"Initial coin offerings (ICOs)--a method of raising capital in exchange for digital coins or tokens that entitle their holders to certain rights--are a hot topic among legislators, regulators, and financial market professionals. In response to a surge in the popularity of ICOs over the past 18 months, regulators in a number of countries have banned ICOs. Other foreign regulators have cautioned that unregistered ICOs may violate their securities laws, issued guidance clarifying the application of their securities laws to ICOs, or proposed new rules or legislation directed at regulating ICOs. ICOs have also attracted the attention of U.S. securities regulators. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has cautioned that depending on their specific features, ICOs may qualify as offerings of 'securities' subject to federal regulation."
CRS Report for Congress, R45301