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Yes, No, Maybe: ICO Legality in Different Countries

The authorities of countries make rules and laws for ICOs but some projects ignore them or do not keep track of them, that is why they can be closed down. In order not to lose your money, read about the law requirements in different countries.

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Š”ryptoassetsrank.com Published on Jul 12, 2018
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The authorities of countries make rules and laws for ICOs but some projects ignore them or do not keep track of them, that is why they can be closed down. In order not to lose your money, read about the law requirements in different countries.


ICOs and cryptocurrencies in the USA are regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In 2017 it published a report about the DAO company investigation, in which the risks of investing into ICO projects were indicated. According to the report, equity tokens are regulated by the securities law.


The stock market regulator CSA considers security tokens and cryptocurrencies to be securities that are subject to regulation by the rules of the stock market. Other types of tokens are not regulated.

United Kingdom

The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has not established the legal status of tokens but has declared that in terms of legislation they can be equated to securities. The FCA has not banned ICOs but has warned the investors of the risks and scammers.

As for the status of cryptocurrency, everything is different:

  • the FCA has created a platform for testing new coins;
  • bitcoin is considered a personal asset and is taxable;
  • the Central Bank has decided to issue its own currency;
  • 30 bitcoin ATMs have been installed across the country.


There is no direct regulation of ICOs in Germany but the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority requires the compliance with the laws on:

  • banking;
  • investments;
  • securities trading.


ICOs are regulated by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

The Crypto Valley Association, a non-governmental organisation, is planning to create a legal framework for conducting ICO. At present, it is regulating cryptocurrencies that are considered to be a financial asset, while the utility tokens are not regulated.


In autumn 2017 the Monetary Authority of Singapore released a guide on ICOs, where it is stated that the coins should be treated under current security laws. If the tokens are issued as securities of a company, their sale is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Other tokens are not regulated.


After the fall of bitcoin exchange rate in autumn 2017 the country's authorities banned ICOs and closed down all cryptocurrency exchanges. It is considered to be a temporary measure until the government introduces regulatory methods or issues its own cryptocurrency.

Hong Kong, unlike the rest of China, is an economically free zone with its own regulation. The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) stated that the tokens, to which the definition of securities and debentures can be applied, are regulated by the securities law of SFC and Hong Kong.

South Korea

In October 2017 the authorities banned the sale of cryptocurrencies and tokens.

The ban might be lifted as soon as regulators are established or laws are issued.


The Financial Services Agency has not established any rules for conducting ICO. The regulator has only issued a warning about the risks. It means that ICOs are not banned but their legal status has not been established yet. This does not prevent even  government institutions from launching new projects. For example, in autumn 2017 the administration of the Nishiawakura village raised the finances for economy revitalization with the help of ICO.


The financial regulator SEBI can ban ICOs, since it does not want to monitor this sphere because of a great number of scammers. At present, the goal of SEBI is to close down the projects that cheat people. As of the beginning of 2018, there are no laws and regulations on ICOs.


It is the first country to establish statutory standards for the initial coin offering.

The regulator ASIC has issued a guide on ICOs, according to which the legal arrangements for the tokens depend on the project structure. For example: the crowdsale of tokens is regulated by the consumer protection law, while the companies offering financial products are subject to regulation by the corporation law.


At the beginning of April 2018, the Ministry of Communications issued a regulatory act on accreditation of organisations that release digital tokens. Accreditation will be provided by the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media for five years.

The organizer will be able to spend the received money only on buying out the tokens at nominal price. It means that the funds are collected in order to give them back later but not for the project development, which runs counter to the idea and goal of ICO.

European Union

There are no ICO and cryptocurrency regulators at the EU level but there are general rules and regulations. For example, in 2015 the European Union abolished the value-added tax for bitcoins. In the field of taxes virtual currencies are equated to fiat money.

Having no clear definitions and laws, some countries have introduced their own rules on ICOs and cryptocurrency. For example, in Croatia bitcoin is legal but it is neither a virtual, nor a fiat currency.

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