Effective June 3, 2023, FINRA will be replacing and updating the system for filing a Company Related Action Notification form, which form begins the process with FINRA to effectuate a corporate action initiated by a company trading on OTC Markets. The new process allows companies to submit forms, get updates and respond to comments through an electronic FINRA gateway.
Effective September 27, 2010, the SEC approved FINRA Rule 6490 (Processing of Company Related Actions). Rule 6490 requires that corporations whose securities are trading on the OTC Markets notify FINRA in a timely manner of certain corporate actions, such as dividends, forward or reverse splits, rights or subscription offerings, symbol changes and name changes. The Rule grants FINRA discretionary power when processing documents related to the announcements.
On January 27, 2022, the SEC approved the country’s 17th stock exchange, the first one of which will utilize blockchain technology. The new BSTX is a subsidiary of the Boston BOX Exchange and is a joint venture with tZero, which is providing the blockchain technology. The BSTX is expected to begin operations sometime after June 2022 and will initially only trade securities that first list directly on the BSTX. Once listed on the BSTX, a security can dual trade on other exchanges.
To begin, the BSTX will trade traditional securities but intends to move into tokenized securities and intends to brand itself with the look and feel of a digital asset exchange as opposed to the more traditional Nasdaq look. In December 2020, the SEC rejected the Exchange’s original plan to exclusively trade tokenized securities. The BOX then filed new proposed rules in May 2021 which, after 3 amendments, were approved by the SEC on January 27th.
On January 23, 2019, biotechnology company Gossamer Bio, Inc., filed an amended S-1 pricing its $230 million initial public offering, taking advantage of a rarely used SEC Rule that will allow the S-1 to go effective, and the IPO to be completed, 20 days from filing, without action by the SEC. Since the government shutdown, several companies have opted to proceed with the effectiveness of a registration statement for a follow-on offering without SEC review or approval, but this marks the first full IPO, and certainly the first of any significant size. The Gossamer IPO is being underwritten by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, SVB Leerink, Barclays and Evercore ISI. On January 24, 2019, Nasdaq issued five FAQ addressing their position on listing companies utilizing Section 8(a). Although the SEC has recommenced full operations as of today, there has non-the-less been a transformation in the methods used to access capital markets, and the use of 8(a) is just
This summer, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued a report to President Trump entitled “A Financial System That Creates Economic Opportunities; Nonbank Financials, Fintech and Innovation” (the “Treasury Report”). The Treasury Report was issued in response to an executive order dated February 3, 2017 which has resulted in a series of such reports. The executive order identified Core Principles and requested the Treasury Department to identify laws, treaties, regulations, guidance, reporting and record-keeping requirements, and other government policies that promote or inhibit federal regulation of the U.S. financial system in a manner consistent with the Core Principles. In response to its directive, the Treasury Department is issuing four reports. For a summary of the Treasury Department Report on Capital Markets, see HERE.
The Core Principles identified in the executive order are:
- Empower Americans to make independent financial decisions and informed choices in the marketplace, save for retirement, and build individual wealth;
- Prevent taxpayer-funded bailouts;
- Foster economic growth and vibrant
On July 30, 2018, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) published a Special Notice seeking public comments on how FINRA can support fintech developments including those related to data aggregation services, supervisory processes, including with the use of artificial intelligence, and the development of a taxonomy-based, machine-readable rulebook. The Special Notice, and fintech in general, necessarily includes blockchain technology, a topic FINRA has been examining for a few years now. Last July, FINRA held a Blockchain Symposium to assess the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) in the financial industry, and earlier in January 2017 FINRA issued a report entitled “Distributed Ledger Technology: Implications of Blockchain for the Securities Industry” on the topic (see HERE).
Also, on July 6, 2018, FINRA sent Regulatory Notice 18-20 to its members asking all FINRA member firms to notify FINRA if they engage in activities related to digital assets such as cryptocurrencies, virtual coins and tokens. FINRA informs members that it is
Wyoming continues to position itself as a business-friendly state most recently by passing groundbreaking blockchain legislation defining cryptocurrency coins or tokens as a whole new asset class separate from securities and commodities. While it is unlikely that Wyoming’s new statutes will impact the SEC’s view that most, if not all, cryptocurrencies, or at least those issued to investors or used for capital raising, are securities, or the CFTC’s view that cryptocurrencies that are used as a medium of exchange, are a commodity, Wyoming has done what federal lawmakers have not yet endeavored – created comprehensive blockchain legislation.
In March 2018, Wyoming passed five separate bills addressing securities, corporate, banking and tax matters which could entice cryptocurrency and blockchain businesses to locate within the state. The statutes are part of an initiative in Wyoming called ENDOW – Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming.
On June 14, 2018, William Hinman, the Director of the SEC Division of Corporation Finance, gave a speech at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit in which he made two huge revelations for the crypto marketplace. The first is that he believes a cryptocurrency issued in a securities offering could later be purchased and sold in transactions not subject to the securities laws. The second is that Ether and Bitcoin are not currently securities. Also, for the first time, Hinman gives the marketplace guidance on how to structure a token or coin such that it might not be a security.
While this gives the marketplace much-needed guidance on the topic, a speech by an executive with the SEC has no legal force. As a result, the blogs and press responding to Mr. Hinman’s speech have been mixed. Personally, I think it is a significant advancement in the regulatory uncertainty surrounding the crypto space and a signal that more constructive guidance
On February 6, 2018, the United States Senate Committee on Banking Housing and Urban Affairs (“Banking Committee”) held a hearing on “Virtual Currencies: The Oversight Role of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.” Both SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo testified and provided written testimony. The marketplace as a whole had a positive reaction to the testimony, with Bitcoin prices immediately jumping up by over $1600. This blog reviews the testimony and provides my usual commentary.
The SEC and CFTC Share Joint Regulatory Oversight
The Banking Committee hearing follows SEC and CFTC joint statements on January 19, 2018 and a joint op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal published on January 25, 2018 (see HERE). As with other areas in capital markets, such as swaps, the SEC and CFTC have joint regulatory oversight over cryptocurrencies. Where the SEC regulates securities and securities markets, the CFTC
In a time of rapidly changing regulations and policies on all securities industry and corporate finance topics, and the development of distributed ledger technology (DLT or blockchain) and associated initial cryptocurrency offerings (ICO’s), I have never had so many topics in the queue to write about. With a once-a-week blog, I will just keep working through the list, reporting on all developments, some quicker than others. In this blog, I am circling back to DLT with a synopsis of state law developments and the Uniform Law Commission’s (ULC) approved Uniform Regulation of Virtual Currency Business Act (Uniform VCBA).
Uniform Regulation of Virtual Currency Business Act (Uniform VCBA)
On July 19, 2017, the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) approved Uniform Regulation of Virtual Currency Business Act (Uniform VCBA) to be used as a model for states seeking to adopt such legislation. The VCBA is a money-transmitting or payment-processing-based legislation. The VCBA defines a money transmitter in an effort to provide clarity