Exclusive Lunar Insight: ICO Performances Are Mostly Unaffected By Bear Markets

Exclusive Lunar Insight: ICO Performances Are Mostly Unaffected By Bear Markets

Introduction: A Statistical Analysis Of ICO Performances
In Differing Market Conditions

These past several months, an analysis of ICO performances in the midst of varying market volatility was conducted by the data science team at Lunar Digital Assets. Intuition would probably lead a typical retail investor to believe that an ICO will perform better in bull markets as opposed to bear markets (and in stable markets which are void of any particular direction).

A SURVEY OF 288 CRYPTO INVESTORS:

At the inception of the idea for this study, we were curious to see what cryptocurrency traders and ICO investors thought regarding the performances in bull and bear markets. So we asked various networks of traders and investors a fairly simple question. The results were astoundingly favored towards bull markets, as most would expect. However, it should be pretty noteworthy that 29% of those surveyed disagreed with the majority. (29% because the 12% that voted for «Anytime» would be investing in bull markets as well.) In hindsight, we probably should have had «I don't know» added to the list of choices.

SURVEY RESULTS: WHEN'S THE BEST TIME TO BE INVESTING INTO ICOs?

  • Bull Markets: 171 (59%)
  • Neutral Markets: 40 (14%)
  • Bear Markets: 35 (12%)
  • Anytime, doesn't matter: 33 (12%)
  • Never: 9 (3%)

In this analysis, we aim to bring credence to or dispel this commonplace notion using statistical analysis and hypothesis testing. We strongly believe that this study is especially helpful in the relatively young market of cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings, whereas traditional financial markets have a much longer history and established patterns and trends. We will attempt to answer the question that everyone thinks they know, but doesn't really know: Do ICOs really—statistically—perform better in bull markets?

DATA SCRAPING, CLEANING, & EDA

DATA OVERVIEW AND EXPLORATORY ANALYSIS: FINDING RELIABLE DATA IN THIS FRAGMENTED, YOUNG MARKET CAN BE CHALLENGING.

The data for this study was acquired from Coinist, which provided a sample data size of 457 initial coin offerings. Although we are aware that there were many more ICO's conducted, we believe that 457 is an ample size to draw inferences from. Coinist was also the only data source that readily had ROI information (the figures were also spot checked for accuracy), and went as far back as 2013 up until the data the captured in May 2018 when this study was being conducted.

As basis of analysis, we will be using each coin’s Return on Investment (ROI) since the ICO Ending date as a measure for investment performance. Due to the varied nature of ROI across ICOs, I will be using a common logarithmic function (Base 10) of each coin’s ROI as reasonable means of comparison. This is especially useful as we are concerned about relative performance in different market conditions and not an associated scalar value.

CAPTURED DATA: 

  1. Name of Coin
  2. 1-Hour % Change
  3. 24-Hour % Change
  4. Weekly % Change
  5. ICO Date (last day of token sale)
  6. ICO Price
  7. Current Price
  8. ICO Return on Investment (ROI)

DATA CLEANING

We did not find any major issues with the data other than one mislabeled adte for the coin APX. The ICO date was set to May 21, 1970. While cross referencing with other sources, we had determined and fixed the APX ICO date to May 21, 2017. Outliers: NXT's overall ROI of ~24,000% was an obstacle to proper comparison and analysis. Despite being a significant outlier (the next best performer was Ethereum at ~1,900%), we decided to keep this data and regularize it via a common logarithmic function for analysis.

EXPLORATORY DATA ANALYSIS

The goal of EDA is to visualize the data in different perspectives to glean additional insights for further analysis, anomaly detection, and data consistency. In this section, we will visualize the data from a high level. First, we wish to explore the pace of ICOs and visualize the rise of ICO as a means of capital funding: We see a staggering yet unsurprising increase in ICOs in 2017 followed by a decline in 2018 YTD. However, we would not be surprised to see the annual 2018 value exceed 2017’s ending tally. It should be noted that since the data was taken in May, as predicted, the number of ICOs is steadily rising.

MORE EDA: VISUALIZING WINNERS AND LOSERS

In the full article published on Lunar Digital Assets, you can visually see the ROI of ICO's categorized in different segments:

  • Yearly ROI
    Our dataset captures the following years and the associated numbers of ICOs held in that year. The below violin plot provides a visual summary of statistical descriptors of the ROI performance by ICO Year 
  • Monthly ROI
    On a monthly basis, ICOs that end in April have the best median performance but also likelier to perform the worst of any month other than December. Otherwise, there does not seem to be a significant difference in ICO performance based on Ending Month.
  • ROI by Market Conditions:
    Another important distinction to consider when analyzing ICO ROI was whether or not the ICO occurred in a bear, bull, or purgatory market environment. Date ranges were leveraged from Thomas Lee, Head of Research at Fundstrat Global Advisors. Please also note that any date ranges not included are considered “purgatory runs” or what traders like to call «sideways markets.»
  • ROI per Year by Market Environment:
    When taking out the year dimension of the view, the plot suggests very little difference in median ROI performance.
  • ROI of all ICOs in Bull, Bear, and Purgatory Markets:
    The plot suggests very little difference in median ROI performance, but one very odd statistic was that bull markets see more outliers of negative performance and purgatory markets see more outliers of positive performance (likely due to NXT's ROI as the coin had its massive run-up in a purgatory market in 2013).

    It appears that the market conditions do not have a significant impact on the median returns of ICO's. Now we can move on to see if, on average, ICOs perform better in bull markets than in bear markets.

 

METHODOLOGY AND STATISTICAL ANALYSIS 

MEDIANS AND AVERAGES ARE NOT THE SAME!
The primary method of analysis used to assert our assumption is a hypothesis test using a Z-Test. In order to appropriately perform the test, we require that the distribution of the data be unimodal and normally distributed. In our sampling method, the sample size must be larger than 30 and our samples be independent. We find that each market environment contains 173 ICOs during a bull market, 143 during bear markets and 142 in purgatory markets. As a result, our population and ensuing sample sizes will be greater than 30. Moreover, our population samples are assumed to be independent.

To assert our data is unimodal, an Exponential Cumulative Distribution Function was constructed. The theoretical model takes the mean and standard deviation of our ROIs and plots hypothetical data points. We compare this with the actual plot of our ROI data. In the below graph, we find that our real data is closely aligned with the ideal model and thus can be assumed to be unimodal and normally distributed. The goal of our statistical analysis and hypothesis test is to determine whether ICOs, on average, perform better (has a higher average ROI) during a bull market than in a bear market. To accomplish this, we need to construct the confidence intervals and then the hypothesis test parameters.

We begin with establishing a 95% confidence interval to provide insight on the range of differences that we can observe. Taking 100 random samples from the Bull and Bear populations, the difference in the mean is -0.159. At the 95% confidence level, the difference in Logarithmic ROI can range between -0.52 and 0.21. For our hypothesis tests, our statements will be expressed as:

  • H?: μ1 — μ2 = d?
  • Hα  μ1 — μ2 > d?

Where μ1 is the mean bull market ROI and μ2 is the mean bear market ROI. D? will be 0 (zero) to signify the difference in the means. Our null hypothesis posits that there is no difference between bull and bear market returns while our alternative hypothesis posits that there is a positive difference. Our critical rejection region will be [1.64 to infinity]. Following a stratified sampling method, we arrive at the two population means:

  • Mu1 (Bull Market): -0.19
  • Mu2 (Bear Market) -0.04

The Z-Test statistic formula will be the difference in means (μ1−μ2) less D0 divided by the square root of the standard error of both the bull and bear market ROIs. We arrive at a test statistic of -0.717. This value does not fall into our critical rejection region of [1.64 to infinity] and therefore fail to reject the null hypothesis. This suggests that there is no difference between the average ROI (and by extension performance) between bull and bear markets. This assertion continues to hold true at both the 99% and 99.9% confidence levels.

We additionally tested if this holds true when we change the Alternative hypothesis from Ha:μ1−μ2>D0 to Ha:μ1−μ2≠D0 (which denotes that there is a significant difference between the average ROI in bull and bear markets). We find that at the 95%, 99% and 99.9% confidence levels we still fail to reject the null hypothesis.

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

SURPRISE! BAD PROJECTS WILL BE BAD PROJECTS, REGARDLESS OF THE MARKET'S HEALTH.

In summary, we found there to be no statistical significance in the average ICO performance in either a bull or bear market. In fact, we find that

1) there tends to be far more performance losers than winners regardless of market environment
2) ICOs, on average, tend to underperform in both bull and bear markets (where the market is driven by incumbent coins and tokens), and
3) bull markets see more outliers of negative performers!

We can safely say that there needs to be more studies done, and there are so many more variables at play here. But those looking to raise working capital through an ICO should not focus on trying to time the market but rather focus their efforts on other aspects such as the actual product, the white paper, marketing hype, building the community, and etc.

When I assigned our research team this task, I thought that I was going to prove to the world that investing in ICOs during a bear market was a bad idea. Not only was I proven wrong, but this study has given me new epiphanies on how to further capitalize the downtrends. Since then we have embraced the philosphy of truly growing organic communities and building a strong foundation for projects. While most would think that a bear market would have negative effects on all projects, the numbers were fairly clear here, and numbers don't lie. During bull markets, I suppose there's more confirmation bias as there are many more ICO's going on, which means more headline news of X, Y, and Z coins doing 500x returns. 

To all the projects that are on the sidelines waiting for the bull market to come, that is a bit concerning — ultimately, it means you have no faith in your own project. True tech and true community will overcome bear markets, as projects like Chromapolis and Cloudbric has proven.

Article Produced By
Han Yoon
Lunar Marketing

https://icobench.com/thebench-post/126-exclusive-lunar-insight-ico-performances-are-mostly-unaffected-by-bear-markets

What Is An Airdrop And How Does It Work?

What Is An Airdrop And How Does It Work?


In the cryptocurrency world, Airdrop has a different meaning

to when is used in the military, and specifically relates to gifts of tokens. Free crypto, yay!

What is an Airdrop?

A crypto Airdrop is the process in which tokens are distributed free of charge to users’ wallets in a blockchain. It is usually carried out by start-up companies in the ICO stage as a way to promote their projects and make themselves known. 

Why do cryptocurrency Airdrops happen?

There are several reasons why projects use Airdrops. The most frequent are:

Marketing strategy:
 generally, companies use it to attract attention in its ICO stage, so that interested parties are encouraged to investigate and then invest in the token. These strategies are also implemented with the launch of new cryptocurrencies that result from a fork, such as Bitcoin Cash.

Loyalty rewards: 
an Airdrop uses wallets and cryptocurrency exchange sites to provide free tokens as a way to reward their customers and subscribers for being loyal to their platforms. A relevant case: in 2017 Binance gave 500 TRX to their members.

Decentralization:
this helps from any point of view to any cryptocurrency platform and generates more security for the network and users. Example: OmiseGO distributed a large part of its tokens to Ethereum users.

Examples of successful airdrops

It is hard to define what constitutes a ‘successful’ airdrop, or to quantify its success. Nevertheless, let’s have a look at some of the most notable airdrops to date.

ByteBall airdrop

ByteBall is a Directed Acyclic Graph, or DAG-based, cryptocurrency network that features two native currencies: bytes and blackbytes. This ICO is notable because it launches airdrops to coincide with full moons. ByteBall distributes its token via airdrops for users who hold Bitcoin in their wallets.

OmiseGo airdrop

OmiseGo is now an established Ethereum-based platform for peer-to-peer (P2P) value exchange. But in 2017, it was just another startup ICO. Back in July 2017, OmiseGo launched a widely publicized, large-scale airdrop, where it distributed 5% of all its tokens to all Ethereum addresses that hold a balance over 0.1 ETH as of block 3988888. The airdrop took place exactly on July 7th 2017, 16:36:56 UTC.

Forks vs Airdrops

Airdrops are not to be confused with forks, another one of those terms with seemingly incongruous meanings.

Fork: A definition

Throughout its sometimes volatile history, Bitcoin has undergone changes and gone through forks which have heralded the inception of new currencies. The term “fork” signifies a code change to a coin’s underlying blockchain protocol. The new code might add new features, speed up the blockchain, or introduce other changes. Forks can be hard or soft. During a hard fork event, a currency splits into two. This results in two versions of the same currency (old and new) coming into existence. Hard forks are major changes to the blockchain protocol that underpins a currency, and are thus prone to create extreme market volatility. A soft fork also means a split, but the difference is that only one currency remains afterwards.

The Bitcoin Cash fork of 2017

August 1, 2017, became etched in the history of Bitcoin as its offspring, Bitcoin Cash, was born. A new currency came into existence that day, and any Bitcoin holders received the equivalent amount of Bitcoin Cash. While this fact bears similarities with an Airdrop, as users received “free coins”, it’s not quite the same. Airdrops are designed almost as marketing tools, to either generate interest, commercial leads, or simply maintain the buzz., while forks are major changes to a blockchain protocol, designed to split a currency.

Where to find free crypto Airdrops

There are pages in social networks, forums and applications that keep the community updated with relevant information that helps them select the most popular or current Airdrops. One website that offers interesting and reliable information about Airdrops is 

AirdropAlert.com.

Of course, CryptoCoin.News also has a section dedicated to free crypto Airdrops, in cooperation with AirdropAlert.com.

Scam Airdrops

The attractiveness of Airdrops opens the doors to scams, so it is important to verify the information of an advertisement with the official page of its promoter. No project that has an Airdrop planned will request a private key, personal data or a transfer of funds to be eligible for the distribution of the tokens.

Conclusion

An Airdrop is a useful strategy in many ways; it has brought to the ecosystem a new way of capturing the public and spreading new cryptocurrencies. In addition, it has served the market to motivate users in new project investments and build loyalty in others. And last but not least, Airdrops can earn you some free money, the easy way!

Article Produced By
Abel Colmenares Napolitano

Abel is a Fintech enthusiast experienced with blockchain technology. With a BBA and a master degree in e-commerce, he combines his passion writing about the Blockchain Industry, Cryptocurrencies and Fintech. When he is not working, he loves playing online games.

 

https://cryptocoin.news/analysis/what-is-an-airdrop-in-the-cryptocurrency-world-and-how-they-works-9315/

Decentralized Identity Systems and the Future of Marketing

Decentralized Identity Systems and the Future of Marketing

What if SSI evolved into more freedom for Content creators and influencers that resulted in an Ad-free blockchain internet?

Instagram stories have become intercepted with Ad-spam,

it’s a pretty terrible user experience. As Facebook seeks to monetize Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram?—?since Facebook’s flagship app is a dying app; the message is clear. Centralized Ads are polluting the internet. Whatever you believe self-sovereign-identity is, blockchain needs to decentralize identity systems on the internet to ensure consumer privacy, control and freedom.

The Emergence of the Next Web Based on Blockchain

A digital identity that’s accountable to human rights, is that so much to ask? Digital creators and influencers need to have full-rights to their creations just as consumers should have full rights to their data, which they can then barter or sell or trade via tokens with advertising platforms. Facebook and Google’s model is all wrong, it’s the past.

I’m following a lot of crypto projects related to UBI and the decentralized identity systems that reward people better. One of the terms I like the most is called “self-sovereign marketing”, where several startups are looking into creating more fairness in content and referral traffic for influencers in a more transparent way.

Everytime I post on LinkedIn, in the back of my mind I’m wondering why I don’t get paid. On Medium, I can put my articles behind a paywall and make a living wage. Why would I ever post again on Instagram or Twitter without some measurable return on investment? I need social media to work for me. If I have 195,000 followers on LinkedIn, that has to mean something.

Human Rights on the Internet

What people do should matter, and their digital rights not just to privacy, but to empowerment is key for how we build the internet and restart it with blockchain. SSI should not just serve Governments in how they track citizens on centralized blockchains. There must be an aspect of decentralization where the peer-to-peer aspect empowers people globally. Imagine if LinkedIn actually worked that way, and wasn’t just a spin-off of Microsoft? Imagine if Facebook stood for something more than a “family of apps” that is just an advertising machine?

SSI should complement existing advertising and government digital identity systems, just as Bitcoin and over 2,000 digital assets already complements how fiat transactions, investment, trading and assets work. Decentralization is about bringing the internet a new era of freedom, stability and alternatives to what’s not working. Let’s be honest, Google and Facebook should probably be broken up. (We don’t need the inventor of the Internet to tell us that). They are too centralized and have become corrupt.

In a future world of decentralized identity,

consumers will have more rights and advertising and
brands will open up a new era of ethical influencer marketing.

The Sociology of Decentralization

As mistrust of centralized tech companies grows, in proportion the movement towards decentralization syncs with our collective values.

At the same time now you have people like JP Morgan saying they are behind Ethereum. We can only assume the rise of digital assets and a token based economy will herald new options and alternatives for consumers on the next phase of the internet. We can’t stay on Facebook family apps and think it’s okay anymore. Consumers will demand better experiences, just like I as an indie journalist need incentives that motivate me and don’t just exploit me for my creativity.

Decentralization is the Key in How we Transition Past Advertising to the Next WebSelf-sovereign identity platforms need to scale with the future of how the internet will work. Their dApps need to empower consumers where new ecosystems of value can emerge that create more level playing fields.Capitalism without trust and blockchain might have trouble sustaining its value based on the old tricks (like vanity metrics for instance).As Instagram itself becomes saturated with stories that no longer have relevance to our fleeting attention, a new generation of apps will take its place.Many of those will have self-sovereign marketing built into them. This is already happening with many micro-video apps, you just might not be aware of it yet.

Self Sovereign Marketing will scale a new model of advertising

and change the internet forever.SSM will Hardcore Opportunity and Authenticity in the next Era of Social Marketing Advertising just like physical retail, needs to adapt to the values of the new consumer. Decentralization identity systems will augment how consumers participate in the future of advertising. Any blockchain startup that’s pioneering better incentives for these apps is ultimately contributing to the future of self-sovereign identity and self-sovereign marketing, SSI and SSM respectively. One day I’ll do a survey covering the main ones.

In a world of cryptoeconomic freedom, social platforms won’t own our data, we will. We’ll be driven by economic incentives to collaborate and create, in an open-source and permissionless manner where we’ll have unparalleled self-governance to explore our interests and abilities online compared to the enslavement of the internet today. Digital assets are pointing to a new model of how the internet of the future will work.

Article Produced By
Michael K. Spencer

Medium member since Apr 2018

Blockchain Mark Consultant, tech Futurist, prolific writer. WeChat: mikekevinspencer

https://medium.com/futuresin/decentralized-identity-systems-and-the-future-of-marketing-c6e1fde04552

 

 

Report: Popular ICO Listing Sites Show Massive Inconsistencies in Project Fundraisers

Report: Popular ICO Listing Sites Show Massive Inconsistencies in Project Fundraisers

A Bloomberg report on November 5, 2018, pointed out the vast inconsistencies in the amount of capital raised by Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) raised in 2018, as per data compared on several websites.

Lacking Consistency and Incentives

In an industry that banks on providing transparency and accuracy to every dataset available for public viewing, the verifiable sources of information look bleak. Much of this is attributed to the lack of uniform industry standards available for the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector, while conflicts of interest may come into account to explain the remainder of such instances.

Tokens issuers in 2018 raised $22 billion in 2018 according to CoinSchedule, an ICO listing site, or just $11 billion if data from Autonomous Research is considered. The two figures represent a mammoth difference in the number of funds raised and form a concern for investors, journalists, and academics who look towards researching the cryptocurrency market for making strategic decisions and publishing educational content.

Alex Buelau, the co-founder of CoinSchedule, cites a lack of incentive for information dissemination platforms as a prime reason for listing inconsistent data in the absence of industry-standards. In addition, sites like his make profits based on advertising revenue and sponsored token listings, which may mean displaying inflated fundraisers to attract unassuming investors. For a $200 billion industry banking on a few startups to access information, Buelau’s comments point out a problem larger than the lack of usable applications for cryptocurrencies; the absence of establishing a common truth for dynamic developments in the nascent sector.

The cryptocurrency exchange RubyX, for example, has raised a massive $1.2 billion if CoinSchedule is trusted, a paltry $200 million based on ICO Rating, and is altogether excluded from Autonomous Research due to a lack of “online footprint.” A more extreme instance is of the controversial Venezuelan cryptocurrency Petro, which raised $3.3 billion if President Nicolas Maduro’s statements are to be believed, but only $735 million if ICO Rating and CoinSchedule are assessed.

Elementus’ co-founder Nuria Prunera notes on-chain data must be relied upon to track ICO investments, instead of an online database. But, a major issue with such a method is the inability to capture fiat payments for tokens. Autonomous Research claims it uses 50 trackers to determine token information and manually removes any datasets it deems fraudulent or inflated. However, head of strategy Lex Sokolin ascertains the trackers lose effectiveness over time, especially as the “economics of a database weaken.”

The advent of token “pre-sales,” or making fundraising available to an elite set of investors prior to public offering, also makes ICO data difficult to fully compute. Tokens firms are increasingly offering private deals to venture capitalists, wealthy investors, and crypto hedge funds, without the token’s price, conditions, and lock-in periods available to retail investors.

Meanwhile, crypto-specific funds have been cashing in on similar private deals since inception, which contributes vastly to the disparate funding reports provided by various listing firms. While making huge profits matter to individual investment businesses, it threatens to relegate cryptocurrencies to the very sector it aims to differentiate from: the corrupt world of IPOs, pre-IPO deals, and public misinformation.

Article Produced By
Shaurya Malwa

Shaurya is the Editor at BTCManager. After graduating in business from the University of Wolverhampton, Shaurya ventured straight into the world of cryptocurrencies and blockchain. He believes decentralizing the world's financial, economic, and political systems is mankind's next giant leap.

https://btcmanager.com/author/shaurya-malwa/

 

Max Keiser Calls for New All Time High Bitcoin Price with Morgan Stanley’s Asset Class Classification

Max Keiser Calls for New All Time High Bitcoin Price with Morgan Stanley’s Asset Class Classification

The goal for many cryptocurrency enthusiasts is to make cryptocurrency

into a mainstream asset, and a recent report from Morgan Stanley suggests that it is heading that way. The report, which includes predictions and clarification from Max Keiser, shows that Bitcoin is considered a new asset class by the company, adding to the belief that the digital asset still holds a chance of reaching the $28,000 price level. With such a reputable company, it should be no surprise that Wall Street is taking note, and that a new ATH is coming.

Many positive statements are coming out of the new report, which notes that Bitcoin, along with cryptocurrency as a whole, is the new asset class. The report includes information that has been gathered over a six-month period, noting that the institution’s “rapidly morphing thesis” has led them to have confidence in the new payment system. In fact, the report also indicates that Bitcoin is on the way to be a new institutional investment asset class.

To support how credible Bitcoin truly is, even Fidelity is behind this concept. Much of the reason that the report credits the lack of entry by institutional investors has to do with a lack of regulatory measures, larger financial institutions, and the lack of certainty with upcoming regulatory measures. The report is keen to note that there are $7.11 billion in cryptocurrency that hedge funds are presently managing. This statistic alone is evidence of the way that institutional adoption is progressing.

With all of these promising details about the evolution of the cryptocurrency industry, it should not be surprising that investors and enthusiasts are brimming with excitement. With the Morgan Stanley report, Max Keiser decided to chime in with his bullish opinion. The inventor of Virtual Securities, Market-Making and Virtual Currencies is maintaining his prediction that Bitcoin reaching $28,000 can happen.

There are two tweets that demonstrate his optimism. Regarding the Bitcoin price, he said, “Bitcoin black hole about to swallow huge amounts of institutional money. New ATH incoming. $28,000 still in play.” A later tweet added, “Bitcoin deemed an ‘asset class’ by Wall St. This means $20 trillion in global assets under management will need to start gaining some meaningful exposure. Morgan Creek Digital’s founder and partner, Anthony Pompliano, posted his opinion on Twitter about the report,

saying,

“Morgan Stanley just officially announced that they consider crypto a new institutional asset class. Every institution has to #GetOffZero and get in the game. The virus is spreading.”

Article Produced By
Bitcoin Exchange Guide News Team

14 Types of Backlinks: the Good the Bad and the Best

14 Types of Backlinks:
the Good, the Bad, and the Best

Acquiring backlinks is an essential part of an effective SEO plan.

Links tell search engines that a site is recognized, trusted, and, therefore, worthy of a top spot on search engine results pages (SERPs). But it’s not just the number of backlinks that appeals to search engines; it’s also the types of backlinks.

Depending on the link type, backlinks have varying levels of influence on search engine rankings and on the results you can see from acquiring them . The rest of this post will look at the different types of backlinks, explain their value, and offer tips for how you can acquire the most valuable and effective backlinks.

3 Factors That Impact Link Value

Before we review a full list of backlink types, it’s important to understand what makes a link valuable. As mentioned above, backlinks are not all created equal. There are a variety of factors that can make backlinks more valuable than others, and there are also some that make a link very bad for SEO. The 3 main factors that impact link value include the following:

1. The Authority of the Linking Site

The most valuable types of backlinks come from quality websites. Links from sites that are recognized as top authoritative resources will send more positive signals to search engines than links from low-quality, lesser-known sites.The most valuable types of backlinks come from quality websites.

To determine the authority of a site (and the value of a link), look at the linking site’s Alexa Rank. The better (i.e., lower) the Alexa Rank of the linking site, the better the link is for SEO. Sites with a low Alexa Rank are more authoritative than sites with a high Alexa Rank. You can check a site’s Alexa Rank using Alexa’s Site Overview tool.

2. Do Follow vs. No Follow Status

When a publisher adds a link to their website, they can use HTML code to set the link as either “do follow” or “no follow.”

  • Do follow links tell search engines to notice and give SEO value to the links.
  • No follow links tell search engines to ignore the links and give them less SEO value.

Because do follow links send better signals to search engines, they are more valuable than no follow links.  You want links to your site to be coded as do follow. However, a no follow backlink can still drive traffic to your website.Because do follow links send better signals to search engines, they are more valuable than no follow links. To know if a link is a do follow or no follow, you can use the NoFollow Simple Chrome extension to easily check the link’s code. Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google LLC, used with permission.

3. On-Site Link Location

Websites are set up in sections, and how valuable a link is may be impacted by the section in which it appears. The most valuable links are placed within the main body content of the site. Links may not receive the same value from search engines when they appear in the header, footer, or sidebar of the page. This is an important factor to keep in mind as you seek to build high-quality backlinks. Look to build links that will be included in the main body content of a site.

The Best Types of Backlinks

Now that you know what makes backlinks valuable, let’s look at a list of the best backlinks for SEO. As you learn how to create backlinks, these are the strategies that will provide the best long-term SEO results.

Editorial Backlinks

The best types of links in SEO come from editorial mentions. An editorial mention is when another website refers and links to your website in a piece of quality content. An editorial backlink may be included as:

  • Citing someone from your company or something from your content as a source of information
  • Referring to your website as a resource for additional information
  • Citing your website as the creator of an infographic
  • Including your website or content in a link roundup
  • Interviewing someone associated with your website

How to Get Editorial Backlinks:

  • Develop a strong content marketing
  • Create high-quality, evergreen content that serves as a go-to resource.
  • Create shareable content that other sites will want to talk about.
  • Publish content that shows your website and brand as a thought leader in your industry so that other sites will want to cite, source, and interview you.

Use Alexa’s Competitor Keyword Matrix to find popular keywords and topics you haven’t written about yet. Consider keyword popularity to find trending topics you can write about on your website.

Guest Blogging Backlinks

Guest blogging is another way to acquire valuable backlinks. When you submit a guest post to a website, you’re often allowed to include an editorial backlink within your content. These types of backlinks are a reliable way to build trust and authority through other influential publications.

How to Get Guest Blogging Backlinks:

Build a list of valuable guest blogging sites and master guest blogging outreach.

Business Profile Backlinks

In most cases, when you create an online profile for a business, you can include a link back to your website. These links on business listings, social media networks, and industry-specific directories show search engines that a website is established and high quality.

How to Get Business Profile Backlinks:

Create profiles on well-known directories or review sites (such as Yellow Pages, Yelp, Foursquare, Capterra, etc.) in your industry. Or consider using a service like Synup or Yext that creates and manages profiles for you.

Webinar Links

Creating a valuable resource on your site often encourages other sites to link back to it. A high-value piece of content that often leads to links is a webinar recording. Other sites frequently link to or even embed other brand’s webinars on their site, leading to both links and brand mentions.

How to Get Webinar Backlinks:

Repurpose your webinars by posting them as recordings on your website so people can visit and link to them. Use blog promotion to attract attention to the webinar recording, and find guest blogging sites that may be interested in using the webinar as resource on their site.

Free Tool Links

Another way to get sites to link back to something valuable on your site is by offering a free tool. A free tool could be a basic tool (like an auto loan calculator) or a scaled down version of a paid tool (like Alexa’s Site Overview and Audience Overlap tools). If the tools are valuable enough, others will link to them in their content. Plus, on free versions of paid tools, you can add call-to-actions to sign up for the full product/service which drives acquisition in addition to awareness.

How to Get Free Tool Backlinks:

Create a simple tool or free version of your paid tool. Use Alexa’s Audience Overlap tool to find sites that have a similar audience who would be interested in using your tool, and use guest blogging outreach to connect with the sites and see if they would like to feature your free tool.

Good Types of Backlinks

There are other types of backlinks that don’t provide as much value as those listed above, but can still support your overall link profile and help boost your SEO.

Acknowledgment Backlinks

An acknowledgment backlink is when a website mentions and links to a website in reference to a relationship or sponsorship. These links typically don’t have much content related to the brand or what they do, and instead, are simple mentions that:

  • Indicate that the brand made a donation
  • Show that someone from the brand is speaking at or sponsoring an event
  • Include a testimonial for the linking website’s brand

How to Get Acknowledgment Backlinks:

Use Alexa’s Competitor Backlink Checker to find backlinks your competitors get traffic from. Identify sites where they acquired acknowledgment backlinks, and look for places in those sites’ content where you can do the same.

Guest Post Bio Backlinks

In some cases, guest blogging sites don’t allow or won’t include a link back to the author’s site within the main body of content. Instead, they allow the author to include a link in the author bio. While not as valuable as a link in the body of the post, bio backlinks can still add value to a website’s link portfolio.

How to Get Guest Bio Backlinks:

Use the same guest posting strategies mentioned above and also perform a backlink analysis on your competitors to see where they have acquired guest post links.

Badge Backlinks

A way to build backlinks by providing value to other sites is through branded badges. A branded badge is an award that a brand creates and gives out to other sites as a status symbol. For example, you could create a list of the top sites or best brands that are published on your site, and then give badges to each brand on the list so that they can show the status on their site. You include a link back to the article on the badge to create the link.

How to Get Badge Backlinks:

Look for a group of sites that you can qualify together and create a badge to identify them. To find similar sites, use Alexa’s Audience Overlap tool to identify groups of sites that share themes and audiences.

Newsworthy Press Release Backlinks

A press release can serve double duty for marketing efforts. It can alert media outlets about your news and also help your website gain backlinks. But it can only build links effectively if executed properly. Only write and distribute press releases when a brand has something newsworthy or interesting to share . This strategy can gain links on the actual press release post as well as on the stories that media outlets write about it.

How to Get Press Release Backlinks:

When your brand has news, write a press release and use a service like PRWeb or Newswire to distribute it to media outlets.

Comment Backlinks

When you comment on a blog post, you are usually allowed to include a link back to your website. This is often abused by spammers and can become a negative link building tool. But if you post genuine comments on high-quality blog posts, there can be some value in sharing links, as it can drive traffic to your site and increase the visibility of your brand.

How to Get Comment Backlinks:

Don’t overdo it with this strategy. Only focus on commenting on relevant, high-quality blogs or forums related to your industry. To find sites relevant to your industry and audience, use Alexa’s Audience Overlap tool to find similar sites your audience uses.

Bad Types of Backlinks

Because high quality backlinks are such an important part of SEO, it’s easy to believe that every link, no matter how valuable, is beneficial. But not all links are valuable. Some links have little to no value, while others can actually negatively impact SEO . As you engage in link building, avoid creating these types of backlinks.

Paid Links

While it can seem like an easy way to acquire links, you should not pay other publishers and websites to link to your site. Google explicitly says that buying or selling links “can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.”

Non-Newsworthy Press Releases

As mentioned above, interesting and newsworthy press releases can help a brand gain attention and links. But it can also appear spammy if a brand repeatedly spreads press releases that aren’t newsworthy and are created for the sole intention of gaining links.

General Business and Article Directory Links

Just as you don’t want to overdo it with press releases, you also don’t want to overreach with directory listings. Stick to the most trustworthy, authoritative, and industry-relevant directories and don’t create profiles on spammy directories just for the purpose of generating links.

Forum Links

Joining dozens of forums for the purpose of posting links back to your site is also bad. Only join high-quality forums where authentic discussions are the primary purpose, not spamming a thread with posts about your content and brand.

Build a Better Backlink Strategy

Links are an essential part of any good SEO strategy. But remember, it’s not just about the quantity of links; it’s also about the quality of the links .There are different types of backlinks that come with varying levels of value and importance. Create your link building plans around acquiring top-tier links that will be the most beneficial to your SEO. To find the best backlinks for SEO, sign up for a free trial of Alexa’s Advanced Plan. You’ll get access to all of the audience, industry, and keyword research tools mentioned in this post that can help you build an effective link building plan.

Article Produced By
Jennifer Yesbeck

Jennifer is Marketing Manager at Alexa. With a knack for syntax and passion for building connections, she drives daily content strategy to bring you the latest and greatest happenings within Alexa and the wide world of web analytics and marketing.

https://blog.alexa.com/types-of-backlinks/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=blog-10-30-18-types-of-backlinks&utm_content=bp-types-of-backlinks&utm_campaign=content-visit

Six Tips To Make Your Airdrop A Success

Six Tips To Make Your Airdrop A Success

Airdrops are becoming increasingly frequent

and are a common trend in the crypto space. With thousands of tokens currently in existence and a constant stream of more in development, the number of scam airdrops is also on the rise, therefore distinguishing between legitimate and fake airdrops is a big issue for potential airdrop participants.

With the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook data privacy scandal still fresh in people’s minds, there is a heightened awareness around disclosing personal information and data protection — meaning existing mechanics such as Google forms (which require the input of personal details) may discourage potential involvement. Google form airdrops also require significant time and manpower to cross-reference Telegram users with registrants. Enter the progressive airdrop: by enabling live syncing between platforms, this new kind of technology allows companies to bring more value to their communities, as well as monitor participant engagement.

So what can companies do to ensure a smooth and successful airdrop?

  1. Use Telegram

By conducting everything in one place such as messaging app Telegram, it makes life easier for your users who won’t have to struggle with referral links, switching between multiple apps, or losing friends to drawn-out processes. Instead of copying and pasting, the progressive airdrop model (like the one qiibee uses) will automatically detect when you add a new member to your Telegram group. Having everything and everyone on Telegram also helps to build your community and encourages conversation starters.

  1. Live sync across platforms

By implementing technology that enables live syncing between platforms, this back-end development can help resolve logistical issues, thus eliminating any scope for human error during the process and creating a more seamless system — bringing added value to both your users and your Telegram group.

  1. Make it as user-friendly as possible

Consumers know the value of their data, and with ethics and regulation under the spotlight recently, it’s important to take the privacy of your participants into consideration. Airdrop registration should be a simple task with minimal input needed. While existing mechanics like Google forms require the input of personal details, this can be off-putting to some people and discourages potential involvement. To encourage more involvement, keep things on a need-to-know basis.

  1. Reward engagement

Unique to the progressive airdrop model, participants are provided with the opportunity to access more tokens through engagement. Giving control to participants and acknowledging their interactions and milestones is invaluable in building trust. Recognizing achievements with a badge system or leaderboard can motivate participants to be more active in your community channels. This forms a mutually beneficial relationship and further builds loyalty.

  1. Monitor spam

Managing community channels such as Telegram during the airdrop process often means dealing with increased volumes of spam and trolling. This can be detrimental to your credibility and have a negative impact on engaged participants contributing to the conversation. Using anti-spam and anti-abuse policies in conjunction with sentiment detecting and text recognition technology are simple ways of maintaining high-quality discussions.

  1. Utilize social media

Integrating follow features into your airdrop mechanic invites participants to continue the conversation across different channels. Spreading the word on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube about a system like the progressive airdrop not only helps to reach new audiences, but bolsters your own message on social media.

Article Produced By
Gabriele Giancola

Gabriele Giancola, is Co-founder and CEO of blockchain-powered loyalty ecosystem, qiibee. A serial entrepreneur, Gabriele has co-founded multiple companies including gratis-auto.ch, a start-up focused on mobile outdoor advertising, and a mining farm with around 60 miners. Gabriele holds a Masters in Business Management from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.

https://www.valuewalk.com/2018/05/crypto-airdrop-guide/

How One Project is Fighting Fake ICO Reviews Using AI and Blockchain

How One Project is Fighting Fake ICO Reviews Using AI and Blockchain

 Revain, a service for collecting customer reviews,

released a full-scale working 1.0 version of its Ethereum-based platform. As the project team reported to Cointelegraph, the 1.0 version is completely blockchain-based, containing a veri?cation system and artificial intelligence (AI), among many of its other new features. “Users can see all of the reviews written in the blockchain on a special page,” reads the official press release.The Revain platform was launched in order to change the process of collecting reviews from customers, by means of blockchain technology. The service is aimed to help new projects and startups obtain feedback from users. Specifically, the platform was designed for companies that have concluded their crowdfunding or ICO campaign.

Refining the Dashboard

The basic element of the Revain platform is its Dashboard, which allows startup teams to communicate with users and reward them for high-quality reviews. “We have been actively working on creating the Dashboard. There have been ten releases: versions 0.1 to 1.0 with a number of new features added,” the Revain team reported to Cointelegraph. According to Revain’s previous press release, the Dashboard may be helpful for companies in various ways. Firstly, replying to specific reviews is a great tool for managing negative reviews and encouraging positive ones. Secondly, as the Revain team assures its users, a large number of quality reviews about a company will make it stand out among others in a very positive way.  

Revain is using AI to monitor the quality of reviews, with no third parties involved. The AI moderation system will be able to consider the tone of the reviews, as well as filter them based on certain parameters — such as emotion, language style, and social tendencies. “Revain AI ?lters out low-quality reviews and makes quality ones eligible for rewards,” reads the company’s press release. Users are supposed to benefit from writing reviews on the Revain platform. In order to motivate authors to write reviews, companies can reward users with internal tokens called RVNs.

Revain has recently introduced its first premium service for blockchain projects and crypto exchanges which were designed to help them improve their reputation and perception among the crypto community. A premium subscription was the main part of the latest v0.9 release of the Dashboard. Besides the premium subscription, Revain completely redesigned the complimentary email and added the ability to share a specific review. Due to blockchain technology  and Ethereum platform especially, all of the reviews cannot be deleted or changed, says the company’s website. So far, the platform covers a few kinds of reviews: ICOs and crypto exchanges. In addition to these, the company plans to add other sectors at a later.

Article Produced By
Nick Bakursky

https://cointelegraph.com/news/how-one-project-is-fighting-fake-ico-reviews-using-ai-and-blockchain

 

 

Crypto Airdrops

Crypto Airdrops

This is you complete guide to crypto airdrops,

in the below post we have listed down almost all of the FAQ that you need to answer on the subject.

What is a Cryptocurrency airdrop?

Cryptocurrency airdrop means, quite literally, dropping free crypto coins directly into your wallet. There are no fees, no charges, airdrop coins are simply transferred free of cost to your coin wallet. What is a cryptocurrency wallet? It’s a big topic and I will touch on this later in this post. Not satisfied with the crypto airdrop meaning? Well read on.

How do you get airdrop for free? Even if you are a newbie and just joined in into airdrop cryptocurrency mania you can still easily get free airdrop coins in 2018. The best way to stay updated on the upcoming airdrops is to join our crypto airdrops telegram channel. You can also find upcoming crypto airdrops on reddit as well on facebook. Our Crypto Airdrops List on our website is always updated with the latest and the best coin airdrops of 2018. You should also check our crypto airdrops calendar so that you can apply daily!

Of-course these airdrops are not 100% free, nothing really is in the world, right? Sometimes, there are certain tasks that the one needs to do to get free airdrops. These tasks are called bounties and in same way entitles you earn free eth tokens in airdrops. In our airdrop alerts to our users we send almost all kind of airdrops, except of course the obvious scam crypto coins. In short the idea is to reward early adopters of cryptocoins. These blockchain tech projects reserve a part of their tokens just for the free distribution to their crypto community.

While at other times you already need hold some type of altcoin or even bitcoin to receive airdrop coins. E.g. In two very popular cryptocurrency airdrop holders of bitcoins received free bitcoin cash and holders of Ethereum received free tokens of OmsiGo. To claim airdrop tokens you sometime need to register on project’s airdrop website or join airdrop telegram group. And yes, if the project is asking for ETH address don’t forget to provide one. Now you know what is an airdrop. Right? But wait there is lot more! In my post I have explained how to get free tokens and tracker on the site provides a list of airdrops.

Upcoming Crypto Airdrops

Are Crypto Airdrops safe?

I will say 99.99% yes. To get an airdrop coin all you have to give is some non-personal details and 5 minutes of your time. However, there do are frauds in cryptocurrency airdrops. There are some shady coin project which have no intention to do anything except of-course asking for donations for airdrop tokens. In such case you should always stay alert and avoid these coin projects by miles. Remember the golden rule – never ever share your private keys while applying to a coin airdrop. Reporting such issues is the best way forward as it alerts the whole community of the bad intentions of the developers.

Types of Crypto airdrops

There are a few different types of coin airdrops but for the brevity (and for the profit!) we will focus on Ethereum airdrops or ETH airdrops, in short. That being said, here are a few different kinds of airdrops: Crypto airdrop forks: Cryptocurrency airdrop forks basically means that an existing blockchain tech is forked in two and a new airdrop coin is created. Crypto airdrop forks can be soft or hard fork.

It is a hard fork where the real money is. Over the period of time, both Bitcoin forks and Ethereum forks have made a lot of free coins for their holders. The idea is simple, when a new cryptocoins are created it is distributed free to the community which is already holding the older coin. Ethereum classic was a result of hard-fork and is a great success, Bitcoin Cash too was forked out from Bitcoin and had been a massive value add to the Bitcoin holders. Who doesn’t like to receive free coin airdrop, right?

Ethereum Airdrops or ERC-20 Airdrops: Ethereum is a sort of a gold standard of cryptocurrencies, mainly because it is a fast growing platform with a well established cryptocurrency community. There are many other platforms such as Waves which also do airdrops, but they are rare and in-between. Ethereum not only provides platform to create your own DAPP (distributed app) but also allows you to create your own coin. Yes, anyone, with a wild thought in mind can go ahead and create his own new ether token! That’s the prime reason for a flood of ICOs (and hence ICO airdrops) that we are seeing these days.

Ethereum Airdrops are quite straightforward, at least most of them. The way it works is you apply for a cryptocurrency airdrop for a blockchain tech and receive airdrop coins directly in your Ethereum wallet. Crypto Faucets: While you can contest that faucets are not really cryptocurrency airdrops, they do by definition give away free Cryptocurrencies. They are 100 different faucets right now, but 99.99% of them are spammy and not really worth your time. I personally like free bitcoin (link on the top menu) which has been operating successfully for several years now, and it also doesn’t bombard your with advertisements.

Fun fact:

Free bitcoin was given in some faucets during the very early days. Many of them are crypto millionaires now. You can also call it Bitcoing Airdrop. Sweet, right?

Crypto Airdrops – Should you apply?

Well, for one if you are an absolute beginner in cryptocurrencies, airdrop is the best way to wet your feet. There is zero risk in coin airdrops, as only thing you have to invest is 5 minutes of your time. New altcons are flooding the cryptocurrency market everyday and hence the flood of free airdrops tokens too! There way to many coins for someone to track, so we do the job for you and send our users airdrop alerts.

Since absolutely anyone with little bit of invest can create his own ERC-20 token, there are a lot of shit tokens out there which serve absolutely no purpose. Here on https://airdrops.me we weed out such spammer coins and save you from wasting time. That being said we only remove the obvious low-life fraud crypto tokens and won’t remove anything else as we want you to do as many as coin airdrop possible.

Some of the businesses are actually genuine and not pump-n-dump kind of quick schemes that promoters are looking to make quick bucks on. Seriously, there are so many scams out there, so please do your due diligence, if you really are interested in investing. There are gems in between, and this is what you need to work on. Projects like Hawala tokens and OmsieGo have really made good returns for people who initially applied for their airdrops.

So, how will just a few Crypto projects will make you good money? Are these airdrops really worth your time? The answer totally depends on you… How so? Well, the key to actually striking it big is referrals. Almost every free airdrop comes with an affiliate system, the key is to apply for all these airdrops and then promote them with your affiliate id. Profit!

Why are all these projects giving free Cryptocurrency?

So, now you understood new cryptocoins are given away in airdrop for free. But you still can’t make sense of why these coin projects are giving airdrop free? It may appear that these projects are giving away free Cryptocurrency but it is far from the truth. They are actually paying to do certain crypto bounty tasks, at a bare minimum level they are making you join their telegram group and hence building a telegram community.

There are many other tasks they can ask you to do, e.g. sharing the cryptocurrency airdrops on facebook, follow them on twitter for airdrop alerts, clap them on medium blog etc. Social indicators not only promote their projects but also adds a sort of confidence in their investor when they look at their social media followers. Lastly, but not least, Blockchain tech projects gather email addresses which further help them promote their ICOs … to You! Yes, they know if they bombard you with emails just enough, some of you will actually become their customer and buy their ICO tokens. I, personally, absolutely do not recommend buying an ICO, but you be your own best judge.

How to Apply for ERC-20 Ethereum Airdrops?

At the most basic level the airdrop will ask you for two things:

  1. Ethereum address?—?where it will airdrop the tokens.
  2. Telegram id?—?where you will join their projects

This being said, there are a few different style of airdrops and we will cover them all in a separate blog post! We will show how to apply for each of these Crypto airdrops step by step. Also, note that for your convenience we send you airdrop alerts when you subscribe to our various channels.

You can easily create a ether wallet address by going over to myetherwallet or MIST or metamask wallet. When you create a new crypto wallet you will receive a pair of public and private key. The public key is your ETH address you will need to apply for a coin airdrop while the private is something you will need to do transactions like sending your ETH tokens to some other address. Needless to say, in order to safely apply to coin airdrops you need to keep your private key safe. Never share your private key with a coin airdrop.

How to check your free airdrop balance?

Checking your airdrop token balance is a very simply process. There are two main website I use to check my free tokens balance – ethplorer and etherscan. Go to any of these website and enter your ETH address to know your free tokens balance.Another useful crypto tip is to go to this coinmarketcap.com link. This is where all the new crypto airdrops get listed. This is helpful to check in which crypto exchange your free crypto is listed, what is the current market price and how much is the trade volume. All of this comes handy when you are trying to sell your new cryptocoin.

What to do when you receive an airdrop coin?

Coin airdrop would typically drop your ether tokens right in your mew address. Now, you can either continue to hold these free cryptocurrency tokens or simply transfer to an exchange to sell them at a profit. It takes time for new airdrop coins to get listed on exchanges but when they do you will see a significant price movement. You can sell your airdrop coins if you are sure about its blockchain tech future or if you understand their business, keep on holding these free new cryptocoins. Bookmark this Airdrop alert website to stay on top of the upcoming airdrops of the new cryptocoins. Don’t forget to subscribe to our airdrops crypto alert on twitter, facebook and reddit.

Article Produced By
AirDrops.me

https://airdrops.me/crypto-guide/crypto-airdrops-ultimate-guide/

The Rise of Cryptocurrency Ponzi Schemes

The Rise of Cryptocurrency Ponzi Schemes

Scammers are making big money off people who want in on the latest digital gold rush but don’t understand how the technology works.

A Bitcoin ATM at a shopping mall in Sydney, Australia

Last month, the technology developer Gnosis sold $12.5 million worth of “GNO,” its in-house digital currency, in 12 minutes. The April 24 sale, intended to fund development of an advanced prediction market, got admiring coverage from Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. On the same day, in an exurb of Mumbai, a company called OneCoin was in the midst of a sales pitch for its own digital currency when financial enforcement officers raided the meeting, jailing 18 OneCoin representatives and ultimately seizing more than $2 million in investor funds. Multiple national authorities have now described OneCoin, which pitched itself as the next Bitcoin, as a Ponzi scheme; by the time of the Mumbai bust, it had already moved at least $350 million in allegedly scammed funds through a payment processor in Germany.

These two projects—one trumpeted as an innovative success, the other targeted as a criminal conspiracy—claimed to be doing essentially the same thing. In the last two months alone, more than two dozen companies building on the “blockchain” technology pioneered by Bitcoin have launched what are known as Initial Coin Offerings to raise operating capital. The hype around blockchain technology is turning ICOs into the next digital gold rush: According to the research firm Smith and Crown, ICOs raised $27.6 million in the first two weeks of May alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unlike IPOs, however, ICOs are catnip for scammers. They are not formally regulated by any financial authority, and exist in an ecosystem with few checks and balances. OneCoin loudly trumpeted its use of blockchain technology, but holes in that claim were visible long before international law enforcement took notice. Whereas Gnosis had experienced engineers, endorsements from known experts, and an operational version of their software, OneCoin was led and promoted by known fraudsters waving fake credentials. According to a respected blockchain engineer who was offered a position as OneCoin’s Chief Technology Officer, OneCoin’s “blockchain” consisted of little more than a glorified Excel spreadsheet and a fugazi portal that displayed demonstrably fake transactions.

And yet, OneCoin attracted hundreds of millions of dollars more than Gnosis. The company seems to have targeted a global category of aspirational investors who noticed the breathless coverage and booming valuations of cryptocurrencies and blockchain companies, but weren’t savvy enough to understand the difference between the real thing and a sham. Left unchecked, this growing crypto-mania could be hugely destructive to one of the most promising technologies of the 21st century.

This danger exists in large part because grasping even the basics of blockchain technology remains daunting for non-specialists. In a nutshell, blockchains link together a global swarm of servers that hosts thousands of copies of the system’s transaction records. Server operators constantly monitor one another’s records, meaning that to steal money or otherwise alter the ledger, a hacker would have to compromise many machines across a vast network in one fell swoop. Even as the global banking system faces relentless cyberattacks, the more than $30 billion in value on Bitcoin’s blockchain has proven essentially immune to hacking.

That level of security has potential uses far beyond digital money. Introduced in July of 2015, a platform called Ethereum pioneered the idea of more complex and interactive applications backed by blockchain tech. Because these systems can’t be altered without the agreement of everyone involved, and maintain incorruptible records of every change, blockchains could eventually streamline sensitive, high-value networks ranging from health records to interbank transfers to remote file storage. Some have called the blockchain “Cloud Computing 3.0.” Using most of these blockchain applications will require owning the digital currencies linked to them—the same digital currencies being sold in all these ICOs. So, for example, to upload your vacation photos to the blockchain cloud-storage service Storj will cost a few Storj tokens. In the long term, demand for services will set the price of each blockchain project’s token.

While a traditional stock is a legal claim backed up by regulators and governments, then, the tokens sold in an ICO are deeply embedded in the blockchain software their sale helps create. Knowledgeable tech investors are excited by this because, along with the open-source nature of much of the software, it means that ICO-funded projects can, like Bitcoin itself, outlast any single founder or legal entity. In a 2016 blog post, Joel Monegro, of the venture capital fund Union Square Ventures, compared owning a blockchain-based asset to owning a piece of digital infrastructure as fundamental as the internet’s TCP/IP protocol.

Almost all groups launching ICOs reiterate some version of this idea to potential buyers, in part as a kind of incantation to ward off financial regulators. The thinking is that, if they are selling part of a platform, rather than stakes in any company, they’re not subject to oversight by bodies like the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. But in practice, ICOs are constantly traded across a variety of online marketplaces as buyers breathlessly track their fluctuating prices. In this light, they look an awful lot like speculative investments.

Buyer expectations may matter more to regulators than technical hair-splitting. Todd Kornfeld, a securities specialist at the law firm Pepper Hamilton, finds precedent in the landmark 1946 case SEC v. W.J. Howey Co. Howey, a Florida orange-growing operation, was selling grove plots and accompanying “service contracts” that paid faraway landowners based on the orange harvest’s success. When the SEC closed in, Howey argued they were selling real estate and services, not a security. But the Supreme Court ultimately disagreed, establishing what’s known as the Howey test: In essence, if you give someone else money in the hope that their activities will generate a profit on your behalf, you’ve just bought a security, no matter what the seller calls it.

Knowledgeable observers tend to agree that some form of regulation is inevitable, and that the term ICO itself—so intentionally close to IPO—is a reckless red flag waved in the SEC’s face. The SEC declined to comment on any prospective moves to regulate ICOs, but the Ontario Securities Commission has issued an advisory that “assets that are tracked and traded as part of a distributed ledger may be securities, even if they do not represent shares of a company or ownership of an entity.” According to Kornfeld, even those who believe they are conducting ICOs in complete good faith could face serious repercussions when regulators do act, especially if prosecutors think they’ve made misleading statements. “If [prosecutors] think that you’re really bad,” he says. “They can say, hey, you deserve 20 years in jail.”

While it’s easy to see the lie in OneCoin’s fictional blockchain, entirely sincere claims about such a nascent sector still can strain the limits of mere optimism. Many experts, for instance, believe that Gnosis’s use of the blockchain to aggregate data could become a widespread backbone technology for managing complex systems from traffic to financial markets. But the $12.5 million worth of GNO sold in the Gnosis ICO represented only 5 percent of the tokens created for the project, implying a total market value of nearly $300 million. Most tech startups at similar stages are valued at under $5 million.That astronomical early valuation alone could become bait for an aggressive regulator. Many founders of legitimate blockchain projects have chosen to remain anonymous because of this fear, in turn creating more opportunities for scams.

Much of the money flowing into these offerings is smart, both in that it comes from knowledgeable insiders, and in a more literal sense: Buying into ICOs almost always requires using either Bitcoin or Ethereum tokens (OneCoin, tellingly, accepted payment in standard currency). Jeff Garzik, a longtime Bitcoin developer who now helps organize ICOs through his company Bloq, thinks their momentum is largely driven by recently minted Bitcoin millionaires looking to diversify their gains. Many of these investors are able to do their own due diligence—evaluating a project’s team, examining demo versions of their software, or scrutinizing their blockchain after launch.

But as cryptocurrency becomes more mainstream, ICOs will present greater risks to larger numbers of people. There are few barriers to participation aside from knowing how to conduct a Bitcoin transaction, and the space mostly lacks the robust independent analysis performed by underwriters in the IPO market, which can help tamp down overoptimism. The risk isn’t just to individual investors; many argue that the mania of the late-1990s internet bubble ultimately slowed the entire sector down by making investors skittish for years afterwards. Imagine how much worse things might have been if the whole thing had been entirely unregulated.

Careful regulation, then, could protect blockchain projects from a hugely damaging bust. And the model is genuinely utopian enough to deserve nurturing. Cryptographic tokens effectively make all of a platform’s users part-owners. Anyone selling goods for Bitcoin, for example, has had a chance to benefit from its huge price boost over the past year, while Facebook and Google users have not shared in those companies’ growth.

The Gnosis team is taking this very long view. Their token sale was halted after that furious 12 minutes by an Ethereum-based bot that knew exactly what the fundraising goal was. It even returned more than $1 million to eager buyers who missed the cutoff. Gnosis’s co-founder Martin Koppelman says the company wants to use its remaining tokens not to enrich its creators, but to attract developers and users. That’s similar to the way that Uber has used cash subsidies to recruit riders and drivers, except that once those new recruits hold Gnosis tokens, they will have a serious stake in the platform’s future.

Article Produced By
David Z. Morris

David is a writer based in Florida. He has written for Fortune, Aeon, and The Japan Times.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/05/cryptocurrency-ponzi-schemes/528624/