Nasdaq CEO: Exchange Is Staying Away from ICOs

The CEO of global stock exchange operator Nasdaq said this week that her firm is steering clear of initial coin offerings (ICOs).

Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman, speaking at the Financial Markets Quality Conference at Georgetown University, criticized the lack of investor protection and disclosure standards among organizers that use the blockchain use case.

Through ICOs, blockchain-based tokens are sold via public sales in order to bootstrap the development of new networks. But the use case has attracted criticism for the prevalence of fraud, drawing the attention of regulators worldwide.

It’s for that reason, Friedman said, that Nasdaq is staying away.

She told attendees at the event:

“I would call (an ICO) a bleeding edge type of construct. Nasdaq doesn’t tend to get engaged in the bleeding edge.”

Friedman’s comments are notable given that Nasdaq has been publicly working with blockchain since 2015 in a bid to create new capital markets for startups. The exchange operator has also filed a number of patent applications that seek to apply the tech.

Her remarks also come after the top US regulator for financial markets moved to strike a critical stance toward ICOs.

Earlier this month, SEC Chair Jay Clayton told a Congressional committee that ICOs are “a ripe area for pump-and-dump,” which could have a negative impact on adoption of the use case’s underlying tech.

However, he also said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the SEC’s ability to track and end fraud cases in the US.

Image via Shutterstock

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