Blockchain company Ripple has been running an unregistered offering, akin to an unlicensed stock sale, according to a complaint filed Tuesday by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
The suit revolves around XRP , launched in 2013, which Ripple calls a cryptocurrency. The SEC says XRP is an “unregistered securities offering to investors in the US and worldwide.”
“Issuers seeking the benefits of a public offering, including access to retail investors, broad distribution and a secondary trading market, must comply with the federal securities laws that require registration of offerings unless an exemption from registration applies,” said Stephanie Avakian, SEC Enforcement Division director, in a statement.
Tuesday’s suit amounts to one of the most significant federal actions taken to shift unlicensed cryptocurrencies under the umbrella of more traditional registered securities. As the crypto industry has exploded in the last decade, the SEC and other agencies have struggled to classify and regulate them. In a separate action, the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network last week proposed new disclosure rules to better keep tabs on crypto wallets.
XRP’s value had fallen by about 22% by early Wednesday, having almost completely wiped out the gains of the past month that took it to two-year highs.
The San Francisco company, along with co-founder Christian Larsen and CEO Bradley Garlinghouse, were named in the suit. The executives have personally sold about $600 million in XRP, the SEC said.
Ripple violated federal securities laws by not registering XRP as a security, which would require greater disclosure, giving investors a more complete background as they value it, the SEC said.
“Here, we allege that Ripple and its executives failed over a period of years to satisfy these core investor protection provisions, and as a result investors lacked information to which they were entitled,” said Marc P. Berger, deputy director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division.
Garlinghouse late on Tuesday said the SEC hadn’t given the company “clarity” on how its XPR offering is classified – currency or security.
“To be clear, this is all based on their illogical claim that XRP is, in their view, somehow the functional equivalent of a share of stock,” Garlinghouse wrote on Ripple’s company blog .
Ripple had begun its campaign against the SEC suit before it was even filed. Garlinghouse had let loose on the SEC on Twitter, saying in part that its chair, Jay Clayton, was “taking notes from the Grinch this holiday season.”
The suit comes just weeks before Clayton is set to depart from his SEC post, as a new administration takes over Washington.
Two of Ripple’s lawyers on Tuesday said the SEC’s suit was without merit.
Michael Kellogg, of Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick, said in a statement: “This complaint is wrong as a matter of law. Other major branches of the U.S. government, including the Justice Department and the Treasury Department’s FinCen, have already determined that XRP is a currency. Transactions in XRP thus fall outside the scope of the federal securities laws. This is not the first time the SEC has tried to go beyond its statutory authority. The courts have corrected it before and will do so again.”
Luno Hits 9M Customers Mark
One of the leading global cryptocurrency exchange companies, Luno celebrates hitting 9 million customer mark in over 40 countries.
Luno is a digital currency exchange facility that offers an exchange platform for customers to buy, sell and store digital currencies as well as pay for products and services using a cryptocurrency wallet.
The cryptocurrency exchange platform, Luno, saw remarkable growth with the addition of one million customers in less than five months.
Africa is one of Luno’s strongest markets with over 45 percent of the one million new customers added since June are based in Africa.
Marius Reitz, GM for Africa at Luno commented: “The average value of first deposits made by our million new customers is around USD32. Most new customers (83%) bought Bitcoin, while 27% bought Ethereum and 23% bought Ripple. Of the new customers, 35% are aged between 18 and 24, and gender splits align with trends in financial services – almost three quarters (65%) are male.”
Luno was founded in 2013 by Marcus Swanepoel, an ex-investment banker, and Timothy Stranex a software engineer who had previously worked with Google.
“As we hit the 9 million customer mark, it is a fitting symbol that Luno’s logo now adorns an iconic building in Cape Town’s unofficial financial district on the foreshore. Staff numbers have swelled to over 600 across the UK, South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Australia and Singapore, and we are actively hiring over 60 specialists,” says Reitz.
Reitz affirmed that it took Luno five years to build a base for its first one million customers in 2017. “Luno’s growth has accelerated significantly since then. In the last year alone, we have added over 3.6 million new customers,” he says.
Luno was acquired last year by US-based DCG, the world’s largest blockchain investor and is targeting a billion customers by 2030.
Today’s Cryptocurrency Investors are Tomorrow’s Masters of the Metaverse
Cryptocurrency investors of today are likely to be the “masters of the metaverse”, which has the potential to change how we live, interact and do business, predicts the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory, asset management and fintech organisations.
The prediction from Nigel Green, the CEO and founder of deVere Group, comes as Facebook announces plans to hire 10,000 people in the European Union to develop a so-called metaverse.
“The metaverse has the potential to help unlock access to new creative, social and economic opportunities,” the tech giant said in its blog.
The term ‘metaverse’ gives a virtual parallel to physical reality where a community of people can interact in the form of avatars. It refers to the merging of physical, augmented, and virtual reality in a shared online environment.
Mr Green says: “Facebook’s announcement once again underscores that the metaverse is not being seen by those-in-the-know as an ‘extension’ of the internet, but as its successor.
“It will become the entrance to almost all digital experiences and an integral part of most physical ones, meaning it will fundamentally change the way we live, interact with each other and do business.
“It will revolutionise economies, it will be the key to the creation of whole new generations of companies, and this is why the big tech firms are jumping in – no one wants to be left behind something so monumental.”
He continues: “The metaverse is being built and run on blockchains and decentralised applications, which is the same cutting-edge technology used by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
“In addition, in the virtual worlds which will reshape how we spend our time and our money, financial transactions will, of course, have to be digital.
“This means that cryptocurrencies are likely to become the sole legal tender accepted in the metaverse.
“All of this is a huge advantage to anyone investing in crypto today. Prices of major cryptocurrencies are likely to soar enormously in the next few years. As such, those buying now will be taking advantage of the lower entry points.
“Their purchasing power within the digital space can be expected to be huge as a result: they will be the ones who are the Masters of the Metaverse.”
Everything is very much still in the early stages, and it might be another decade or so until the potential of the metaverse is fully realised.
But, concludes Nigel Green, there is a “massive advantage” for early adopters of new tech – “just ask Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg” – as well as those who “invest earlier on in the currencies of the future.”
Bitcoin Near $60,000 Per Coin After Bloomberg Report Favour Bitcoin ETF
Bitcoin, the world’s most capitalised cryptocurrency, rallied near $60,000 per coin after a report by Bloomberg said bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund (ETF) will clear the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) late on Thursday.
Cryptocurrency’s most dominant coin rose to $59,961 per coin before pulling back to $59,258.38 at the time of writing.
The SEC is reviewing around 40 bitcoin ETF filings with multiple decision deadlines on futures-linked products hitting next week. According to Bloomberg, the regulator is expected to approve at least some of them, clearing the way for trading to begin.
The SEC does not need to take any formal action to approve the filings. Under federal law, applications can become effective if the SEC allows a mandated deadline to pass by without requesting changes or directing the aspiring issuer to pull the filing.
Bloomberg named applications by ProShares and Invesco as two proposals that may be allowed to launch under this law next week.
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