ICOs: One Year Later

ICOs: One Year Later

With the sale of digital coins,

start-ups have taken many billions of dollars of capital last year. For the financiers, however, that has by no means paid off according to a study.

In August 2018, Digipulse declared himself a victim of a hypeship, which it was co-fired with. At the end of 2017, the start-up acquired approximately $25 million in an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) through Ethereum blockchain platform to build a secure digital asset inheritance service. But other ICOs were in demand at that time, so the price of Ethereum units shot up. This, in turn, meant that the use of the network became too expensive for Digipulse. So the young company was radically re-thinking: Instead of storing it in a blockchain, data is now classically stored on cloud servers, and those who want to use the service can only pay in dollars instead of using crypto-money. So you can confidently consider the Blockchain plans of Digipulse as failed.

Higher risks with ICOs

Nevertheless, the company is one of the positive exceptions in the ICOs of 2017, because after all, it still exists and has developed a specific product. The majority, on the other hand, sees things differently: The audit firm looked at the 110 largest ICOs in 2017 and found that 71 percent of them had neither a finished product nor a prototype until October 2018.

Also, the value of the digital coins they issue was well below their first market price in the vast majority of cases?—?here Digipulse is no exception. Anyone who would have invested in a portfolio of the examined ICO coins on January 1st, 2018, would have recorded a loss of 66 percent

until October.

“ICO-funded companies seem to be at higher risk due to a number of factors,” the EY experts wrote.

Researchers at Boston College had calculated this summer that investing in ICOs on average yield high returns. But this consideration covered only a short period. As things stand now, the more experience with ICOs, the more disillusionment it gets.

Up and down again

In keeping with this, the ICO hype?—?along with the price losses in most cryptocurrencies?—?seems to be gradually slowing down. Although in the third quarter of 2018 with ICOs still added about 2.4 billion dollars. However, that was only half as much as in the previous quarter and only about a fifth of the volume in the first quarter, which had been at nearly $11.5 billion. In fact, the numbers found by EY are not as bad as they might seem at first sight. 71 percent without a product or prototypes, in turn, means that at least 29 percent of ICOs have already implemented their plans.

Alex Lielacher of the crypto-market research firm Brave New Coin refers to this point. He compares ICOs with “seed funding,” the first start-up financing by venture capitalists?—?in this phase, normal start-ups usually have to offer only speculation and theoretical considerations.

Not unlike other startups

While the number of seed-funded projects in the US has grown rapidly since 2009, there has been little increase in follow-on financing. For Lielacher this shows how difficult it is not just for ICO-funded companies to get from the start-up phase to a marketable product. He points out that according to a rule of thumb from the venture capital industry, around 90 percent of all start-ups financed by it fail. Against this background, the previous success rate of the ICOs examined by EY is no longer so frightening.

The EY experts also point out that many companies have failed in previous technical revolutions. And for those who fared better, it took a while for them to mature enough to be considered an investment for a wide range of investors. In the meantime, according to their forecast, interest in ICO will probably shift from private investors to professionals “who know what downside risks exist and can handle them”.

Article Produced By
Marko Vidrih

Marko Vidrih
I love writing, and that is why I do it. A passion for not only providing the information but for helping people understand.

https://cryptocurrencyhub.io/icos-one-year-later-14f33d1b8196

Does the Fall of 158M Crypto ICO Show Necessity of Strict Regulation?

Does the Fall of $158M Crypto ICO Show Necessity of Strict Regulation?

   

Recently, Sirin Labs, an initial coin offering (ICO) project that raised $158 million

during the bull market of 2017, made the headlines for its controversial pivot from a hardware-based business model to supplying software to mobile phone manufacturers. According to a report released by Bloomberg, nearly a year since the ICO, the company has not been able to generate any profit and its mobile phone called “Finney” was met with underwhelming demand from the market. The project is now facing a serious funding crunch and its capital is set to run out within 6 to 12 months.

Is Strict Regulation Required?

Last year, the project secured a mega-round from investors in the public cryptocurrency market to develop a mobile phone that uses cryptocurrencies as its native currency and allows users to trade and utilize digital assets. The vague business model of the company set out to compete against giants like Samsung, Apple, and Huawei in a highly competitive market.

At $999, the pricing of the mobile phone of Sirin Labs is right up there with Samsung’s Galaxy series and some of Huawei’s latest mobile phones that are considered to have the best specifications in the mobile phone market. Sirin Labs responded to the Bloomberg report stating that the Google Pixel camera module budget cost around $200 million, implying that the budget was not enough to develop a proper mobile phone.

However, the company could have adjusted to the initial capital it raised during its ICO and determined that the integration of cryptocurrencies is simply not enough to compete in the mobile phone market. The company’s entire business model can also be at risk of becoming redundant if a major mobile phone maker directly integrates cryptocurrencies into its models, and HTC has actually done it last month.

The company said:

“SIRIN LABS raised a little over 200,000 Ether, which is currently approximately $16m. We managed our risk efficiently by converting enough Ether to develop an amazing phone (for example, the Google Pixel camera module budget cost around $200 million to develop). I believe we have enough money to make SIRIN LABS a profitable company, even in today’s market, even though our task is more challenging these days, unfortunately.”

Individual investors, given the state of the market in 2017 wherein the valuation of every cryptocurrency and ICO project was rising through the roof, put in a substantial amount of money in projects like Sirin Labs that established vague and unrealistic business models. Even with the pivot, if it intends to provide software to mobile phone manufacturers, then it is competing with Android and Google, which supplies every major mobile phone brand in the market.

ICOs are struggling to find relevance in the market and the problem that Sirin Labs is currently dealing with is not exclusive to the project. Large-scale companies like ConsenSys have realigned their vision and long-term strategy to focus on delivering products that can realistically be adopted by the mainstream.

ICO Regulation

Regulation cannot force investors to make more intelligent investment decisions, as investors lose out in strictly regulated markets like the stock and real estate markets. But, in some regions like Japan and South Korea, the government has started to restrict ICOs to institutional and accredited investors that have the means to properly evaluate the vision, business model, and scope of a project before engaging in a large funding round.

Article Produced By
Blockchain News

https://www.ccn.com/does-the-fall-of-158m-crypto-ico-show-necessity-of-strict-regulation/

French Firm Becomes Europe’s First Regulated Crypto Asset Manager Funded by an ICO

French Firm Becomes Europe’s First Regulated Crypto Asset Manager Funded by an ICO

France has one of the toughest regulatory environments in Europe

and the world generally when it comes to finance and specifically cryptocurrency. The country has in recent times taken a few cursory steps toward becoming a hub of ICO activity, but strict enforcement of crypto regulations is the cost of doing business in a well-connected financial hub like Paris.

Napoleon Group Gets Green Light from AMF

Napoleon Group, which is backed by BNP Paribas bankers Jean-Charles Dudek and Stephane Ifrah, and private equity investor Arnaud Dartois, used the ICO funding model about 9 months ago to raise about 10 million euros by issuing around just almost 30 million NPX utility tokens, which are used for access to trading bots and quantitative strategies on the NapoleonX.ai platform. One only needs a single token to access the platform. According to the firm, they are the first to overcome all the regulatory hurdles in French law and acquired approval to offer managed cryptocurrency assets to institutional traders everywhere. This is big news for France and Europe more generally.

Individuals can already benefit from the quantitative strategies available on the napoleonx.ai platform for bitcoin and ether, as well as the main global stock market indices. The first investment vehicles are expected to be launched in the first half of 2019. The group consists of three entities: Napoleon Capital, Napoleon AM, and Napoleon Index, set to launch next year, which will be another first, in that it will be a Benchmark Regulated-registered blockchain index publisher and administrator, which means they are future-proofed for Eurozone regulations set to be fully enforced around the bend in 2020.

Regulation is important, whether those in the crypto space like it or not. Attracting real capital and institutional wealth has been a long process for the crypto space. People don’t want to transact in a market where they can be regulated out of existence at any minute, so regulations that are clearly defined put them back in their comfort zone. France is still outlining its whole crypto framework, but one thing that is clear is that those who profit from cryptocurrencies in France will be paying a flat tax like any other asset, which is, according to co-founder and COO Arnaud Dartois, “the maximum that could have been done in France. It’s not enough. It’s not competitive in regards to what is done in other countries, but it is the best we could hope for at this time.”

As they say in their most recent press release:

“The AMF’s decision validates the Napoleon Group’s approach from the outset: to comply with the strictest financial standards and to rely on regulation to meet the needs of institutional investors. The Group has always believed in the need to regulate the crypto and blockchain industry in order to accelerate its adoption and has participated in numerous meetings and workshops with both public and private players over the last quarters.”

Proof of Performance

Albert Bergonzo/Wikimedia Commons Napoleon has actively participated the development of the ICO-friendly regulations that France is working on, having discussed the regulatory environment at length with the powers that be for over a year, as Dartois explained to this reporter in

an interview Friday.

“Actually, we have been in touch with the French regulator AMF for over a year, and we have done some lobbying to explain to them the importance to be very proactive on crypto and blockchain, and the hold that France can have to lead it. […] Tokenization of assets will be the next big wave, and they have to give the ecosystem, the framework, to seize this opportunity. And they have done it in a quite nice way, meaning they don’t have a very fixed or constrained framework, but something that is very light – they have a very flexible approach to that. It is understood that this is a huge opportunity for France and they have done a nice job.”

Napoleon’s primary market will be institutional investors and traders who have money in France and would like to gain exposure to crypto markets. What they have done is not easily done, and the association with former BNB Paribas banker Jean-Charles Dudek likely didn’t hurt.

Next year, they intend to launch Napoleon Index, which which requires the latest European regulatory approval under the BMR directive. Dartois says the index product will “enable anyone to prove the performance of any benchmark calculated and administrated by Napoleon Index via a public blockchain.” The result is that users can confirmed that the value of any algorithm or index are legitimate, after a requisite period of obfuscation data. The firm calls this feature “proof of performance.” Napoleon Index is scheduled to launch next year after approval is finalized. Dartois said it is currently operational, but just hasn’t received full regulatory approval yet.

Article Produced By
CCN-News

https://www.ccn.com/french-firm-becomes-europes-first-regulated-crypto-asset-manager-funded-by-an-ico/

International Cooperation Critical’ to Bringing Illegal ICOs to Justice: SEC

International Cooperation ‘Critical’ to Bringing Illegal ICOs to Justice: SEC

   

International cooperation is essential for eradicating ICO fraud,

said Steven Peikin, co-director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division. Peikin made the remarks during a December 3 speech at Harvard Law School’s Program on International Financial Systems, where he discussed the astonishing growth of the ICO market. “The sponsors of ICOs are, in many instances, located outside the United States,” Peikin said. “And international cooperation is critical to our ability to investigate and, where appropriate, recommend that the Commission bring enforcement action.”

ICOs Have Spiked 22,000% Since 2016

Peikin noted that the ICO market has “exploded from a mere concept to a phenomenon” in just a few short years. In 2016, ICOs raised less than $100 million. In 2018, that figure skyrocketed to more than $22 billion — a spike of 22,000%. With that rapid growth has come a massive increase in fraudulent activity. Complicating matters for regulators is that the money raised in initial coin offerings often comes from investors both inside and outside the United States.

Peikin noted that the novelty of ICOs — coupled with the excitement surrounding blockchain technology — makes them an alluring vehicle for investors. This exuberance can sometimes blind them to the risks associated with this nascent asset class, he warned.

Peikin: ‘Some ICOs are Outright Frauds’

“The growth in the ICO market can obscure the fact that these offerings are often high-risk investments,” Peikin said. “The issuers may lack established track records. They may not have viable products, business models, or the capacity for safeguarding digital currencies from theft by hackers. And some of the offerings can be simply outright frauds.”

Steven Peikin then alluded to the example of PlexCoin founder Dominic Lacroix, a Canadian citizen who fleeced as much as $15 million from thousands of US investors for his sham ICO by promising a 13-fold profit in less than a month. The SEC learned from Canadian authorities that Lacroix had a long history of running similar financial scams in Quebec.

In May 2018, US and Canadian regulators launched over 70 investigations into cryptocurrency scams and fraudulent initial coin offerings as part of a wide-ranging crackdown called “Operation Crypto Sweep". As CCN reported, the North American Securities Administrators Association sent cease-and-desist letters to operators of sham crypto companies in more than 40 jurisdictions across the United States and Canada.

Operation Crypto Sweep Targets Scams

Operation Crypto Sweep came shortly after a finding that fraud was alarmingly widespread among crypto investment promoters. Securities attorneys have also warned celebrities who endorse ICOs that they could be sued for aiding and abetting fraud if they promote sham crypto products. Last week, that warning turned into a rude awakening for boxing champ Floyd Mayweather and music producer DJ Khaled, when they were fined a combined $767,500 by the SEC for illegally promoting ICOs.

 These regulatory crackdowns — combined with the current bear market — have led some industry insiders to declare that the ICO market is dead.“The ICO market is dead — over,” said Barry Silbert, founder of crypto investment fund Digital Currency Group. “You now have the lack of demand from ICOs. And you have all the sponsors of the ICOs who raised a bunch of bitcoin [and ether] that are now starting to sell that.”Even though he believes that ICO mania is over, Silbert remains bullish about the future of the cryptocurrency industry, and he called the current market downturn an “awkward transition” that will pass

Article Produced By
ICO News

https://www.ccn.com/international-cooperation-critical-to-bringing-illegal-icos-to-justice-sec/

 

Even After 30 Billion Invested Most ICOs Are Doomed

Even After $30 Billion Invested Most ICOs Are Doomed

In the course of recent years, initial coin offering (ICO) ventures

in the crypto market have raised harvested more than $30 billion. However, most ICO projects have little to display, particularly relating to end-user development, blockchain adoption, and predominantly, general user activity on decentralized frameworks.

5 ICOs that have delivered

A small number of tokens have exhibited success in substantiating clear vision, growth paths, and credible use cases of blockchain innovation that’s advantageous for users. Binance Coin (BNB), example, which at present operates as the base cryptocurrency of the Binance exchange, will be widely used to process peer-to-peer trades upon the launch of the Binance decentralized exchange (DEX). Additionally, countless merchants have also as of late started to utilize BNB to receive crypto payments.

WePower (WPR) based on the blockchain is a Green Energy Trading Platform and is committed to finding solutions to relevant issues of funds access for energy developers and furthermore coordinate venture access for final consumers. The tokens can be used for long-term investments in addition to earning purposes. The company has a well-developed ICO profile and is currently meeting their milestones and roadmap schedule.

Solve.Care (CC) is rated as the top healthcare platform on the Blockchain by icoSource. Solve.Care boasts 26 years in Healthcare IT and aims to decentralize and ameliorate healthcare administration utilizing blockchain technology. This will improve the care outcome with the help of effective coordination and reduce the enormous global clinical and IT system costs associated with the current healthcare system. The ICO profile meets all technical requirements and is highly rated by experts.

XYO Network (XYO) is building the world’s first people-powered location network built on blockchain technology. the world’s first decentralized location verification system with more than one million Bluetooth and GPS devices already around the world. With the acquisition of GEO, which provides a protocol that allows anyone to easily distribute and verify Proofs of Location in a decentralized network, XYO is poised to help bring the promise and the benefits of blockchain technology to the real world on a massive and global scale in location-reliant trade markets that generate a staggering $11 trillion in activity.

Markethive (MHV) built on the Blockchain has positioned itself to be the world’s first social/marketing platform that offers complete privacy, along with total freedom of speech. With over 200 engineers and a hive of portals, hubs, E-commerce and marketing tools, Markethive’s influence in the sphere of entrepreneurs, business owners, commercial artists will rise to prominence. The system is up and running with Infinity Airdrops about to be executed. This is unprecedented in this industry and with its vision to bring universal income and success to all its members, it is set to be the number one Social/Market Network.

Imminent demise for most

While there are a few coins in the crypto market that represent feasible applications of the blockchain, the vast majority of projects have questionable roadmaps and long-term procedures.

As Uber’s Sam Gellman said:

“After $30 billion invested in the past two years in ICOs there still isn’t a single crypto app with a real user base for anything other than speculating on crypto. The BTC price movement is tough, but the lack of real user base for anything they’re investing in is tougher.”

With regulatory obstructions initiated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the ICO ecosystem will turn out to be considerably more troublesome for both innovators and projects. This week, the U.S. SEC impeded two ICO ventures named AirFox and Paragon, portraying their token sales as unregistered security offerings and requesting the two tokens to refund all

of their investors.

“They have also agreed to compensate investors who purchased tokens in the illegal offerings if an investor elects to make a claim. The registration undertakings are designed to ensure that investors receive the type of information they would have received had these issuers complied with the registration provisions of the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) prior to the offer and sale of tokens in their respective ICOs.”

The U.S. SEC affirmed that it supports the blockchain and the employment of newly developing technologies. However, the commission said that market contributors must recognize and abide

by local regulations.

“We wish to emphasize, however, that market participants must still adhere to our well-established and well-functioning federal securities law framework when dealing with technological innovations, regardless of whether the securities are issued in certificated form or using new technologies, such as blockchain.”

The significance of Bear Market

2018 bear market will separate worthy ventures from the fallacious and those that endure will be projects that have a definite vision, direction, zealous user base, and an ambitious model. As the capital in the market drops, speculators who recently put resources in every new venture in the market will become more judicious and it will be a real test for token sales without focused methodologies to interest general society. In time, as investors learn to exact due diligence and the market evolves into a more aggressive area, under-achieving projects will inevitably experience a decline in investment opportunities, user activity, and demand.

Article Produced By
Deborah Williams

I am a freelance writer for the Market Network and crypto/blockchain industry. I’m a strong advocate for technology, progress and freedom of speech and I live for a change.

https://zycrypto.com/even-after-30-billion-invested-most-icos-are-doomed/

Japan’s Financial Regulator to Introduce New ICO RegulationsEstonia: Amendments to Anti-Money-Laundering Regulations Will Tighten Crypto Regulation

Japan’s Financial Regulator to Introduce New ICO Regulations

Japan’s financial regulator is set to introduce new Initial Coin Offering (ICO)

regulations to protect investors from fraud, local news outlet Jiji Press reported Dec. 1. According to “informed” sources cited by Jiji, business operators conducting ICOs will be required to register with Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA). The agency is reportedly planning to submit bills revising financial instruments, exchanges and payment services laws to the ordinary parliamentary session that starts in January.

This action has been undertaken “in view of a number of possibly fraudulent ICO cases abroad” as a way “to limit individuals' investment in ICOs for better protecting them.” A study reported by Cointelegraph this July identified 80 percent of the ICOs conducted in 2017 as scams.

As Cointelegraph Japan reported last month, the FSA Study Group on Virtual Currency Exchange industry conducted its tenth meeting to discuss ICOs. The tokens emitted during ICOs where classified into three categories: virtual currencies without issuer, virtual currencies with issuer and tokens with issuers that are also obliged to distribute revenues. According to the report, the first and second token classifications are subject to settlement regulation such as the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act. The third of ICO tokens is subject to investment regulations like the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act.

Estonia: Amendments to Anti-Money-Laundering Regulations Will Tighten Crypto Regulation

The Estonian Ministry of Finance will shortly add amendments

to a recently-passed financial bill that are meant to “tighten” crypto-related regulation, Estonian financial newspaper Äripäev reports Nov. 28. According to the article, a new version of the Anti-Money-Laundering (AML) and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act came into force this week in Estonia, conforming legislation to the EU’s so-called “Fourth Money Laundering Prevention Directive.”

The regulation introduced this week reportedly introduces “virtual currency exchange service providers” and “virtual currency payment service providers,” while before there only was “alternative means of payment service provider.” Still, the Financial Supervision Authority (FI) has since announced that cryptocurrencies and the companies offering crypto-related services introduce money laundering risks, which is reportedly the reason for the new amendments, according to Äripäev.

As Cointelegraph reported, Estonia has rolled back its plans to release Estcoin, a national digital currency, after the President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi criticized the initiative. Canada is also looking towards more regulation to prevent crypto from being used for money laundering, as the Canadian House Finance Committee recommended during its review of the Proceeds of Crime Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) in mid-November.

Article Produced By
Adrian Zmudzinski

Adrian is a newswriter based out of Pisa, Italy. He's passionate about cryptocurrency, digital rights, IT, tech and futurology and likes to think about the future in a positive way.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/crypto-markets-meet-december-in-green-bitcoin-trades-above-4-200

 

Judge Refutes SEC’s Claim on Blockvest ICO Token Being a Security Will Go to Trial

Judge Refutes SEC’s Claim on Blockvest ICO Token Being a Security,
Will Go to Trial

  

The crypto world received a surprising win from the U.S. justice system today.

Earlier this week, a California judge slapped down an SEC attempt to classify an ICO token as a security. U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel of the Southern District of California declared yesterday that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has failed to provide adequate proof that the Blockvest ICO tokens should be considered securities. For that reason, Judge Curiel has turned back a request from the SEC for a preliminary injunction against the backers of the Blockvest ICO and its BLV tokens. It’s the first federal decision finding that the SEC hasn’t shown a digital asset offered in an ICO is a security. This is a big win for the crypto community.

As reported by CCN.com, the SEC uses three crucial metrics to determine whether or not a token is a security. These metrics date back to the 1946 SEC v. Howey Co. case. That case led to a landmark decision that governs the SEC’s enforcement of securities laws to this day. The SEC claimed that the Blockvest ICO involved the illegal sale of securities in the form of tokens, and that the tokens failed to pass the Howey Test. Judge Curiel disagreed with the evidence presented by the SEC and was not satisfied with the SEC’s arguments.

The judge took particular issue with one specific requirement: in order to prove a token is a security, the SEC needs to prove that the tokens were sold to investors with the promise of expected profits. Judge Curiel was reportedly not convinced that investors had expected to make a profit on the purchase of Blockvest ICO tokens. Instead, Judge Curiel was convinced that the tokens were simply used to test the platform – not as a genuine investment.

The Blockvest ICO Used a Fake SEC Logo to Feign Regulatory Approval

Blockvest, for its part, appears to be far from innocent in this case:

Blockvest was one of the shadier ICOs of the last year. Part of the problem was that Blockvest appeared to create a fake SEC logo to feign approval. Blockvest created a logo for a fake organization called the Blockchain Exchange Commission, apparently for the sole purpose of convincing investors that it was a regulated entity. Blockvest allegedly created the Blockchain Exchange Commission (complete with an official-looking “BEC” symbol) because they wanted to convince investors that Blockvest’s ICO had been approved by a legitimate regulator. The BEC symbol looked suspiciously like the SEC’s symbol.

The Blockvest ICO Attracted Just 32 Investors

Ultimately, the Blockvest ICO failed to generate a splash in the crypto community – despite the best efforts of the Blockvest team. The project received less than $10,000 in total investment from just 32 investors.

The Judge Believes Blockvest Tokens Pass the Howey Test

The Howey Test refers to the 1946 decision in the case between the SEC and the Howey Co. The test states that something can be considered a security if it has certain properties associated with a security. Judge Curiel clearly believes that the Blockvest tokens pass the Howey Test. Therefore, they should not be considered securities.

Here’s how CCN.com summed up the issue:

“According to the judge, the SEC was unable to prove what promotional materials that investors – who numbered only 32 and whose total investment was under $10,000 – had responded to. While the SEC was able to demonstrate that investors were purchasing coins due to evidence shown on checks cashed, the judge did not feel this satisfied the evidence requirements in the Howey Test.”

Part of the reason the judge slapped down the SEC’s request was because of intelligent defending by the Blockvest team.

Blockvest Gave a “Brilliant Defense”

Blockvest’s defense has been described as “brilliant”. Blockvest claims its tokens were only used for testing of the exchange – nothing more. The defense’s claim rests on the idea that most investors were actually well-known friends of defendant and Blockvest ICO creator Reginald Buddy Ringgold III. Blockvest also faced scrutiny for claiming to have raised $2.5 million during the ICO. Blockvest, however, defended that claim by stating that the $2.5 million figure was “overly optimistic” and relied on a single investor. That deal later fell through. The judge ultimately agreed with Blockvest’s defense. Blockvest’s BLV tokens should not be considered securities because the way they were marketed and sold did not meet the standard of a security sale. Thus, BLV tokens cannot be declared as securities at this time.

Here’s how the judge summed up his decision, as reported by Law.com:

“Based on the above, the Court DENIES Plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction. The Court also DENIES Defendants’ ex parte motion for evidentiary hearing and leave of court to file supplemental declarations. (Dkt. No. 30.) The Court also STRIKES Plaintiff’s Supplemental Declaration of David Brown and Defendants’ Opposition and Response. (Dkt. Nos. 39, 40.)”

After the decision was announced, Blockvest’s assets were unfrozen. However, the battle between Blockvest and the SEC is far from over.

Blockvest
Isn’t Off the Hook and Could Face Penalties for Using the SEC’s Logo

The judge has struck down the SEC’s claim that Blockvest tokens should be considered securities. The judge feels that the SEC has insufficiently proven previous wrongdoing on the part of Blockvest, which means there should be no reason for the injunction. However, that doesn’t mean Blockvest has escaped without penalty.

The biggest problem with Blockvest could be in the use of the SEC logo. As mentioned above, Blockvest fabricated an organization called the Blockchain Exchange Commission (BEC). The logo for that organization looked identical to the logo of the SEC. The fake BEC logo was displayed on the Blockvest ICO website, indicating to users that the Blockvest ICO had received official approval from the SEC. The SEC, as you can imagine, does not take kindly to people abusing its logo, and Blockvest could face further penalties.

Conclusion:
This is Good News for Future ICOs Seeking to Avoid Repercussions

The Blockvest ICO was one of the sleaziest ICOs in the crypto space. The creators of the ICO went so far as to create a symbol that looked like the SEC logo. Despite the low-quality ICO, the SEC was still unable to prove that Blockvest’s tokens could be considered securities. This case is a big deal: it’s the first federal decision on whether the SEC can regulate digital assets from ICOs as securities. It remains to be seen what impact this will have on other ICO cases moving forward.

Article Produced By
Bitcoin Exchange Guide News Team

https://bitcoinexchangeguide.com/judge-refutes-secs-claim-on-blockvest-ico-token-being-a-security-will-go-to-trial/

The Making of the First US ICO Fraud Case

The Making of the First US
ICO Fraud Case

In common law systems, it is precedent that informs judicial approaches

to new and previously unaddressed matters. The precedent that will likely shape the body of U.S. case law on fraudulent initial coin offerings (ICOs) is currently being forged in a federal court in the New York borough of Brooklyn, where a 39-year old entrepreneur, Maksim Zaslavskiy, has pleaded guilty to committing securities fraud. The development that will most likely result in a landmark decision – the jury will gather in April 2019 to decide on a sentence – is yet another twist of a now 14 month-long effort, involving both the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Previously, the process has already yielded a fateful ruling by a federal judge who in September established that securities law is applicable to ICO-related cases.

The case that is poised to become so consequential for the whole ICO space deals with two ventures that neither issued a token nor developed any blockchain-powered infrastructure: REcoin and Diamond Reserve Coin both only existed on paper. Yet it also makes perfect sense that the authorities first went after the most brazen instances of ICO fraud, the ones that hurt rookie retail investors the worst and inflicted the most reputational damage on the industry.

When the SEC first filed a complaint against Zaslavskiy in a federal court in September 2017, it was estimated that REcoin and Diamond Reserve Coin ICOs resulted in around 1,000 investors losing some $300,000. Having fallen for Zaslavskiy’s aggressive marketing campaign, these people were led to believe that they either invested in a digital asset that was backed by real estate located in developed countries (REcoin), or purchased a tokenized membership in an elite club for wealthy business people, with physical diamonds in the company’s custody underlying the value of tokens.

In fact, though, they were buying “worthless certificates,” as U.S. district attorney, Richard Donague, put it, on Nov. 15, 2018, Zaslavskiy admitted in his guilty plea: “We had not yet purchased any real estate.” He now faces up to 5 years in prison, pending the decision of a jury panel. The regulator is also filing a civil lawsuit against Zaslavskiy.

The making of a fraudster

The Ukrainian city of Odessa, overlooking a scenic coastline of the Black Sea, is known for its vibrant spirit and unique culture. Throughout both the Imperial and Soviet periods of its history, the city has been home to a large Jewish community. As the final years of the USSR saw the liberalization of immigration policies, many Odessan Jews chose to leave for either Israel or the West. Born in Odessa, Maksim Zaslavskiy was 12 when his family relocated to the U.S. While Maksim was destined to make ICO history, his brother, Dmitry, chose a banking career and later became an executive director for Morgan Stanley. Zaslavskiy’s social media pages, as well as websites of many organizations he ran at various points of time, were either deleted or became unavailable in the wake of the high-profile investigation into his activities. The main source of information about his pre-trial life is now the four-hour interview to the SEC representative that he gave in September 2017, of which the Fast Company magazine managed to obtain a transcript.

In 2003, Zaslavskiy received his degree in finance from Baruch College, followed by a LLM from Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law three years later. He worked as an IT consultant for several banks before starting his own international business, whose nature is difficult to infer from the interview. Zaslavskiy also claimed to have been involved in real estate business since the age of 18, yet Fast Company’s investigation failed to verify his employment with the firms he claimed to have worked for. According to the interview, the 2008 crisis became a major blow for Zaslavskiy’s business, further entrenching him in his resentment of the U.S. financial system. He turned to charity work, founding a philanthropic organization called Live Love Laugh. However, it is impossible to say whether the ambitious statements on its website (which is now down) were ever backed by any real actions, since the entity appears to never have been properly registered.

Zaslavskiy has also written at least three books (under the name Avi Meir Zaslavsky) that can be still found on Amazon. These are how-to guidebooks on the ins and outs of real estate business. Another one, which appeared around the time his two ICOs were in full swing in August 2017, sets out to explain the reader that “what you perceive and use as money is designed in such a way that the wealth created by the economy truly benefits only large banks and multinational corporations.” Apparently, the book was meant to lend credibility to Zaslavskiy’s claim for intellectual leadership in the crypto space, as its press release presents him as “one of the world’s leading currency decentralization proponents.” The publicity campaign around the book provides a glimpse into Zaslavskiy’s approach to marketing himself and his ventures: bold, extravagant, overblown. Unsurprisingly, this style carried over to the way his two ICOs were presented to potential investors.

Real estate tokens and Initial Membership Offerings

For someone disenchanted with both the traditional financial system and traditional means of making money, the ICO rush of 2017 presented innumerable opportunities. The beauty of the ICO model was that it opened up the world of venture capital, previously reserved exclusively for professional investors, to anyone with a few spare dollars and some interest in the uncharted space of blockchain applications. The flipside of it is that some of the newcomers were unable to tell legitimate projects from outright scams replete with red flags.

Megalomaniac language and exaggerated promises are usually telltale signs of something not being right with the venture that’s taking off. Zaslavskiy’s projects had both. REcoin, announced in June 2017, presented its founder as a “Real Estate guru” and proclaimed that the 101REcoin Trust held properties “in developed and stable economies like the USA, Canada, Japan, Great Britain, and Switzerland” without providing any evidence in support. Also, an “international team of attorneys and programmers” was allegedly there to “work tirelessly” on increasing token holders’ fortunes. As the court proceedings later revealed, no such team ever existed.

In August, after facing the first signs of SEC interest to REcoin, the “Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, and Author Max Zaslavsky” began his marketing campaign for an allegedly diamond-backed digital asset, the Diamond Reserve Club token. The release (beginning with “If the Holy Scriptures have taught us anything at all…”) touted a brand new Initial Membership Offering model, which was supposed to tokenize investors’ participation in a large ecosystem of interconnected businesses. It also suggested that the tokens could be inherited by the investors’ grandchildren. One would think that the theatrical language and gargantuan assurances of the two ICOs’ public-facing documents would only make any reasonable person scoff. Yet from July through September Zaslavskiy and his accomplices managed to amass around $300,000 before the SEC took the matter to court.

The fallout

On Sep. 29, 2017, the SEC brought a civil complaint to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York against Zaslavskiy and his two companies for violating U.S. securities laws. Recoin and DRC responded on their websites with a joint statement that argued that it was due to “lack of legal clarity as to when an ICO or a digital asset is a security,” suggesting that their operations were not within the SEC’s purview.

However, the Feds seemed to disagree. On Nov. 1, Zaslavskiy was apprehended by FBI agents and criminally charged with a conspiracy to commit securities fraud. In early December, he pleaded not guilty and secured a $250,000 bail backed by his family’s Brooklyn house. In February, Zaslavskiy’s defense filed a motion to dismiss the indictment on the grounds of inappropriate application of securities law to cryptocurrencies. Yet both the DoJ and SEC insisted that REcoin and DRC tokens passed the Howey test – a legal standard that determines whether a contract is a security.

In September, U.S. district judge Raymond Dearie concluded that for the purposes of the case, the tokens could, indeed, be treated as securities, potentially setting a precedent that could shape the future of ICO regulation. The judge was also unequivocal in characterizing the nature of

Zaslavskiy’s enterprises:

“Stripped of the 21st century jargon, including the Defendant’s own characterization of the offered investment opportunities, the challenged indictment charges a straightforward scam, replete with the common characteristics of many financial frauds.”

Article Produced By
Kirill Bryanov

Kirill Bryanov is a PhD researcher at Lousiana State University. His scholarly interests center on political and societal implications of communication technology, with a focus on blockchain-powered decentalized architectures.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/the-making-of-the-first-us-ico-fraud-case

Facebook to appeal against ICO fine says it’s a matter of principle not to pay 18 mins’ profit

Facebook to appeal against ICO fine – says it's a matter of principle not to pay 18 mins' profit

Get Zucked, basically

Facebook is to appeal the £500,000 fine handed down

in October by the UK's Information Commissioner's Office over the data-harvesting scandal. The penalty – the highest the ICO was able to dole out for the firm's part in the Cambridge Analytica scandal because it took place before GDPR kicked in – equates to about 18 minutes of profit for the firm.

Nonetheless, the Zuckerborg is insistent that no UK data was involved, arguing that not only does this mean it shouldn't have to pay up, but also that it's a matter of principle about the way people behave online. The ICO said when it handed down the fine that, on the information it had, "it is not possible to determine" if Facebook's assertion that only US resident's data was shared with Cambridge Analytica is correct. However, it contended that the personal data of UK users was "put at serious risk of being shared" for political campaigning – and thus issued the enforcement action for failing to do enough to protect that info.

"Therefore, the core of the ICO's argument no longer relates to the events involving Cambridge Analytica." Facebook is arguing that the ICO's reasoning "challenges some of the basic principles of how people should be allowed to share information online" and that this has implications that "go far beyond Facebook". Benckert – taking a real ad absurdum approach – said the ICO's theory meant that "people should not be allowed to forward an email or message without having agreement from each person on the original thread". "These are things done by millions of people every day on services across the internet, which is why we believe the ICO's decision raises important questions of principle for everyone online which should be considered by an impartial court based on all the relevant evidence."

An ICO spokesperson sent us a statement following Facebooks' confirmation it will appeal the fine:

“Any organisation issued with a monetary penalty notice by the Information Commissioner has the right to appeal the decision to the First-tier Tribunal. The progression of any appeal is a matter for the tribunal. We have not yet been notified by the Tribunal that an appeal has been received.” Information commissioner Elizabeth Denham has made it abundantly clear that she would have fined Facebook more if she had been able to, and said that, in particular, its follow-up after it discovered the breach was "less than robust".

She told MPs earlier this month that her team "found some problems with the signing of [Facebook-ordered] authorisations [from organisations]; some of them weren't signed at all". The ICO has also referred other, ongoing concerns about the firm's targeting functions, its monitoring of individuals' browsing habits and interactions, to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (Facebook's European HQ is in Ireland). Meanwhile, the firm's decision to appeal the UK's fine will do little to bolster goodwill among the nation's lawmakers, especially as Zuckerberg has repeatedly rejected requests to appear in front of parliament's digital committee.

Article Produced By
Rebecca Hill

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/11/21/facebook_to_appeal_ico_fine/

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