On July 13, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) held its Blockchain Symposium, which brought together regulators and industry leaders to discuss distributed ledger technology, also known as blockchain. A distributed ledger is a database that is synchronized across multiple sites and has potential uses including bitcoin and offerings of newly created coins in initial coin offerings (ICOs).
At the symposium, representatives of FINRA, SEC, CFTC, OCC and the Federal Reserve Board shared their perspectives on distributed ledger technology. As is customary, participants did not represent the formal positions of their agencies. However, they did share some helpful information on how matters presented to their agencies may be evaluated in the future.
Each speaker said their respective agency staffs continue to study applications of the technology and seek further information. When asked about ICOs, representatives of the SEC and CFTC confirmed that any coin should be evaluated based upon its individual characteristics to determine whether it is a security or commodity subject to regulation under federal securities or commodities laws.