With some US$4.2 billion raised by Cayman-registered blockchain companies, this jurisdiction has raised more funds from initial coin offerings – the crypto version of initial public offerings – than any other places in the world.
However, Cayman has no blockchain-specific regulations, which officials say are important for the territory’s reputation and to legitimize the blockchain industry.
Financial Services Minister Tara Rivers said in May that her ministry began considering recommendations created by a Cayman Islands Monetary Authority working group, but Francis Arana, the head of the Attorney General’s Chambers’ anti-money laundering unit, said on Wednesday that there is no time line for when anything might be implemented.
“I am not certain, but these things do take a lot of time,” Mr. Arana said at a conference on anti-money laundering practices for cryptocurrencies, which was organized by FTS, a financial services consulting firm. “I don’t foresee anything this year. If I were to hazard a guess, it would be early next year when you see proposals being circulated.”
The lack of digital-asset legislation here is not necessarily because Cayman is dragging its feet, but because there are not any internationally acceptable standards for such a new technology, according to Mr. Arana.
“The international community is just starting to discuss this,” he said. “Do you want to jump the gun?”
Cryptocurrency regulations will be a major topic at the upcoming Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) meeting in October, but CFATF Executive Director Dawne Spicer cautioned that it’s unlikely that anything definitive will come out of the meeting. Ms. Spicer said that the CFATF has not determined exactly what they should be aiming to regulate.
“Actually, there’s not any consensus on what the name should be,” she said. “The initial thinking is that ‘cryptocurrencies’ is too specific, and virtual currencies is what has been used before. And maybe ‘crypto assets’ is good because ‘crypto assets’ is for the value of any type of asset.”
In the meantime, blockchain companies looking to conduct initial coin offerings should adhere to due-diligence guidelines that dictate other areas of Cayman’s financial services industry, Ms. Spicer recommended.
For example, an audience member at the FTS conference expressed concern that having to conduct know-your-client checks on every investor would hamper initial coin offerings, which often attract tens of thousands of customers. Making timely coin purchases is especially important for investors given the volatility of the crypto market, the attendee said.
In response, Ms. Spicer said it would be wise to follow the general guidelines of identifying the “significant” holders of an initial coin offering.