The USA usually takes the lead on new technology: after all it is the land of Apple and Silicon Valley, not forgetting many innovations of the past. However, when it comes to crypto startups it appears to be driving them away, right into the arms of places like Switzerland. It is true that some of the large comaniy’s like Coinbase and Ripple Labs, who are past the startup stage, are US registered, though even Coinbase has spread its wings far beyond the United States.
Jeff Kauflin writing for Forbes recounts a very interesting story about a meeting between Republican congressman Warren Davidson and the CEO of a crypto startup in 2018. The CEO was trying to decide where to locate his company and said to the Congressman, “Look, it’s nothing personal. We just don’t trust that you guys are gonna get this done right. So we’re feeling kind of Swiss.” What he meant was that with all the uncertainty around regulations in the US, they were thinking of going to crypto-friendly Switzerland.
This uncertainty and the slowness of the US regulatory authorities are damaging everyone. As Kauflin says, “most companies that created digital tokens and sold them through ICOs assumed they wouldn’t be deemed securities.” However, once they realised that the regulators, the SEC being the main one, were thinking differently, they knew there was going to be a legal problem. This drove them away from considering locating startups in the USA.
To remedy this, Warren Davidson has introduced a new digital token bill, aimed at removing uncertainty and making the USA more appealing for crypto startups.
Caitlin Long, a former managing director at Morgan Stanley, when interviewed by Kauflin said: “Lawyers right and left were telling clients, ‘Don’t issue tokens to U.S. investors and don’t domicile in the U.S.’”
By contrast, last year Switzerland declared that some ICO tokens are not securities, which went down well with crypto entrepreneurs. So much so that about 420 crypto and blockchain startups are domiciled there. The USA has 2,100 startups, but it also has a population that is 40 times larger than that of Switzerland. Mathematics says that Switzerland is out-performing the USA as a location for technological innovation.
Davidson’s Token Taxonomy Act aims to amend the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, “to get the regulatory certainty that I feel like the market needs.”
Under the new bill, some of the criteria for exemption from security status are: the blockchain platform the token runs on has already launched; the token’s supply can’t be controlled by a single person or group of people; once finalized, transactions can’t be altered by a single person or group of people; and the token “is not a representation of a financial interest in a company, including an ownership or debt interest or revenue share.”
If this Bill passes it will create a significant change in the US for startups and would ensure that innovation stays in the USA rather than running away to Europe.