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Friday 21 September 2018
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Finance Ministry washes hands of BarterCoin

SASHA HARRINANAN

THE Finance Ministry has distanced itself from BarterCoin Exchange Ltd and the company’s plans for an initial coin offering (ICO). In a statement, the ministry also said it has “not endorsed a BarterCoin Exchange nor an ICO.”

In addition, it cautioned the public that the TT Securities and Exchange Commission (The Commission), recently said it, “has not as of this date approved any ICO.

The ongoing offerings are unregulated and speculative investments, with considerable risk to the investor”.

The ministry noted that The Commission had identified four other risks. Firstly, the heightened potential for fraud – the fact that the products and those selling them may in some cases not be subject to regulation, (may) expose the investors to fraud.

Secondly, cross-border distribution risks – the issuer may be operating the ICO from outside of the investor’s jurisdiction, therefore, following the money in the event of a collapse of the ICO as well as recovering invested funds, may prove extremely difficult (for the investor). Thirdly, information asymmetry – investors may not be able to understand the risks, costs and expired returns... arising from their investment.

Liquidity risks was the fourth risk identified by The Commission. It said in some jurisdictions, cryptocurrency exchanges may also be unregulated and operate without oversight. Thus leaving investors vulnerable to dramatic price changes and possibility that they may not be able to exit their holdings (funds invested).

Having reminded the public of these risks, the Finance Ministry said, “It should also be noted that the proposed BarterCoin Exchange, has not received the approval of the Central Bank of TT (CBTT).” Based on the above, the ministry advised the public to “exercise caution when engaging in any form of investment”.

When in doubt, the ministry said one should seek the advice of the regulatory bodies – The Commission and/or the CBTT. As reported in Thursday’s Newsday, BarterCoin Exchange Ltd and Zip Coin, through Rentier Company Limited, intend to hold a gala launch event tonight at Hilton Trinidad, Port of Spain.

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