Category Archives: Legal Issues and Regulation

Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report

Advisors Edge | June 7, 2019

digital world - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: ReportRegulators should engage with a broader group of players, including tech-sector firms, FSB says

Innovations such as blockchain technology, crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending pose novel risks and benefits to the financial system, suggests a new report published Thursday by the Financial Stability Board (FSB), an international body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system.

The report from the Basel, Switzerland-based organization examines the implications of decentralizing the financial services system through fintech innovation. For example, technologies such as blockchain could move clearing and settlement functions from a central authority to a diverse, dispersed set of participants.

This trend could have benefits for the financial services system, the report suggests, by reducing the systemic importance of certain institutions, enhancing competition and diversity.

See:  Finally. Canadian Securities Administrators Announce Intent to Harmonize & Improve Crowdfunding Exemption

Yet decentralization could also pose new risks, the FSB warns. Decentralization could make accountability and legal liability less clear, create new sorts of concentration risks and exacerbate market trends (such as increasing volatility in the provision of credit).

Additionally, decentralization could make regulation more difficult — by expanding opportunities for regulatory arbitrage and undermining traditional supervision of centralized financial institutions.

“This should help avoid the emergence of unforeseen complications in the design of decentralized financial technologies at a later stage,” the report says.

Ultimately, these new risks could undermine confidence in the financial system, the report says.

“A more decentralized financial system may reinforce the importance of an activity-based approach to regulation, particularly where it delivers financial services that are difficult to link to specific entities and/or jurisdictions. Certain technologies may also challenge the technology-neutral approach to regulation taken by some authorities,” the report states.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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SEC sues Kik for US$100M for ‘illegal’ securities offering of digital tokens

CBC News | Armina Ligaya | June 4, 2019

sec sues kik - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: ReportSuit over digital "Kin" token sold by Kik


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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QuadrigaCX Aftermath: The Bigger Picture

Magdalena Gronowska | June 4, 2019

quadrigacx - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: ReportThis year’s biggest Canadian cryptocurrency story is the downfall of one of its largest and longest-lived crypto exchanges – QuadrigaCX – where an estimated $250million in funds is owed to 115,000 users.

Inadequate succession and business continuity planning lie at the heart of Quadrigas unraveling. The unexpected death its Founder and sole director, Gerald Cotten, was a crippling blow to the exchange’s ability to conduct normal day to day operations, forcing its closure as the company could not access cryptoasset wallets or company records.

Investigations conducted by Ernst & Yonge into its operations during the course of ongoing legal proceedings reveal more troubling business practices that make QuadrigaCX a perfect case study for regulators of ‘bad'-practices in custody and asset verification, market integrity, internal controls, recordkeeping, and business continuity:

  • Despite assurances user cryptoassets would be securely stored in cold wallets, the cold wallets were empty and unused since April 2018 – platform funds were transferred to other exchanges (not always under official accounts of the platform).
  • Corporate and personal boundaries were not maintained between the funds of the platform and the Founder and QuadrigaCX’s third party payment providers.
  • User funds may have been used to acquire assets held outside of Quadriga.
  • Fake accounts were created, funded with artificial deposits and significant trading and withdrawals of cryptoassets occurred on these accounts.

Tracking and recovering user funds has proven to be a difficult endeavour, requiring specialized technical expertise and multiple court orders due to improper records, the co-mingling of funds, banks unwilling to accept deposits (due to perceived high levels of risk), and questions around the identity and ownership of the accounts funds were transferred out to.

See:

Following the $250 million failure of our largest exchange, Canadian Securities Administrators and regulators proposed a regulatory framework for platforms that trade crypto-assets that are securities. This proposal considers rules for marketplaces, dealers and clearing agencies around custody and asset verification, market integrity, business continuity and risk mitigation, price discovery, surveillance, clearing and settlement, and conflicts of interest.

Regulators have turned their sights on implementing a framework that will mitigate the risk of another QuadrigaCX-like collapse – that’s a good step forward. Another positive step is that regulators are aligned across Canada in this proposal – harmonization is critical to reducing legal and compliance costs and regulatory burden for companies operating across Canada.

However, the regulation of platforms that trade securities is only a piece of the puzzle that’s necessary to build a supportive ecosystem for Canadian blockchain and crypto companies. A comprehensive regulatory framework enables companies to operate in a compliant, open and transparent manner, providing the certainty companies need to start-up, relocate, conduct long-term business planning and make capital investments. Companies value certainty over regulatory risk.   They want to operate in a environment that is unlikely to change the rules, either raising the costs of doing business or banning the sector or business activities outright.

Greater regulatory clarity is needed around cryptoasset types – definitions under what conditions they are security, utility, or payment tokens (or a hybrid). Canada would also benefit from harmonized and clear rules around token creation, issuance, and distribution mechanisms (ie, mining, ICOs, STOs, airdrops, and forks) – as well as a modernized tax act with clear guidance for companies and investors.

See:  Fidelity Will Offer Cryptocurrency Trading Within a Few Weeks

Access to banking services is a significant challenge facing crypto companies worldwide and banking challenges contributed to liquidity and solvency issues at QuadrigaCX. With banks refusing to operate or outright closing accounts of Canadian companies due to regulatory barriers and risk aversion, businesses are leaving for more favourable international jurisdictions, like Liechtenstein, Malta, Bermuda and France which have amended their laws to help crypto companies access banking services; they are also moving to Alberta where ATB Financial and DC Bank have been more open to Canadian crypto companies. Banking restrictions present a competitive disadvantage for jurisdictions and an impediment to economic growth – Canada can do more to support its SMEs.

Canadian regulators and policy makers should also look to their global counterparts like the US and EU where industry and government come together in roundtables, task forces and working groups. And it’s our responsibility as an industry to educate and participate. We have a rich pool of talent and expertise to draw from that can help government understand for which activities regulations, standards or guidelines can work best to protect investors and preserve market integrity, while remaining flexible enough to support the fast pace of innovation.

This is a critical time for Canada's blockchain and cryptoasset sector to mobilize and work collaboratively with industry peers and with regulators to build a regulatory framework that ensures Canada remains competitive globally.

magdalena - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: ReportMagdalena Gronowska, Founder, Canadian Digital Asset Coalition

Magdalena advised Government for 10 years on economic and innovation policy and multi-$million tech deployment initiatives. She is active in the Canadian blockchain space – Magdalena founded the Canadian Digital Asset Coalition, consults with Metamesh Group, sits on Quadriga's Official Committee of Affected Users and advises the Blockchain for Climate Foundation.


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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NCFA Comments: CSA/IIROC Joint Consultation Paper 21-402: Proposed Framework for Crypto-Asset Trading Platforms

NCFA | Regulatory Committee | May 2019

OSC and IIROC consultation crypto assets trading platforms - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: ReportCanadian Securities Administrators/Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada

Joint Consultation Paper 21-402: Proposed Framework for Crypto-Asset Trading Platforms

Comments from the National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association of Canada (NCFA)

 

Introduction

The NCFA welcomes this consultation.  We are in favour of the regulation of crypto asset platforms as long regulation is:

  • principles based and outcomes focused,
  • proportionate,
  • risk based,
  • not unduly limiting of innovation and competition,
  • consistent with global regulation and international best practices,
  • fully harmonized across Canada, and
  • technology neutral to the extent reasonably possible.

 

Whether Platforms are trading securities or not, they should be covered by KYC/AML/CFT legislation. Apart from that, regulators should be nimble yet cautious as global approaches remain unclear and the landscape remains unsettled. We also know that overly prescriptive regulation can severely limit innovation and competition. At this stage, less is more.

 

Questions:

  1. Are there factors in addition to those noted in Part 2 that we should consider?

- We have nothing to add to the remarks of other commenters.

 

  1. What best practices exist for Platforms to mitigate the risks outlined in Part 3? Are there any other significant risks which we have not identified?

 

- ASIFMA Best Practices for Digital Asset Exchanges June 2018 (https://www.lw.com/thoughtLeadership/ASIFMA-best-practices-digital-asset-exchanges)

- Cryptocurrency security standard (https://cryptoconsortium.github.io/CCSS/Details/)

- https://www.bitcoinmarketjournal.com/ico-investment-best-practices/

- ISDA CDM on representing derivatives trade events and processes (https://www.isda.org/2019/03/20/isda-publishes-cdm-2-0-for-deployment-and-opens-access-to-entire-market/)

 

The risks have been highlighted in the CP, but we think that regulators should give equal status to the opportunities (as well as the threats) – for example: democratisation of investment opportunities, the advantages that come from dis-intermediation, more product/services innovation and efficiencies, access to wider sources of capital, more liquidity, and so on.

 

  1. Are there any global approaches to regulating Platforms that are appropriate to be considered in Canada?

- We prefer the less restrictive and prescriptive (and more supportive and collaborative) approaches in the United Kingdom and Germany, which are clearly working.

See: Canada's regulatory system for fintech is complex, costly and chaotic and is stifling innovation

 

  1. What standards should a Platform adopt to mitigate the risks related to safeguarding investors’ assets? Please explain and provide examples both for Platforms that have their own custody systems and for Platforms that use third-party custodians to safeguard their participants’ assets.

 

- Market participants have responded to this question.  Standards should vary depending on the size, functions, risks, etc of each Platform. Each platform should have a duty to protect the digital assets, security of its users, and their data; however following regulatory standards through on-boarding should remain the responsibility of the custodian(s) of capital.

 

- We note that for permissioned/centralized issues, there is lower custody risk as the issuer can freeze when potential threats occur, burn and reissue if the threat is confirmed.

 

  1. Other than issuance of Type I and Type II SOC 2 Reports, are there alternative ways in which auditors or other parties can provide assurance to regulators that a Platform has controls in place to ensure that investors’ crypto-assets exist and are appropriately segregated and protected, and that transactions with respect to those assets are verifiable?

 

- For a period of time, finding enough competent internal and external auditors or other sources of assurance may be tough. We assume that CSA is collaborating with the relevant accounting and auditing bodies in Canada and internationally on education and standards. It may be that auditors will need to retain the support of skilled persons to provide them with the necessary confidence to sign off on the Reports, or should perhaps be able to rely on an ISR. The comments of the CPA in this consultation are helpful. Auditors may also collect a list of “best practices” to understand what common virtual checklists may include throughout the vetting/assurance of a Platform.

 

- Having said that, we understand that some auditors are today offering these services in Canada and are competent to do so.

 

  1. Are there challenges associated with a Platform being structured so as to make actual delivery of crypto assets to a participant’s wallet? What are the benefits to participants, if any, of the Platforms holding or storing crypto assets on their behalf?

 

- These questions are better answered by market participants, but one obvious benefit is that holding or storing crypto (safely) should reduce the costs (and risks) of moving the assets on and off the Platform.

 

  1. What factors should be considered in determining a fair price for crypto assets?

- We suggest that regulators should usually leave this question to the market, subject to full disclosure and regulatory and audit oversight.

 

  1. Are there reliable pricing sources that could be used by Platforms to determine a fair price, and for regulators to assess whether Platforms have complied with fair pricing requirements? What factors should be used to determine whether a pricing source is reliable?

- Market participants have responded to this question in this consultation.

 

  1. Is it appropriate for Platforms to set rules and monitor trading activities on their own marketplace? If so, under which circumstances should this be permitted?

- Yes, subject to regulatory access and oversight, where the activities are relatively straightforward, and the Platforms are relatively small and low risk. As the risks increase, so will the regulatory requirements and oversight. Platforms that have a built in trust systems (eg, smart contracts) or hashes of transactions, or any other type of verifiable audit trail will require less oversight as their process will be more transparent.

 

  1. Which market integrity requirements should apply to trading on Platforms? Please provide specific examples.

- This question is best answered by market participants.

 

  1. Are there best practices or effective surveillance tools for conducting crypto asset market surveillance? Specifically, are there any skills, tools or special regulatory powers needed to effectively conduct surveillance of crypto asset trading?

- This question is best answered by market participants.

 

  1. Are there other risks specific to trading of crypto assets that require different forms of surveillance than those used for marketplaces trading traditional securities?

 

- Yes (dis-intermediation, global reach, speed, highly technical nature of the business, security issues, anonymity of wallets – FATF guidance on a risk-based approach for the regulation of virtual asset service providers is coming, and FinCEN is here – https://www.fincen.gov/sites/default/files/2019-05/FinCEN%20Guidance%20CVC%20FINAL%20508.pdf. Recent FINTRAC Guidance on the Interpretation of Money Services Business is also broadly helpful.

 

  1. Under which circumstances should an exemption from the requirement to provide an ISR by the Platform be appropriate? What services should be included/excluded from the scope of the ISR? Please explain.

- Once again, it depends on the risks to the regulatory objectives. Each situation must be evaluated on its own facts.

 

  1. Is there disclosure specific to trades between a Platform and its participants that Platforms should make to their participants?

- As above, question 13.

 

  1. Are there particular conflicts of interest that Platforms may not be able to manage appropriately given current business models? If so, how can business models be changed to manage such conflicts appropriately?

- None that we are aware of.

 

  1. What type of insurance coverage (e.g. theft, hot-wallet, cold-wallet) should a Platform be required to obtain? Please explain.

 

- Platforms should obtain insurance that is adequate/ appropriate. The appropriate nature and extent of the insurance will vary with the circumstances, taking into account the nature of the risks, other forms of risk transfer and risk mitigation mechanisms used, whether an insured custodian is involved, etc.

 

  1. Are there specific difficulties with obtaining insurance coverage? Please explain.

 

- Yes. Most insurers and brokers have inadequate experience with crypto assets, cyber security, DLT, etc, so insurance cover (if available at all) is unlikely to be wholly adequate at this time and may cost too much. CSA guidance might be helpful here, drawing on global sources. (We note the more positive comments in the submission of the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance.)

 

- One option is to start with eg D&O insurance and add to that as the insurers become more confident.

 

  1. Are there alternative measures that address investor protection that could be considered that are equivalent to insurance coverage?

 

- Yes. EG, security bonds, guarantees, letters of credit, catastrophe bonds (being used in an ever widening variety of situations), ring-fenced capital, investor’s own insurance, an industry fund.

 

  1. Are there other models of clearing and settling crypto assets that are traded on Platforms? What risks are introduced as a result of these models?

- We agree with what CSA/IIROC propose in this section.

 

- We understand that in a permissioned/centralized Platform, which will be standard for all regulated securities exchanges, clearing and settlement will be instant, enabled by initial security token programming (assuming that the AML/KYC requirements are met by both the seller and the buyer).

 

  1. What, if any, significant differences in risks exist between the traditional model of clearing and settlement and the decentralized model? Please explain how these different risks could be mitigated.

 

- There are increased risks in a decentralized model, but it appears that these can be mitigated. It is crucial that the programming of the securities ensures that CFT/AML/KYC requirements will be met.

 

  1. What other risks could be associated with clearing and settlement models that are not identified here?

- Best answered by market participants.

 

  1. What regulatory requirements (summarized at Appendices B, C, and D), both at the CSA and IIROC level, should apply to Platforms or should be modified for Platforms? Please provide specific examples and the rationale.

 

- This would be an enormous (but valuable) exercise which the NCFA is not resourced to perform. We support calls for a collaborative ongoing discussion about this (and regulation generally) among regulators and market participants.

Download the submission --> here


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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The Roadblocks to European Fintech Expansion

The Next Web | Radek Zaleski | May 21, 2019

european fintech expansion - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: ReportAre Europeans really coming?

“The US market is vast. There are a lot of consumers in the US that use outdated technologies, and from that perspective we see huge potential here [in the US],” announced Nicolas Kopp, US CEO of N26, during a panel at Netguru’s Disruption Forum.

Over the past few years, the fintech industry has started to prove that it can be a driving force to disrupt the financial services sector. Banks now have serious competition from tech-forward lending companies, transfer startups, personal finance and investment apps, and non-traditional banks. The majority of this activity has come from fintech companies in Europe. Why?

See:  Canada’s financial upstarts are lining up behind open banking, but bigger players may need convincing

Europe has led the charge in bridging the gap between older banking practices and rapidly advancing consumer technology. Some even estimate that these new challenger companies have taken up to one third (33%) of new revenue across the industry in Europe alone. When compared to the US, the difference is vast – the same report estimates that US fintechs have only captured just over 3% of the new revenue entering the marketplace since 2005. The world of fintechs in the US, it appears, is still in a stage of infancy.

The Power of Progressive Government

So why is the European fintech market seeing a massive wave of success, while US fintechs struggle in comparison? And why are European-based fintechs slow to expand to the US, despite the massive opportunity seen by foreign fintechs for expansion? The answer may lie in that many European fintechs are stifled by the immense regulatory differences. Dealing with regulations across the financial services industry is much more difficult in the US, and makes the prospect of expansion an intriguing, but difficult endeavor.

European fintechs have benefited immensely from two very significant changes to European Union Regulations. The first is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which in short gives EU residents more control over their personal information through an opt-in format. Released alongside GDPR is the new Payment Services Directive (PSD2), which gives consumers and businesses the ability to use Third Party Providers (TPP) to manage their finances. Under PSD2, banks are now required to provide Third Party Providers access to their customers’ accounts – enabling third-parties (i.e. new fintechs) to build new financial services using readily available data from banks as a foundation.

These two changes have created a massive growth opportunity for fintechs in Europe, as banks are no longer only competing with each other, but now have to take on a massive wave of digital disruptors and entrepreneurs looking to disrupt the old ways of lending, transfering, and handling finances.

See:  Open banking data tapped to speed up laundering checks

The UK has a similar regulation with its Open Banking Initiative, which provides third parties access to data from big banks. Since opening the industry to healthy competition, 63% of newcomers have taken 14% of total banking and payment revenues in the UK – an indicator that the fintech industry has its finger on the pulse of what consumers want from their financial institutions of choice.

Charters are a band-aid, but what does the future hold?

US banks also have a lot of catching up to do in comparison to their European counterparts when working with new fintech companies and startups. It’s well known that US banks are protective of their data and often times reluctant to share it with Third Party Providers. Additionally, there is no mandatory open banking model currently regulated by the US government, so it’s really up to the banks themselves to decide whether they want to be involved with up-and-coming fintechs.

Although the outdated regulatory model in the US has made it difficult for European fintechs to expand across the Atlantic, it’s still possible through a charter, or in other terms, a partnership with a domestic bank. German bank startup (and unicorn) N26 is the latest to announce plans of a US expansion through a charter with a domestic bank, planned for early-to-mid 2019.

See:  FinTech Charter Hits Speed Bump

Even with the current outdated regulatory systems and a seemingly lack of openness to fintechs in the US in general, there are still signs of a bright future. There are many examples of US financial institutions implementing blockchain and advanced AI into their business model, showing that they are not shying away from technology. Furthermore, the concept of open banking is gaining steam across the world (APAC, Africa, etc.). It’s only a matter of time before the US follows suit to keep up with the speed of the global financial services industry.

As the US financial services industry becomes open to progressive banking regulations, expect to see more of a rise in competition from european fintech counterparts as they try to establish themselves in the States.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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NCFA Guest Post | July 16, 2019 Managing Finances in a New Startup Every day, new startups are launched and another entrepreneur decides to begin building a business. One of the challenges that startups often face is managing their money effectively. Managing business finances can differ from personal finances as one mistake could trigger several issues in your business. Being as meticulous and accurate as possible is one of many ways to grow finances in a healthy way. It’s also imperative that you keep your expenses low which can be done in numerous ways. On that note, here is how you can manage your finances if you happen to have a new startup. Create a Budget Every business that wants to effectively manage its finances needs a budget. This will give you an accurate idea of what your income and expenses look like so that you’re able to spend wisely and plan effectively. Below, you’ll find a couple of tips for creating a budget. Income: Firstly, you’ll need to write down every source of income that your business has. In the case that you don’t have any income yet, create a financial forecast and estimate how much you think you’ll ...
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Managing finances in a new startup - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report
Impression Ventures | Christian Lassonde | July 16, 2019 Intro:  NCFA Fintech Confidential spoke with some of Canada’s experienced fintech investors, on their background, how Canada has evolved, what we should be doing, advice to fintech founders and what keeps them awake at night.  This is part 3 of a 4 part series. What is your background, and how did you come to found Impression Ventures? I'm graduated from Western in the mid-90s with two degrees. Comp-Eng and Comp-Sci. I immediately started my own business, excited by the endless possibilities the internet could bring to gaming. I had no idea what I was doing - needless to say, that company didn't work out. But the lessons I learned being a first-time entrepreneur have stayed with me to this day. From there I moved to the Valley, worked for some all-star companies; Electronic Arts, LucasArts, Linden Lab, got an MBA and founded two more businesses, Millions of Us & Virtual Greats. After a decade in the San Francisco area, I moved back to Toronto. After a fourth startup (didn't work out) - I got very interested in the intersection of finance and technology, two businesses sectors Canadian's excel at, but there was ...
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Impression Ventures - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report
Coindesk |Michael J Casey | Jul 15, 2019 Let’s be clear: It was not the substance of Donald Trump’s tweet that made his critique of bitcoin and Libra so important last week. It should be of no surprise that this US President would declare himself “not a fan” of “highly volatile” cryptocurrencies “based on thin air” that “facilitate unlawful behavior” or that he much prefers a “dependable and reliable” currency “called the United States Dollar!” (Anyone who assumed Trump would be a “drain-the-swamp” libertarian advocate for censorship-resistant money had an ill-informed view of a man whose government is stacked with former Wall Street execs, who opposes free trade and immigration, and takes a draconian approach to a variety of civil rights and social liberties.) What matters is the very fact that a sitting president mentioned cryptocurrencies at all. Indeed, from a price perspective, Trump’s disparaging remarks are, on balance, positive for bitcoin. By Friday evening, the post-tweet price action reflected that. See:  Fintech Fridays Episode 32: Rallying behind Bitcoin with Frederick T. Pye More importantly, the tweet marks a symbolic milestone in the gradual but ever-expanding presence that cryptocurrency occupies in the public conversation around money and policy. It also marks ...
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donald trump not a fan of bitcoin - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report
Cointelegraph | Helen Partz | July 10, 2019 Global payment giant Visa has recorded its second investment in a crypto project by leading a $40 million funding round of Anchorage startup, according to a Fortune report on July 10. Visa has reportedly led the round along with major cryptocurrency venture capital (VC) firm Blockchain Capital to support institutional-grade crypto custody service Anchorage, which previously raised $17 million in an investment led by Andreessen Horowitz. In the new round, both the amount of Visa’s contribution and Anchorage’s private valuation were not disclosed, the report notes. Both Visa and Anchorage are founding members of Facebook’s cryptocurrency project Libra, which was officially revealed on June 18. See:  Ethereum will match Visa in scale in a ‘couple of years’ says founder As Fortune noted, the recent funding round is the second known investment of Visa in a crypto-related firm, with the payment giant having participated in a $30 million funding round in blockchain startup Chain back in 2015 alongside with Nasdaq and Citi. In late 2018, Chain was acquired by Stellar-focused firm Lightyear. The new funding will be used in Anchorage’s mission to provide an alternative to cold storage-based institutional custodies to ensure the ...
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visa invests in crypto - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report
The Block Crypto | Frank Chaparro | July 10, 2019 Quick Take The Security and Exchange Commission approved Blockstack’s token offering under Reg A+, an accelerated path for smaller companies to raise money publicly This is the first approval the SEC gave for a token offering, after a series of crackdowns the regulator led against unregistered ICOs it deems as securities The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) gave blockchain startup Blockstack the go-ahead today to conduct a $28 million digital token offering under Regulation A+, the first token offering of its kind ever approved by the SEC, according to the firm. The SEC has launched a series of crackdowns on unregistered initial coin offerings (ICOs), with the latest including a dispute with messaging app Kik over its $100 million ICO. Still, Reg A+ offerings have had their own headaches. Reg A+ is a fast track for smaller companies to publicly raise money with less strenuous accounting and disclosure standards than a regular token offering requires. Even so, Blockstack founder Muneeb Ali told the Wall Street Journal that the process is still very long and costly since the SEC had to devise a brand new protocol for token offerings under Reg ...
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Blockstack Reg A token sale 1 - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report
NCFA Canada | July 6, 2019 JOIN US ON A STORYTELLING JOURNEY EVERY FRIDAY. Ep34-July 6: Accelerating Fintech Growth HOST: Manseeb Khan, Fintech Friday's show host GUEST:  BRENDAN HOLT DUNN, Founder Holt Accelerator, (Linkedin) BIO:  Brendan is an investment guru who has close to 15 years in managing multi-billion dollar asset portfolios. He is currently the CEO of Holdun, a 5th generation family business which offers family office services, wealth management services, trust services, corporate services, concierge services and financial services and was awarded best Multi-Family Office in the Caribbean 2017 for Holdun Family Office. A tech savvy investor, he has made many investments in startups including Stradigi AI, Addepar, Uber, LeAD Sports Accelerator, Sway Ventures, and Falcon 5. He has accumulated five finance and investment certificates to compliment his finance degree from King’s University College. He’s considered by entrepreneurs to be founder friendly. About this episode: On this week's episode of NCFA's Fintech Friday's Podcast, our host Manseeb Khan sits down with Brendan Dunn the Managing partner of the Holt Accelerator program. They talk about why are accelerators are important, how the can find the right companies and what their Fintech Show is. Enjoy! Subscribe and tune in each ...
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FF EP34 Brendan Holt Dunn - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report
CNN Business | Clare Duffy | July 4, 2019 New York (CNN Business)American lawmakers are concerned that Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency may try to challenge the dollar and are demanding the company stand down. They want Facebook to immediately halt development of Libra until regulators have time to examine the plans and "take action," according to a letter sent Tuesday to the company by a group of lawmakers from the House Financial Services Committee. Chairwoman Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California, first suggested a moratorium on development the day Libra was announced. The new letter represents an escalation of pressure on Facebook's digital currency plans, which have also been scrutinized by regulators around the world. Other interest groups have weighed in, too: More than 30 organizations sent a similar request to Facebook on Tuesday, saying US and foreign regulatory systems are not prepared to address questions about "national sovereignty, corporate power, consumer protection" and other issues raised by the project. The lawmakers said they want to hold public hearings on the "risks and benefits of cryptocurrency-based activities and explore legislative solutions." "Failure to cease implementation before we can do so risks a new Swiss-based financial system that is too big to ...
Read More
libra - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report
Bicameral Ventures Release | June 27, 2019 TORONTO, June 27, 2019 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Bicameral Ventures, the fund powering value creation through their "Interconnected Investing" model, announced today a highly strategic investment in Balance aimed at accelerating its growth. The investment brings Bicameral's portfolio to nine projects that are targeting challenges in various layers of the technology stack, with an aim of delivering superior end-user experiences by leveraging the blockchain and associated virtualized technologies. "Most M&A destroys value, especially as the problems centrally-planned corporations are trying to solve grow increasingly complex. Instead, Bicameral has brought together a group of independent yet 'interconnected' projects working at all layers of this novel technology stack, to attack multiple facets of the largest challenges. Balance, with its unique take on institutional grade custody for digital assets and hyper focus on UX and connectivity, provides an important building block in the delivery of unparalleled end user experiences that leverage decentralized technology," said Alex McDougall, Chief Investment Officer, Bicameral Ventures. See:  Crypto Custody: Our Shared Journey Towards Mass Adoption Balance adds another critical component to Bicameral's unique portfolio of highly complementary projects focused on accelerating Web 3.0 adoption. As a key aspect of executing on Bicameral's "Interconnected Investing" ...
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Bicameral and balance - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report
Bank of England Review of UK’s financial system | By Huw van Steenis | June 20, 2019 Overview My report, The Future of Finance , looks at how the economy is changing; how finance can serve and support these changes; and what it could mean for the Bank of England. We have looked beyond the immediate challenges posed by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU to identify longer-term trends shaping the economy and finance — and how the Bank can support this evolution for the good of the people of the United Kingdom. A new economy is emerging driven by changes in technology, demographics and the environment. The UK is also undergoing several major transitions that finance has to respond to. What this means for finance Finance is likely to undergo intense change over the coming decade. The shift to digitally-enabled services and firms is already profound and appears to be accelerating. The shift from banks to market-based finance is likely to grow further. See:  Tech’s raid on the banks EY Global FinTech Adoption Index finds over half (64%) of global consumers use FinTech The Roadblocks to European Fintech Expansion Ultra low rates, new regulations and the need to invest ...
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review of UK financial system report June 2016 - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report
Coindesk | Nikhilesh De | June 28, 2019 Canada-based social media company Kik is relinquishing control of its legal defense crowdfunding campaign to the Blockchain Association in an effort to broaden the initiative’s reach. Kik and the Blockchain Association announced Friday that the D.C.-based lobbyist group would be taking over “Defend Crypto,” the crowdfunding initiative that Kik previously launched to raise funds for its ongoing battle with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. While Kik will retain the $5 million it initially contributed to the fund, all of the other donations – some $1.9 million – will be set aside for other crypto projects facing similar lawsuits. What’s more, the company intends to donate $500,000 in kin tokens to help support the fund. The move represents a significant departure from the effort’s initial goal. According to the campaign’s website, all donations were supposed to solely support Kik’s legal efforts. “Once the case against Kik is resolved, all remaining funds, including any portion of the initial $5 [million] contribution by Kik, will be allocated to a nonprofit organization to be used for other initiatives that help with innovation in our industry,” the website read as of June 24. However, in its announcement on ...
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blockchain association to defend crypto fund - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report

 

Bermuda Spotlights Fintech Innovation at Consensus 2019

Financial Post | Bermuda Development Agency Release | May 15, 2019

Bermuda premier David Burt - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: ReportNEW YORK — Bermuda highlighted its world-respected regulatory and legal framework for fintech business, as a delegation of government and industry experts returned for a second year to “Blockchain Week” in New York for Consensus 2019.

Bermuda promoted its pioneering legal & regulatory framework for fintech startups during New York’s Blockchain Week, attending Consensus and an interview with @bloombergradio

Premier David Burt, accompanied by Finance Minister Curtis Dickinson and Bermuda Business Development Agency CEO Andy Burrows, led a group of regulatory and industry representatives to the annual three-day midtown conference which attracted 4,500 attendees, including major sponsoring companies such as IBM, Deloitte, Microsoft, Citi, RBC and eBay. Along with a business development team from the BDA were Assistant Financial Secretary Stephen Gift, Chief Fintech Advisor to the Premier Denis Pitcher, and fintech experts from the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA), Deloitte Bermuda, PwC Bermuda, and global law firms Appleby, Conyers, and Walkers.

See:  The Future of Government… in a Digital Age

“Events like this are important because they bring a lot of the major players from well-established companies that are going to be the largest companies of the future,” said the Premier. “It’s a long-term investment and it takes time to build relationships, but this has given us the opportunity to talk about the innovative work Bermuda has been doing and to raise our jurisdiction’s profile in this space. We’ve had meaningful discussions with companies that want to set up in Bermuda, with those already in the process of setting up, and with some who are investing in companies that want to set up in Bermuda.”

Bermuda’s fintech environment has evolved substantially since the island sent a delegation to Consensus just one year ago, the Premier noted, with key initial coin offering (ICO) and digital assets business legislation now in place, along with a dedicated fintech unit, regulatory sandbox, and Innovation Hub at the BMA. “That certainty is now paying dividends,” he said, “and we are attracting interest from excellent prospects. It bodes well for the future.”

Bermuda’s robust regulation won the spotlight Monday during a Consensus panel that featured the BMA’s Senior Advisor for Fintech, Moad Fahmi, along with peers from Japan and Australia. “It was a great opportunity to discuss regulation of digital assets with fellow regulators and industry bodies,” said Fahmi.

“The digital asset industry is evolving rapidly and moving towards institutionalization—our robust digital asset framework is fit for purpose to welcome entities looking to meet the Bermuda Standard.”

See:  PODCAST:  Listen Now - Why Bermuda Is At The Forefront Of Blockchain Tech

Minister Dickinson and Burrows also held a series of meetings outside the conference with institutional investors, family offices, funds and private equity managers, fintech incubators, influencers and investors in technology and digital assets businesses. “We took the opportunity while in New York to meet with leading companies in the wealth management industry to discuss opportunities for their businesses in Bermuda,” Dickinson said. “The discussions were fruitful and provided the Bermuda team with valuable insights that can be used as we continue to improve our service offering in our evolving wealth management pillar.”

Continue to the full article --> here


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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NCFA Fintech Confidential Issue 2 FINAL COVER - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report

NCFA Guest Post | July 16, 2019 Managing Finances in a New Startup Every day, new startups are launched and another entrepreneur decides to begin building a business. One of the challenges that startups often face is managing their money effectively. Managing business finances can differ from personal finances as one mistake could trigger several issues in your business. Being as meticulous and accurate as possible is one of many ways to grow finances in a healthy way. It’s also imperative that you keep your expenses low which can be done in numerous ways. On that note, here is how you can manage your finances if you happen to have a new startup. Create a Budget Every business that wants to effectively manage its finances needs a budget. This will give you an accurate idea of what your income and expenses look like so that you’re able to spend wisely and plan effectively. Below, you’ll find a couple of tips for creating a budget. Income: Firstly, you’ll need to write down every source of income that your business has. In the case that you don’t have any income yet, create a financial forecast and estimate how much you think you’ll ...
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Managing finances in a new startup - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report
Impression Ventures | Christian Lassonde | July 16, 2019 Intro:  NCFA Fintech Confidential spoke with some of Canada’s experienced fintech investors, on their background, how Canada has evolved, what we should be doing, advice to fintech founders and what keeps them awake at night.  This is part 3 of a 4 part series. What is your background, and how did you come to found Impression Ventures? I'm graduated from Western in the mid-90s with two degrees. Comp-Eng and Comp-Sci. I immediately started my own business, excited by the endless possibilities the internet could bring to gaming. I had no idea what I was doing - needless to say, that company didn't work out. But the lessons I learned being a first-time entrepreneur have stayed with me to this day. From there I moved to the Valley, worked for some all-star companies; Electronic Arts, LucasArts, Linden Lab, got an MBA and founded two more businesses, Millions of Us & Virtual Greats. After a decade in the San Francisco area, I moved back to Toronto. After a fourth startup (didn't work out) - I got very interested in the intersection of finance and technology, two businesses sectors Canadian's excel at, but there was ...
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Impression Ventures - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report
Coindesk |Michael J Casey | Jul 15, 2019 Let’s be clear: It was not the substance of Donald Trump’s tweet that made his critique of bitcoin and Libra so important last week. It should be of no surprise that this US President would declare himself “not a fan” of “highly volatile” cryptocurrencies “based on thin air” that “facilitate unlawful behavior” or that he much prefers a “dependable and reliable” currency “called the United States Dollar!” (Anyone who assumed Trump would be a “drain-the-swamp” libertarian advocate for censorship-resistant money had an ill-informed view of a man whose government is stacked with former Wall Street execs, who opposes free trade and immigration, and takes a draconian approach to a variety of civil rights and social liberties.) What matters is the very fact that a sitting president mentioned cryptocurrencies at all. Indeed, from a price perspective, Trump’s disparaging remarks are, on balance, positive for bitcoin. By Friday evening, the post-tweet price action reflected that. See:  Fintech Fridays Episode 32: Rallying behind Bitcoin with Frederick T. Pye More importantly, the tweet marks a symbolic milestone in the gradual but ever-expanding presence that cryptocurrency occupies in the public conversation around money and policy. It also marks ...
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donald trump not a fan of bitcoin - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report
Cointelegraph | Helen Partz | July 10, 2019 Global payment giant Visa has recorded its second investment in a crypto project by leading a $40 million funding round of Anchorage startup, according to a Fortune report on July 10. Visa has reportedly led the round along with major cryptocurrency venture capital (VC) firm Blockchain Capital to support institutional-grade crypto custody service Anchorage, which previously raised $17 million in an investment led by Andreessen Horowitz. In the new round, both the amount of Visa’s contribution and Anchorage’s private valuation were not disclosed, the report notes. Both Visa and Anchorage are founding members of Facebook’s cryptocurrency project Libra, which was officially revealed on June 18. See:  Ethereum will match Visa in scale in a ‘couple of years’ says founder As Fortune noted, the recent funding round is the second known investment of Visa in a crypto-related firm, with the payment giant having participated in a $30 million funding round in blockchain startup Chain back in 2015 alongside with Nasdaq and Citi. In late 2018, Chain was acquired by Stellar-focused firm Lightyear. The new funding will be used in Anchorage’s mission to provide an alternative to cold storage-based institutional custodies to ensure the ...
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visa invests in crypto - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report
The Block Crypto | Frank Chaparro | July 10, 2019 Quick Take The Security and Exchange Commission approved Blockstack’s token offering under Reg A+, an accelerated path for smaller companies to raise money publicly This is the first approval the SEC gave for a token offering, after a series of crackdowns the regulator led against unregistered ICOs it deems as securities The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) gave blockchain startup Blockstack the go-ahead today to conduct a $28 million digital token offering under Regulation A+, the first token offering of its kind ever approved by the SEC, according to the firm. The SEC has launched a series of crackdowns on unregistered initial coin offerings (ICOs), with the latest including a dispute with messaging app Kik over its $100 million ICO. Still, Reg A+ offerings have had their own headaches. Reg A+ is a fast track for smaller companies to publicly raise money with less strenuous accounting and disclosure standards than a regular token offering requires. Even so, Blockstack founder Muneeb Ali told the Wall Street Journal that the process is still very long and costly since the SEC had to devise a brand new protocol for token offerings under Reg ...
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Blockstack Reg A token sale 1 - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report
NCFA Canada | July 6, 2019 JOIN US ON A STORYTELLING JOURNEY EVERY FRIDAY. Ep34-July 6: Accelerating Fintech Growth HOST: Manseeb Khan, Fintech Friday's show host GUEST:  BRENDAN HOLT DUNN, Founder Holt Accelerator, (Linkedin) BIO:  Brendan is an investment guru who has close to 15 years in managing multi-billion dollar asset portfolios. He is currently the CEO of Holdun, a 5th generation family business which offers family office services, wealth management services, trust services, corporate services, concierge services and financial services and was awarded best Multi-Family Office in the Caribbean 2017 for Holdun Family Office. A tech savvy investor, he has made many investments in startups including Stradigi AI, Addepar, Uber, LeAD Sports Accelerator, Sway Ventures, and Falcon 5. He has accumulated five finance and investment certificates to compliment his finance degree from King’s University College. He’s considered by entrepreneurs to be founder friendly. About this episode: On this week's episode of NCFA's Fintech Friday's Podcast, our host Manseeb Khan sits down with Brendan Dunn the Managing partner of the Holt Accelerator program. They talk about why are accelerators are important, how the can find the right companies and what their Fintech Show is. Enjoy! Subscribe and tune in each ...
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FF EP34 Brendan Holt Dunn - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report
CNN Business | Clare Duffy | July 4, 2019 New York (CNN Business)American lawmakers are concerned that Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency may try to challenge the dollar and are demanding the company stand down. They want Facebook to immediately halt development of Libra until regulators have time to examine the plans and "take action," according to a letter sent Tuesday to the company by a group of lawmakers from the House Financial Services Committee. Chairwoman Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California, first suggested a moratorium on development the day Libra was announced. The new letter represents an escalation of pressure on Facebook's digital currency plans, which have also been scrutinized by regulators around the world. Other interest groups have weighed in, too: More than 30 organizations sent a similar request to Facebook on Tuesday, saying US and foreign regulatory systems are not prepared to address questions about "national sovereignty, corporate power, consumer protection" and other issues raised by the project. The lawmakers said they want to hold public hearings on the "risks and benefits of cryptocurrency-based activities and explore legislative solutions." "Failure to cease implementation before we can do so risks a new Swiss-based financial system that is too big to ...
Read More
libra - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report
Bicameral Ventures Release | June 27, 2019 TORONTO, June 27, 2019 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Bicameral Ventures, the fund powering value creation through their "Interconnected Investing" model, announced today a highly strategic investment in Balance aimed at accelerating its growth. The investment brings Bicameral's portfolio to nine projects that are targeting challenges in various layers of the technology stack, with an aim of delivering superior end-user experiences by leveraging the blockchain and associated virtualized technologies. "Most M&A destroys value, especially as the problems centrally-planned corporations are trying to solve grow increasingly complex. Instead, Bicameral has brought together a group of independent yet 'interconnected' projects working at all layers of this novel technology stack, to attack multiple facets of the largest challenges. Balance, with its unique take on institutional grade custody for digital assets and hyper focus on UX and connectivity, provides an important building block in the delivery of unparalleled end user experiences that leverage decentralized technology," said Alex McDougall, Chief Investment Officer, Bicameral Ventures. See:  Crypto Custody: Our Shared Journey Towards Mass Adoption Balance adds another critical component to Bicameral's unique portfolio of highly complementary projects focused on accelerating Web 3.0 adoption. As a key aspect of executing on Bicameral's "Interconnected Investing" ...
Read More
Bicameral and balance - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report
Bank of England Review of UK’s financial system | By Huw van Steenis | June 20, 2019 Overview My report, The Future of Finance , looks at how the economy is changing; how finance can serve and support these changes; and what it could mean for the Bank of England. We have looked beyond the immediate challenges posed by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU to identify longer-term trends shaping the economy and finance — and how the Bank can support this evolution for the good of the people of the United Kingdom. A new economy is emerging driven by changes in technology, demographics and the environment. The UK is also undergoing several major transitions that finance has to respond to. What this means for finance Finance is likely to undergo intense change over the coming decade. The shift to digitally-enabled services and firms is already profound and appears to be accelerating. The shift from banks to market-based finance is likely to grow further. See:  Tech’s raid on the banks EY Global FinTech Adoption Index finds over half (64%) of global consumers use FinTech The Roadblocks to European Fintech Expansion Ultra low rates, new regulations and the need to invest ...
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review of UK financial system report June 2016 - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report
Coindesk | Nikhilesh De | June 28, 2019 Canada-based social media company Kik is relinquishing control of its legal defense crowdfunding campaign to the Blockchain Association in an effort to broaden the initiative’s reach. Kik and the Blockchain Association announced Friday that the D.C.-based lobbyist group would be taking over “Defend Crypto,” the crowdfunding initiative that Kik previously launched to raise funds for its ongoing battle with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. While Kik will retain the $5 million it initially contributed to the fund, all of the other donations – some $1.9 million – will be set aside for other crypto projects facing similar lawsuits. What’s more, the company intends to donate $500,000 in kin tokens to help support the fund. The move represents a significant departure from the effort’s initial goal. According to the campaign’s website, all donations were supposed to solely support Kik’s legal efforts. “Once the case against Kik is resolved, all remaining funds, including any portion of the initial $5 [million] contribution by Kik, will be allocated to a nonprofit organization to be used for other initiatives that help with innovation in our industry,” the website read as of June 24. However, in its announcement on ...
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blockchain association to defend crypto fund - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report

 

Fintech Fridays Episode 31: Blockchain Law with Jason Saltzman

NCFA Canada | May 14, 2019

JOIN US ON A STORYTELLING JOURNEY EVERY FRIDAY.

FF EP 31 Jason Saltzman resize - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report

Ep31-May 14:  Blockchain Law with Jason Saltzman

About this episode: On this episode of the Fintech Friday's Podcast, our host Manseeb Khan sits down with Jason Saltzman partner at Gowlings WLG law firm. They chat about how to make your ICO compliant, Blockchain in law and how to create a business structure.  Enjoy!

HOST: Manseeb Khan, Fintech Friday's show host

GUEST:  JASON SALTZMAN, Partner, Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP (Linkedin)

BIO:  Jason Saltzman is a partner in Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP’s Toronto office practising in corporate finance and securities law, with an emphasis on securities offerings, mergers and acquisitions, private equity and venture capital transactions and regulatory compliance matters.  Jason assists issuers, investment dealers, investment portals and institutional and private investors on complex equity and debt financing transactions, ranging from start-up investments, venture capital and private equity investments, to larger public offerings and project finance.  Jason has taken numerous companies public on the TSX, TSX Venture Exchange and Canadian Securities Exchange by IPO, reverse takeover, capital pool transactions and direct listings. He also advises securities dealers, advisers, investment fund managers and other market participants in connection with their registration and compliance issues.  Jason served two terms on the Ontario Securities Commission’s Small and Medium Enterprises Committee and has been very active in building an alternative finance practice by focusing on fin-tech, crowdfinance and other disruptive models such as online investment platforms, peer-to-peer lending and robo-advising. He has become known as a thought leader in this innovative area.

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Subscribe and tune in each Friday to check out the latest movers and shakers in fintech.

Listen to more podcasts here: Season 1 | Season 2

 


Transcription of Interview

Intro: Welcome fintech Friday's a weekly podcast brought to you by the National Crowdfunding and Fintech Association of Canada and partners.Covering all things fintech block chain be AI and alternative finance.

Jason Saltzman: Thanks so much happy to be here Manseeb . Great to be on this amazing podcast  that I listen to all the time.

Manseeb Khan: Awesome I mean I love to hear that. So, Jason just for I guess the five or six people that may not know essentially who you are and what Gowlings does could just give us a quick rundown?

Jason Saltzman: Yeah. So, my name is Jason Saltzman I'm a partner at the law firm Gowlings WLG Gowlings is a law firm that's global. We have about 14 hundred lawyers around the world where in every major business center in Canada. We're also throughout Europe London Germany a number of other offices in Europe as well as we're in the Middle East and in Asia. Yeah. And my practices on the corporate finance and security side. So, I basically help all kinds of companies raise money access capital from all the early stage entrepreneurs all the way through different investment rounds up through going public transactions and of course in new asset classes such as alternative finance with anything from robo-advising, peer to peer lending and crypto currencies.

Manseeb Khan: We're seeing a lot in the space of pretty much crypto companies going just having crazy evaluations doing amazing things in the space. And I guess my question to you, my main question to you is as a law firm What are you guys kind of looking for to take on a robo-advisory company. A peer to peer company or crypto company. I guess like what is their list of qualifications that to kind of fill out. Like what. I guess like what is your quick little checkmark or checklist of things that you are looking for. If I personally but I guess as a law firm for these companies to have?

Jason Saltzman: Yes. So I mean we're open to working with all kinds of clients at everything from large blue chip companies and we act from any of them here in Canada and globally but we know that a lot of these big companies they started somewhere and they've started from the entrepreneur and they've grown. So, it is not uncommon for us to work with good quality startup companies and entrepreneurs and those that have amazing ideas that we see the growth potential in, and we want to be with them from the ground floor and work with them and whatnot. So, we're open to all kinds of inquiries from entrepreneurs that think they have neat ideas. We're particularly invested in the fintech space which is everything from financial technologies to blockchain technology to alternative finance as I mentioned and entrepreneurs that have these amazing ideas, we want to hear about them and figure out how we can work together.

Manseeb Khan: So, there are a lot of amazing fintech companies here. I guess how I get. Yeah, I guess specifically when it comes to since you are working with so many amazing companies you may you may not have to give specific names, but I guess what excites you about the space. I mean as a law firm as somebody kind of standing a little bit more outside going a little bit but also very much in the details. What are you very much excited about in the space?

Jason Saltzman: Yeah, I mean I love working with innovative companies with great ideas that solve big problems that are disruptive. You know I've been a lawyer for on Bay Street for twenty-two years working with all kinds of traditional industries everything from mining and natural resources and you know early stage technologies as well. But in a different era and life science. But when fintech and alternative finance and blockchain came around it was like wow this is like just a greenfield of so many new disruptive ideas. And it's a great opportunity for a law firm to say OK like you know we're just on the cusp of this new industry and you know law firms you know they have this image of being old and staunch and especially on Bay Street. But you know as we see the world evolve and new technologies go from small companies to very big players and you know we want to be part of it. And you know we found that just by immersing ourselves and myself personally in these ideas going back now four or five years myself personally particularly on known crowdfunding and alternative finance and crowd finance and whatnot that you can vary by it by working with these companies you have more experience than your competitors. You're immediately going up the chain in terms of knowledge and you know I started working with some great organizations like the NCFA and whatnot where I've gone to events, I speak, I write, I participate on the advisory board and I've met so many wonderful people through my involvement with the organization both companies and investors. There's you know those in the ecosystem who support or want to be part of the industry and it just I just keep coming back for more because it is so interesting and exciting.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah no I get it like every day is something very exciting especially like comparing it to traditional Bay Street where everything is a little bit more slower. Today everything's a new adventure and that's probably it's just fun. It's very amazing. So, with I mean I'll hit on blockchain as a legal firm right. I mean there's definitely a lot of blockchain innovation right now. You're seeing a huge I guess we'll call it overhaul in the insurance space. Blockchain  definitely has a role in the legal system definitely does it plays a role in government. Play the role in law. What does blockchain in law look like to?

Jason Saltzman: Yeah. No, it's that's a great question and as far as how what we're seeing as a law firm we took an early adoption in this industry and back in I'd say 2017. We set up a blockchain group and my partner Usman Sheikh has become a leader in blockchain law, and I worked very closely with him in my practice in the corporate finance and security space. You know we saw in early 2018 and since the emergence of ICOs and initial coin offerings and whatnot and we you know sensed that there would be securities law and regulatory issues. So, our group mobilized to see how we can support the entrepreneurs who wanted to use you know non-dilutive financings like an ICO  to access capital and help grow their business. So we worked with many interesting entrepreneurs who had great ideas and tried to navigate the you know the securities law system and you know we took many companies through the Ontario Securities Commission through their launch pad program and through those in the other provinces and tried to advise them on the best way to approach their model in a way that is compliant and whatnot. So, you know we saw a lot of opportunities on the security side but also you know apart from securities I mean our firm does everything from intellectual property whether it's patents or trademarks. And we've also been dealing closely with companies that may not have sold the tokens in a compliant way and helping them now through the through the process on the other end. We've been helping a lot there but. And also, just general technology law when you're you know setting up web sites and making sure you have your terms of use. And when you have a white paper making sure that that's compliant and makes sense and you know a law firm can be a friend and making sure that you know that that that works out well. So, we've become a big believer in blockchain. Our group has grown to about one hundred professionals worldwide and our global platform who have some aspect of blockchain their practice and we stay on top of developments in the industry to ensure that you know we speak, we write and participate at events but also you know we're trying to figure out the best where it's going to go and how blockchain can actually be integrated into the practice of law. And you mentioned insurance and other industries. And so, we're always we're understanding, and the technology and we want to be where it's going.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah. No I mean as you it's kind of a relief to hear that and not only do you guys make sure that everybody is kind of covered before their ICO's are not complaint but after as well it's kind of like hey whoa woops we just lost X amount of money like these 15 things weren't compliant. Okay cool. You guys can actually help that's a sigh of relief. For a few audience members.

Jason Saltzman: Yeah. And we can advise you know those who want to get in the business of that as they need to do it in a compliant way whether it's you know some in some companies they want to register as dealers and make sure they're doing it right. Yeah get whatever relief they need from the regulators and whatnot. Yeah. You know we can help.

Manseeb Khan:  I agree with you I mean like compliance is really it's a really funny thing especially in this space because since this space is so brand new it's kind of like hey you know we can kind of do whatever we want, well not really though. There are still some terms this does some like rules that you still have to kind of follow. You can't just it's not an open playing field right.

Jason Saltzman: Yeah that's right. we've seen that evolve like a year ago when ICOs are first coming on scene everyone would say well I can do this because somebody else did it but would say no and we were always like the party poopers. Yeah say no. Guys you got to be careful here. And so now we've seen it evolve. to.

Manseeb Khan: No I absolutely agree with you I mean it's very important like you did mentioned on the top the episode that like you guys work with these companies well you guys aren't here to hinder their innovation, you're not here to hinder their technology, you're not here to hinder anything whatsoever. You're just making sure you guys aren't navigating through the right waters make sure like OK there's a storm coming. Your kind of carefully veer left a little bit because you know we want to stay away from that. Right. Exactly. Yeah. And that's very important I mean I don't think  like you mentioned. I think I think people and companies are slowly understanding that now. Right. That you guys can work alongside of them that this change is not a radical cut from the old world it's that it's more of a hybrid. Yes, you can work together to kind of create something amazing.

Jason Saltzman: Correct and because we have gained a lot of experience with the challenges that the entrepreneurs have faced with the current regulatory regime and we're able to take our stories that we hear from our clients and together with other industry participants like the NCFA and others be you know be part of a community we can have an open dialogue with the regulators and who very much want to hear from all of us. Absolutely. And they've said many times they want to work and listen to what people have to say and see you know maybe they can do something that's better. So, you know I think we're still in the early innings of where this is going to go from the regulatory point of view. But I think there is definitely a movement toward something that makes more sense yes for the industry.

Manseeb Khan: It's actually it's kind of funny because you think that the regulators are not as open to have a conversation with many of the entrepreneurs. With many of the law firms, with many of the people that are in the space but they're they sure do a lot of events. They come, they speak  if you have any questions, I feel free to come by and by all means we'll sit down with you. They'll understand your problem why where you're coming from and then we'll try to work with you and then talk about OK well this is kind of the red tape is or this is why we can't kind of do this. Yeah. Because yeah, we don't know X Y and Z which it’s is hilarious since that was pretty funny. So, I'm going to shift gears a little bit we did very early on in the show we talked about smart contract was probably the very early topic we ever talked about. Since I am speaking to another lawman what would it. What is your take on smart contracts and or what would what do you need to see to for Gowlings to kind of take on a more of a smart contract initiative?

Jason Saltzman: Yeah, I mean we're certainly open to it. We see that that's where the world is going there's going to be more and more smart contracts coming so you know we'd like to try to understand the technologies that are being proposed that would be formed the basis of that smart contracting question. So, we can assess as to you know the validity and the enforceability and how we will execute and where the pitfalls or risks may be with that contract. But we you know  we're all over it and we are interested in learning about them  and seeing how they'll be adopted in a more mainstream practice. Yeah for sure. Yeah. I mean you know traditionally law firms are like big steamships. They're hard to navigate and you've got to go through lots of bureaucracy. You know I think fortunately we have dedicated teams in this area who and the firm has invested in the area and is a believer in the area that we can move quicker when it comes to these new opportunities. But you know but like anything else we need to understand it  but we have good news is we have like such a significant technology and intellectual property group with all kinds of engineers and computer scientists and people who are much smarter than me on technical technology then you know they can they certainly bring a lot of value to these kinds of companies.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah. No I mean I think it is incredible that you guys have actually decided to put actual manpower behind it because it's not just all talk it's kind of like now we actually have a team around it that are everyday there on top of it they're learning they're understanding it so they can come back to us is like hey this is how we're going to navigate this is the game plan for x y and z so you can kind of hit the ground sprinting which is it's pretty awesome.

Jason Saltzman: Yeah. And that's what's exciting about it. Actually, we like the team is just you know you know men and women are absolutely wonderful professionals who you know who really enjoy working with entrepreneurs  in the innovation area.

Manseeb Khan: So, you do and  at many of the events that you've been to the events that you sponsor, the entrepreneurs you have onboard that you've been talking to. I guess we'll be your best advice to them on how to set up a proper business structure when it comes to setting up partnerships because these are brand new founders right these are these are people that have an idea and they want to build something but they don't know how to build it so that they people like you. What's your best advice to these people?

Jason Saltzman: And that's a great question. Like in many cases you know we come across entrepreneurs who have a great idea and then I'll say OK. Like what. You have a business structure yet and they say no and we say OK well that's great because you know we always want to know who are clients going to be is going to be the individuals are going to be a company that already exists and who's involved and you know we have very strict know your clients procedures under the law society before we take any went on. So, it's always good to know who we're dealing with. And in cases where it's just an individual. The first thing we generally advise the individual when we take them on is OK. Do you want to set up as a partnership or are you doing this alone? Or you're doing want to do this to a corporate vehicle? And there are many different reasons why you would choose one thing over another sometimes it's tax driven sometimes it's jurisdictional be driven and whatnot but you know the simplest form is we generally advise setting up a either you know on Ontario or a federal company put a little you know get a name for the company so you have an account of your identity and whatnot and that company gives the entrepreneurs you know some advantages in terms of you know mostly a lot of entrepreneurs set up through a company so they have personal. So, they don't have personal liability and exactly how they can sort of have you know limited liability through their company and then the company can go ahead and do things and whatnot. Generally, when there is more than one founder or entrepreneur involved in a business then when the company is incorporated, they both become shareholders or could be more than two. But however, many there are some shareholders and then we assist in putting together like a shareholders agreement which basically governs how the shareholders operate amongst themselves and you know basically no one person can sell his or her shares unless the other one has the first opportunity to buy them. And because you need to know who your partners are you can just go ahead and set up a company and then sell your shares and not exactly leaving the others with partners that they didn't desire.

Manseeb Khan: And or not know right. Just like Wait who's Greg.

Jason Saltzman: That's right. Yeah. So, we assist with every aspect of from the incorporation to the organization of the company to setting up the shareholder agreement. But then also you know what's the next step for that company it is raising equity before you do like an ICL or something like that. So it may be you go to some friends and family investors and we assist with the documentation and ensuring that the business when it's selling the equity is complying with securities law has a prospectus exemption and that kind of thing and then you know we'll help with the various rounds and if there is an opportunity to do an ICO then will advise about that as well. And you know as I said how to do it in a compliant way and as the company grows there's different opportunities whether it's a merger and acquisition buying another company, or you know maybe it goes public. And we saw some blockchain technology companies go public. In fact, our firm acted for the first one and quite a few years ago and sometimes we see these structures like in a reverse takeover where they know they don't just go public by an IPO, but they get acquired by a public shell company and a share deal. So, we certainly can advise and all of that stuff too right.

Manseeb Khan: So ideally you want to make sure you from the jump gets set up so you can if you're going to be going to go public get built. So, you can become public.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah absolutely right. Because there's a lot of work that goes into becoming public whether it's and the habits form early right. Yeah like you know entrepreneurs and I work with many of them and you know usually things happen so fast in an entrepreneurial world which is great. But sometimes that's the corporate records and financial statements and things like that lag a bit. So, there's always you know everybody sort of has to you know get their act together quickly to be in a position to go public. But certainly it's never too early to develop those good habits and have records in place and that's everything from you know if you're taken on employees, have in your employment contracts having your IP protected having you know at any if there's any dispute settling all of those in advance and whatnot because if you get if you wait too late to the end of the go public process and things come out of the woodwork and that's going to get in the way of your plans.

Manseeb Khan: So, you did talk about how. OK so now we have a business structure right. We know not we know how we want to get a built. Now the next step is say raising money right. We can take it a traditional way where we can talk to VCs. We can go to the hedge fund guys. We can go to some of your old friends a Bay Street 100 percent but say if take it we want to be on this new wave, we want to raise money through peer to peer through crowdfunding. We'll be your best advice to companies if they're are considering taking that route. So, they are 100 percent compliant?

Jason Saltzman: Yeah that's a great question and I'm sure it's one that's on the top of every entrepreneur's mind is where's the money going to come from. And you know there are only so many you know friends and family members that are you know that you're that you want to take money from.

Manseeb Khan: Mom  is only going to give you so much money.

Jason Saltzman: That's right. So. So let's talk about crowdfunding first. Crowdfunding is actually very exciting. I mean it's something that really burst on the scene probably about five years ago or so and you know there are there are some great crowdfunding platforms and portals that that are available that help companies raise money in different ways using you know in a compliant way in Canada using existing exemptions. Some of these platforms are you know I've known for quite a long time there are different exemptions that they use whether it's the accredited investor exemption, where they seek money on their platform from credit accredited investors only which is you know it's a more limited market in the sense that there are only so many accredited investors who are in the world or in Canada who are willing to invest. But you know the benefit of going to those types of investors on a platform is  that it's quicker and easier and there's fewer information that you need to provide and less information that you to provide. On the theory that an accredited investor has enough money that he or she can afford to lose it and can take care of him or herself. But you know there are some other exemptions that the platforms use. There's the offering memorandum exemption the offer memorandum exemption unfortunately varies by province because in Canada we don't have a national securities regulator as I'm sure many of your listeners know. So, we're fragmented and have to deal with it on a you know by complying with the patchwork of the different provincial regulations. The good news is there is some harmonization but we're not quite there yet. We're moving in that direction but the offer memorandum exemption like in British Columbia you can give a British Columbia an investor on a platform just an offering memorandum and a risk acknowledgement form and they can invest whereas in Alberta and Ontario and some of the other provinces you give them an offering memorandum and a risk acknowledgement form. But there are limits imposed on the investment based on the net worth of that investor of course. Basically, anybody can invest up to ten thousand dollars in those provinces but then there's a concept of an eligible investor which you don't quite meet the high standard of accreditation that at the credit investor would. But you meet sort of a lower test and then you. But then you can only invest up to 30 thousand dollars or maybe 100 if you get a letter from your broker or whatnot and then the offering memorandum itself. There's some work that goes in in drafting it it's basically got to contain you know full information about your business it can't contain a misrepresentation but one of the big challenges for a small company that wants to use that exemption is that you also have to have audited financial statements put in that offering memorandum which for a small company paying an auditing firm is not a good use of your resources. Not at all no. Yeah. So. So that's sort of a challenge with the current use of that exemption. There's also a crowdfunding exemption that the regulators had come up with specifically dedicated to use on these crowdfunding platforms. It hasn't really been popular because there were you know pretty tough restrictions on the ability to advertise the investment. So, no one has really been using that, but the good news is this is an example of the regulators listening to the industry and they've come back with some new proposals that the industry is now considering and maybe we'll move into something a little bit easier there. So but there are some as I mentioned there are some great platforms that are sort of using all of these exemptions and they've set it up to assist in the drafting of your offering memorandum and assistant navigating the different exemptions and the different provinces and they're registered as dealers to enable to operate. I'd recommend looking into some of these platforms and seeing if that. Would be an option for your company because they exist and some of them are doing quite well. As far as robo and ICOs and what not. I mean robo advising is not a way to raise money but it's a way to. It's a way to get involved and invest your money in it. Certainly, there are some great sites out there that too. It's certainly marketed a lot and whatnot and they have all the registrations they need, and they seem very interesting and whatnot and then on the ICO side I mean ICOs. What's interesting about that for a company is as I mentioned earlier it's non-dilutive. You're not selling equity in your company you're selling a token. Token might have some kind of functionality could be used on the platform. Could you know value could go into that token which could later be sold on an exchange and what not. But there are challenges because there aren't any recognized exchanges right now. So, I think we're past the point of debating whether to token itself as a security or not. I think the regulators have become quite clear that a lot of people think that the regulation isn't clear. But I would tell you it is that the regulators take the position that that in most cases these tokens are securities under established common law tests and therefore you need to sort of comply with the same exemptions that I mentioned earlier. Yeah or do a public offering under a prospectus but where no one's quite taken that leap as of yet in a successful way. But the idea would be that if you navigate the exemptions then you can do it and there are some token companies that have received that do use exemptions and have seen have received relief and they're operating in a compliant way. But then what do you do with your tokens How do you trade them on an exchange that's not recognized yet. So, I think we're early days and, in the industry, still I think there'll be a time when all that gets flushed out . Yeah. When there will be exchanges that rate whether it's existing exchanges that have added crypto to their business or new crypto exchanges that have gone through the regulatory process I think we are going to get there because there's no stopping the desire on the part of the industry to move in that direction.

Manseeb Khan: No, I absolutely agree with you. So, before we wrap this up. My last question to you would be aside from all the amazing as we talked about write robo advising, smart contracts, blockchain in a law. Bay street. What are you most excited about in the space?

Jason Saltzman: Yeah, I mean I personally just love the ideas and working with the people and the entrepreneurs and you know let's face it. You know I'm getting a little bit older and it's fun to me you know some real bright entrepreneurs that have amazing ideas that you know open up a new world and you know for us it's you know for me personally it's working with people and learning new things. So, to be in an industry where it's all about innovation and new things and you know moving from the old ways of doing things and things that are disruptive, I mean that's to me that's exciting.

Manseeb Khan: That's I mean that's awesome. So, Jason thank you so much for sitting down with me today. And super excited to have you back on.

Jason Saltzman: Pleasure this was this was great. And yeah. Again, thanks again for the opportunity. Cheers.

Outro : you've been listening to fintech Fridays brought to you by NCFA and partners. Tune in weekly for the latest fintech Friday podcast by subscribing to this channel. The National crowdfunding and FinTech Association of Canada is a non-profit actively engaged with social and investment fintech sectors around the globe and provide education research industry stewardship services and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers. For more information please visit and see if a Canada dot org. Oh yea.

 

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Fintech, decentralization pose risks: Report The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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