or denying any charges of “unsafe or unsound information security practices.”
Last month, the Brazilian National Monetary Council (the “CMN”) issued Resolution No. 4,658 (the “Resolution”), which establishes new cybersecurity requirements covering institutions regulated by the Brazilian Central Bank (Banco Central do Brasil). The Resolution requires covered financial institutions to have cybersecurity policies in place by May 6, 2019, and be fully compliant with the regulation by December 31, 2021. Notably, the Resolution’s requirements cover third-party service providers that contract with covered institutions, including those located outside of Brazil. Continue Reading Brazil Issues new Cybersecurity Regulation for Regulated Financial Institutions
Over recent months, numerous state regulators, including in Massachusetts, Texas, and New Jersey, have been exercising greater oversight of cryptocurrency businesses. On April 17, 2018, the office of the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (“NYAG”) launched the Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative, which will seek information from various platforms that trade cryptocurrencies to better protect consumers. The initiative responds to concerns that cryptocurrency trading platforms may not provide consumers with the same information available from traditional exchanges. As part of the initiative, the NYAG’s Investor Protection Bureau sent thirteen major cryptocurrency trading platforms questionnaires relating to internal policies, controls, and best practices. The Bureau intends to consolidate and disseminate to consumers the information it receives. Continue Reading New York Attorney General Becomes Most Recent State Regulator To Foray Into Cryptocurrency Oversight
On March 6, 2018, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published a white paper report analyzing challenges that financial services and fintech firms face in protecting customer information against the increasing risk of cyber-attacks and setting out proposals to better manage this cyber-risk. As described below, the report recommends industry-wide efforts to adopt standardized cyber-risk metrics and to develop mechanisms for assessing cybersecurity. In conjunction with the publication of these recommendations, Citigroup Inc., Kabbage, Inc., Zurich Insurance Group AG and the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation have formed a consortium to address cybersecurity risks in the fintech industry. Continue Reading World Economic Forum Publishes Recommendations for Managing Cyber-Risk
On March 1, 2017, the New York Department of Financial Services’ Cybersecurity Regulations entered into effect.
The Regulations impose on financial institutions minimum cybersecurity standards that exceed existing federal standards and introduce new requirements, including obligations to critically evaluate cybersecurity practices, maintain detailed documentation demonstrating compliance and report cyber events to the New York Department of Financial Services.
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