Study: ICO Market Doubled Since Last Year Shows Increased Institutional Investment

Study: ICO Market Doubled Since Last Year, Shows Increased Institutional Investment

The Initial Coin Offering (ICO) market has more than doubled in a year

according to ICORating’s ICO market report for the the second quarter of 2018, published August 8. ICORating is an independent rating agency that conducts independent analytical research evaluating ICOs and the ICO market. According to the report, ICOs in 2018 have already raised over $11 billion in investments, a figure which it purports is ten times larger than the sum of investments from ICOs in Q1-2 2017. ICORating reports that in Q2 2018, 827 projects raised over $8 billion in funding, compared to $3.3 billion in Q1 2018, representing a 151 percent increase overall. The report notes:

“Funds raised by EOS project account for most of this increase, they have collected $4,197,956,135 for a year-long ICO.” Per ICORating, Europe has become a leader, launching 46 percent of all projects, while North America is leading in investment, collecting 64.67 percent of attracted funding. The reports adds: “Asia-based projects showed an increase in funds raised (+20%), but a decrease in the number of projects launched (–40%).” Institutional capital in ICO markets has increased, while the report notes a “continued decline in the number of retail investors.” According to the study, this results in an environment in which project requirements increase, while the amount of funds raised during ICOs increasingly becomes dependent on “how well projects cooperate with investment funds.”

The top 10 industries by funds raised were led by financial services, blockchain infrastructure, and banking and payments, which collectively represent over $1 billion in raised assets. Financial services led all other industries both in the amount of funds attracted, and the number of projects. In July, analysts associated with the Crypto Finance Conference revealed that the “most favorable” countries for ICOs were the U.S., Switzerland, and Singapore. Researchers based the rankings on publicly available data of the top 100 ICOs by country in terms of funds raised and ranked them by number of projects launched.

Article Produced By
Max Yakubowski

Max Yakubowski has a Ph.D. in Linguistics and Anthropology, with a focus in innovative technology and its cultural and social influence. He joins Cointelegraph after working as a freelance copywriter and blogger.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/study-ico-market-doubled-since-last-year-shows-increased-institutional-investment

A 153 million ICO in action

A $153 million ICO in action

One of the largest-ever ICOs was a project known as Bancor

which raised $153 million in around three hours. The digital coin issued is called the Bancor network token (BNT) and it was built on the Ethereum platform. A key aspect of Ethereum is the so-called smart contract functionality. Smart contracts are contracts that automatically execute when certain conditions are met from all interested parties. The automation can help to speed the process up, ensuring no mistakes along the way.

Bancor is creating a product that rivals cryptocurrency exchanges based on smart contracts. An exchange matches buyers and sellers and essentially acts as a middleman. But, Bancor’s network allows users to convert one cryptocurrency into another with low conversion costs and without fears of low liquidity. It automatically balances supply and demand and works out the correct conversion price of one coin into another.

It does this through what it calls “smart tokens” which can be generated through the Bancor network. These smart tokens or digital coins hold one or more other cryptocurrencies in reserve which means that it can always be traded. For example, if there was a digital coin that only had a few thousand users, it would be difficult to trade as there would not be a large pool of people wanting to buy and sell it. But if that digital token had a popular and large reserve cryptocurrency like ether then there would always be liquidity to trade. But ICOs are not flawless. As a result of the large demand for BNT, the Ethereum network became congested during the coin offering last year, leading to delays for buyers. CNBC spoke to Galia Benartzi, the co-founder of Bancor, and asked her about the ICO process and the company’s ambitions .

Why was an ICO the right route to go down?

At Bancor we believe the term ICO is actually a misnomer because it implies a similarity to an IPO. ICOs, or as we prefer to call them "Token Generation Events" (TGEs), are fundamentally different than IPOs in that an IPO is conducted by a mature company with a live product and revenue, while a TGE represents the birth of a new currency which powers a network.

We decided to launch a TGE because we had a design for a promising token — BNT, which could connect many tokens into a network — the Bancor Network — and make them instantly interchangeable, without needing to match buyers and sellers, without relying on volume or market makers, and without fees or barriers to listing. During the TGE, more than 10,000 users contributed to the project by purchasing BNT. These 10,000 BNT holders instantly seeded the network in a way that no traditional launch would have been able to do. This momentum is essential for a network's growth and a TGE allowed us to create alignment with early adopters in a way that increases the network's chance of success.

What have you learned along the process?

The industry has matured a great deal since Bancor held its TGE in June, 2017 and yet still has a tremendous way to go. We are learning more every day than ever seemed possible, as seemingly disparate fields from economics, history, psychology, system design, network effects, finance, law, ethics, sustainability and others converge in the blockchain space. Some of the main learnings are actually in areas that the Bancor Protocol aims to shed light on. For example, in today's ecosystem, one of the main jobs of a token issuer is to plan for its liquidity, via costly exchange listings and market makers. We hope that in the future, token creator's will be able to focus on their networks, products and users, when liquidity is fair and free for all.

Where are you in the development of the network?

We are aiming to make cryptocurrencies accessible to a wide array of users, including those who are brand new to crypto. To this end, we launched the Bancor Wallet which allows users to log in from any mobile device or social messaging account (Telegram, WeChat, Messenger or SMS) and instantly buy and sell more than 100 tokens, without having to be matched in an exchange to a buyer or seller.

What will your tokens be used for?

All tokens on the Bancor Network hold an amount of BNT (Bancor’s Network Token) in their smart contracts. This links together each token in the Bancor Network, allowing tokens to be instantly interchangeable for one another at continuously calculated rates. As users buy BNT (or any token in the Bancor Network), it increases the liquidity of each token in relation to the others, creating more predictable and efficient token conversions for all users of the network. BNT is the hub network token for a decentralized global liquidity network that allows anyone to launch a viable currency with continuous liquidity based on its actual usage.

Article Produced By
CNBC

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/13/initial-coin-offering-ico-what-are-they-how-do-they-work.html

ICOs Legality scams and dangers

ICOs Legality, scams and dangers

With any new technology, particularly where large amounts of money is involved,

there will be scrutiny from regulators and scams. ICOs have seen both. But the new nature of these digital token issuances has meant that the regulatory landscape globally is fragmented with each country looking at ICOs in different ways.

Are ICOs legal?

The short answer: it depends where you are. It’ll be hard to go through every single country in the world, but let’s look at the major markets. China, which was once a prolific market for cryptocurrencies, has come down hard on the industry. Last year, the People's Bank of China declared ICOs as illegal, warning people of the risks involved in investing in them. Shortly after, South Korea followed, banning raising money through virtual currencies. In the United States, there are no specific regulations for ICOs, but depending on how the digital coin is classed, it may fall under the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The regulator is in charge of overseeing trading in various financial products. If the SEC deems that a coin is a “security,” then the company behind it may have to register with the regulator.

The SEC has been very vocal however on warning people about the dangers of investing in ICOs. “As with any other type of potential investment, if a promoter guarantees returns, if an opportunity sounds too good to be true, or if you are pressured to act quickly, please exercise extreme caution and be aware of the risk that your investment may be lost,” the SEC says on its website. The watchdog also issued a warning last year to celebrities who endorse ICOs saying that they may need to disclose information about the relationship with the company if the digital coin is deemed to be a security.

Elsewhere, in Europe, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) released guidance on ICOs last year. The regulator said that ICOs that qualify as financial instruments could fall under the relevant laws to do with anti-money laundering or investment legislati Some countries are attempting to actually create new rules in order to bring ICOs into the regulatory fold. For example, the government in Malta recently approved three new bills related to cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. One of those new laws aims to bring a regulatory regime to ICOs.

Similarly, in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, the regulator has published guidelines on launching ICOs. Under the guidelines, companies wishing to execute an ICO must approach the Financial Services Regulatory Authority to see whether it will fall under the body's regulation. Companies will also have to publish a prospectus, just like a firm would for an initial public offering (IPO) on the stock market. Any market intermediaries, or secondary market operators dealing with ICOs must be approved by the FSRA.

“If you put a regulator’s lens on, regulators are saying ‘oh my gosh there is a concentration of crypto capital that is in these ICOs, these people aren’t in the financial system, what is happening to the money’,” Lawrence Wintermeyer, a principal at advisory business Capstone, told CNBC. “There is a huge concern retail people might be exposed to this.” Many countries are looking into how to regulate ICOs but there’s clearly a disparity around the world. The lack of regulation however is a factor behind major scams — one of the biggest issues right now with ICOs.

Scams and dangers

Investing in ICOs is risky business for a number of reasons. Often people are putting money into products that don’t exist yet. While this may not sound too dissimilar to say very early stage investing in other start-ups, the people placing bets on ICOs are usually unsophisticated investors. These projects have high failure rates too. Already, hundreds of coins are dead, meaning the projects behind them were scams, a joke or didn’t materialize. Dead Coins is a website that lists all the cryptocurrencies that fall into those categories. So far, it has identified just over 800 digital tokens that it considers dead. These coins are worthless and trade at less than 1 cent.

And because of the lack of regulation, scams are rife in the industry. One example uncovered by CNBC earlier this year was a project called Giza which claimed to be developing a super-secure device that would allow people to store cryptocurrencies. Scammers in this case managed to raise more than $2 million in an ICO, and eventually run off with the funds without delivering any product. A bad actor or actors used a fake LinkedIn profile and copied pictures from another user's Instagram to create a false persona — and successfully drew more than 1,000 investors into the ICO project.“Are there fraudulent projects? Yes. Are there ill conceived sales that have not thought through potential regulatory issues? Yes. Are there poor projects that will ultimately fail? Naturally.”

Investors are still trying to get their money back but because of the lack of regulation, there is very little consumer protection in the space. Another high-profile scam involved a company called Centra Tech Inc. It was an ICO backed by champion boxer Floyd Mayweather. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged the founders with carrying out a fraudulent ICO. Even successful ICOs have their problems. Bancor, whose coin offering we detailed above, suffered a security breach that saw $13.5 million worth of digital tokens stolen. Many experts in the field however have predicted that ICOs are here to stay and that they will become professional.

“Are there fraudulent projects? Yes. Are there ill-conceived sales that have not thought through potential regulatory issues? Yes. Are there poor projects that will ultimately fail? Naturally. However, amongst these there are many, many deeply innovative projects amongst which a handful will be gamechangers,” Richard Muirhead, founding partner at Fabric Ventures, an investment fund focused on blockchain projects, told CNBC. “If 2017 was the year of ICO hype, then 2018-2020 will be the years of decentralized networks development which will be focused on shipping working code and building communities.”

Article Produced By
CNBS

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/13/initial-coin-offering-ico-what-are-they-how-do-they-work.html

Telegram Tech Promised In ICO Vulnerable to Attack Researchers Say

Telegram Tech Promised In ICO Vulnerable to Attack, Researchers Say

With $1.7 billion in the bank following its initial coin offering (ICO),

Telegram has released its first crypto-friendly feature – but security researchers are skeptical. As detailed in a blog post published today, Virgil Security, a U.S.-based startup, has identified several weaknesses in the new identity verification app, called Passport. While the company praised Telegram for publishing the application's API as open source, allowing the code to be checked by other experts, Virgil Security detailed two problems with the app: how it encrypts data and how it protects stored data. "Their commitment to openness gives security practitioners the opportunity to review their implementation and, ideally, help improve it," Virgil Security's Alexey Ermishkin wrote on the company's blog,

adding:

"Unfortunately Passport's security disappoints in several key ways."

Telegram has never publicly announced or verified the existence of its billion-dollar ICO. But as documents started to leak earlier this year, it became clear that the company, more widely known for its chat app, aimed to compete with many of the services – from filesharing to encrypted browsing – that crypto startups had already proposed.

Plus, it wanted to bring blockchain-based payments to the Telegram chat app, which in recent years has become popular among the crypto community. Payments and identity verification go hand-in-hand, making Passport a natural early offering from the company. Plus, disrupting the digital ID incumbents like Equifax, which keep data in centralized databases vulnerable to breach and abuse, has long been a shared goal of the cryptocurrency community, so it's is a fitting place for Telegram to start.

In its blog post about the new product, Telegram promises that "your identity documents and personal data will be stored in the Telegram cloud using end-to-end encryption. It is encrypted with a password that only you know, so Telegram has no access to the data you store in your Telegram passport." It goes on to promise that, eventually, this data will be stored in a decentralized fashion, Identity was one of the components of the ambitious blockchain-based system that Telegram promised in its ICO technical whitepaper. But from the looks of Virgil Security's findings, Telegram needs to go back to the drawing board.

Brute force

Virgil Security's chief critique of Passport's security is the way it encrypts its passwords. In announcing Passport, Telegram released a considerable amount of information about how the system works. In particular, Virgil Security focuses on the fact that Telegram uses SHA-512 to hash passwords. "It's 2018 and one top-level GPU can brute-force check about 1.5 billion SHA-512 hashes per second," they write.

It goes on to estimate that with enough computers, these passwords could be busted for anywhere from $135 to $5 each, depending on the strength of the passwords users chose. However, before an attacker could begin its attack, it would need to first breach Telegram itself, as Virgil acknowledges.

"To access the password hashes, the attack would have to be internal to Telegram. The ways that could happen are numerous — insider threat, spearphish, one rogue USB stick, etc," Virgil Security co-founder Dmitry Dain told CoinDesk. And if lots of users begin using and in turn loading this data into Telegram's Passport, it will make the company a very attractive target. Telegram has long been criticized for taking its own approach to cryptography, rather than relying on established standards. That said, Telegram's model has not been known to have been broken so far.

Unsigned data

The other danger to users Virgil Security critiques is a bit more nuanced: the fact that the data uploaded to Passport isn't signed. By cryptographically signing data (an integral part of blockchain architecture broadly), users can quickly verify the data was loaded there by the person who claimed to have loaded it and it hasn't been changed. Without a cryptographic signature, an attacker could change some part of the data and no one would know.

The Virgil Security post argues:

"Now, when people see 'end-to-end encrypted,' they believe that their data will safely be sent to a third party without worries of it being decrypted or tampered with. Unfortunately, Passport users will have a false sense of confidence."

Yet, with Virgil Security's critiques and the newness of the product, it should be relatively simple for Telegram to harden its security (Virgil Security is one provider of end-to-end encryption). Telegram did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Article Produced By
Brady Dale

Brady Dale is a reporter who has previously written for Fortune, Technical.ly Brooklyn, Next City and Motherboard, among others. He grew up in Kansas and lives in Brooklyn.

https://www.coindesk.com/telegrams-post-ico-id-app-vulnerable-to-attack-researchers-say/

Curbing the Menace of ICO Fraud in the Cryptocurrency Industry

Curbing the Menace of ICO Fraud in the Cryptocurrency Industry

to the cryptocurrency industry. More than 81 percent of all ICOs are fraud. Most investors and enthusiast are unaware of these pump and dump schemes. Due to it unregulated nature, most of these ICOs successfully swindle individuals get away with it.

The Emergence of Cryptocurrency Research Centers

In recent times, specialized cryptocurrency research centers have been established. These centers were created to analyze cryptocurrency market conditions and information which analysts provide. Such analysts must have had experience working with large securities companies and private equity fund firms. The primary objective of these centers is to help individuals better understand the dynamic cryptocurrency market from an investor’s view. ICOs have continued to be plagued by these frauds, and these special centers are in place to curb the disease amid a regulatory vacuum.

Notable Strides Made So Far

Chain Partners Inc., South Korea’s first blockchain company builder, announced on July 29 that it was hiring employees for its research center. Cryptocurrency analysts who have five-year work experience in the investment banking industry stand a better a chance being hired by the company.  The Chain Partners Research Center is headed by Han Dae-hoon, the former analyst at SK Securities Co. and Shinhan Investment Corp.

The center is taking important steps, as it already presented a cryptocurrency index for the first time in Korea. Apart from this, a daily report analyzing the cryptocurrency market home and abroad is published. Another important step the Korean research center is trying to take is developing an index like the KOSPI 200. This can show the price trend and transaction data of major cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum. China Partners is not the only center willing to have an index. Bloomberg, together with US fund industry legend, Michael Novogratz, created Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index (BGCI). The BGCI also bases its calculations based on cryptocurrencies with the most market capitalizations and transactions, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple.

Regularizing the Cryptocurrency Research Center Scene

Another company which recently launched its own research center, is Coinone, South Korea’s third-largest cryptocurrency exchange. The primary goal of the center is to present a premium standard for cryptocurrency analysis. Like Chain Partners Research Center, it also releases a report on cryptocurrency analysis and weekly market conditions. Streami Inc. is not left out, as it recently received an ISO/IEC270001 information security certificated by the International Organization for Standardization. The company which runs cryptocurrency exchange, Gopax, is gearing towards providing Cryptopic that contains essential information on crypto investment.

Binance, one of the largest digital currency exchanges by market capitalization, is set to launch an application app called Binance Info. The company is test running the app by recruiting pre-users before the official release. According to a Binance official, Binance Info would provide information on about 1,200 coins and industry news.

Article Produced By
Osato Avan-Nomayo

https://ethereumworldnews.com/curbing-the-menace-of-ico-fraud-in-the-cryptocurrency-industry/

WTF is an ICO?

WTF is an ICO?

It wasn’t very long ago that bitcoin felt nascent,

laughable and small. In the ensuing years, bitcoin has matured, become far less risible and grown massively. Underscoring bitcoin’s maturation, the currency set new price records this week as the value of a single coin crossed the $2,000 threshold. Since bitcoin was announced in 2009, and certainly since I first wrote about it in 2013, the ecosystem of cryptocurrencies has exploded.

Cryptocurrencies have expanded since the days bitcoin shared some of the media’s spotlight with litecoin and the silly-by-design dogecoin. It was a time when Mt. Gox ruled, cupcake shops could become media darlings by accepting the digital currency and pizza was a critical bitcoin-pricing metric. Now, there are dozens of cryptocurrencies worth eight figures, and the birth pace of new entrants is accelerating.

In that particular milieu of freshly launched coins is a newly famous transaction type we need to understand called the “Initial Coin Offering” or ICO. An ICO is akin to an IPO, but in temporal reverse (sort of). Although confusing, it has recently acquired prominence as a favored way to launch a new cryptocurrency. But as is typical of nascent cryptoproducts, there are legal questions and unethical players in the mix. So let’s explore what an ICO is in the current cryptocurrency market.

ICO basics

An ICO is a fundraising tool that trades future cryptocoins in exchange for cryptocurrencies of immediate, liquid value. You give the ICO bitcoin or ethereum, and you get some of Billy’s New Super Great Coin or the infamous CrunchCoin. The Financial Times calls ICOs “unregulated issuances of cryptocoins where investors can raise money in bitcoin or other [cryptocurrencies],” which is accurate, especially if you underline the word “unregulated.” We’ll get to that in a moment. Sticking close to the older financial publications, The Economist also took a look at the financing mechanism, describing what you buy in an ICO in

the following fashion:

ICO “coins” are essentially digital coupons, tokens issued on an indelible distributed ledger, or blockchain, of the kind that underpins bitcoin, a crypto-currency. That means they can easily be traded, although unlike shares they do not confer ownership rights. […] Investors hope that successful projects will cause tokens’ value to rise.

The referenced value increase is critical to understanding the appeal of ICOs. These are not transactions of love. They are investments made in hopes of quick, strong returns. Notably, not all ICOs are for cryptos that will maintain their own blockchain. According to the crypto-focused Smith + Crown research group, some ICOs are actually “launching ‘meta-tokens’ built on Ethereum, Bitcoin, NXT or others.”

After all, why not.

So ICOs can be coins on top of coins funded by the transfer of other cryptos to accounts in the hunt for what’s next. That might sound crazy, but it’s hot times in the crypto world. And that heat is keeping ICOs bubbling. The same Economist piece, published in April of 2017, notes: “[n]early $250m has already been invested in [ICOs], of which $107m alone has flowed in this year,” a metric that it attributes to the aforementioned Smith + Crown. That is a lot of money, making ICOs large in terms of their sheer dollar-scale. It’s therefore not hard to understand why more traditional business publications are paying attention. Following the money is their jam. In short: ICOs are the new funding slingshot by which nascent cryptos are flung into the world.

Thieves, lies and laws

As with any boom, there are bad actors to be found in the land of ICOs. Given bitcoin and the larger cryptocurrency world’s deep tradition of enduring bad behavior, it is not a surprise that ICOs are attracting humans of base intent. ICO fraud and skullduggery is common enough that a quick search yields heart-melting headlines like “Ver Backed Qtum Founder Ran Previous ICO Scam,”  “To everyone that bought into the Matchpool ICO, it looks like it was maybe a scam…,” and “A Digital Currency Scam is Misusing the Rothschild Family Name.” All of the articles are from this year to date. In the world of ICOs, fraud is never hard to find. Add in regular sums of incompetence that any new venture could fall prey to, and ICOs feel a bit Old West.

Laws

But what about regulation, you reasonably protest. Surely that must exist to protect consumers? Returning to Smith + Crown, skirting usual rules concerning fundraising is nearly normal in the realm of ICOs — at least partially explaining why guard rails in crypto offerings may remain

a homegrown affair:

Most ICOs today are marketed as ‘software presale tokens’ akin to giving early access to an online game to early supporters. In order to try to avoid legal requirements that come with any form of a security sale, many ICOs today use language such as ‘crowdsale’ or ‘donation’ instead of ICOs.

So regulation is out of the mix for now. There is an argument to be made that a dearth of regulatory oversight is actually good, as it allows the ICO market to iterate and innovate quickly. It is a reasonable(ish) argument and likely technically correct, but that doesn’t mitigate the potential for unsophisticated investors to be preyed upon. Caveat emptor and moral hazard are fine arguments in favor of no rules regarding ICOs and cryptos, but if the market wants to keep growing, it will need to do more to attract consistently larger pools of capital.

Bubble me this

Is there a chance that ICOs will slow? Of course, but the forces behind them run a bit deeper than we might have first guessed. CryptoHustle makes the related point in a recent article that “ICO mania is likely due to early Ethereum adopters making serious returns after the last bull run.” Etherum’s run has certainly been staggering. If it is fueling the ICO craze, we could be in for a long cycle.

Regardless, the point doesn’t mean that cryptomarkets are as they should be. That ICOs would eventually get ahead of themselves and bubble like so many young technology niches was predicted at least since last October. How long the good times will last isn’t obvious. But the correction will come, as always, and when it does, we’ll see which cryptos have a real shot.

Take this away

The cryptocurrency market is hot once again. And while it continues to set new records, a host of altcoins will demand its slice of the market. Should you buy into an ICO? Only if you have a massive appetite for risk, zero fear of losing your capital and are willing to take a flying chance on an idea that could flop. Then again, crowdfunding has similar risks and seems perfectly healthy. Your call.

Article Produced By
Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is Crunchbase's Editor in Chief. He previously worked for The Next Web, TechCrunch, and Mattermark. Alex enjoys long walks on twitter boards, espresso, and responsive keyboards.

https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/23/wtf-is-an-ico/

What Is an ICO?

What Is an ICO?

An Initial Coin Offering,

also commonly referred to as an ICO, is a fundraising mechanism in which new projects sell their underlying crypto tokens in exchange for bitcoin and ether. It’s somewhat similar to an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in which investors purchase shares of a company.

ICOs are a relatively new phenomenon but have quickly become a dominant topic of discussion within the blockchain community. Many view ICO projects as unregulated securities that allow founders to raise an unjustified amount of capital, while others argue it is an innovation in the traditional venture-funding model. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has recently reached a decision regarding the status of tokens issued in the infamous DAO ICO which has forced many projects and investors to re-examine the funding models of many ICOs. The most important criteria to consider is whether or not the token passes the Howey test. If it does, it must be treated as a security and is subject to certain restrictions imposed by the SEC.

ICOs are easy to structure because of technologies like the ERC20 Token Standard, which abstracts a lot of the development process necessary to create a new cryptographic asset. Most ICOs work by having investors send funds (usually bitcoin or ether) to a smart contract that stores the funds and distributes an equivalent value in the new token at a later point in time.

There are few, if any, restrictions on who can participate in an ICO, assuming that the token is not, in fact, a security. And since you’re taking money from a global pool of investors, the sums raised in ICOs can be astronomical. A fundamental issue with ICOs is the fact that most of them raise money pre-product. This makes the investment extremely speculative and risky. The counter argument is that this fundraising style is particularly useful (even necessary) in order to incentivize protocol development. Before we get into a discussion over the merits of ICOs, it is important to have some historical context for how the trend started.

History of ICOs

Several projects used a crowdsale model to try and fund their development work in 2013. Ripple pre-mined 1 billion XRP tokens and sold them to willing investors in exchange for fiat currencies or bitcoin. Ethereum raised a little over $18 million in early 2014 — the largest ICO ever completed at that time. The DAO was the first attempt at fundraising for a new token on Ethereum. It promised to create a decentralized organization that would fund other blockchain projects, but it was unique in that governance decisions would be made by the token holders themselves. While the DAO was successful in terms of raising money — over $150 million — an unknown attacker was able to drain millions from the organization because of technical vulnerabilities. The Ethereum Foundation decided the best course of action was to move forward with a hard fork, allowing them to claw back the stolen funds.

Although the first attempt to fund a token safely on the Ethereum platform failed, blockchain developers realized that using Ethereum to launch a token was still much easier than pursuing seed rounds through the usual venture capital model. Specifically, the ERC20 standard makes it easy for developers to create their own cryptographic tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. Some argue that crowdfunding projects might be Ethereum’s “killer application” given the sheer size and frequency of ICOs. Never before have pre-product startups been able to raise this much money and in this little time. Aragon raised around $25 million in just 15 minutes, Basic Attention Token raised $35 million in only 30 seconds, and Status.im raised $270 million in a few hours. With few regulations and such ease of use, this ICO climate has come under scrutiny from many in the community as well as various regulatory bodies around the world.

Are ICOs Legal?

The short answer is maybe. Legally, ICOs have existed in an extremely gray area because arguments can be made both for and against the fact that they’re just new, unregulated financial assets. The SEC’s recent decision, however, has since managed to clear up some of that gray area. In some cases, the token is simply a utility token, meaning it gives the owner access to a specific protocol or network; thus it may not be classified as a financial security. On the other hand, if the token is an equity token, meaning that it’s only purpose is to appreciate in value, then it looks a lot more like a security.

While many individuals purchase tokens to access the underlying platform at some future point in time, it’s difficult to refute the idea that most token purchases are for speculative investment purposes. This is easy to ascertain given the valuation figures for many projects that have yet to release a commercial product. The SEC decision may have provided some clarity to the status of utility vs security tokens; however, there are still plenty of room for testing the boundaries of legalities. For now, and until further regulatory limits are imposed, entrepreneurs will continue to take advantage of this new phenomenon.

Article Produced By
Bitcoin Magazine

https://bitcoinmagazine.com/guides/what-ico/

What is An Initial Coin Offering? Raising Millions In Seconds

What is An Initial Coin Offering? Raising Millions In Seconds

 

The Initial Coin Offering gold rush –
the future of fundraising or just another crypto scam?

If you are searching for the biggest trend in cryptocurrency today, a look at Initial Coin Offering (ICO) might be a good start. The idea to presale coins of a cryptocurrency or token of a blockchain project has evolved in a crazy successful instrument to raise funds for the development of a new application. Our guide gives an overview on Initial Coin Offering- ICO and presents the hottest past, current, and future ICOs.

What is An Initial Coin Offering?

ICO is the abbreviation of Initial Coin Offering. It means that someone offers investors some units of a new cryptocurrency or crypto-token in exchange against cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. Since 2013 ICOs are often used to fund the development of new cryptocurrencies. The pre-created token can be easily sold and traded on all cryptocurrency exchanges if there is demand for them.

With the success of Ethereum ICO are more and more used to fund the development of a crypto project by releasing token which is somehow integrated into the project. With this turn, ICO has become a tool that could revolutionize not just currency but the whole financial system. ICO token could become the securities and shares of tomorrow.

Short History of Initial Coin Offering? – ICO

Maybe the first cryptocurrency distributed by an ICO was Ripple. In early 2013 Ripple Labs started to develop the Ripple called payment system and created around 100 billion XRP token. The company sold these token to fund the development of the Ripple platform. Later in 2013, Mastercoin promised to create a layer on top of Bitcoin to execute smart contracts and tokenize Bitcoin transactions. The developer sold some million Mastercoin token against Bitcoin and received around $1mio.

Several other cryptocurrencies have been funded with ICO, for example, Lisk, which sold its coins for around $5mio in early 2016. Most prominent however is Ethereum. In mid-2014 the Ethereum Foundation sold ETH against 0.0005 Bitcoin each. With this, they receive nearly $20mio, which has become one of the largest crowdfunding ever and serves as the capital base for the development of Ethereum. As Ethereum itself unleashed the power of smart contracts, it opened the door for a new generation of Initial Coin Offering.

Ethereum – The Initial Coin Offering?- ICO Crowdfunding Machine

One of the easiest application of Ethereum’s smart contract system is to create a simple token which can be transacted on the Ethereum blockchain instead of Ether. This kind of contract was standardized with ERC#20. It made Ethereum host of such a wide scope of ICO that you can safely say that Ethereum found its Killer App as a distributed platform for crowdfunding and fundraising.

The most prominent demonstration of the potential of Ethereum’s smart contracts has been The DAO. The distributed investment company was fuelled with Ether worth $100m. The investors received in exchange against Ether Dao Token which had their own market price and enabled the holder to participate in the governance of the DAO. After it was hacked, the DAO however failed.

The concept of funding projects with a token on Ethereum became the blueprint for a new and highly successful generation of crowdfunding projects. If you already tried out, you know that investing in token on top of Ethereum is charmingly easy: You transfer ETH, paste the contract in your wallet – and, tata: The token appear in your account and you are free to transfer them as you want.

Examples for successful Initial coin offering on Ethereum are:

  • Augur
  • Melonport
  • Golem
  • ICONOMI
  • Singular DTV
  • First Blood
  • Digix DAO.

There are dozens of ICO every month which explore new and creative ways to connect the application with the token and to leverage smart contracts to add more features to these tokens.

The potential of this trend is immense. ICO enables every individual and every company to easily release freely tradable tokens to raise funds. It could be used to completely reconstruct the financial system of shares, securities and so on. It decentralized not just money, but stock creation and trade. If you want to assess Ethereum’s market capitalization you should not only look at the market cap of Ether itself but also on the value of the token, which adds something like $300 Million to Ethereum’s $4 Billion market cap.

Legality

The legal state of ICO is mostly undefined. Ideally, the token is sold not as a financial asset but as a digital good like many other things. This is why ICO is often called “crowd sale”. In this case, in the most jurisdiction, the funding with an ICO is not regulated, which makes it extremely easy and paperless, given a lawyer experienced with the issue is on board.

However, some jurisdictions seem to be aware of ICO and tend to regulate them similar to the sale of shares and securities. The spectacular implosion of the DAO did a good job in kindle regulators attention. So while ICO currently mostly happen in a gray area, in the future they most likely will be regulated. This could bear some financial and legal risks for investors. Also, the cost and effort to comply with regulation could reduce the advantages of ICO compared with traditional means of funding.

Profit and Loss

Many ICO has been a lucky choice for investors. ETH, for example, was sold at 0.0005 Bitcoin and is worth today 0,05 BTC. Profit: 10,000 percent. Augur token (REP) were sold for around 0,005 each and are now traded at 0,01. The gain in value of 100 to 500 percent in Bitcoin is common for successful ICO.

On the other side, many ICO ends with losses. Cryptocurrencies like Lisk, IOTA-token or Omni did not hold the value in Bitcoin the token has been assessed at the ICO (or struggle to keep it). Often ICO is even used by scammers and semi-scammers: Build a glossy website, write some blocks of bullshit bingo, promise the greatest project/cryptocurrency ever, and be happy if you receive just 50 or 100 Bitcoin. Besides the large and successful ICO, like Lisk, Melonpost, Augur or Iconomi, many small and shady ICO did collect funds and

delivered nothing at all.

The ICO market is currently still completely unregulated. Everybody should be aware, that this does imply not only large profits for investors, but also large losses.

The hottest Initial Coin Offering of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Let’s have a look what’s going on of the market for ICO. In the past years, there have been a couple of wildly successful ICO.

Hot past Cryptocurrency ICO

Ripple
Ripple Labs created 100 billion XRP-token which serve as an anti-spam mechanism in the payment network Ripple, as you have to pay your network fees in XRP. The XRP are sold by Ripple Labs; their value doesn’t move in a clear direction, while the trend is more downwards. It started with around 5,000 Satoshi, sometimes felt below 1,000 Satoshi, raised above 7,000 and finally fell again to a new low of 600 Satoshi, before again raising on 3,000.

Next
Next was a new gen cryptocurrency made in 2013. For a start, the 1 billion token was sold to early investors. With the ICO the developers only got a double digits amount of Bitcoins. Today the NXT token, however, are worth much more and Next has become a relatively successful and stable cryptocurrency.

Mastercoin
In 2013 Mastercoin announced to build a layer on top of Bitcoin and sold the Mastercoin-token to investors. The developers received around 10,000 Bitcoin, which has been worth $1mio at this time. Mastercoin token gained value some month later; some investors made huge profits. Later Mastercoin merged with Counterparty and Omni.

Ethereum
The largest ICO by now was made by Ethereum. With a presale of around 60mio ETH, the Ethereum Foundation raised around 31,500 Bitcoin. This event has become one of the biggest crowdfunding ever and the start of a wildly successful cryptocurrency. The investors of the ETH-presale profited massively.

Lisk
Based on BitShares, Lisk is a JavaScript written Blockchain which enables smart contracts on sidechains. Lisk sold the coins for Bitcoins and received around $5mio.

Hot past Ethereum token ICO

While most ICO in the past has been restricted to building a new cryptocurrency, the smart contracts of Ethereum enable startups also to use ICOs to fund development. Most of them are working with Ethereum itself and trick their presold token somehow in the process. Some examples:

Augur
The decentralized prediction market uses so-called REP-token to decide on the outcome of events. 80 percent of these tokens have been sold to fund the development and got the team more than $5m. Today all the token are worth more than $100m.

Golem
The Golem project aims to create a decentralized supercomputer, to which participants can contribute with their own computer and earn money by selling its power. Golem uses the Ethereum blockchain for smart contracts; the GNT token is needed to pay for the services. The ICO was restricted on 820,000,000 tokens, for which the developers received more than 10,000 BTC. Today the market share of Golem is beyond 50,000 BTC.

ICONOMI
Iconomi is a platform for the management of virtual assets. The ICN token is something like shares on the platform and should receive parts of the profits. The developers sold 85,000,000 token and got more than 17,000 BTC for it. Today it has a market capitalization of nearly 40,000 BTC.

First Blood
The Asian platform for decentralized Sportsbet finished the ICO of its token in some seconds. Most of them have been bought by a Chinese exchange.

SingularDTV
SingularDTV wants to merge Ethereum, smart contracts and the production and stream of videos. With the ICO the platform raised more than 12,000 BTC. Today the whole tokens are worth around 40,000 BTC. SingularDTV wants to merge Ethereum, smart contracts and the production and stream of videos. With the ICO the platform raised more than 12,000 BTC. Today the whole tokens are worth around 40,000 BTC. The token of above ICO can be bought and traded on exchanges. Some additional ICO has just finish some time ago and prepare to release the newly created token on the Ethereum Blockchain. This are the following projects:

Melonport
Like Iconomi Melonport aims to develop a platform for the management of blockchain assets built upon Ethereum. The MLN token the developers sold will be needed to use the platform and have been sold or more than 2,000 BTC few month ago.

Qtum
This project wants to build a platform for the easy creation and use of blockchain based smart contracts. For this mission, it could raise more than 14,000 Bitcoin in an ICO.

Chrono Bank
The “uber of recruitment” intends to build a platform with its own currency for freelance projects. They sold 710,000 tokens for more than 4,000 Bitcoin.

Dfinity
Similar to Golem, Dfinity wants to build a decentralized platform for cloud computing. In its ICO it raised more than 3,000 Bitcoin.

BlockPay
With “only” about 1,000

With “only” about 1,000 Bitcoin the ICO of BlockPay was one of the smaller ICOs. BlockPay is a startup building a payment processor for several cryptocurrencies. With “only” about 1,000 Bitcoin the ICO of BlockPay was one of the smaller ICOs. BlockPay is a startup building a payment processor for several cryptocurrencies. This is are just examples. There are hundreds of further more or less successful ICO.

Hot Initial Coin Offerings Today

Currently, you can invest in ICOs like:

  • Humaniq (a wallet for the unbanked), aeternity (“scalable smart contracts interfacing with real world data”), Internet of Coins (a distributed environment for several blockchains) and Cosmos (similar: “a network of distributed ledgers”).

Most interesting however is Blockchain Capital.

  • Traditional investment company which funds a lot of companies in the cryptocurrency ecosystem like BitGo, BitFury, Blockstream, BTCC, Coinbase, Ethcore, Kraken, and Ripple. With the ICO Blockchain Capital enables everybody to participate in its investment rounds.

Not every ICO is worth your money. Some just throw a couple of keywords in the air, something with blockchains, distributed platforms, smart contracts and so on, without having a real business plan or just the skills to realize the project. But some are really interesting. Good ICOs have presented months ahead, and the investment community looks forward to participating in it.

Hot future ICOs

Since some months the Ethereum community waits for the start of the Gnosis ICO. Like Augur Gnosis will become a decentralized prediction market on Ethereum. Since it is developed by a respected Ethereum developer stakes are high. Also, the launch of EtherEx, a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange, is eagerly awaited. While not as prominent as Gnosis, EtherEx promises to become a part of a truly decentralized ecosystem on Ethereum. Same goes for Akasha, a decentralized social network governed by the Ethereum blockchain. ICO is expected, but no date is announced by now.

With Rootstock and Hivemind, two sidechain ICO are anticipated. However, it is not known if the developers of Rootstock and Hivemind plan to presale tokens. They did not announce it, but the structure of their projects implicates tokens, and somehow these tokens have to be distributed. Several appcoins like Filecoin, which enable the storage of files in the IPFS, and Skycoin, a “third generation cryptocurrency”, should be on the list of any ICO hunter. They did not announce an ICO, but will likely presale the coins.

Article Produced By
BlockGeeks

https://blockgeeks.com/guides/initial-coin-offering/

What is ICO?

What is ICO

We are living in the blessed digital era.

First, we got a digital watch, then digital photo, digital TV, digital marketing and digital sex. The world was ready for digital currency and Bitcoin was born. So, no surprise that in a very short time digital stock has joined the party. ICO (Initial Coin Offering) is pretty close to the well-established IPO (Initial Public Offering) with two major differences:

  1. You are not going to own a share in a future company.
  2. It must be somehow connected to a blockchain.

Why will a startup company prefer ICO?

The concept is relatively new, and the old IPO might look safer, but some ICO benefits are just unbeatable:

  1. Retaining control: you are not sharing your company with an investor, you sell him a future service. That’s a huge difference, you will get the money but still control your business.
  2. Globalization: while some companies go door to door to find an investor, with ICO you can immediately rise money from anybody in any country worldwide.
  3. No regulation. That means no bureaucracy which could take months. Tech startup success is very much a matter of being first on the market. Otherwise you will be yesterday’s news and somebody else will take the jackpot.

So how does ICO work?

First of all, we need a bunch of guys with a cool idea somehow connected to a blockchain. For example, a startup that will allow you to buy a genetically modified tree and when it will grow- it will have your name on its leaves for a Bitcoin. Sounds pretty insane, but I’ve heard much weirder ideas that turned into a successful business.

These guys start a marketing campaign and invite everyone to buy tokens.

What is an ICO token?

Not a race-car or a shoe. It might look pretty much like Monopoly, though. You buy and sell something that doesn't really exist, but somebody wins and somebody loses.

The ICO token basically signifies your contribution to the startup investment. The more money you will give, the more tokens you will get in return. With the tokens, you will be able to buy future company services or just sell tokens.

But why would you give the money if you will not own a part of the company as it works in IPO? Right, nobody will. That’s why you have a smart contract.

What is an ICO Smart Contract?

The guys with weird genetic trees must promise something worthy to the investors. It can be a free tree for your wife, two percent from the future company revenue or any other value or service. In this case, money definitely might grow on trees.

The smart contract is actually an agreement between the ICO issuing company and the token holder. It is a code that makes a certain “then” happen if a certain “if” happened. For example, it can say that everyone who bought “the genetic tree” token before 2020 can sell it for a fixed price. One a holder will send the token – the price will be adjusted automatically.

How to create a smart contract?

Most of them are still created on the Ethereum platform (the first smart contract was issued by the platform creator, Vitalik Buterin). But there are more, such as Confideal, ChainLink, BlockCAT and others. Each one has its pros and cons. You can read about them here.

So, why one should invest in ICO tokens?

  1. The tokens’ price can rise quickly, so you can make money buying and selling in time This part is pretty similar to the regular stock exchange.

Ok, we got it, it is a Bitcoin-inspired stock-exchange. I can invest in weird trees instead of Apple or Intel. What’s the buzz about it?

Here are some pretty impressive numbers:

  1. Plutus, a Bitcoin easy-pay app, issued the tokens on June 2016 with an initial price of $1.183. The current token price is $15.122, which makes 1,178 percent growth! And you could buy lots of it with the price.
  2. Neo, another cryptocurrency, did even better. They started with humble 33 cents per token. And today it’s worth $107. You are welcome to calculate the revenue by yourself. I am busy with a self-flagellation for not buying it.
  3. Daily ROI for Ethereum token holders is 206 percent.

Got it, it's a good deal, isn’t it?

How not to fall for a scam ICO?

That’s a very good question. There is something important to mention: everybody lies (special thanks to Dr. House for the perfect quote). There are good guys and there are less good guys. A start-up named Condido has raised $375,000 and disappeared with the money. Their website was deleted and nobody can find the founders. Well, old-fashioned burglars had to drive to the nearest bank wearing funny pantyhose on their faces. These days, you can do the same without leaving your house.

Here is a short “stay away from” list:

  1. The team is anonymous. Right, it's all about decentralization and regulation free. But would you give your money to a complete stranger? I prefer at least to know who the founders are
  2. Too good offer. Remember, that only a second mouse can enjoy the free cheese. If the revenue percentage is much higher than the average, there should be a heck good reason for it. Otherwise this cheese doesn’t smell good.
  3. No clear roadmap. If it is a serious startup, they will work on a detailed roadmap at least for the next year. If the only thing you can read on their website is “it will be cool, so cool, supercool – trust us and give us your money,” probably you should think twice.

Last, but not the least: Pre-ICO.

What is Pre-ICO?

Hey, wait. There is something else I forgot – actually you can buy the tokens before the ICO. How come, you ask? It’s a cryptoworld, you know, everything is possible. Nothing is real, follow the white rabbit, Neo. In fact, sometimes a company needs funds for the ICO itself (advertising etc.) In that case they can pronounce “sale before sale.” Pre-sale token price is cheaper, so it can be a very good deal. It is usually very limited and can finish literally in seconds. So, if you want to buy on pre-sale, you need to check the upcoming events all the time.

Pre-sales might look like a low hanging fruit but it is not easily achievable. The popular practice is to run the pre-sale for a limited number of investors, who take the role of business angels. So, a startup can use the money raised with the pre-ICO to get much more money with the ICO itself.

Article Produced By
CoinTelegraph

https://cointelegraph.com/ico-101/what-is-ico#how-not-to-fall-for-a-scam-ico

JPMorgan Wants to Use Blockchain to Issue ICO Tokens

JPMorgan Wants to Use Blockchain to Issue ICO Tokens

American investment banking giant JPMorgan Chase

is pursuing a patent for a distributed system that uses blockchain technology to issue virtual depository receipts that sound suspiciously like initial coin offering (ICO) tokens.

JPMorgan Wants to Host IPOs on a Blockchain

The patent application, filed by JPMorgan in January and published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) on Thursday, outlines a method whereby users on a distributed network such as a blockchain can tokenize assets and trade these virtual depository receipts. To create a security token, an originator such as an asset owner or broker will encumber the asset by entrusting it to a qualified custodian, who will then authorize a virtual receipt for the deposited assets.

This virtual depository receipt would essentially be a security token, regulated under the authority of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or other local securities regulators. This designation would necessarily restrict how and where the tokens could be traded. Depending on the nature of the asset, a token holder would also be able to redeem the receipt for the underlying asset by transferring it to the custodian, who would then cancel the tokens.

Notably, JPMorgan believes that one use case for this proposed system is to allow companies to hold initial public offerings (IPO) in a blockchain environment, more or less fulfilling the ultimate promise of the initial coin offering, though it is doubtful both that the firm would ever acknowledge that fact or refer to such token distribution events as ICOs.

Obligation-Backed Receipts

The patent also notes that the tokens could represent obligation-backed virtual receipts, more commonly known as debt equity. This is not the first time that JPMorgan has mulled creating a platform to issue debt on a blockchain. Earlier this year, the firm partnered with the National Bank of Canada and a group of other firms to simulate the issuance of a $150 million Yankee certificate of deposit (CD) on Quorum — JPMorgan’s Ethereum-based enterprise blockchain platform — in parallel with an actual CD issued through conventional means.

“One of the mandates of the J.P. Morgan blockchain program is to identify how blockchain technology can create value, efficiency, and a better experience for our clients across the financial markets value chain,” said Christine Moy, JPMorgan’s blockchain program lead, at the time. “ We look forward to exploring blockchain-enabled capital markets applications, how these types of transformative opportunities can benefit our clients and counterparts.”

As CCN reported, while JPMorgan has been generally hostile toward cryptocurrencies — CEO Jamie Dimon, many will remember, once routinely referred to bitcoin as a fraud — the firm has for years been a leader in the development of enterprise blockchain applications, which seek to capitalize the benefits of distributed ledger technology (DLT) in a private, permissioned environment, most notably through its development and promotion of Quorum.

Article Produced By
Blockchain News

https://www.ccn.com/jpmorgan-wants-to-use-blockchain-to-issue-ico-tokens/