As we all know, initial coin offerings (ICOs) are a great way to raise capital for many early-stage startups and build a dedicated base of followers. However, the head of one of the world’s largest stock exchanges believes that they are harmful to retail investors.
According to Adena Friedman, who is the CEO of Nasdaq, investors like “Auntie Mae in Iowa” are being taken by the hype that surrounds these projects. During a speech at the Future of Fintech conference in New York, Friedman said:
“To make it no rules at all, when companies can just willy-nilly take people’s money and offer no information at all, with no governance, that sounds to me like you’re taking advantage of people.”
Despite this talk, Friedman also expressed her sympathy towards ICOs, saying that they are really securities offerings.
“I sympathize with SEC saying these are really securities offerings,” she added, according to a report on the conference. “I support the SEC on that.”
As we reported earlier, the SEC stated that select cryptocurrencies among which Bitcoin and Ethereum – do not fall under the agency’s purview and should be treated as commodities instead. Still, officials have said that most of the ICOs and many other crypto assets need to be treated as unregistered securities.
Friedman said that she is right now concerned about the lack of transparency in the ICO industry – mostly because the startups rarely submit to the same times of disclosure requirements that are placed on companies raising their capital through ICOs.
As she said:
“In ICO space none of that is available, and it’s all being bought by retail. I have real concern on lack of transparency, oversight, and accountability that these companies have as they’re going out to raise capital through an ICO.”
Even though Friedman was critical on ICO’s, her comments on cryptocurrencies have been much more optimistic. She said that in the development of currency, Nasdaq is not adverse to becoming a cryptocurrency exchange at some time in the future.
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