On Monday, Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) released a statement warning investors about the risks of nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, which have soared in popularity in recent years. The regulatory body wrote:
“As with other virtual assets, NFTs are exposed to heightened risks, including illiquid secondary markets, volatility, opaque pricing, hacking and fraud. Investors should be mindful of these risks, and if they cannot fully understand them and bear the potential losses, they should not invest in NFTs.”
However, it appears that the SFC’s specific concern lies in the securitization of NFTs. “The majority of NFTs observed by the SFC are intended to represent a unique copy of an underlying asset such as a digital image, artwork, music or video,” which do not require regulation by the SFC.
But assets that push the boundary between collectibles and financial assets, such as fractionalized or fungible NFTs structured as securities or collective investment schemes (CIS) in NFTs, do fall under the SFC’s mandate. The solicitation of Hong Kong residents by companies engaged in these activities require the issuer to obtain a license from the SFC unless an exemption applies.
CIS has recently gained traction as they present a plausible solution for individual investors to obtain fractional ownership of real-life collectibles that would be otherwise too cost-prohibitive for any single party. Yet, questions persist as to whether such investment structures constitute securitization.