|To: Dragonfly1967 who wrote (102)||1/10/2018 10:00:50 PM|
|From: Glenn Petersen|
|True North Energy is a black box. There are no details in the press release about the capital structure of the company or whether or not the acquired company has any revenues, let alone profits. The company terminated its SEC registration in 2009. Without any other information, it is impossible to give you any sort of informed opinion.|
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|From: Glenn Petersen||1/12/2018 9:30:09 AM|
China's blockchain fever gets hotter even as regulator queries price surge
JANUARY 12, 2018 / 8:15 AM
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s blockchain-related companies extended their bullish run on Friday, as punters brushed aside concerns raised by regulators about the rationality of stock price surges this week.
Blockchain mania continued to propel the shares of a dozen companies which recently disclosed their involvement in cryptocurrency technology, even though some admitted their investments in the technology were still at an early stage.
A growing number of Chinese firms - ranging from packaging firms to gaming companies - have publicly linked their businesses with blockchain to capitalize on rapidly growing investor interest globally for the technology, the backbone of bitcoin and other digital currencies.
Chinese regulators are taking unprecedented steps to contain financial risks - Beijing has banned initial coin offerings, shut down local cryptocurrency trading exchanges and limited bitcoin mining - but speculators are not deterred.
Shares of Cashway Technology Co Ltd (603106.SS) soared for the second day on Friday, even after it clarified that it had merely hired two young graduates majoring in encryption algorithm.
Client Service International Inc 300663.SZ jumped the maximum 10 percent for the third straight day, although the software maker flagged risks to investors, saying it was still “exploring” blockchain technology.
Stock punters also pushed up other blockchain concept stocks such as Xiamen Anne (002235.SZ), Brilliance Technology (300542.SZ) and Shenzhen Zqgame 300052.SZ.
Most of these companies had seen their shares steadily falling since mid-2015 to multi-year lows before this week’s blockchain-triggered spurt.
“It takes only five minutes to think of an idea that has something to do with blockchain. But it’s a totally different story to build a business model around it that makes money,” said retail investor Wu Beicheng, adding he identified only one China-listed company, Hundsun Technologies (600570.SS), as a reasonable bet.
Highlighting how some companies are tapping into the speculative interest, the Shanghai Stock Exchange questioned Shanghai U9 Game Co (600652.SS) on Thursday, asking whether it used the blockchain concept to help push up its flagging share price. The company has a large proportion of shares pledged for loans.
Robin Zhang, compliance manager at asset manager Soochow Securities CSSD (Singapore), put China’s blockchain mania in the backdrop of a global setting, where companies including Eastman Kodak (KODK.N) have attracted investor fever due to their applications of the technology.
“It’s a bit like the dot.com bubble. But after the bubble burst, some companies with real customers, revenues and performance, will stand out, like Google or Alibaba.”
Reporting by Samuel Shen and John Ruwitch; Editing by Jacqueline Wong
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|From: Glenn Petersen||1/15/2018 10:24:15 AM|
|Open banking: The money revolution nobody knows about|
It’s going to transform the ways you manage your money but you've probably never heard of it
Thursday 11 January 2018 18:20 GMT
Concerns have been raised that fraudsters could capitalise on the new development Getty
This weekend a major change in the way banks manage your data takes place, one that could completely revolutionise how we bank, who owns our financial data and which companies can offer us targeted financial services.
It’s called Open Banking and it’s driven by a new EU directive and new UK competition rules. Changes taking effect this weekend mean that banks will have to share financial data such as transaction history and spending patterns with other (regulated) third-party providers if the account holder requests it.
That might sound like baffling small print, but it could genuinely shake up the way in which you manage your money.
Instead of your personal data being something jealously guarded by your bank, you’ll be able to request that approved companies can also access it. That will mean they can help you analyse and improve your spending habits or simply just point you at financial services that better meet your needs.
But it’s not without its critics, and those critics argue that Open Banking will actually strip power from the consumer by creating complex chains of data access, making it harder to prove who was at fault if information is stolen.
Concerns have also been raised that fraudsters may capitalise on this development by tricking customers into sharing their login information under the banner of ‘Open Banking’.
Perhaps most alarmingly, though, very few people seem to have actually heard about it. As far as revolutions go, this one is remaining firmly within the palace walls so far.
Who needs it?
There has been some real fintech innovation in recent years and months. There are now apps that analyse your spending habits and save affordable monthly amounts on your behalf, and apps that drip-feed your money into your account so you don’t overspend (check out our favourite apps here).
With Open Banking, such apps can get your permission to use your data instead of relying on co-operation from the banks. It could allow innovative firms to develop app dashboards that list all your financial products in one handy place.
It could also make it easier for third parties to assess which bank account is best for you by actually analysing your use. For example, many of us have no idea how much our overdrafts cost us but a company that could access your account could provide far more clarity about cheaper alternatives.
Rachel Springall, finance spokesperson at moneyfacts.co.uk, says that this change could do far more than just make switching accounts easier.
She says it could be used to help get people approved for finance or to allow debt management tools to better recommend current accounts.
“One example of how the data could be used is for those consumers looking to save money for a specific goal who feel that they don’t have enough disposable income. Sharing their data with a budgeting app could uncover some unnecessary purchases and work out where they can save money, whereas before they may not have been as motivated to look deeper into their transaction history themselves.
“Using an app to easily see every account in one place will be helpful for consumers with multiple accounts from different firms.”
Those consumers who have actually heard about the Open Data revolution may well be worried about whether shared data will remain secure.
After all, ‘open’ and ‘banking’ are not two words that naturally go together in a world where people have to guard their financial data against fraudsters.
That reluctance could be key in whether new Open Banking rules herald a revolution or a slower, more hesitant pace of change. And that could allow banks a head-start in making use of the rule change.
“Open banking has the potential to transform consumers’ relationship with financial products, but it hinges on consumers’ willingness to embrace it,” said Jeremy Light, a managing director at Accenture who leads the company’s Payment Services Practice in Europe.
“Until new entrants to the financial services sector can earn consumers’ trust, banks can draw on their extensive heritage to secure an important early advantage.”
Some commentators have sought to reassure consumers by highlighting that Open Banking does not mean a free-for-all.
Springall says: “It’s likely that some consumers remain concerned about sharing their personal information or having it hacked. However, Open Banking was set up to create software and security systems that comply with the data security standards and protect any information. Data is to remain encrypted and any usage of information is tracked.
“Consumers would need to give companies their permission to access any data and then expressly authorise the bank or building society to supply it.”
Astonishingly, despite being one of the biggest developments in consumer banking in decades and one that could totally transform how we manage our finances, most people don’t know that anything is changing.
Back in September, the consumer champion Which? carried out a survey that showed 92% of the public had not heard of Open Banking.
What’s more, over half (51%) said they were fairly or very unlikely to consider sharing their financial data, even if doing so would mean they were offered more relevant products and services.
That reluctance was also apparent in a survey carried out by Accenture. It questioned more than 2,000 UK consumers and found that 69% said they would not share bank account information with third-party providers. In fact, 53% said they would never change their current banking habits and make use of Open Banking rules.
But Dave Tonge, chief technology officer at Moneyhub Enterprise, says that the data security will be at least as robust as existing security protocols such as direct debits, as well as having to be renewed every three months.
He says: “Technology is transforming financial services and will bring huge benefit to consumers, particularly in how they organise and take control of their finances, but one of the biggest barriers remains fear around sharing data. This reflects legacy issues within the sector and also how difficult banks have made it for consumers and new entrants including third-party money management tools.
“There is still…education needed to bring consumers up to speed with just how much Open Banking can improve their financial interaction, through monitoring spending and making better saving and investing decisions.”
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|From: Glenn Petersen||1/22/2018 11:10:17 AM|
|h/t The Ox|
More than 10 percent of $3.7 billion raised in ICOs has been stolen: Ernst & Young
January 22, 2018
NEW YORK (Reuters) - More than 10 percent of funds raised through “initial coin offerings” are lost or stolen in hacker attacks, according to new research by Ernst & Young that delves into the risks of investing in cryptocurrency projects online.
The professional services firm analyzed more than 372 ICOs, in which new digital currencies are distributed to buyers, and found that roughly $400 million of the total $3.7 billion funds raised to date had been stolen, according to research published on Monday.
Phishing was the most widely used hacking technique for ICOs, with hackers stealing up to $1.5 million in ICO proceeds per month, according to the report.
The research also noted that the volume of ICOs has been slowing since late 2017. Less than 25 percent of ICOs reached their target in November, compared with 90 percent in June.
The study comes amid a cryptocurrency investing craze, with young companies raising hundreds of millions of dollars online to fund their projects, with often little more than a handful of employees and a business plan outlined in a so-called “white paper”.
The challenges faced by more recent ICOs in reaching their targets are partly attributable to the lower quality of projects, as well as issues that have emerged around earlier projects, said Paul Brody, global innovation leader for blockchain technology at Ernst & Young (EY).
“The volume just exploded, people raised their fundraising goals and the quality just dropped,” Brody said in an interview.
“We were shocked by the quality of some of the white papers, we see clear coding errors and we see conflicts of interest between the companies issuing tokens and the community of token holders.”
In ICOs companies typically raise money to build new technology platforms or to fund businesses that use cryptocurrencies, also called tokens, and blockchain, the software that underpins them. Yet for many of these projects the need for blockchain and cryptocurrencies is often unjustified, according to EY.
It also noted valuations of ICO tokens are often driven by “fear of missing out”, or “FOMO”, and have no connection to market fundamentals such as project development. EY said “FOMO” has led investors to pour money into ICOs at record speeds, with the 10 shortest lasting ICOs attracting $300,000 per second on average.
The study also found several instances in which the underlying software code of a project contained hidden investment terms that had not been disclosed, or contradicted previous disclosures. For example, a whitepaper might state that there will be no further issuance of a cryptocurrency, while the code might leave that option open.
Reporting by Anna Irrera
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|From: Glenn Petersen||1/29/2018 10:08:48 PM|
|A crypto startup that vanished and changed its website to the word ‘penis’ allegedly stole the identities of its team|
January 29, 2018
- Three blockchain experts linked to an illegitimate startup called Prodeum told Business Insider they have nothing to do with the organization and are victims of identity theft.
- The startup, Prodeum, raised $11 in an online fundraiser before disappearing on Sunday.
- Prodeum's website went blank late Sunday aside for the text "penis" in the upper-left corner.
The Prodeum website went blank, aside from this message, soon after the company raised $11. Reddit
Three blockchain experts linked to a bizarre cryptocurrency startup that sought to raise $6.5 million before vanishing have told Business Insider that they are victims of identity theft and have nothing to do with the company.
The startup, called Prodeum, had billed itself as developing a system to use blockchain technology for agricultural commodities, like fruits and vegetables.
But Prodeum caused waves online Sunday evening after trying to sell tokens to investors through a risky fundraising technique and subsequently disappearing from the web, leaving only the word "penis" on its homepage.
In the end, the company appears to have raised only an almost comical grand total of $11 from investors in its initial coin offering, or ICO. But the bizarre incident highlights the chaos and risks lurking in the unregulated world of cryptocurrencies, as well as some of the unexpected dangers that are likely to become more common as interest in cryptocurrencies continues to surge.
Darius Rugevicius, Vytautas Kaseta, and Mario Pazos were all listed as team members or advisors on TokenDesk fundraising page for Prodeum.
While fake founders are a common trait among questionable cryptocurrency startups, Rugevicius, Kaseta, and Pazos all actually work with blockchain startups. All three expressed concern to Business Insider that the Prodeum scam could have an negative impact on their reputations.
Their photos and names were posted on the original website, along with links to active LinkedIn profiles. A fourth team member, Petar Jandric, does not appear to be linked to a real person.
All traces of Prodeum, a startup on the Ethereum blockchain, have been wiped from the internet, and its homepage now redirects to an anonymous Twitter account.
'It could be some Russian based scammers. But we can't confirm this yet.' Rugevicius, a general partner at Connect Capital in New York, was at the airport Monday morning on his way to South Korea for a conference hosted by the blockchain company ICON.
"I have personally worked with number of most prominent projects in blockchain field and certainly have no ties with this project," Rugevicius told Business Insider.
Profiles for the team, listed on TokenDesk, included at least three members who claim their identities were stolen. TokenDesk
Pazos, a Miami-based blockchain startup advisor and angel investor, said he didn't know about Prodeum until he was contacted for this story. He advises the blockchain startups WaBi Project and Kairos, and is closely involved with both of their ICOs.
An ICO is an unregulated fundraising technique used by blockchain companies where cyptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum are used to purchase "tokens" from a startup. In theory, the tokens will be valuable if the company takes off, though many people buy random digital tokens in the hopes that they can trade them like stocks.
Though he said he hasn't thought much about scams until this happened to him, Pazos said that he takes the legitimacy of the companies that he works with very seriously, and has turned away clients that he didn't feel confident would succeed in the space.
"We run a very thorough due diligence process and interview with the CEO and their team. In fact, we have face to face interactions. I make sure that they're legitimate companies," Pezos said, adding that he also looks at companies' financials to make sure they are not struggling to make ends meet.
Kaseta, a Lithuania-based blockchain engineer and advisor, said he and Rugevicius are looking into taking legal action against the alleged scammers. He also said he is working with the crypto community to find the people behind the Prodeum.
"From the first information, looks like it could be some Russian based scammers. But we can't confirm this yet," Kaseta said.
Though Prodeum ultimately raised just $11, the company originally set out to raise 5,400 ether, or $6.5 million. The project goal was to "bring fruits and vegetables to the blockchain." It may sound silly, but tracking produce from farm to store is one of the more practical uses of blockchain technology, with companies like IBM and Walmart partnering on similar projects.
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|From: Glenn Petersen||2/3/2018 10:38:47 PM|
|SEC halts one of the largest 'ICOs' ever as it wades deeper into the murky world of cryptocurrency offerings|
Evelyn Cheng | @chengevelyn
- U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announces it has obtained a court order to halt and freeze the assets of AriseBank's initial coin offering.
- The Dallas-based firm claims to be a "decentralized bank" and says it raised $600 million.
- AriseBank announced Thursday it was correcting an announcement made the prior week about the acquisition of an FDIC-insured bank.
Published 9:58 AM ET Tue, 30 Jan 2018 Updated 2:36 PM ET Tue, 30 Jan 2018 CNBC.com
Zach Gibson | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Jay Clayton, chairman of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced Tuesday it has obtained a court order to halt and freeze the assets of what is likely the largest initial coin offering ever.
The complaint was filed in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday and unsealed late Monday. The SEC said Dallas-based AriseBank "used social media, a celebrity endorsement, and other wide dissemination tactics to raise what it claims to be $600 million of its $1 billion goal in just two months."
The court approved an emergency asset freeze over AriseBank and its two co-founders. The SEC said that for the first time in connection to an ICO fraud, it has appointed a third-party custodian, or receiver, to secure the firm's cryptocurrency holdings. Those assets include bitcoin, litecoin, bitshares, dogecoin and bitUSD.
Mark Rasmussen, a Dallas-based partner at law firm Jones Day, was appointed as the neutral receiver. Investors seeking additional information can contact firstname.lastname@example.org, according to a release.
If AriseBank did raise $600 million in an initial coin offering, that would surpass the largest token sales so far.
"The ICO is an illegal offering of securities because there is no registration filed or in effect with the SEC, nor is there an applicable exemption from registration," the SEC complaint said.
Fundraisers for projects based on the blockchain technology behind bitcoin are called token sales or initial coin offerings. They have raised more than $3.7 billion, but more than 10 percent of those funds have been lost to hackers, according to a study from Ernst and Young. Filecoin, which is building a decentralized storage network, raised the equivalent of roughly $252 million in the largest ICO to date, according to financial research firm Autonomous Next. Overstock.com subsidiary tZero is in the middle of a $250 million token sale, down from initial plans to raise $500 million.
The SEC alleges AriseBank "falsely stated that it purchased [a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation]-insured bank which enabled it to offer customers FDIC-insured accounts."
AriseBank calls itself a "decentralized bank" and announced Thursday it was correcting an announcement made the prior week about the acquisition of an FDIC-insured bank. Two websites for AriseBank were unavailable Tuesday morning, and lawyers for the firm couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
The SEC seeks to recover the funds, and wants to bar the co-founders from serving as officers or directors of a public company, or offering digital securities in the future.
The Texas Department of Banking announced on Friday that it issued a cease and desist order on AriseBank in early January.
The SEC has increased its scrutiny of initial coin offerings in the last several months. Last week, commission chairman Jay Clayton and Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo wrote in a Wall Street Journal commentary piece that "The SEC is devoting a significant portion of its resources to the ICO market."
The commission issued an investor warning in July, temporarily suspended trading in several small stocks due to questions about claims regarding their involvement in initial coin offerings. Last fall, the SEC also froze the assets of those involved with at least three token sales.
Many initial coin offerings officially prohibit U.S. residents and citizens from participating out of fear of the SEC.
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|From: Glenn Petersen||2/8/2018 3:28:19 PM|
|WhatsApp has launched person-to-person payments into beta in India|
by Sarah Perez ( @sarahintampa)
February 8, 2018
WhatsApp has begun testing a new payments feature in India that will allow people to send money to other WhatsApp users, excluding merchant accounts. The feature is currently in beta, according to sources familiar with the company’s plans, but hasn’t been publicly announced because it’s not widely available at this time.
The company has been working on support for a payments feature for some time, which would take advantage of UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and include support by a number of Indian banks, including State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and Axis Bank.
Beta testers have now found that this functionality is live, with a large list of supported banks displayed in the WhatsApp user interface.
Image credit: iPhoneHacks
According to screenshots posted to Twitter and elsewhere, including this post from the blog iPhoneHacks, those who have gained access to the new functionality will see a payments feature appear in their WhatsApp Settings menu.
Users must then configure the feature by first verifying their phone number via SMS and choosing a bank. The option to send a payment is then available from the main WhatsApp interface, in the same area where you can also share a photo, video, file, contact or location into your chat session.
The Facebook-owned company had received approval from the Indian government to integrate UPI into its messaging service last July in order to implement payments, according to T he Economic Times.
The addition puts WhatsApp into competition with other messaging services that already support payments, including the recently launched Tez from Google and Tencent-backed Hike, for example, as well as digital wallet platform Paytm, which expanded into messaging in order to take on WhatsApp more directly.
However, WhatsApp’s support for payments is highly anticipated because of the app’s huge popularity among Indian users. India is WhatsApp’s largest market with over 200 million users active daily users. In fact, it’s so heavily used in that country that it’s even led to issues as Indians grapple with the social norms involving daily messaging ranging from phones’ storage filling up with “good morning” messages, to drama over exiting family group chats.
The potential for WhatsApp to dominate Indian P2P payments is strong, given that millions of people have come online in the region thanks to lower-cost data plans and cheap smartphones. The country even surpassed the U.S. for combined iOS and Android downloads for the first time in Q4 2017, according to App Annie, as smartphone adoption is surging.
We understand that WhatsApp will let users know when P2P payments becomes more widely available in India, after the best testing phase completes.
WhatsApp declined to comment on the launch.
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|From: Glenn Petersen||2/15/2018 10:07:45 AM|
|Hyperinflation meets tech: Cash-scarce Venezuela sees boom in payment apps|
By Andreina Aponte and Corina Pons
February 15, 2018
Information for Vippo app is seen in a fruit and vegetables stall at Chacao Municipal Market in Caracas, Venezuela January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello
CARACAS (Reuters) - Widerven Villegas and his brother wash some 30 cars a day at a parking lot in Caracas. Despite charging less than 50 cents, nobody pays them in cash.
In tech hubs from San Francisco to Tokyo, payment is conveniently made through software on phones and watches on a routine basis. Amid a dire economic crisis in Venezuela a similar innovation is taking hold, though for very different reasons.
People from vegetable sellers to taxi drivers have registered to use mobile payment applications to attract customers who do not have enough paper money, which is in short supply due to soaring prices. The maximum daily amount Venezuelans can withdraw from cash machines is around 10,000 bolivars, around 4 cents at the black market exchange rate.
Venezuela's hyperinflation, one of the first of the digital era, is producing surprise winners in a tough business climate: small technology companies based in the crisis-stricken country.
"I accept transfers. I have Tpago, Vippo and almost all the applications out there!" said Villegas, 35, as he clutched a worn-out tablet and a basic cellphone.
"We don't handle cash because our clients don't have it," he added. "With the applications I use, I've got their money before they've even left the parking lot."
Without these apps, even simple transactions like tipping a waiter or paying for parking become nightmares. Still, banking websites and mobile apps often crash, as the outdated telecoms infrastructure cannot cope with surging demand.
Requests for a taxi on the Nekso application, somewhat similar to Uber, doubled last year, according to its head of strategy Leonardo Salazar, speaking at the company offices that boast a Playstation console and ping pong table.
Vippo, a Caracas-based payment app, saw a more than thirty-fold increase in the number of people registering last year. Citywallet, born as a pilot project for online parking payments at a private university, was extended to several shopping centers.
"The cash crisis is getting worse every day but is giving us the opportunity to capture more and more transactions with our solution," said Citywallet co-founder Atilana Pinon, 29.
She and two partners set up the app which is now expanding to Chile, after winning a scholarship from its government.
Creating an app in Venezuela usually requires little capital, given low salary expectations from coders and near-free electricity and data costs.
Developers were surprised by the rapid adoption of the applications and are betting on further growth in 2018.
"There are times when the point of sale machine stops working," said Maria Lozada, selling cleaning products at a market stall in the wealthier Caracas district of Chacao. "This is the way to solve the cash crisis," she says, pointing to a Vippo sign.
Venezuela's central bank inadvertently buttressed the boom by slowing cash production just as inflation was spiralling into quadruple digits.
At the end of 2017, the volume of banknotes increased by only 14 percent, less than half from a year earlier. That coincided with price rises of more than 2,500 percent, according to National Assembly figures.
Some 18 private Venezuelan banks last year launched an electronic payment app for consumers. MercadoLibre, one of the largest online commerce companies in Latin America, also offers a local payment solution.
Even leftist President Nicolas Maduro is getting in on the act, although critics blame him for the root problem.
"With the digital wallet we are going to perform miracles at all levels," Maduro said recently, announcing a QR code to be included on the government's social welfare identification card.
Despite some of the world's lowest internet speeds and a significant fraction of the population without bank accounts and cellphones, cash is falling out of favor in Venezuela.
"Perhaps our economy will be cash-less before Denmark," quipped Miguel Leon, an electronic engineer leading Vippo, in his open office featuring hammocks.
(Writing by Girish Gupta; Editing by Alexandra Ulmer and Chizu Nomiyama)
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|To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (101)||3/1/2018 10:04:30 AM|
|From: Glenn Petersen|
|OSTK is down about 10% in early trading:|
Overstock: $250 Million tZero ICO Under SEC Review
Michael del Castillo
Mar 1, 2018 at 12:32 UTC | Updated Mar 1, 2018 at 14:26 UTC
A filing with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released Thursday has revealed new details about Overstock.com's ongoing $250 million ICO for its tZero alternative trading system.
However, most notable amid the stream of information on the sale structure and advisory board, is the public e-commerce company's confirmation that the sale has been under review by the SEC since February.
While the documents explicitly state Overstock is not aware of any legal proceedings that could have an "adverse impact," on the company, they do shed light on a Wall Street Journal report Wednesday that confirmed the agency is conducting a sweeping probe of companies and firms that have sought to raise money via the mechanism.
"In February 2018, the Division of Enforcement of the SEC informed the Company that it is conducting an investigation in the matter re: Overstock.com, Inc. and requested that the company voluntarily provide certain documents related to the Offering and the Tokens in connection with its investigation," the filing reads.
"The SEC is trying to determine whether there have been any violations of the federal securities laws, the investigation does not mean that the SEC has concluded that anyone has violated the law. Also, the investigation does not mean that the SEC has a negative opinion of any person, entity, or security."As reported by CoinDesk, much remains unknown about the ongoing fact-finding, including the number and timing of SEC inquiries, with sources speaking on background varying widely as to the details related to the probe.
The president of tZero, Joseph Cammarata told CoinDesk: "We are actually happy that the SEC is scrutinizing the space."
Still, the admission that Overstock has received such an inquiry is likely to further speculation as to what might result from the ultimate investigations, building on comments from SEC Chair Jay Clayton, who has suggested he believes legal non-compliance is rampant in the sector.
Elsewhere in the filing, Overstock confirmed it has concluded its ICO pre-sale after raising $100 million, and has initiated its subsequent fundraising round. However, this shift is coinciding with a large technical change.
In an interview with CoinDesk, tZero president Joseph Cammarata confirmed tZero will switch from SaftLaunch, a platform for managing crypto token sales, to StartEngine, a platform first developed for equity crowdfunding management.
"SaftLaunch was utilized for the presale. We're now augmenting the subsequent sale to bring on StartEngine," Cammarata said.
According to Cammarata, tZero's decision to switch platforms was not due to regulatory issues, but stems from SaftLaunch's complicated and time-consuming anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) process, which resulted in a bottleneck as the ICO attracted huge interest.
As such, the presale of tZero's tokens for interacting with the company's alternative trading system for blockchain securities, was extended. The sale, which was modeled under the simple agreement for future equities (SAFE) framework was initially set to end on January 18, and only concluded today.
A spokesperson for SaftLaunch confirmed there were delays in the onboarding process, saying, "Because of strong demand, there was an initial backlog in managing inquiries from interested investors but there is no backlog now, and the offering remains open."
Early investors in the pre-sale will continue to be able to use the SaftLaunch platform, but investors in the subsequent round, which kicks off today, will go through StartEngine.
And just how much
The ICO's delay, no surprise, also brought out the skeptics.
Top among the concerns around the token sale is whether or not tZero has actually raised the $100 million it claims to have already taken in.
For instance, a report last week placed the actual number at $49 million based on the latest SEC filings, and Cammarata said others have speculated the number is as low as $18 million, with the rest being perhaps inflated by investments from Overstock.
Cammarata discounted those suggestions, however, telling CoinDesk that 70 percent of the ICO's investors have come from family offices, hedge funds and the people who run those institutions, with the other 30 percent coming from non-institutional investors.
And as far as Overstock inflating those numbers with its own money, Cammarata concluded:
"One thing that I'd like to make clear is we're over $100 million and Overstock has not put anything in the ICO at this time. They have not bought any tokens or made any investments at this time."Update: Language has been removed suggesting Overstock has received a direct subpoena. CoinDesk has updated the article.
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