In its annual report for 2017, published Tuesday, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) said that, out of the 453 fintech enquiries it received last year, 60 percent of them (271 cases) were focused on blockchain, cryptocurrency, ICOs and smart contract applications.
The number marks a nearly three-fold growth compared to 2016’s data, when FINMA saw only around 60 blockchain-related enquires out of a total 270 cases (22 percent).
The growth in enquiries around blockchain tech comes at a time when the Swiss regulator has placed the topic as the center of its supervisory work, the agency said, adding that questions around ICOs are becoming increasingly frequent.
“Especially in the second half of the year (2017), there was a sharp increase in enquiries about raising capital via ICOs,” FINMA commented in the report.
Notably, the Swiss regulator took measures in September of last year to investigate ICOs that were deemed suspect by the agency, ultimately ordering the closure of three entities tied to an alleged scam called E-coin.
And, just last month, FINMA also updated its guidelines on how its will treat various tokens issued through ICOs, saying it will treat some as securities. The agency said it would examine tokens on a case-by-case basis, outlining three main categories to further clarify the process.
In a news conference on Tuesday, the agency’s chief executive, Mark Branson, said his agency is confident in the efficiency of the new guidelines and is now actively examining ICOs already completed under the new framework, according to Reuters.