ICO and DAO tokens under the EU financial regulatory framework

Nov 19, 2023 By Triston Martin

The European Union has a comprehensive financial regulatory framework in place to protect investors and ensure market integrity. This framework includes regulations governing initial coin offerings (ICOs) and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). In this blog post, we will explain how the EU's financial regulatory framework applies to ICOs and DAOs. We will also provide practical guidance on compliance with these regulations.

What are ICOs and DAOs and how do they work within the financial regulatory framework of the EU

ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) and DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations) are digital tokens that allow the holder to access certain services or products. ICOs and DAOs are typically created by a company, organization, or individual as a way of raising funds or providing access to their underlying technology platform or service.

ICOs and DAOs offer a variety of benefits for their holders, such as access to the company’s products and services, trading on cryptocurrency exchanges, or voting rights.

Under EU financial regulation, ICOs and DAOs are considered to be financial instruments, which means they fall under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID). ICOs and DAOs must adhere to the requirements of MiFID in order to be traded or used as a means of payment within EU Member States. This includes registering with the relevant financial regulator, providing detailed information about their activities and products/services, submitting annual reports on trading volumes and pricing, and meeting certain capital requirements.

Benefits of investing in ICOs and DAOs

Investing in ICOs and DAOs can offer many benefits, especially when done under the European Union's financial regulatory framework. ICOs are a way for companies to raise capital without the need for traditional investment such as venture funding or angel investors. This can be beneficial for companies, as ICOs allow them to bypass these sources of funding and raise capital quickly and easily. Additionally, ICOs often offer investors tokens that can be used to access a company's products and services, giving them more direct access to the company’s value proposition.

DAOs are decentralized organizations that are governed by rules encoded into software, allowing for greater transparency of decision-making processes and reduced costs associated with running the organization. Investing in DAOs can be beneficial for investors, as it allows them to participate in decision-making processes and share profits from the organization's revenues.

The European Union’s financial regulatory framework provides a safe environment for ICOs and DAOs to operate within, ensuring that all tokens are compliant with EU regulations and protecting investors from potential risks. ICOs and DAOs that are compliant with the EU framework also benefit from increased credibility, as they have been vetted and approved by a reputable regulatory body.

Risks associated with ICOs and DAOs

ICOs and DAOs also involve a certain degree of risk, as the nature of these digital tokens are still largely unregulated. ICOs are not subject to the same level of regulations as traditional corporate securities, meaning that investors may be exposed to greater risks when investing in ICOs and DAOs. Furthermore, ICOs often involve complex transactions that can involve multiple jurisdictions, which can add further complexity and risk for ICO investors.

Cryptocurrency tokens created through ICOs or DAOs are not currently classified as financial instruments under the EU financial regulatory framework. This means that ICOs and DAOs are not subject to the same level of regulations as traditional securities offerings, leaving investors exposed to potential risks.

ICOs and DAOs are also subject to a range of other regulatory compliance requirements, such as Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) rules. ICO investors should always conduct thorough due diligence before investing in an ICO or DAO, to ensure that the ICO is compliant with all relevant regulations.

How to choose the right ICO or DAO for you

When looking to invest in ICO or DAO tokens, it is important to ensure that the token is compliant with EU financial regulatory frameworks. Depending on the type of ICO or DAO project and the issuer’s goals, certain regulations may need to be met in order for investors to participate legally.

Since ICOs and DAOs are relatively new technologies, there are no clear regulatory guidelines in place yet. ICOs and DAOs can be complex, so it is important to thoroughly research each ICO or DAO before making an investment decision.

There are some key elements to look for when researching ICOs and DAOs. First, consider whether the ICO or DAO project meets the legal requirements in the jurisdiction where it is being issued. ICOs and DAOs should also have an experienced team and a clear roadmap for their project.


The European Union has been a pioneer in the development of financial regulation and it will most likely take a leading role when regulating ICOs and DAOs. In the meantime, companies involved in these activities should be aware of the existing uncertainties and consult with experienced legal advisors to ensure compliance with EU law.

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