On October 2, 2019, securities regulatory authorities in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Québec and Saskatchewan published CSA Multilateral Staff Notice 58-311 Report on Fifth Staff Review of Disclosure Regarding Women on Boards and in Executive Officer Positions. The notice summarizes a review of the disclosure made by 641 reporting issuers
The Ontario Securities Commission released OSC Staff Notice 33-749 Annual Summary Report for Dealers, Advisers and Investment Fund Managers on August 23, 2018 (Staff Notice).
The Staff Notice included, at Part 1.3, a review of the recent activities of the OSC LaunchPad. The LaunchPad is actively engaged with novel fintech businesses providing support in navigating regulatory requirements. The Staff Notice highlighted the following key accomplishments of the OSC LaunchPad in fiscal 2017-2018:
- 242 Meetings with fintech businesses and stakeholders
- 156 requests for support received and direct support provided to fintech businesses
- 55 events hosted by the OSC LaunchPad or in which it participated
- 25 collaborative reviews with the Canadian Securities Adminstrators’ Regulatory Sandbox regarding novel business models that want to operate across Canada.
Although the industry was initially focussed on online advisors, online lenders and crowdfunding portals, OSC Staff advised in the Staff Notice that industry focus has largely shifted to cryptoasset-related businesses, including initial coin and token offerings, cryptoasset investment funds, traditional financial service businesses utilizing blockchain technology and crypto asset trading platforms. In addition, the OSC Launchpad is seeing businesses focussed on RegTech services, technology-based compliance solutions and data analytics services.Continue Reading OSC LaunchPad – Annual Summary Report
The Ontario Securities Commission released OSC Staff Notice 33-749 – Annual Summary Report for Dealers, Advisers and Investment Fund Managers on August 23, 2018 (OSC Staff Notice).
In the OSC Staff Notice, OSC staff identified that some investment fund managers (IFMs) have outsourced fund administration functions (including fund accounting and transfer agency) to related parties. Under National Instrument 31-103 Registration Requirements, Exemptions and Ongoing Registrant Obligations, IFMs are required to establish a system of controls and supervision to ensure compliance with securities legislation and are responsible and accountable for all functions that they outsource to a service provider. Accordingly, IFMs should not rely solely on the related service provider and assume that all obligations under securities legislation are being met.Continue Reading OSC Staff Notice Comments on Fund Manager Oversight of Related Party Service Providers
On March 26, 2018, the Mutual Fund Dealers Association (MFDA) published proposed MFDA Rules 1.2 Definitions and 1.26 Continuing Education (collectively, Proposed Rules) and Proposed MFDA Policy No. 9 Continuing Education (CE) Requirements (Proposed Policy) for public comment. The Proposed Rules and Proposed Policy are intended to promote a new CE regime to further enhance MFDA members and Approved Persons’ proficiency, professionalism and industry knowledge (CE Initiative).
An “Approved Person” is an individual who is a partner, director, officer, compliance officer, branch manager or alternate branch manager, employee or agent of an MFDA member firm who:
- is registered or permitted, where required by applicable securities legislation, by the securities commission having jurisdiction, or
- submits to the jurisdiction of the MFDA.
The British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) published BC Notice 2018/01 – Consulting on the Securities Law Framework for Fintech Regulation on February 14, 2018. The Notice follows from a series of consultations (both in person and by survey) conducted by the BCSC on various elements of the financial technology (fintech) industry. The Notice sets out the results of the consultations, the general approach to date of the BCSC on certain of the matters and poses specific questions for comment on potential regulatory action to clarify or modernize securities laws in the space. Written submissions are due on April 3, 2018.
The Notice discussed the following topics, among others:
- crowdfunding and online lending business models
- online adviser business model
- cryptocurrency funds
- initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies.
On August 24, 2017, the staff of the Canadian Securities Administrators other than Saskatchewan (CSA) published CSA Staff Notice 46-307 Cryptocurrency Offerings (the Staff Notice) in response to increased activity within the distributed ledger technology or “blockchain” industry. The Staff Notice provides guidance regarding the application of Canadian securities laws to businesses operating in that industry, in particular those undertaking initial “coin” or “token” offerings (ICOs), exchanges on which those coins, tokens and cryptocurrencies are traded and investment funds that invest in such assets.
The Staff Notice provides that in the CSA’s view many coins, tokens and cryptocurrencies fall within the definition of “securities” under Canadian securities laws. An offering of such tokens would therefore require a prospectus or exemption from prospectus requirements and businesses supporting and operating ancillary to such tokens could be subject to registration requirements. The Staff Notice also provides that such products may also be derivatives and subject to the derivatives laws adopted by the Canadian securities regulatory authorities.
The Staff Notice confirms speculation among industry participants and advisors that Canadian regulators would take this approach, which is similar to the positions articulated by the United States Securities & Exchange Commission and securities regulators in Singapore.
With respect to ICOs, the Staff Notice provides that, from the CSA’s perspective, many of the ICOs completed to date involved the sale of securities and that securities laws in Canada will apply if the person or company selling the securities is conducting business from within Canada or there are Canadian investors in the tokens.
The CSA are aware of businesses marketing their tokens as software products and taking the position that the tokens are not subject to securities laws. It appears to be the CSA’s view, however, that in many cases, when the totality of the offering or arrangement is considered, the tokens should properly be considered securities. In assessing whether or not securities laws apply, the Staff Notice states that the CSA will consider substance over form and apply a purposive interpretation to the law with the objective of investor protection in mind.Continue Reading Canadian Securities Administrators Issue Guidance Regarding Cryptocurrency Offerings
On July 25, 2017, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a report of investigation (Report) concluding that the digital currency “tokens” sold by DAO (DAO Tokens) in a 2016 initial coin offering (ICO) are securities for purposes of federal United States securities laws. This conclusion could have far-reaching implications for businesses that have completed or are contemplating an ICO, businesses dealing with tokens or cryptocurrencies, such as cryptocurrency exchanges, as well as the still-developing legal landscape relating to ICOs and distributed ledger or “blockchain” technology.
Beginning in 2013, many entities that use blockchain technology as their operational foundation have raised funds through ICOs. While precise data is not available, various sources estimate that since the beginning of 2016, between 84 and 139 ICOs have been completed, raising gross proceeds of between U.S.$281 million and U.S.$1.35 billion.(1) In some cases, ICOs have sold out in a matter of seconds, such as the Basic Attention Token ICO in May 2017 which raised U.S.$35 million in less than 30 seconds.(2)
Pursuant to an ICO, an entity offers digital currency tokens to purchasers, typically in exchange for digital consideration such as Bitcoin or Ether. The rights attaching to these tokens vary greatly, with some resembling “kick-starter” style crowd-funding in that token holders have pre-paid for goods or services offered by the entity and others resembling common shares in a company in that token holders have certain voting rights and certain rights to dividend-like payments from the entity.Continue Reading SEC Concludes that Slock.It’s DAO Digital Currency Tokens are Securities
By a press release issued March 8, 2017, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) warned businesses that use distributed ledger technologies (DLT), such as blockchain, as part of their financial products or service offerings that they may be subject to Ontario securities law requirements.
The OSC noted that businesses are using DLT in a variety…
On March 6, 2017, the Ontario Securities Commission issued a white paper titled “Insights from Canada’s first regulatory hackathon”. The paper provides an overview of the RegHackTO hackathon hosted by the OSC on November 25-27, 2016. At the event, more than 120 members of the fintech community competed to find solutions to regulatory problems in…
On February 23, 2017, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), the umbrella organization of Canada’s provincial and territorial securities regulators, launched a regulatory sandbox initiative to support businesses seeking to offer innovative products, services and applications including:
- online platforms, including crowdfunding portals, online lenders, angel investor networks or other technological innovations for securities trading and advising;