Israel market regulator sees room for cryptocurrency trading

JERUSALEM, March 6 (Reuters) - Israel’s market regulator on Wednesday recommended creating a platform to trade cryptocurrencies under enhanced regulation, which would allow companies to raise money by issuing digital tokens to investors.

The recommendation came from a committee at the Israel Securities Authority (ISA) that studied the sector for nearly two years.

“The excitement that defined the field in 2017 has cooled off, but the technology is here to stay,” ISA Chair Anat Guetta said.

She was referring to “distributed ledger” technology that underpins virtual currencies like bitcoin, and is now used by companies raising money with digital tokens as an alternative to traditional stock.

The number of companies traded and the amount of money raised in Tel Aviv has fallen from a decade ago, and the ISA has been looking for ways to attract new investors and boost initial public offerings.

Guetta said technological innovation can streamline and increase competition in the capital market but the challenge is to find the balance with protecting investors.

Along with establishing a new trading platform, the committee suggested applying securities law to cryptocurrencies, which would need to be tweaked to include “unique” disclosure demands for companies looking to issue digital tokens.

It did not offer a timeline for a final decision.

The committee’s report mentioned other exchanges, such as in London and Australia, that are studying similar options. (Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch Editing by Alexandra Hudson)