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区块链国际资讯监管与政策

香港证监会:有关首次代币发行的声明

证券及期货事务监察委员会(证监会)留意到,香港及其他地方有愈来愈多以首次代币发行(initial coin offering,简称ICO)来募集资金的活动。本声明旨在阐明,视乎个别ICO的事实及情况,当中所发售或销售的数码代币可能属于《证券及期货条例》所界定的“证券”,并受到香港证券法例的规管。

证券发售

ICO一般涉及发行采用分布式分类帐或区块链技术所创造和分发的数码代币。ICO计划营办者或会向数码代币的购买者保证,ICO的所得收益将用作开发代币持有人可于日后使用的数码平台或相关软件。某些代币持有人期望可透过在加密货币交易所转售代币,赚取投资回报。虽然在一般ICO中发售的数码代币通常被认为具有“虚拟商品”1的特点,但证监会最近观察到某些ICO的条款及特点,可能意味着有关数码代币属于“证券”。

在ICO中发售的数码代币如代表一家公司的股权或拥有权权益,便有可能被视为“股份”。举例来说,代币持有人可获赋予股东权利,例如有权收取股息和有权在公司清盘时参与剩余资产的分配。

如数码代币的用途是订立或确认由发行人借取的债务或债项,便有可能被视为“债权证”。举例来说,发行人可于指定日期或赎回时向代币持有人偿还投资本金和向他们支付利息。

假如发售代币所得的收益是由ICO计划营办者作集体管理并投资于不同项目,藉此让代币持有人可参与分享有关项目所提供的回报,数码代币便有可能被视为“集体投资计划”的权益2。

无论是股份、债权证及集体投资计划的权益,均被视为“证券”。

从事受规管活动

如ICO所涉及的数码代币符合“证券”的定义,就该类数码代币提供交易服务或提供意见,或者管理或推广投资数码代币的基金,均可能构成“受规管活动”3。从事“受规管活动”的人士或机构,不论是否位处香港,只要其业务活动是以香港公众为对象,便须获证监会发牌或向证监会注册。

凡ICO涉及向香港公众提出购买“证券”或参与集体投资计划的要约,除非获得豁免,否则可能须根据法例获得注册4或认可5。任何人士或机构如在二手市场上(例如在加密货币交易所)从事有关代币的买卖,亦可能须遵守证监会所订的发牌及操守规定。此外,与自动化交易服务和认可交易所6有关的若干规定,或适用于加密货币交易所的业务活动。

警戒声明

由于各ICO项目的条款及特点都有所不同,因此从事ICO活动的人士或机构如对适用的法律及监管规定存有疑问,应征询法律或其他专业意见。

鉴于ICO涉及的数码代币是以匿名方式持有或进行交易,它们本质上构成重大的洗钱及恐怖分子资金筹集风险。证监会在2014年1月16日的通函7中提醒持牌法团及有关联机构须采取一切合理措施,确保设有适当的预防措施以减低相关风险。

投资者亦应注意ICO以及与数码代币有关的投资安排所涉及的潜在风险。由于该等安排和有关各方都是在网上进行和运作的,且未必受到监管,因此投资者可能面对较高的欺诈风险。在二手市场买卖数码代币,可能引致流动性不足或定价波动及欠缺透明度的风险。投资者应充分了解其有意投资的任何产品或业务项目的特点,并在投资前仔细权衡相关的回报与风险。

1. 虚拟商品本身并非“证券”。

2. 《证券及期货条例》附表1所界定的“集体投资计划”一般包含四项要素:须涉及就财产而作出的安排;参与者对所涉财产的管理并无日常控制;该财产整体上是由营办有关安排的人或代该人管理的,及/或参与者的供款和用以付款给他们的利润或收益是汇集的;及有关安排的目的或作用是使参与者能够分享或收取从上述财产取得或管理而产生的利润、收益或其他回报。

3. 《证券及期货条例》附表5第1部所指明的“受规管活动”。

4. 《公司(清盘及杂项条文)条例》第II及第XII部下的招股章程制度。

5.  根据《证券及期货条例》第IV部,除非享有豁免,否则有关集体投资计划的销售文件须经证监会认可,方可向香港公众发出。

6 .    定义见《证券及期货条例》第III部。

7.     见2014年1月16日发出的《致持牌法团及有联系实体的通函──打击洗钱/恐怖分子资金筹集──与虚拟商品有关的洗钱及恐怖分子资金筹集风险》。

The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has noticed an increase in the use of initial coin offerings (ICOs) to raise funds in Hong Kong and elsewhere. This statement serves to explain that, depending on the facts and circumstances of an ICO, digital tokens that are offered or sold may be “securities” as defined in the Securities and Futures Ordinance (SFO), and subject to the securities laws of Hong Kong.

Offering of securities

ICOs typically involve the issuance of digital tokens, created and disseminated using distributed ledger or blockchain technology. ICO scheme operators may promise buyers of digital tokens that the proceeds of an ICO will be used to fund development of a digital platform or related software which the token holders can subsequently access. Some token holders expect to make a return on their investment by reselling on the cryptocurrency exchanges. Whilst digital tokens offered in typical ICOs are usually characterised as a “virtual commodity”1, the SFC has observed more recently that certain ICOs have terms and features that may mean that they are “securities”.

Where digital tokens offered in an ICO represent equity or ownership interests in a corporation, these tokens may be regarded as “shares”. For example, token holders may be given shareholders’ rights, such as the right to receive dividends and the right to participate in the distribution of the corporation’s surplus assets upon winding up.

Where digital tokens are used to create or to acknowledge a debt or liability owed by the issuer, they may be considered as a “debenture”. For example, an issuer may repay token holders the principal of their investment on a fixed date or upon redemption, with interest paid to token holders.

If token proceeds are managed collectively by the ICO scheme operator to invest in projects with an aim to enable token holders to participate in a share of the returns provided by the project, the digital tokens may be regarded as an interest in a “collective investment scheme” (CIS)2.

Shares, debentures and interests in a CIS are all regarded as “securities”.

Engaging in regulated activities

Where the digital tokens involved in an ICO fall under the definition of “securities”, dealing in or advising on the digital tokens, or managing or marketing a fund investing in such digital tokens, may constitute a “regulated activity”3. Parties engaging in a “regulated activity” are required to be licensed by or registered with the SFC irrespective of whether the parties involved are located in Hong Kong, so long as such business activities target the Hong Kong public.

Where an ICO involves an offer to the Hong Kong public to acquire “securities” or participate in a CIS, registration4 or authorisation5 requirements under the law may be triggered unless an exemption applies. Parties engaging in the secondary trading of such tokens (eg, on cryptocurrency exchanges) may also be subject to the SFC’s licensing and conduct requirements. Certain requirements relating to automated trading services and recognised exchange companies6 may be applicable to the business activities of cryptocurrency exchanges.

Cautionary statement

As the terms and features of ICOs may differ in each case, parties engaging in ICO activities are reminded to seek legal or other professional advice if they are in doubt about the applicable legal and regulatory requirements.

As digital tokens involved in ICOs are transacted or held on an anonymous basis, by their nature they pose inherent and significant money laundering and terrorist financing risks. The SFC reminded licensed corporations and associated entities in its 16 Jan 2014 circular7 to take all reasonable measures to ensure that proper safeguards exist to mitigate these risks.

Investors should also be mindful of the potential risks involved in ICOs and investment arrangements involving digital tokens. As these arrangements and the parties involved operate online and may not be regulated, investors may be exposed to heightened risks of fraud. Digital tokens traded on a secondary market may give rise to risks of insufficient liquidity or volatile and opaque pricing. Investors should fully understand the features of any products or business projects they intend to invest in, and carefully weigh the risks against the return before making an investment.

End

1. A virtual commodity itself is not a “security”.

2. A “collective investment scheme” (as defined in Schedule 1 to the SFO) generally has four elements: it must involve an arrangement in respect of property; participants do not have day-to-day control over the management of the property; the property is managed as a whole by or on behalf of the person operating the arrangements, and/or the contributions of the participants and the profits or income from which payments are made to them are pooled; and the purpose or effect of the arrangement is for participants to participate in or receive profits, income or other returns from the acquisition or management of the property.

3. “Regulated activities” are specified in Part 1 of Schedule 5 to the SFO.

4. The prospectus regime under Part II and Part XII of the Companies (Winding Up and Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance.

5. Under Part IV of the SFO, an issue of offering documents of a collective investment scheme to the public of Hong Kong is subject to authorisation by the SFC unless an exemption applies.

6. As defined in Part III of the SFO.

7. See “Circular to Licensed Corporations and Associated Entities - Anti-Money Laundering / Counter-Terrorist Financing - Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Risks Associated with Virtual Commodities” dated 16 Jan 2014.


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