Gibraltar Will Take Market-Driven Approach to ICO Rules

Gibraltar may be moving to regulate initial coin offerings (ICOs), but officials say it will be up to the market to determine what a “good” token sale looks like.

The U.K. overseas territory announced that it was drafting ICO regulation earlier this month, which will include the implementation of a system for “authorized sponsors” that will be tasked with managing compliance. Gibraltar’s government outlined a tripartite approach that would address “the promotion, sale and distribution of tokens,” create a well-regulated secondary market related to tokens and establish standards for the provision of advice relating to token investment within its jurisdiction.

“We don’t see a place for us as a regulator, or indeed Gibraltar as a jurisdiction that makes its own laws, for saying what ‘good’ looks like in token sales,” Sian Jones, a senior advisor to the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC), told CoinDesk in an interview Tuesday.

Instead, regulators would “rather let the marketplace of authorized sponsors come up with possibly a number of different options of what good looks like,” Jones said.

Jones explained that a one-size-fits-all regulatory approach would be inappropriate for the blockchain funding model, and that Gibraltar is instead developing a set of principles for best practice. With these principles, each authorized sponsor will be able to “come up with its own methodology” to apply to the ICOs or tokens that they sponsor.

Asked if these measures implied a kind of self-regulation on the part of sponsors, Jones replied:

“I don’t know that I would reach as far as saying it’s self-regulatory, but it certainly resonates – the idea that the marketplace will determine what a good ICO looks like.”

Paul Astengo, senior finance executive at the Gibraltar Finance Centre, told CoinDesk that the timing of the territory’s ICO regulation is a product of its efforts to “keep abreast of developments” in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry.

He explained that the legislation is the logical next step after Gibraltar’s Jan. introduction of a license for companies working with distributed ledger technology, which has made it an appealing destination for blockchain startups…

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