Investment into the budding cryptocurrency industry through ICOs has already brought in around $5.5 billion this year and has almost surpassed the ICO investment throughout the whole of 2017. Retail investors have been responsible for the majority of it, as an ever-increasing number of them are scouting the ICO lists and trying to discover the next big thing on the crypto sphere.
However, Adena Friedman, the CEO of global stock exchange operator Nasdaq, warned potential investors that crypto entrepreneurs are taking advantage of them. Speaking at the Future on Fintech conference held in New York, Friedman said the reasons behind this are lack of accessible information as well as absence of universal regulation and transparency.
Ms. Friedman criticized ICO aficionados, saying that, “To make it no rules at all, when companies can just willy-nilly take people’s money and offer no information at all, with no governance, that sounds to me like you’re taking advantage of people.“
According to the Nasdaq chief, inexperienced investors are usually the ones falling prey to the hype surrounding crypto projects. While IPOs (initial public offerings, the equivalent of ICOs in traditional investing) are subject to lengthy disclosure requirements by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the ICO process is still barely regulated, which is a big concern for Ms. Friedman.
She went on to claim that, “In ICO space none of that is available, and it’s all being bought by retail. I have real concern on lack of transparency, oversight, and accountability that these companies have as they’re going out to raise capital through an ICO.“
While being critical on ICOs, Friedman remains positive on virtual currencies, as she has recently claimed cryptocurrencies are the “right next step” in the development of currency. She has also previously claimed that Nasdaq would be open to launching a crypto exchange at some point in the future, although the crypto market would have to be far more mature than it is now.
The crypto world has been at odds over the last few weeks, as the debate whether digital assets should be considered as securities have been widely publicized. While the two biggest cryptocurrencies, bitcoin and ethereum, have been officially declared not to be securities, the jury is still out for the rest of virtual currencies and ICOs.
Friedman concluded by agreeing with the SEC, saying that, “I sympathize with SEC saying these are really securities offerings. I support the SEC on that.“
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