Big 4 Cautiously Offering ICO Services

The Big 4 firms are beginning to offer services related to initial coin offerings, or ICOs, which have become a concern for regulators around the globe, Bloomberg reports.

An ICO is a funding mechanism in which a company creates a new digital currency and sells it to the public. The SEC recently stopped an ICO, calling it fraudulent, and China and South Korea have banned them altogether.

Big 4 firms are moving forward cautiously. “What we’ve been doing is advising some investors and some clients on what to do with an ICO – whether they should do one, whether they shouldn’t,” says Eric Piscini, blockchain leader for the financial services group at Deloitte Consulting. “Our stance is very – I don’t want to say risk averse, but it’s very wait-and-see for now on ICOs, because the regulatory environment is changing really fast.”

Playkey, a cloud-gaming startup, sough Deloitte’s help before holding an ICO last year. The firm spent about six months offering legal advice before Playkey’s ICO, which raised $10.5 million in December, Bloomberg reported.

At PwC, ICO work has been mainly limited to clients in Asia and Europe. KPMG started taking on ICO clients mid-2017, and EY is getting daily inquiries for ICO consulting.

“We are selectively working around the firm to help companies do ICOs, both domestically and internationally,” says Jeffrey Grabow, the U.S. venture capital lead at EY. In each offering, the firm is clearly communicating the various risks, he said. “We’ve been watching it evolve over time and are constantly figuring out what role we can and should play.”