Tag Archives: ICOs

Report: ICOs Raised 118 Million in Q1 2019 Over 58 Times Less Than in Q1 2018

Report: ICOs Raised $118 Million in Q1 2019, Over 58 Times Less Than in Q1 2018

            

About $118 million has been raised via initial coin offerings (ICOs)

in Q1 of 2019, over 58 times less than $6.9 billion, the amount raised during the same period in 2018, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports on March 31. The report cites data provided by ICO analytics website TokenData. The WSJ argues that investors have been scared off by regulators’ actions against non-compliant ICOs, as well as by the general bear market over the past year. One of the latest cases happened in February, when the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged crypto firm Gladius Network with selling unregistered securities after the company self-reported to the commission.

Last month, founding partner of Future Perfect Ventures, Jalak Jobanputra, claimed that venture capital valuations have also been deeply affected by the cryptocurrency bear market. The recent report also reveals that of the 2,500 projects that TokenData tracked since 2017, purportedly only 45 percent successfully raised money. Furthermore, WSJ also cites TokenData as saying that only 15 percent of tokens issued in successful ICOs are trading at or above their original price. The article cited attorney and consultant Joshua Ashley Klayman as stating that ICOs themselves may disappear, but the market for digital securities won’t. Recently, so-called security token offerings (STOs) have received increased attention from both the private sector and government regulators globally.

In the U.S. context, investors are faced with a patchwork regulatory landscape when it comes to tokens sales. In February, the state of Wyoming passed a blockchain tokenization-related bill, while a similar law was passed in Delaware in September 2017. This week, Cointelegraph reported that the owner of a startup that ended up canceling its ICO was trying to sell the company on eBay for $60,000. The startup, named “Sponsy,” is described as a blockchain project that is fully prepared to launch both an ICO and an STO.

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/report-icos-raised-118-million-in-q1-2019-over-58-times-less-than-in-q1-2018

Deb Williams (hodlthrive)

The SEC’s Guidelines and Statements Show That It’s Slowly Learning to Accept ICOs

The SEC’s Guidelines and Statements Show That It’s Slowly Learning to Accept ICOs

             

Initial coin offerings (ICOs) may be less fashionable

than security token offerings (STOs) right now, but that hasn't stopped the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from keeping its beady eye trained firmly on them. Ever since it published its investigation into the decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) in July 2017 and declared that ICO tokens can be (and often are) securities, it has been producing a variety of guidelines and warnings on ICOs for investors.

Initially, its notices were used to emphasize the potentially fraudulent or dangerous nature of initial coin offerings, with its first-ever Investor Bulletin on ICOs concluding with a summary of "potential warning signs of investment fraud." However, even if it followed this up with a number of investor "alerts,” its current guidelines have taken a more balanced tone, treating ICOs as an established feature of the financial landscape that may nonetheless require a certain degree of diligence on the part of investors.

And on the whole, the industry welcomes this newfound balance, as well as the more measured approach the SEC has taken to crypto. That said, certain industry groups are calling for additional and clearer guidance from the SEC, since there's a feeling that certain grey areas still exist in the commission's classification of cryptocurrencies, with the Blockchain Association speaking of a "growing sense of urgency" that such questions be soon resolved.

Current guidelines

Even though the SEC's updated guidelines have reportedly been available since last March, it only recently began promoting them on social media, with tweets from February and the end of November inviting the public to learn five things it needs to know about initial coin offerings. For the most part, these five points don't present any radically new information, even if they might prove useful to ICO newcomers. Nonetheless, their presentation as digestible nuggets of info — rather than as sections of longer reports or statements — reveals an appreciation on the SEC's part that cryptocurrencies are being sought out by “regular” consumers, as well as by experienced traders interested in alternative financial instruments. And such a realization is borne out in the basic, easy-to-understand format of the five guidelines, as shown and explained below:

  • "ICOs can be securities offerings."
    This is essentially a warning that cryptos offered in a token sale may fall under the jurisdiction of the SEC, and may therefore need to be registered with the commission.
  • "They may need to be registered."
    Once again, another warning that some tokens may need to be registered with the SEC.
  • "Tokens sold in ICOs can be called many things."
    A warning that simply having a different or unusual name won't stop a token from being classified by the SEC as a security.
  • "ICOs may pose substantial risks."
    A warning that some ICOs may be scams. This point also includes a warning that, even if an ICO isn't fraudulent, sold tokens are at risk of being lost, hacked or having their prices manipulated.
  • "Ask questions before investing."
    Advice urging consumers to obtain clear answers to any questions or concerns they might have before buying any tokens.

The SEC's guidelines also include four additional pointers each for investors and "market professionals" (i.e., exchanges, brokers). With regard to the extra investor advice, this expands upon the points made in the five warnings above. For example, investors are encouraged to research how tokens will be traded, to research the individuals and companies offering the tokens, to be aware that tokens may be traded internationally (and may therefore escape the SEC's enforcement), and to be suspicious of offerings that are "too good to be true.”

Conversely, market professionals (i.e., exchanges) are advised in the additional guidelines specifically for them to uphold securities laws, to register if they sell securities, and to ensure that they protect the interests of investors and their customers. As with the guidelines for investors and the general public, most of the emphasis is placed on the fact that tokens can be — and frequently are — securities, given that they often promise future returns (one of the key components of the Howey Test). And while there are still certain issues left to be resolved (see below), this emphasis on the applicability of securities law is welcomed by the Blockchain Association’s Kristin Smith, with the director of external affairs for the Washington D.C.-based lobbying group telling Cointelegraph that the SEC's latest guidelines are a

positive step for the industry.

"It’s helpful that the SEC has been clear that organizations using tokens to raise funds must comply with securities laws, but the nature of these projects means that there is still a grey area for some tokens. We think that makes a lot of sense that some tokens be treated as securities because it helps close the information gap between investors and creators of a project. It’s a complex environment, so having some clarity on that issue is key."

Softening up

Despite containing plenty of warnings about the risks of ICOs, the SEC's latest guidelines appear to represent a tangible step forward in terms of treating crypto as a legitimate area of investment. Back in the first half of 2018, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton was talking about being "shocked" by the level of fraud the commission had encountered in the ICO space, while at the same time, announcing and applauding efforts by Canadian and American securities officials to crack down on ICO-related scams. He said in April at a

conference in Chicago:

"The fraudsters flocked to the new and attractive space. I guess that shouldn’t surprise me, but it does."

Such public remarks gave the impression that the SEC regarded ICOs as a mostly illegitimate vacuum in which opportunists were effectively robbing the gullible. And even though some of Clayton's early remarks indicate that the SEC saw genuine potential in token sales, official statements and bulletins from the commission reinforced this impression. In July 2017, for instance, the SEC issued an Investor Bulletin, which contained many of the same pieces of advices as those given in the latest guidelines, yet the two concluding sections of the

statement focused exclusively on fraud.

"If fraud or theft results in you or the organization that issued the virtual tokens or coins losing virtual tokens, virtual currency, or fiat currency, you may have limited recovery options. Third-party wallet services, payment processors, and virtual currency exchanges that play important roles in the use of virtual currencies may be located overseas or be operating unlawfully."

Similarly, in August 2017, it published another Investor Alert that not only concentrated on ICO scams, but also apprised would-be investors about the danger that sold tokens would be subject to "pump-and-dump" and market manipulation frauds.

The alert declared:

"The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is warning investors about potential scams involving stock of companies claiming to be related to, or asserting they are engaging in, Initial Coin Offerings (or ICOs). These frauds include ‘pump-and-dump’ and market manipulation schemes involving publicly traded companies that claim to provide exposure to these new technologies."

Over the course of 2018, the SEC adopted a gradually less stringent and suspicious attitude toward ICOs and crypto, even if the commission reported in November that it investigated dozens of token sales in the previous 12 months, and even if it closed down a handful of coin offerings. This relative softening is apparent in its latest guidelines, but it's also apparent in some of the recent speeches and pronouncements given by SEC officials, as

highlighted by Smith.

"In general, the SEC has taken a measured approach as they assess how to regulate crypto tokens. As an industry, we think a couple of recent speeches set the right tone: Director Bill Hinman spoke on the topic of decentralization last June and Commissioner Hester Peirce gave a general assessment of regulatory issues earlier this month."

The assessment Smith is alluding to here was when Peirce stated that the SEC's delay in coming out with clear, decisive regulation should give the crypto industry more leeway to mature according to its own internal dynamics and logic. While Peirce — or “Crypto Mom,” as she's often referred to — is one of the more crypto-friendly individuals at the SEC, her comments at least offer indication that there are now people at the commission who view the industry positively, and don't want to restrict or warn against it.

It's likely that such a softening of the SEC's sentiment goes hand-in-hand with two things. First of all, having taken a harder line on ICOs towards the end of 2017 and through 2018, the Commission can now feel assured that it has a better handle on coin offerings, and that it can be more moderate and measured in its declarations.

Secondly, the fact that the ICO and wider crypto markets have settled down over the past few months has also helped to relax the SEC's attitude, even if it still prefers to highlight the risks rather than the benefits of ICOs. This is something that has happened with United Kingdom regulators, for example, and it's also something that has been helped by exchanges and token issuers, which have eagerly sought to gain either licensing or exemption status from the SEC.

For instance, research published by MarketWatch in January found that there had been a 550 percent increase in 2018 in companies seeking authorization from the SEC to hold token sales. If nothing else, this rise has shown the SEC that, even if there are scammers out there, the industry is, on the whole, a very serious one.

More detail please

But even though the SEC has, over time, placed less emphasis in its notices on the potentially fraudulent aspects of ICOs, the crypto industry still isn't entirely satisfied with its current guidelines and with its current approach. The Blockchain Association, for one, is satisfied that the commission's latest advice on ICOs has been simplified and made more accessible, yet Smith reports that the trade association is calling for greater clarity from the SEC on just when exactly tokens

are and aren't securities.

"We do urgently need additional, detailed guidance on how tokens that we used in decentralized networks should be classified. There’s a strong argument that they shouldn’t be considered securities. This is the biggest question that the industry and regulators are grappling with today."

So far, the SEC has acknowledged that at least some cryptocurrencies (e.g., Bitcoin and Ethereum) aren't securities, while recent speeches have taken a more favorable stance toward crypto. However, Smith asserts that this doesn't go far enough for the industry and doesn't provide it with

enough certainty for the future.

"These speeches are not formal guidance and there remains a growing sense of urgency that we need to answer the outstanding questions soon, because that lack of clarity is preventing developers from pursuing projects here in the United States. The questions before the SEC are very complex. Their position has become clearer over time, but there are still outstanding questions that need to be answered."

It isn't entirely clear when the outstanding questions will be answered, something that may be disconcerting for any startup or company flirting with the idea of having a token sale. Still, other industry voices agree with the Blockchain Association in affirming that the SEC nonetheless has a more or less balanced approach to ICOs and to crypto, and hasn't tried to be too restrictive. This is the view taken by Iqbal V. Gandam, the

chairman of CryptoUK:

"I think the approach is balanced. They [the SEC] have not said that they are a poor/risky investment, but simply stated that the investor needs to be cautious – as is true with other investments. I also do not feel they view all crypto to be securities. They have linked to a recent hearing/article which highlights a particular crypto [the 2017 DAO investigation] and how it was deemed to be a security. So again being cautious but at the same time giving freedom to token creators."

The SEC may not have issued formal guidelines or rulings on ICOs, but Gandam's comments support the idea that it has, despite the initial wariness of ICOs, given them space to operate and grow. Of course, it's still arguable that crypto could grow even faster if the SEC produced detailed formal guidelines, but for now, its current advice shows that it has reached a grudging acceptance of token sales, since otherwise it would have warned investors and consumers away from them altogether.

Article Produced By
Simon Chandler

Simon Chandler is a journalist based in Hove, UK. He writes mostly about technology, with his specialties including cryptocurrencies, AI, VR, and social media. He also occasionally writes about politics, culture and music, and has contributed to the likes of Wired, the Daily Dot, the Verge, Computer Weekly, Techcrunch, Bandcamp Daily, the New Internationalist, the Kenyon Review, and Tiny Mix Tapes

https://cointelegraph.com/news/the-secs-guidelines-and-statements-show-that-its-slowly-learning-to-accept-icos

Deb Williams (hodlthrive)

Initial Country Offering as Next Big Thing For ICOs: Expert Blog

Initial Country Offering as Next Big Thing For ICOs: Expert Blog

             

One week ago Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko

signed the Decree "On Digital Economy Development" that legalizes ICO, cryptocurrencies and smart contracts. Two months ago the Republic of Abkhazia announced its plans to raise $1 bln in an ICO. Abkhazia followed Venezuela, the first country to consider crypto as a funding mechanism, with its well-publicized plan to roll out an oil-backed token called “Petro.” Puerto Rico has had an awful decade and its government is more than $70 bln in debt. Recently cryptocurrencies’ capitalization was around $400 bln, now – more than $500 bln. What about ICO for $70 bln to make “crypto valley” in the US there?

Government-in-the-cloud

In 1996, one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, John Perry Barlow, wrote "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace." A seminal text for its time,

it says:

"Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live."

Estonian e-government services can be run from anywhere. In the old days, a government in exile would quickly lose legitimacy. Sheltering in another country, it would lack the infrastructure to do its work. But today an Estonian government in exile could just carry on. It helps to clarify the differences between a nation, a state and a geographical country.

In general, a nation is a group of people within an area who perceive themselves as a unique entity, a country is that geographical area itself, and a state is a set of political organizations that those people agree to adhere to. By disconnecting the Silicon-based functions of the state from the actual soil-based country, Estonians are protecting their nation. But it's more than that. Estonians are successful in their efforts and they can build a digital state infrastructure that can be hosted anywhere. It doesn't have to be an officially recognized state – if we can deterritorialize a state, could we perhaps “state-ify” a nation? It could be backed up and turned off, reduced to a suitcase full of hard drives, only to boot back up again when the time is right.

Country-as-a-service – CaaS

You are probably familiar with SaaS – “software as a service.” It’s basically paying for software/hardware as you use them, rather than buying them. These services used to cost you a lot, but are now free or near enough. That’s where governance is going. Government services could become plug and play apps you stitch together to suit your business or lifestyle. There’s no logical reason why governance shouldn’t be delivered as SaaS (CaaS).

The most interesting (and promising) Blockchain-related industries are strictly outside of the cryptorealm – they include solutions for healthcare and logistics, land sale support, governmental and corporate workflow solutions. Estonia, a global leader in e-government, has recently launched a unified medical record database, accessible to hospitals and insurance companies, in partnership with the Blockchain startup Guardtime. Prescrypt works along the same lines in partnership with SNS Bank and Deloitte in the Netherlands, BitHealth – in the United States.

Swedish government together with ChromaWay and a partner bank is going to test Blockchain smart contracts for the land registry, to simplify life of buyers, sellers, and banks, using land as collateral on a regular basis. BitFury launches a similar initiative in Georgia, whereas BitLand enters Ghana and Honduras (and have plans to expand to Nigeria and Kenya). UAE launches Blockchain strategy to become paperless by 2020.

The state of Delaware, hosting numerous companies from other states and countries, is to introduce a Blockchain-based system of company registration, an issue of shares, recording of Board Resolutions, redistribution of shares as a result of purchase and sales transactions. British Everledger assists banks, insurers and open marketplaces in a reduction of risk and fraud by digitally certifying diamonds, art objects and high-end bottles of wine.

In comparison with the current focus on ICO-backed startups investments into Blockchain-based GovTech startups (to support their growth and building of the ecosystem of such services) looks very promising: Governance is the next big thing for ICOs and Blockchain world. This new ecosystem, such “borderless country in the cloud” could be like creation of Israel 2.0. Anyway, it seems short-sided to talk about geographical borders in the modern online-world, especially in terms of decentralized economy and Blockchain-community.

Article Produced By
Vladislav Solodkiy

Vladislav Solodkiy is a managing partner at Life.SREDA, Singapore-based fintech-VC, author of The First Fintech Bank’s Arrival book.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/initial-country-offering-as-next-big-thing-for-icos-expert-blog

Deb Williams (hodlthrive)

FBI Outline Key Features of Scam ICOs Warns Investors to Be Vigilant

FBI Outline Key Features of Scam ICOs, Warns Investors to Be Vigilant

                

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

has outlined what it believes to be the consistent threads running through fraudulent initial coin offering (ICO) schemes. The Bureau’s perspective was shared in an interview with Netherlands-based financial news site the Paypers on Feb. 19. According to the FBI, the key strategies of scam offerings include misrepresentations of their directors’ professional experience, an engineered false impression of how much traction the ICO has garnered in the industry, and unrealistic promises of prospective

returns on tokens:

“Like any investment product, rates of return can never be guaranteed and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

The FBI warned investors to conduct due diligence on any scheme and the individuals behind it, and to be on the lookout for entities that appear to be exclusively internet-based, where a physical address or contact is hard or impossible to come by. The Bureau also suggested investors should be aware of which jurisdiction the offering is registered in — if at all — and to which laws and regulations it therefore falls subject to.   

The public can avail itself of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck system to verify the identities and registration status of entities, the FBI advised. Given that even well-known cryptocurrencies and products may carry heightened risks of volatility due to the nascent stature of the industry, the FBI advised prospective investors to only invest what they can afford to lose.

In regard to legitimate business operators of platforms such as virtual currency exchanges or cryptocurrency ATMs, the FBI noted that both the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and multiple Federal District Courts have deemed such entities as subject to registration requirements. Failure to duly register is thus reportedly deemed to be in violation of federal money transmitting laws.

Looking ahead to the future, the FBI echoed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)’s stance that a vast swathe of token offerings should be classified as securities and that, given the increasing proliferation of such assets — with many industry members anticipating a security token offering trend — investors should be wary of the heightened risks of fraud. As previously reported, the FBI accounted for the highest number of law enforcement information requests sent to Erik Voorhees’ Switzerland-based cryptocurrency exchange ShapeShift last year.

In June 2018, the Bureau revealed it had 130 ongoing crypto-related cases, with dark web drug sales a particular concern. It nonetheless characterized the sector as accounting for merely “a small sliver” of the FBI’s activities overall. Last year, the SEC attempted to educate investors by creating a mock ICO website that lured visitors with a “too good to be true investment opportunity.” The site employed the red flags the agency claimed to have identified in the majority of fraudulent ICOs, and redirected those who attempted to purchase the ersatz tokens to an educationally-oriented page on the SEC’s site.

Article Produced By
Marie Huillet

Marie Huillet is an independent filmmaker, with a background in journalism and publishing. Nomadic by nature, she’s lived in five different countries this decade. She’s fascinated by Blockchain technologies’ potential to reshape all aspects of our lives.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/ethereums-vitalik-buterin-discloses-non-eth-crypto-holdings-and-other-revenue-sources

Deb Williams (hodlthrive)

Beyond the ICO: Evolution Versus Revolution

Beyond the ICO: Evolution Versus Revolution

               

The ICO model will soon be rendered redundant

by a series of new token offering models focusing on security, transparency, and regulatory compliance. An explosion of token offering innovation is underway, with several new models emerging as prime contenders for the title of the “ICO of the future.” In this three-part series, we’ll assess the current state of the ICO ecosystem, analyze the regulatory shift making the “traditional” ICO model untenable, and take a look beyond the ICO at the future of decentralized capital generation.

In our previous Beyond the ICO article, we examined the ICO market and regulatory response to the ongoing issue of ICO fraud. Regulators are playing a critical role in the creation of a new token offering model that allows innovative startups to access capital in a decentralized manner, but what shape will the future ICO take?

The Future of the ICO

The immunological regulatory response to the threat presented by the traditional ICO model will inevitably result in change, but regulation isn’t the only environmental factor shaping the evolution of ICOs. Community self-regulation will heavily influence the morphology of future ICOs as the crypto market adapts to fraud within the ICO market and eliminates less efficient models in a Darwinian manner. The ICO model will fracture into separate models that fill different niches within the blockchain ecosystem; security token offerings and DAICOs.

Security token offerings address the core issue presented by bringing capital markets onto the blockchain. Instead of working against existing securities laws, a security token offering, or STO, works with them — the most obvious solution to the looming threat of regulatory action. Instead of attempting to camouflage what is arguably a securities offering as a utility token, STOs deliver regulatory certainty as well as investor confidence

While STOs aim to adapt to the impending fallout of an extinction-level threat, the DAICO model — proposed by Vitalik Buterin — is less concerned with regulation, and more focused on minimizing the inherent risk and complexity of ICOs. By fusing the concept of a decentralized autonomous organization and an ICO, the DAICO model allows development teams to publish a smart contract that launches in “contribution mode.” A DAICO establishes the funding process as a smart contract that governs the contribution of ether to a project and the specifics of a sale, as well as allowing token holders to vote on the rate of funding delivered to the development team, or even put a contract into “withdraw mode” as

outlined by Buterin:

“Voters start off by giving the development team a reasonable and not-too-high monthly budget, and raise it over time as the team demonstrates its ability to competently execute with its existing budget. If the voters are very unhappy with the development team’s progress, they can always vote to shut the DAICO down entirely and get their money back.”

The ICO Model is Here to Stay — But Not as We Know it

Both the DAICO and STO models address the major obstacles that ICOs face in the near future, but the evolving crypto industry may eliminate the ICO as a launchpad for new blockchain-based platforms altogether. UK-based technology advisory and investment firm GP Bullhound predicts the end of the ICO model as the go-to capital generation method for blockchain entrepreneurs, stating that 2018 will see airdrops become new normal for token distribution. With venture capital stepping in at a pre-ICO stage, airdrops will function as a preferable option to traditional ICO models in order to maximize network effects.

While the ICO as it exists today may be gone tomorrow, the blockchain brings evolution, not revolution. Regardless of regulatory posturing, decentralized growth capital generation will exist as long as decentralized currencies exist and are used to exchange value. Ultimately, the ICO is identical to the underlying technology that drives it — regardless of the shape it takes in future, it’s here to stay.

Article Produced By
Sam Town

Blockchain Writer at CryptoSlate

Samuel is a freelance journalist, digital nomad, and crypto enthusiast based out of Bangkok, Thailand. As an avid observer of the rapidly evolving blockchain ecosystem he specializes in the FinTech sector, and when not writing explores the technological landscape of Southeast Asia.

https://cryptoslate.com/beyond-the-ico-part-3-evolution-versus-revolution/

 

Deb Williams (hodlthrive)

Without Regulation ICOs Unlikely to Disrupt Venture Capital According to OECD

Without Regulation ICOs Unlikely to Disrupt Venture Capital According to OECD

             

In its January report, the Organisation for Economic

Co-Operation and Development (OECD) explained some of the intricacies of ICOs in modern finance. Although ICOs still offer advantages for startups, it comes at a steep cost. The organization concluded that ICOs can’t be properly harnessed until there is regulatory consensus internationally and it is unlikely to replace venture capital for mainstream seed financing.

OECD’s Stance on ICOs

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development was founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. Today, the organization is comprised of 36 member countries including the United States, much of the European Union, Korea, and other major economies. Like most regulatory agencies, the OECD asserts that ICOs, in their current form,

are risky:

“ICOs in their current shape and form carry important risks for SME [small and medium enterprise] issuers and investors subscribing to token offerings.”

At face value, an ICO seems like an excellent way to raise funding. Thousands of businesses which otherwise would have never formed have been able to raise hundreds of millions using these offerings. Yet, to some extent, ICOs can be a trap. Keeping issuers accountable, properly structuring token economics, and evolving definitions for “utility” and “security” token have stunted many companies post-ICO. In extreme cases, the Securities Exchange Commission has even compelled companies that have conducted ICOs to return funds to investors via recision. Considering the age of the industry, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. The OECD does provide some answers, but even these come with a lot of footnotes and exceptions.

Grin as a Case Study

One highly anticipated project in the cryptocurrency space is Grin. The privacy-centric cryptocurrency gained the attention of Peter Thiel and several crypto-minded venture funds, including Primitive Ventures, Iterative Capital, and BlockCypher. With no ICO, no pre-mine, and some innovative privacy attributes, Grin has some features the crypto-community appears to value. In his proof of work newsletter, Erik Meltzer, a partner at Primitive Ventures,

stated:

“Unlike Bitcoin, which was so maligned and ignored at launch that Satoshi had to mine by himself on a single Intel CPU for most of 2009, there is (by our conservative estimates) 100 million dollars of mostly VC money invested into special-purpose investment vehicles to mine Grin.”

One interesting feature of Grin is “MimbleWimble,” a feature that purportedly hides information related to cryptocurrency transactions. Some have heralded the feature as a “cure” to Bitcoin’s privacy and scalability issues, but the feature has seen limited implementation outside of Grin. In a video explainer, crypto evangelist Andreas Antonopoulos said that MimbleWimble allows users to “have a much smaller, more private blockchain.” The innovation hides the amounts being transacted, the identities of the transactors, as well as verifies the state of the blockchain without storing all transactions. Allegedly, these are all features that Bitcoin has struggled with.

Grin has been compared a number of times to Bitcoin but implemented in such a way that’s more “fair,” according to advocates on Twitter. Prominent Bitcoin developer Jameson Lopp Tweeted his appreciation for the project on Jan. 15, 2019, saying that “there are no sketchy incentives skewed towards the creators, it’s actually innovating, and it’s a pretty cypherpunk project.” These questions of fairness are a matter of tokenomics (token economics). The monetary policy surrounding a cryptocurrency defines its use within the ecosystem and has a large impact on a coin’s price.

OECD on Pre-Mines and Tiered ICOs

The OECD offers some insights into this aspect of token offerings. The policy group asserts that “private sales of tokens ahead of ICOs raise a number of issues,” and “not having ‘skin-in-the-game’ is a source of potential conflicts.” Pre-ICO rounds that offer discounted tokens, but aren’t adjusted for risk compared to those sold during the main ICO, are primarily occupied by what the OECD labels “insiders.” The funds raised by insiders during this period are typically used to pay for marketing and advisory costs needed to establish the project in the first place.

Founders who manage to cover these costs often “carry no personal financial risk in the transaction besides reputation risk,” states OECD. The international agency underlined the importance of having “skin-in-the-game” as this accountability prevents conflicts such as pump and dump schemes. In the context of traditional startups and small businesses, cryptocurrency entrepreneurs need only pay for marketing expenses and advisory fees. Moreover, the absence of a mandatory lock-up period often tempts startup leaders to leave after they’ve raised the cash, rather than build out a working product.

ICOs Compared to IPOs

Initial public offerings (IPOs) for traditional stocks share few similarities with ICOs, other than that they are both fundraising methods. In the case of an IPO, investors interested in buying shares in a company are betting on a former track record of performance. There is a history of “both operational and financial performance,” explains the OECD, offering much more information than what is possible in an ICO. IPOs also tend to be much longer events, with planning for an offering lasting three times as long compared to an ICO, according to the OECD. With these features in mind, ICOs are more akin to venture

capital-style fundraising:

“IPOs follow series A-D financing or are used as an exit after venture capital funding, while ICOs look for seed/early stage financing, similar to seed financing (or perhaps series A round).”

If IPOs are a bet on a business’ forecasted success, then an ICO is a bet on turning an idea into reality. Unlike ICOs, venture capitalists (VCs) can meet with startups, get acquainted with the founding team, and then decide whether to provide funding. However, VCs still run into ‘problems’ of liquidity. For ICOs, as soon as a token is listed, a secondary market becomes available that makes “cashing out” easy. Such ease is tempting for

crypto founders:

“Academic research suggests that ICOs are preferred for projects with a high risk of failure and right-skewed payoff distribution, given that in case of some retention of ICO proceeds by the entrepreneur, the payoff for the entrepreneur is positive even when the project fails.”

ICOs Unlikely to Replace Venture Capital

Establishing a clear alignment of interest between token holders and founders is one of the largest impediments to ICOs succeeding. As the report claims, the OECD anticipates that the only way to harness ICOs is through international regulatory consensus. This, however, is easier said than done. At the end of the report, the OECD compiled all high-profile regulatory responses worldwide. Such a compilation emphasizes the complexity of “safeguarding” investors in each jurisdiction.

The FMA, the financial authority in Austria, suggested that ICOs require a license to help protect investors. Meanwhile, Thai authorities have simply outlined the benefits and risks associated with the fundraising technique, with few rules on how the practice should actually be regulated.

China and Korea have both outright banned ICOs, with the latter citing “serious concern about the fact that the current market funds are being pushed into a non-productive speculative direction.” ICOs were once lauded as a potential way to disrupt VC financing. Yet, at the present moment, the lack of accountability for issuers has left the space rife with scams and ill-conceived projects. With this in mind, the OECD concludes their report with the importance of a

quality use case:

“It [seems] inappropriate to consider ICOs as a potential ‘mainstream’ financing mechanism for SMEs whose projects are not enabled by DLTs and which would not benefit from network effects.”

By extension, the OECD suggests that it might make sense for projects enabled by distributed ledger technology to raise funds via ICO. Yet, this brings about a whole host of other issues around which projects should use blockchain technology instead of conventional databases. Again, it seems like international decision-makers are leaving more questions than answers.

Article Produced By
Liam Kelly

 

Blockchain Writer at CryptoSlate Berlin, Germany

https://cryptoslate.com/without-regulation-ico-unlikely-disrupt-venture-capital-oecd/

 

Deb Williams (hodlthrive)

ICOs Produce Slow Start to 2019

ICOs Produce Slow Start to 2019
   

During the first two weeks of 2019,

initial coin offerings (ICOs) raised roughly $90 million, according to data published by Icobench. Of the total funds raised this year so far, $80.2 million can be attributed to the Chelle Coin ICO.

Slow Start to 2019 for Initial Coin Offerings

47 ICOs launched during the first week of January, bringing the total number of ongoing initial coin offerings to 424. Despite the large number of ongoing ICOs, only $6 million was collectively raised between Jan. 1 and Jan. 7, comprising the smallest combined weekly total raised by ICOs since 2017. During the second week of January, the total raised by initial coin offerings jumped substantially after Chelle Coin, an ICO for an “investment platform backed by performing North American True Estate,” generated $80.2 million from Canadian investors. Excluding Chelle Coin, the combined total raised by ICOs between Jan. 7 and Jan. 15 was $3 million.

ICOs Post Steep Decline in Fundraising During Second Half of 2018

The slow start to 2019 follows a significant decline in the average performance of initial coin offerings during the final six months of 2018. After averaging a monthly total of $1.45 billion collectively during the first half of 2018, the combined monthly average raise by ICOs fell by 65 percent to just $500 million in the second half of the year. Additionally, the combined total raised by initial coin offerings fell short of 2017’s monthly average of roughly $850 million for the entire second half of last year.

The average sum raised by each individual ICO also fell by more than 50 percent year-over-year, dropping from $24.4 million in 2017 to nearly $11 million in 2018. Despite the decline in the average performance of ICOs, the collective total raised by ICOs increased last year, with 413 offerings raising $10.06 billion in 2017 versus 1,012 offerings raising $11.59 billion in 2018.

Singapore Comprises Leading Nation for ICO Fundraising During 2018

Nearly $1.54 billion was raised by Singapore-based ICOs during last year, equating to 13 percent of the fundraising total. The total was raised from 275 offerings, making Singapore the second most popular destination for ICO issuers. While the United States hosted the largest number of ICOs during 2018, the 288 U.S.-based offerings accounted for $1.22 billion in raised funds last year, or 11 percent of the global total. The United Kingdom ranked third by collective total raised and number of ICOs, with 222 offerings generating $945 million.

The Cayman Islands hosted the fourth largest total raised by the ninth largest number of offerings, with $917 million raised by just 56 offerings. Switzerland ranked fifth by combined fundraising and number of ICOs, hosting 136 offerings that generated $845 million. These five countries accounted for 47 percent of the combined global sum raised by ICOs in 2018.

Article Produced By
Samuel Haig

Samuel Haig is a journalist who has been completely obsessed with bitcoin and cryptocurrency since 2012. Samuel lives in Tasmania, Australia, where he attended the University of Tasmania and majored in Political Science, and Journalism, Media & Communications. Samuel has written about the dialectics of decentralization, and is also a musician and kangaroo riding enthusiast.

https://news.bitcoin.com/icos-slow-start-2019/

Deb Williams (hodlthrive)

MIT Professor: Blockchain Can Allow for More Inclusive Borderless EconomyICOs Raised 160 Million in First Half of January Report Says

MIT Professor: Blockchain Can Allow for More Inclusive, Borderless Economy

  

Blockchain can allow for the creation of a borderless economy,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Silvio Micali claimed in a interview on Bloomberg’s Daybreak Asia, Jan. 21. Speaking on the show, Micali outlined three major properties of blockchain systems that must function simultaneously to enable a more inclusive and borderless economy — security, decentralization and scalability. According to MIT’s Ford Professor of Engineering, until recently, only two of those three basic properties could have been achieved simultaneously at any time.

When asked about scalability in particular, Micali stressed that a decentralized system really needs superior technology to provide the same level of participation and confidence that is enjoyed by centralized systems. When asked about security breaches in blockchain systems, Micali stated that centralized systems are far more vulnerable to hacking attempts, pointing to the frequency of security and privacy breaches that repeatedly take place among centralized institution of various sorts. The professor expressed optimism about blockchain in terms of security, noting the level of security built into the concept of

a trustless system:

“Only a true decentralized system, where the power is really so spread that is going to be essentially practically impossible to attack them all and when you don’t need to trust this or that particular node, is going to bring actually the security we really need and deserve.”

Recently, a group of major United States universities, including MIT, Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, announced the launch of Unit-e, a cryptocurrency project touted as a “globally scalable decentralized payments network.” Earlier in January, MIT Technology Review issued an article claiming that 2019 will become the year when blockchain technology finally becomes normalized.

Article Produced By
Helen Partz

Helen is passionate about learning languages, cultures and the Internet. She has years of experience working at international online advertising projects. Growing interested in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in late 2017, she joined Cointelegraph as a writer.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/71-million-user-volunteer-platform-to-launch-blockchain-based-dapp

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ICOs Raised $160 Million in First Half of January, Report Says

  

Initial coin offerings (ICOs) completed

in the first half of January have raised around $160 million. The figure was provided in a report by ICO rating service ICObench shared with Cointelegraph on Jan. 18. ICOs completed by Jan. 15 have managed to raise about 33 percent of the combined amount raised in the previous month of December. Half of that sum was secured by just one project, the report notes. According to ICObench, the number of fundraisers that are set to take place in January is more than 150, a figure similar to the past seven months, excluding December.

In January, the combined hard cap — the maximum amount of money that a project can secure from investors during an ICO — amounts to more than $4 billion. As per the report, three fundraisers out of the five largest this month have reached or almost reached their hard caps. ICObench also reported that the number of ICO listings has continued to decline in January, suggesting that the phenomenon is losing its popularity. In terms of amount of funds raised, Canada has been leading during the first half of the month, with a combined figure of $80 million. However, when it comes to the actual number of projects, the United States ranked first.

ICO statistics by country in the first half of January 2019.

On Jan. 16, major crypto exchange BitMEX released a report claiming that ICO teams have lost 54 percent of value of the initial $24 billion worth of tokens allocated to themselves due to the decline in coin prices.

Article Produced By
Helen Partz

Helen is passionate about learning languages, cultures and the Internet. She has years of experience working at international online advertising projects. Growing interested in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in late 2017, she joined Cointelegraph as a writer.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/icos-raised-160-million-in-first-half-of-january-report-says

Deb Williams (hodlthrive)

What’s Difference Between ICO Tokens and Cryptocurrency Coins?

What’s Difference Between ICO Tokens and Cryptocurrency Coins?

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are becoming

increasingly more mainstream every day, but the terminology that surrounds them can be confusing even to seasoned crypto veterans, let alone newcomers.Interested in investing in Bitcoins or other Altcoins? Here’s how we buy Bitcoin and Ethers. You will receive $10 of FREE BITCOIN when you buy or sell over $100 worth of any digital currency.

A lot has changed since an unknown person or group of people under the name Satoshi Nakamoto released Bitcoin, the first decentralized cryptocurrency in the world, in 2009. According to CoinMarketCap, there are now almost 1,500 cryptocurrencies, the total market capitalization of the entire crypto market is over $700 billion, and the daily trading volume exceeds $30 billion on a regular basis. To understand how we got to where we are today, and what the difference between ICO tokens and cryptocurrency coins is, we need to start with the basics.

What Is a Cryptocurrency?

The term “cryptocurrency” consists of two words: crypto and currency. Even though you may not be able to define it, you already know what a currency is because you use it almost every day as a medium of exchange for goods and services. Investopedia defines a currency as “a generally accepted form of money, including coins and paper notes, which is issued by a government and circulated within an economy.”

The word “crypto” is short for “cryptography,” which is the practice of using various protocols to secure communication in the presence of third parties. Modern cryptography is synonymous with encryption, the process of encoding information in such a way that only authorized parties can access it. Put together, a cryptocurrency can be defined as a medium of exchange that uses cryptography to secure its transactions.

Cryptocurrency Coins and Tokens

While there were other media of exchange that used cryptography to secure transactions before 2009, Bitcoin was the first one to also be decentralized, meaning that it’s not controlled by any single central authority. The decentralized nature of Bitcoin comes from its use of the blockchain technology, which is a distributed public ledger that records bitcoin transactions in a growing list of records, called blocks. Each block of transactions is cryptographically linked to the previous block, making blockchains resistant to data modification.

Because the blockchain technology was such a novel concept when Satoshi Nakamoto implemented it as a core Bitcoin component in 2009, many other cryptocurrencies were soon derived from Bitcoin, including Litecoin, Darkcoin, Quark, Yacoin, Novacoin, or BitBlock, just to name a few. Collectively, these Bitcoin derivatives are sometimes called Bitcoin clones. What they have in common is the fact that they are all derived from Bitcoin and are meant to be used as media of exchange. Apart from cryptocurrency coins that have been derived directly from Bitcoin, there are also so-called altcoins. An altcoin is an alternative blockchain project that exists in addition to Bitcoin and its blockchain.

By far the best-known altcoin is Ethereum, which is an open-source, public, blockchain-based distributed computing platform featuring smart contract functionality. Because Ethereum’s purpose isn’t to serve as a means of exchange, it doesn’t issue any cryptocurrency coins. Instead, Ethereum issues value tokens called “ether.” Compared to cryptocurrency coins, tokens offer wider functionality, often being used to access various features of the platform that provides them. In the case of Ethereum, ether is used to pay for transaction fees and computational services on the Ethereum network. But because tokens hold value, they can also be used the same way as single-purpose cryptocurrency coins can: to purchase goods and services.

ICO Tokens

An ICO is “an unregulated means by which funds are raised for a new cryptocurrency venture. An Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is used by startups to bypass the rigorous and regulated capital-raising process required by venture capitalists or banks,” as explained by Investopedia. During an ICO, tokens are sold to early backers of the project in exchange for legal tender or other cryptocurrencies, usually Ethereum or Bitcoin.

For example, during its September 2017 token offering, the Filecoin ICO raised over $257 million by selling its FIL tokens in exchange for ether to fund the development of its decentralized network for digital storage through which users can effectively rent out their spare capacity. Most ICO tokens don’t exist on a separate blockchain. Instead, startups take advantage of the blockchain technology to build their own projects and DAPPS (decentralized applications) through smart contracts on Ethereum’s blockchain.

“Think of Ethereum like the Internet and all the DAPPS as websites that run in it. There is something really interesting about these DAPPS, they are all decentralized and not owned by an individual, they are owned by people. The way that happens is usually by a crowd-sale called the ‘ICO.’ Basically, you buy certain tokens of that DAPP in exchange for your ether,” explains Ameer Rosic. The main difference between cryptocurrency coins/tokens and ICO tokens is that disruption on the network that hosts ICO tokens doesn’t affect just the network itself, but also the ICO tokens hosted on it. Bitcoin clones and all other altcoins, on the other hand, are completely independent.

Summary

Cryptocurrency coins are media of exchange that use cryptography to secure transactions. Value tokens are used by blockchain-based projects that don’t strive to serve as digital currency for a multitude of different purposes. For example, the blockchain-based distributed computing platform Ethereum uses its value token, called ether, to compensate participant nodes for computations performed. ICO tokens are issued during a crowd-sale, and they depend on another platform, such as Ethereum. In practice, the terms described in this article are often used haphazardly and interchangeably. So, even if you don’t use the most appropriate term, the chances are that you will be understood without any problems.

Article Produced By
David

https://thedroidguy.com/2018/05/whats-difference-ico-tokens-cryptocurrency-coins-1079421

Deb Williams (hodlthrive)

All About Security Tokens Landscape With The Founder Of Polymath

All About Security Tokens Landscape, With The Founder Of Polymath

Security tokens are an intriguing development,

that function as a bridge between blockchain networks and legacy financial assets. Following the rapid and blessed decline of the ICO, security tokens – particularly the security token offering (STO) – have started gathering momentum among financial institutions, service providers and regulators.

To understand STO's betters, I recently sat with Trevor Koverko, founder of Polymath who offers a look at the current state, and future, of security tokens. In 2017, Trevor wanted to tokenize a private equity fund he was running, but found it hard to do for an existing financial security, especially on the technical and legal side. This drove him to launch a security token launchpad for himself and other STO projects. He grew to raise around 60 million USD in funding.

YV: Can you provide some context on the ST-20 security token standard, for the audience that may be unfamiliar with what exactly a security token is and how they function?

TK: If you look at how important the standardisation of ERC-20 was for Ethereum, it's clear that security tokens similarly need a common set of functions that we all agree upon. Even the NYSE had to standardize its tech stack before it could truly scale. Built into the ST20 standard are transfer restrictions such that only authorized individuals can buy, sell, and hold the token. There are features that restrict trading for a defined period of time, or that limit the number of shares any one individual can hold.

YV: What do you view as the current stage of the security token market?

TK: I believed STO's would overtake ICO's, but didn't expect adoption to happen so fast. 

The infrastructure needed to support things like institutional-grade custody, licensed security token exchanges, and regulatory clarity is progressing faster than I could have imagined. Many players are creating tools for this ecosystem. 2019 is on pace to be a pivotal year for security tokens.

YV: What can security tokens add to financial assets?

TK: One of several things that security tokens bring to the table, is that they unlock liquidity. LP shares, startup equity and even fine art are all typically illiquid assets. STO's have the potential to unlock this value. They can make small, private non-liquid securities more accessible for everyone.

The technology is open and transparent, so international trading becomes trivial. It’s open 24/7. It’s the concept of a global, national agnostic market that never closes. It’s faster and cheaper to make trades. It’s the idea that security tokens are programmable, whereas many legacy stocks are not. You can command security tokens to do things like automating corporate governance, proxy voting and dividends — all perfectly documented on the immutable blockchain

YV: What regulatory progress is being made with security tokens?

TK: STO's are simply securities. They live in an upgraded format than a traditional security, but they are still a security.  

We are fortunate that financial securities have very clear definitions, with enormous bodies of case law and precedents behind them, that tell us what the SEC considers a security. So, you have to follow all the registration forms, secondary trading rules, and for most offering types, investors need to be accredited. The beauty of the blockchain is that code can automate a lot of those rules.

YV: Is there a specific financial asset that you think will initially emerge from the rest with STO's?

TK: We are very bullish on the ownership of funds tokenizing – think LP shares, REIT units and so on. I’m seeing many people choose real estate as a first mover, and I tend to agree.

However, I like to take inspiration from other decentralized projects that have reached scale -for example with Ethereum. I noticed the team didn’t choose which vertices to attack first – instead they opened it up for the world, and let the market decide how to use it. It was community driven. Like Ethereum, we are going to see a lot of small companies that need the money, or struggle to raise capital traditionally turn to STO. But once bigger, well-funded projects see the possible benefits of tokenization, they won’t be far behind.

YV: Ethereum is also very developer-driven. How can more developers be drawn into the STO market?

TK: An active and engaged community of developers isn't just important for decentralized projects, it literally is the project.  

That is what made Ethereum an unstoppable force, the 30k plus of volunteer crypto engineers that self-organized within dozens of meetups globally. Without an army of talented, open-source developers, it hard to make consistent progress in this rapidly evolving ecosystem. It's important to incentivize for-profit developers to build products on top of your platform.

They are expensive and elusive compared to other professions, and the 2017 bull market certainly did cause some dislocation in terms of scarcity of talent and salary expectations. However, 2018 caused the crypto labor market to clear and now is a great time to be aggressive building a deep technical bench of senior engineers.

YV: How do you view the role of broker-dealers, and other service providers, evolving in the STO market?

TK: The thing about security tokens is that it’s not necessarily anything new. Securities laws have an enormous amount of precedents and established case law to guide issuers. Security tokens aren’t looking to skirt regulations; they are looking to embrace and follow regulations in this new environment.

KYC, AML, accreditation attestations, secondary trading restrictions, broker-dealers – these are all things we had to think about during the architecture phase of our company. While security tokens offer hope for the crypto market, is it important to do your own consideration before investing or participating in any type of funding, especially in the crypto market.

Article Produced By
Yoav Vilner Contributor


Crypto & Blockchain.. A serial startup mentor and CEO. Veteran blockchain advisor.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/yoavvilner/2019/01/17/all-about-security-tokens-landscape-with-the-founder-of-polymath/#23b823e860f0

Deb Williams (hodlthrive)

The revolution from Deb Williams