Financial Transactions and Regulatory Compliance Review

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What the SEC’s Note on Digital Tokens Actually Means for Compliance

Bitcoin has been around since 2009, but the SEC only recently clarified that this kind of digital currency may in fact be a security—which lays it bare to the federal securities law that governs traditional securities. 

The agency’s note is a fairly straightforward compliance heads-up to those investing in initial coin offerings (ICOs), which are used to raise capital, but it comes at a time when the virtual asset sector remains a virtual free-for-all. 

The SEC investor bulletin was issued July 25 in response to concerns about a growing trend to “entice investors” to buy virtual coins with the promise of big returns on what could be risky investments. 

A virtual currency is a digital representation of value that can be digitally traded and functions as a medium of exchange, unit of account, or store of value, according to the SEC—but it “may represent other rights as well.” 


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