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NASDAQ—the world’s second-largest stock exchange, based in New York—has taken an official stance on ICOs, demonstrating a desire to stay away from them.

Because they are mostly unregulated and new, NASDAQ chief executive Adena Friedman argues that their lack of accountability to investors makes them unworthy of entering the trading floor.

“There is no standard for disclosure. There are no protections for investors. There’s no ownership,” - 

she said when speaking at Georgetown University yesterday.

She added that ICOs do not follow the same standards and protections for investors that traditional IPOs have, where companies will publish their shares inside of a stock exchange.

Friedman’s statement isn’t necessarily a slap in the face for ICOs, which typically do not have a strong desire to be listed on NASDAQ or the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). It also doesn’t mean that the stock exchange isn’t keeping up with new technologies.

NASDAQ, like the German Stock Exchange (Deutsche Börse) and the Japan Exchange Group (JPX), actually uses a blockchain to support its trading platform, ease the flow of information and make the trading process more transparent.

Although tokens sold by ICOs can take the form of something similar to stocks and securities, they are typically used to “purchase” utility in the project once it launches. They also differ in the sense that they use automated smart contracts to handle their trading as opposed to using intermediaries like stock brokers.

Inevitably, people will also start funding projects that wish to sell shares in their companies once they make a public offer. A more familiar IPO-based model could appear in the crypto world.

BitShares already makes this possible although it is slightly awkward to acquire the cryptocurrency.

A fully-fledged alternative to NASDAQ could theoretically exist in the crypto world, but governments would be quick to regulate IPOs listed on them with the same heavy-handed measures they use to control traditional stock trading.