Tag Archives: ICOs

Russian Institutions to Trial Central Bank ICO Platform

Russian Institutions to Trial Central Bank ICO Platform

Two Russian financial institutions are set to test a regulatory platform

that aims to make domestic initial coin offerings (ICOs) more transparent and secure for traditional investors. Russia's National Settlement Depository (NSD) announced on Thursday that it is working with Sberbank CIB, the bank's corporate and investment banking arm, to test an ICO issuance platform launched by the Bank of Russia – the country's central bank – in April.

According to an announcement, in the testing environment, a company named Level One will launch a token sale, for which Sberbank will act as the "issuance coordinator and anchor investor." The NSD, on the other hand, will serve as the custodian, recording and settling transactions, as well as safeguarding the assets. The firms say the platform will ultimately provide transparency that would reduce risks for traditional investors in the token issuance process. It's hoped the test, along with feedback from the central bank, will help improve the platform before it can be scaled up for real-world use.

Igor Bulantsev, senior vice president of Sberbank and head of Sberbank CIB, said:

"Sberbank CIB considers the Russian ICO market to be very promising. Many Sberbank clients are interested in this type of investment, and we plan to promote this service proactively once the appropriate legislative framework comes into effect; we will be one of the drivers to institutionalize and popularize this type of transaction."

As previously reported by CoinDesk, the Bank of Russia and the Ministry of Finance have already resolved a disagreement over one draft bill covering ICOs, and the country has now slated in a summer deadline for introducing two relevant pieces of legislation. Eddie Astanin, chairman of the executive board at the NSD, said the end goal of the project is to allow "the emergence of a new type of asset for investors" and the circulation of digital assets on the secondary market.

Article Produced By
Wolfie Zhao
wolfie@coindesk.com

A member of the CoinDesk editorial team since June 2017, Wolfie writes all things about the blockchain and cryptocurrency. He studies Business and Economic Reporting at New York University, and does not currently hold value in any digital currencies or projects

https://www.coindesk.com/russian-institutions-to-trial-central-banks-ico-platform/

Thomas Prendergast

Look No More: 3 ICOs to Watch in Q2 2018

Look No More:
3 ICOs to Watch in Q2 2018

The explosion in ICO projects has made choosing

which ones to participate in a very complicated task, and the competition between them extremely fierce. Back in 2015, the Lisk founders raised 14,000 bitcoin with a team of just 2 people! Doing that today seems impossible: teams are paying thousands just to get famous industry advisors, and all the noise while very little fundamental substance exists. Furthermore, it’s thought that perhaps 75% of projects offering token sales have ideas that are too convoluted to ever become tangible or real. Nor would their teams have the ability or means to implement such ideas into real-world use realistically either. To help you out in this mess, here are a few ICOs that are raising their heads above the rest, and likely to deliver spectacular gains in 2018.

GoNetwork

This project could be a total game changer. The team is tackling one of the most crucial and interesting problems in the industry: scaling the Ethereum platform. Despite not having a background in crypto, the team won the ETHWaterloo, the World’s Largest Ethereum Hackathon, a 36-hour event where participants worked alongside founders Vitalik Buterin and Joseph Lubin.

Essentially, the GoNetwork is a fast, low-cost and scalable network that connects the Ethereum blockchain to other mobile, desktop and web platforms. It will be mobile-focused and uses a technology called state channels to minimize on-chain transactions by accumulating transactions off-chain before any output is given. This solution is particularly favorable to mobile, due to architecture and programming language, where the majority of internet traffic is taking place nowadays.

Now here is the deal: on top of this solution, the developers will build a decentralized marketplace for games and digital goods. Given that the CEO, Rashid Kahn, is also the founder of one of Canada’s largest game studios, their track record in this market works in their favor. If they use their scalable, mobile Ethereum network to create some real-world adoption, the possibilities are huge! ICO is open to accredited investors only and more info can be found at GoNetwork.co.

Neon Exchange

Despite the evolution of crypto in the last few years, it is still an industry in its infancy. A key part of it becoming mature is developing fully functional, state of the art decentralized exchanges to replace the centralized, non-secure gatekeepers that exist nowadays. There are many contenders for this position, but we would like to highlight one that is keeping out of the media spotlight while developing a very interesting solution.

NEX is cryptographic trade and payment service platform built on the NEO blockchain. It will offer a technical off chain matching verification for trading and will allow more complex trading such as limit orders, something that existing DEX’s cannot do. Another interesting idea is the development of a Chrome extension that will act as a wallet and still be connected to the exchange, effectively making it a Metamask for all NEP-5 tokens.

In general, the project has extremely solid foundations: the team is chocked full of talented programmers with a track record, who have literally not even opened a Telegram account in order to stay focused on delivering. The roadmap is very comprehensive and includes every detail needed in such a grand vision, including entry points for fiat purchases of NEP-5 tokens. What is most interesting, however, is the role such a project will play in the development of the NEO Smart Economy, the amazing vision that sets NEO apart from the rest of the industry. It’s no surprise that NEO founders and core developers, Da Hongfei and Erik Zhang, both sit on the advisory board.

OptiToken

One of the most interesting projects in terms of possible ROI versus complexity is Optitoken, which has just recently come into the spotlight. It is the first ever actual hyper-deflationary currency, whose value is supported by an automated portfolio that uses professional trading techniques, AI, and machine learning. The portfolio will be bought with funds from their ICO, giving it serious value early on.

Their CEO Sean Donato is an old-school crypto trader and who was also one of the founders of BitHalo which was an early pioneer start-up in crypto and of which is a free software still active and available for smart contracting. His strategies tweaked in depth by the team are being coded into the “OptiX” which is an algorithmic swing trading engine. The project has a transparent portfolio demonstrating OptiX live on their website OptiToken.io which serves an MVP as it’s been active and also managed to outpace Bitcoin since November of 2017.

The gains made by the algorithmic trading will be used in part to buy back their own tokens on exchanges, creating constant upward price pressure and nurturing a market that has very strong buy support this is the function that seeks to massively drive the currencies value upwards continually. The rest of profits from buy cycles is reinvested to grow the initial holdings. OptiToken Interestingly also solves a common problem of new ICO’s, that can’t find any volume early on. CEO Sean Donato said, “Trading is perhaps 90% psychology and so often times people find themselves following trends after the fact as opposed to using solid fundamentals and then selling overbought and buying oversold based on traditional price fluctuations of the asset or perhaps  RSI’s.” After the buybacks, 100% of the tokens purchased are sent to a transparent and verified unspendable address and thus destroyed forever in order to create value through scarcity. This combination is very innovative in the space and should attract serious organic buys on exchanges to partake in the price action.

What is great about this project is that can be immediately profitable. The technology is relatively straightforward to build, as the team is not promising a perhaps working product for a fantastic idea in Q3 of 2019 AKA “vaporware”. Rather, the product, already in Beta, will be in alpha in a few months, trading the proceeds from the ICO, and will hit exchanges just before or after this time frame according to projection. The ICO is open to Non-US and Non-China citizens now at OptiToken.io and is filling up fast.

Article Produced By
Guest Author for NEWSBTC

https://www.newsbtc.com/2018/05/23/look-no-3-icos-watch-q2-2018/

Thomas Prendergast

Move ‘Em Out: ICOs Don’t Seem So Scary Outside the US

Move 'Em Out:
ICOs Don't Seem So Scary
Outside the US

ICO issuers are starting to look to jurisdictions outside the U.S. to set up shop.

In an environment of regulatory uncertainty, where the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has begun investigating ICOs and the industry surrounding the capital raising technology but has yet to make a formal decision of how it will regulate crypto tokens, issuers and other stakeholders are finding other jurisdictions a better bet for launching their projects.

And no other place during Blockchain Week was the topic hotter than at Token Summit III (the original event took place a year ago) on May 27 in New York City. Both on stage and off, startup founders, attorneys and investors had strong opinions about how far to go in an environment where enforcement agencies know how easy the market boom for the tokens makes it for malicious actors to spin up a fake company and bilk millions of dollars out of unwitting buyers.

That boom packed venues in New York City throughout Blockchain Week. "The reason there's a thousand people here, it's not blockchain technology," Jason Fang of Sora Ventures told CoinDesk, saying he's been going to blockchain events for years and it was all the same faces until the initial coin offering (ICO) boom. "The difference is money. The difference is speculation."

But not everyone felt that hype meant rushing headlong would be the right approach. For instance, Paypal's original chief operating officer and now an investor in Craft Ventures, which incubated and backed the security token platform Harbor, David Sacks spoke to how getting compliance right led cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase to be "the first really successful company in the space."

He wasn't the only one. Throughout the day, different speakers returned to the question of regulation, and from the stage it began to become clear that the rest of the world isn't nearly as complicated as the U.S. This is perhaps unsurprising – as the world's biggest economy it also has the most rules. Regulators in the U.S. would much rather err on the side of caution, even if that means curtailing some of the excitement. Laws in the U.S. are based around the Roaring '20s, which led to the Great Depression, Lowell Ness of Perkins Coie explained during a panel on regulation,

saying:

"Literally the securities law is intended to exclude the moms and pops from too risky investment."

But other parts of the world take a more open-minded, if not lax, approach and that's luring some ICO issuers overseas.

'ICO tourism'

For instance, representatives from Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Gibraltar spoke to the crowd, both assuring listeners that their nations took an extremely responsible approach without quite the aggressive fretting of U.S. rule-makers.

Speaking for his home country of Switzerland, Andreas Glarner of MME said:

"It's not our task as a regulator to tell people which way they want to lose their money."

Yet judging investments is one thing and willfully manipulating people is another. He added, "If the project is fraudulent we're going to prosecute it." Representatives from Lichtenstein argued that the small country has a large enough regulatory staff to work with companies it hosts and help them build businesses that are still within its regulatory framework. Meanwhile, representatives from Gibraltar said that its regulators have done the work to build rules from the ground up that specifically fit the new world of cryptocurrency and blockchain.

Meanwhile, attorneys in the U.S. sound frustrated, but hopeful. Several who have been working with the SEC spoke on a panel about where the country is at in terms of defining rules for the industry. "What we're doing primarily is educating the SEC on what blockchain is," Nancy Wojtas, a former SEC staffer now with Cooley LLP, said. "I think there was just a misunderstanding by them to what cryptocurrency is all about. They hear 'cryptocurrency' and they think 'fraud.'"

Ness from Perkins Coie was more hopeful, forecasting forthcoming clarity. "Now we have a position where there's going to be bright lines," he said. "Full functionality [of a platform] is a very hard bright line to draw. Full decentralization is a bit easier." Bloq's Matthew Roszak has also been working through Token Alliance, a Washington DC-based initiative of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, to guide the SEC so that they make decisions that will allow the technology to thrive in the States.

"The last thing I want to do is spend time with regulators, three-letter agencies. I want to build, invest and innovate," he said, noting that he's doing it, though, because he believes it's important. Wojtas cut through the optimism, again though, stating that entrepreneurs in the space will likely have an uphill battle for some time.

She said:

"Being involved in an investigation is like living in hell without dying."

She continued, warning founders about the price of hiring attorneys to answer questions and respond to regulator requests, "You will be spending between $100,000 and $300,000 per month." As such, Sebastian Bürgel of Switzerland's Validity Labs said of companies visiting countries trying to figure out where to domicile

(even if its staff doesn't actually work from the country):

"I see what I would call ICO tourism."

Startups' thoughts

At Token Summit III, the room was filled with about two-thirds startups and one-third investors. The startups, including those domiciled in places like Hong Kong and Singapore – attractive places after China's central bank banned crypto token sales – spoke to how they viewed the regulatory environment throughout the world.

Lea Bauer, director of operations at Centrifuge, a startup building a decentralized enterprise resource planning platform, told CoinDesk that her firm is talking to lots of lawyers in the U.S. or Europe before it decides where to land. Centrifuge envisions a token for services on the platform. And while it wants to execute a good legal plan, it won't wait for absolute certainty.

Bauer explained:

"If we wait too long, that gives us complications on the product side, whereas if we move too early that gives us trouble on the legal side."

Kain Warwick, with the Australia-based stablecoin project, Havven, told CoinDesk, "I genuinely don't believe the regulators want to impede what's happening." But he also added that risk in his home country "is far less than it is from the SEC," he said. While geographies seemed a main concern for many ICO issuers, it isn't the only kind of distance that could lower risk. Time could also serve an issuer. Founder of crypto loanmaking platform, ETHLend, Stani Kulechov, told CoinDesk that it did its sale last fall. "Back then, when we did the ICO, the regulatory uncertainty was pretty vague," he said.

However, his company is based in Switzerland, where the rules are clear enough that the company isn't concerned. Additionally, the fact that it had a working app before doing any fundraising adds to Kulechov's confidence. Just to be sure, though, "We don't accept US customers," he said. Jae Kwon of Cosmos said similar things of stage, telling the crowd he's glad the company did its token fundraiser before all the ICO hype started. "There's too much money piling in," he said. And if you bring in too much money, "they can always sue you, especially in the United States."

Leonard Frankel, CEO of ClanPlay, an existing gaming company, which is building the Good Game token, in order for gamers to earn money for playing, has a very complicated plan to get both the tax and legal structures he desires. An Israeli company, Frankel plans to actually launch his tokens out of Gibraltar but then transfer them to Israel and sell them from his home country, so that the company will pay its taxes there.

Erik Buschbaum, CMO of Rlay, a protocol to validate information, said his company is based in Berlin but domiciled in Gibraltar, which works for them by and large. Still, he said, "We have investors right now, Kryptonite1, and they advised us not to do a public sale because of regulatory risk." All this said, it's clear the ICO industry is reeling somewhat from both the unclear guidelines throughout the world and the thought that regulators could create rules that make their businesses illegal at some point. Speaking to the fear many have of U.S. regulators, MME's

Thomas Linder said:

"The U.S. needs to learn that in a globalized, decentralized economy, they are not the center of the universe anymore."

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/move-em-icos-dont-seem-scary-outside-us/

Thomas Prendergast

The Seven Pillars of ICO Investing

The Seven Pillars of ICO Investing

The number of initial coin offerings (ICOs) is growing rapidly,

having raised an astounding $5.6 billion in 2017 alone. More outrageous is that, by most estimates, over half of the ICOs launched in 2017 have already failed. In addition to the hundreds of ICOs being launched every month, our management company Crypto Asset Management (CAM), also receives around a dozen emails per day from new companies planning on launching crypto tokens to raise capital. CAM, through the various funds and share classes it manages, invests in less than one out of every 100 ICOs that comes across its desk.

Out of absolute necessity, we have developed an analytical framework for ICOs, which CAM applies to every such opportunity it evaluates. In this article we explain what we call The Seven Pillars Of ICO Investing™, which we've rigorously crafted over several years of investing in crypto and other assets.

Pillar #1: Team

The critical element which we are searching for is an experienced team, ideally with a strong track record in developing and launching blockchain technology. In addition, the team should have experience in the market it is targeting. A team that is not only competent, but capable of developing, completing and/or expanding the project is paramount to its success.

A couple of additional issues to consider are:

  • Does the team have a vesting token schedule that will properly incentivize it?
  • Do the advisors have the right experience and are they actively engaged?
  • Does the project have any notable financial backers? (VCs, other hedge funds, etc.)

Pillar #2: Idea

Without a compelling, realistic and timely idea for a blockchain-based enterprise, the investment will almost certainly fail.

A few of the key things we look for are:

  • Total addressable market:
    How large is the opportunity? We want as large of a market as possible (See: ethereum, filecoin).
  • Product-market fit:
    Does the business address an urgent problem? (0x, ChainLink)
  • Unique value proposition:
    What facets of the technology enable it to stand out from the competition? How much competition is there (Wax)? Ideally, the token has proprietary technology, and as little competition as possible (Orchid Protocol).

There is clearly an interrelationship between Pillars 1 and 2. However, if we had to choose between them, we would clearly rather invest in an "A" team working on a "B" idea than a "B" team working on an "A" idea. A talented group of people are the lifeblood of any business, and crypto is no different.

Pillar #3: Execution

In the cut-throat business world we live in, the only thing that matters is results. A brilliant idea and great team are nice, but execution is everything. Is there a working prototype or does your idea only exist in a nebulously written white paper? We prefer to invest in a product that already exists to some degree (Presearch, Basic Attention Token, Superbloom, FunFair), whether in the crypto space or analogously in the fiat space (Wax). Finally, we look for some sort of proof that the company will be able to hit future milestones.

Pillar #4: Legal/Regulatory

This pillar is essential given the current and growing regulatory uncertainty in the industry. Almost every week, there is news of a governmental agency in one country or another taking regulatory action or making a new statement around ICO governance. Of course, almost as often, there is news of a different country considering crypto-favorable legislation. Comprehensive regulation in many marketplaces is on the horizon and it is imperative to ensure that ICOs vigilantly navigate the landscape to the best of their abilities.

The threshold issue is jurisdiction: in what country is or will the ICO company be incorporated and the ICO executed? This determines the rules that will apply to the company's actions and the ICO. Depending on the approach taken, we may apply the somewhat arcane rules of the Howey test (in the US or if US investors are targeted or allowed to invest), KYC/AML principles (which are essentially universal) and applicable securities law.

Pillar #5: Tokenization

A significant number of the ICOs we analyze do not actually need the blockchain, tokenization or a public sale of their tokens to be successful. When this is an issue, it is usually the last – public sale – which is not necessary. (NASDAQ's settlement system is an excellent example of where tokenization is a brilliant idea but a public market would be superfluous, or even counterproductive.) Also, they are sometimes glorified apps that could be built without creating a specific token, despite how much "utility" the founders may claim their token provides.

With the enormous amount of value exchanging hands over the blockchain and the prospect of getting "free" money without giving up any equity, it's not hard to imagine why many industrious entrepreneurs try to identify any possible reason to launch an ICO. That being said, one of the crucial things that every investment we make must have is a legitimate reason for "tokenizing" their business, and for creating a public market for that token (OmiseGo, Icon, Raiden Network, Cosmos).

Pillar #6: ICO Structure

Similar to traditional venture capital investing, the financial underpinnings of the deal ultimately determine the decision to invest. The characteristics of an ICO can have important implications on the expected upside of the token.

This can be split out into two categories – ICO mechanics and ICO deal structure.

  • ICO Mechanics
    Historically, ICOs with a lower hard cap tend to outperform ICOs with massive hard caps. While it is important that the parent companies be well funded and have sufficient runway to work with, ICOs need to have a convincing plan for use of proceeds as the potential upside decreases in proportion to the amount raised. The precise metric here is valuation of the token economy – a derivation of the hard cap. Both the valuation in light of circulating tokens at launch and the valuation upon release of all tokens are factors that we consider.
  • ICO Deal Structure –
    The deal should be structured in a way so that investors are not at a disadvantageous position to the market.These are a few of our considerations:

    • Distribution: 
      The team should have a compelling structure for the distribution of tokens, fair allocation among team/advisors and investors, programs for market uptake, etc.
    • Distribution Schedule:
      Given the fast-moving pace of the crypto market, the distribution schedule should not massively favor specific parties. While long distribution periods can be considered acceptable for high-potential ICOs, individual liquidity preferences should be considered.
    • Discounts:
      Discounts are ubiquitous in the ICO environment, so examining the discount levels given to different tranches allows investors to understand where they stand in relation to other stakeholders.
    • Equity Stakes:
      At Crypto Asset Management, we like to be part of the growth of the company and investing directly into the equity of a company allows us to play a greater role in that development. In the world of token sales and short-term liquidity, people often forget that the value proposition of a company can be just as great or even greater than the token ecosystem it is developing.

Pillar #7: Price Drivers

Even if we believe a team is able to create a great product that incorporates a token with an imperative use case, this does not necessarily mean that we will want to hold the token or invest in the ICO. A token must additionally have a mechanism to drive price appreciation.

A token with constant supply without any incentive to hold, will not be subject to buying pressure which significantly outweighs selling pressure over the long run (Votes). This is underpinned by the concept of price risk, in which individuals will lean towards reducing their exposure to price volatility in favor of fiat or a form of stable currency.

A few of the price drivers we look for include:

  • Network Volume:
    In almost every instance the value of a token increases as the number of transactions on the blockchain increases (bitcoin, ethereum). This is one of the most basic, yet influential, indicators of demand, and is also the reason we invest primarily in protocols rather than dapps.
  • Market Leadership:
    We look to invest only in tokens that are clear market leaders, or have the potential to be in the near future. Usually, these tokens have a distinct and growing unique advantage over their competition (Practical VR).
  • Incentives to Hold:
    There is a clear reason why a user would rather hold than spend the token, which can be related specifically to speculated price increases or other non-monetary rewards (Presearch, PROPS). We won't invest in a token that's only purpose is a medium of exchange.
  • Supply Changes:
     This can include limiting inflation, meaning the token supply does not dilute the value of all tokens over time, or token burning, where the supply of tokens in the system decreases over time (Binance Coin, Iconomi).
  • Profit Sharing:
    Part of the value that is extracted from the system is given back to the token holders (Augur, NEO, Neon Exchange, Ethorse).
  • Staking:
    Having users of a network to lock up their tokens either for network consensus or as a requirement in certain processes. (Bee Network, Open Platform, NuCypher, Video Coin).
  • Sufficient Liquidity:
    If the project isn't proactive about getting listed on multiple exchanges, preferably top-tier exchanges, we will likely not make an investment.

Please note that, as a general rule, we are not in favor of asset-backed tokens as an investment vehicle at this time. There are no real drivers of price formation after an initial, relatively small boost for convenience (Sandcoin, OneGram) and the opportunity cost is consequently too high (there are far greater returns elsewhere). Importantly, the effect of implementing strong incentives to hold is multiplicative. Not only will the price increase be driven by the inherent tokenomics design, but also by speculation directly related to the implementation of these drivers.

Despite the incredible number of fly-by-night operations in the world of ICOs, it is certain that token generation events are here to stay. Such events are completely transforming the traditional venture capital industry and, for savvy investors, are creating fortunes literally overnight. For unsophisticated or undisciplined investors, ICOs are a minefield that should probably be avoided. However, for those who perform proper due diligence, the odds increase for realizing breathtaking returns on your investments.

This article is an abbreviated summary of our process for investing in ICOs. Here at Crypto Asset Management, we've also developed more in-depth tools, such as our innovative 64-point ICO Scorecard and a more traditional Private Equity Due Diligence Checklist.

Article Produced By
Tim Enneking, Robert Brauer & Andrew Kang

Tim Enneking is managing director at Crypto Asset Management. Robert Brauer and Andrew Kang are members of the Crypto Asset Management ICO Analysis team.

https://www.coindesk.com/seven-pillars-ico-investing/

Thomas Prendergast

What Needs to Be Done With the Elephant in the ICO Room?

What Needs to Be Done With the Elephant in the ICO Room?

There is an elephant in the room

and that room is the current ICO market. The elephant is the unignorable fact that the majority of ICOs offer no protection to their token buyers who consider themselves as investors.
These buyers are not investors.

Here’s why.

In 2017, initial coin offerings, or ICOs, emerged into the big time. Over the course of the year, startups conducting an ICO as a way of raising startup capital raised over $6.5 billion. Since then, many ICOs have issued utility tokens under the guise of security tokens, and they have raised millions of dollars by promising their holders huge returns and part of their income. In reality, they may not able to deliver on these promises.

The difference between a utility token and a security token was explained by Laimonas Noreika, the CEO of DESICO, the world’s first fully legal security token platform: “if Google were to have launched an ICO to raise capital by selling utility tokens, then Google utility token holders would now receive free Google ads in exchange for their tokens. Were Google to have issued security tokens, then Google security token holders would now be eligible to revenue share of the company.”

A security token is an investment and a financial product. It is a token that gives its holder ownership of a real asset, which can range from tokenized commodities and tokenized real estate, to tokenized funds. Meanwhile, a utility token simply provides access to a platform or product, and unlike a security token, it is not an investment and does not provide its holder with any rights.

Due to the different characteristics of security tokens and utility tokens, plus the lack of legal regulation, this has led to the ICO industry being shrouded in mystery. In mid-2017, this perception surrounding the credibility of ICOs led to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the SEC, cracking down on security ICOs and making them “subject to the requirements of the federal securities law.”

“The ICO industry is in desperate need for the correct legal frameworks and infrastructure to issue security tokens,” Noreika continued. “This is because finance experts predict that 2018 will be the year when security tokens begin to outstrip utility tokens, since more capital is expected to flow into the security crypto asset class. By the first quarter of 2019, it is estimated that ICOs issuing security tokens will outnumber those issuing utility tokens.” Empowered by the belief that security tokens are the future of a global tokenized economy, the DESICO team will introduce the world’s first fully legally compliant, and therefore game-changing, infrastructure to issue and trade security tokens.

DESICO’s full legal compliance is rooted in its country of operation. DESICO has chosen to operate from Lithuania, a Eurozone member and European Union member state. Lithuania holds a significant legal advantage due to its crowdfunding law, which makes it one of the few countries in the world, and the only EU country, to fully legally regulate ICOs. According to a recent report by Tokendata, Lithuania ranks third in the world behind the only the United States and China in terms of capital raised through ICOs in 2018. Furthermore, 2018 has seen startups from Lithuania successfully raise $249 million so far.

DESICO is a concrete example of Lithuania’s open attitude towards globally-operating blockchain companies. It has received support from the government backed business development agency, Enterprise Lithuania, as well as the country’s Ministry of Finance, with finance minister, Mr. Vilius Šapoka, praising DESICO for its encouragement in developing “Lithuania’s fintech and blockchain communities by promoting the settlement of global blockchain and fintech businesses in Lithuania.”

With its infrastructure to issue, buy, and sell security tokens in full compliance with the law, its internationally-experienced team of advisors and employees, plus its backing from the government of an EU member state, DESICO will not just eliminate the elephant in the room of ICOs. It will set new standards for the global ICO industry. Welcome to DESICO. Welcome to the world of security tokens.

Article Produced By

https://www.newsbtc.com/2018/05/18/what-needs-to-be-done-with-the-elephant-in-the-ico-room/

Thomas Prendergast

Kenya’s Regulators Propose Special Unit For ‘Handling Issues’ on ICOs, Cryptocurrency

Kenya’s Regulators Propose Special Unit For ‘Handling Issues’ on ICOs, Cryptocurrency

The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) in Nairobi, Kenya,

has proposed the creation of a special unit to handle cryptocurrency related issues. The unit would include all relevant regulators such as itself and Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), according to Standard Digital. The proposal is included in the Capital Market Soundness Report, “Staying the course in a Turbulent World of Increasing Protectionism,” released Friday by CMA Chief Executive Paul Muthaura.

“There is need for regulators to devise a common approach towards handling issues revolving around cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs),” the report states. “A joint workgroup by financial sector regulators could be put in place to tackle issues around cryptocurrencies and ICOs.”

ICOs Banned

The CMO issued a notice in February warning investors against participating in ICOs, noting it has not approved any such offerings. The regulator said all such offerings are unregulated and speculative investments with significant risk exposure. CBK has taken a similar position, warning the public against bitcoin, which has experienced wide value fluctuations. Bitcoin traded at about $17,000 (Sh1.7 million) early this year before falling to $6,926 (Sh700,000) at the end of March.

“This volatility in price fluctuation remains a concern even as regulators seek to strike a balance between managing the risks that accompany innovations and avoiding being an impediment to market-led innovation,” CMA noted Regulators must communicate their willingness to accommodate fintechs to remove the perception that regulators do not appreciate new innovation, the authority noted.

Open To Blockchain

Sheila M’Mbijjewe, CBK deputy governor, noted earlier this month at the Euromoney East Africa Conference that new technologies like blockchain should be embraced cautiously. She said regulating fintechs should be balanced against encouraging innovation so that the technology’s growth does not bring an erosion of public confidence. “We (CBK) are not the innovators so we cannot move ahead,” M’Mbijjewe said. “If we move behind the market, we will have a problem. Essentially, we have to move alongside innovations.”

CBK) Governor, Patrick Njoroge also told legislators earlier this month that he had warned all banks warning on the dangers of virtual currencies. In addressing the National Assembly Committee on Finance at Parliament Buildings, he warned banks against dealing in virtual currencies. In December 2015, CBK issued a notice warning the public against virtual currencies.

This Article Produced By
News
https://www.ccn.com/kenya-regulators-seek-special-unit-for-cryptocurrency/

Thomas Prendergast

These 3 ICOs Have Huge Potential in 2018

These 3 ICOs Have Huge Potential in 2018

Looking to put your money to work for you with some promising investments into Initial Coin Offerings? Here are three ICOs launching in 2018 that could help you do just that.

Origin

Origin

The first Initial Coin Offering you will want to pay close attention to is Origin.

Origin is a protocol which utilizes the Ethereum blockchain and IPFS for the creation of sharing-economy marketplaces. In essence, it affords both developers and businesses the ability to construct decentralized marketplaces on the blockchain, while making it simple to both create and manage listings for the fractional usage of services and assets.

Origin lets buyers and sellers find each other with ease, while also allowing for the browsing of listings and making of bookings. Both buyers and sellers may also leave ratings and reviews — but that’s just the start. Teams all over the world have already begun to build on the project’s protocols, but if you’re looking to conduct business on the decentralized web, this is one ICO you won’t want to miss out on.

Orchid

Orchid

Orchid is a market based, fully decentralized, and anonymous peer-to-peer system

based on “bandwidth mining” which to address the lack of relay and exit nodes currently plaguing the I2P and Tor space by directly incentivizing participants. As described in the project’s whitepaper, Orchid aims to construct “a blockchain-based stochastic payment mechanism with transaction costs on the order of a packet, a commodity specification for the sale of bandwidth, a method for distributed inductive proofs in peer-to-peer systems which make Eclipse attacks arbitrarily difficult, an efficient security-hardened auction mechanism suited for the sale of bandwidth in circumstances where an attacker may alter their bid as part of an attack, and a fully distributed anonymous bandwidth market.”

In layman’s terms, Orchid aims to make the Internet an open platform once more, on which human beings are free to learn and communicate in an unmonitored, uncontrolled, and uncensored environment. The project’s goal is to construct “a new civil contract around a distributed marketplace for computation, storage, and bandwidth to provide the framework for a new form of digital citizenship.” If that sounds appealing to you, don’t miss out on Orchid’s ICO.

OptiToken

OptiToken

The last – and perhaps most promising – ICO to watch in 2018 is from OptiToken.

OptiToken is the first ever algorithmically traded hyper-deflationary cryptocurrency which distributes value through an automated tokenized portfolio. The project works thanks to a cleverly-curated and strategically diversified portfolio of cryptocurrencies available through a single token – the OptiToken – which will be traded on many major exchanges.

The OptiToken provides exposure to a unique algorithm labeled “OptiX” which has consistently and transparently outpaced Bitcoin trading on a daily, and weekly basis since November 2017. The algorithm, which is now available on the projects GitHub, has been developed by highly-experienced traders and allows for the progressive integration of machine learning — meaning upward price pressure is going to be extreme and constant.

Importantly also, a portion of the profits generated by the company are used to purchase OptiTokens each and every buy cycle, which provides a steady upward price pressure while ensuring value for adopters and investors. Furthermore, 100% of those tokens purchased by the company are sent to an unspendable address — easily verifiable and transparent — to create a hyperdeflationary effect. In effect, OptiToken is the first ever actual hyperdeflationary money. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more exciting ICO in 2018 than that offered by OptiToken.

Article Produced By

Bitcoinist.net

http://bitcoinist.com/3-icos-huge-potential-2018/

Thomas Prendergast

Stratis makes setting up an ICO a breeze

Stratis makes setting up an ICO a breeze

 


When it comes to initial coin offerings or ICOs

— crowdfunding events in which participants buy digital tokens from a startup — the London-based Stratis is one of the original gangsters. The company launched a successful ICO in June 2016, way back before the ICO craze, selling its STRAT tokens for $0.007 each. The price of STRAT has skyrocketed to $6 since, earning early investors who never sold it more than 80,000% in returns. The coin's market cap currently sits at $592 million, making STRAT the 41st largest cryptocurrency out there. But Stratis, which describes itself as blockchain for the enterprise, has been fairly quiet since in those two years, which is a very long time in cryptocurrency world. 

Not anymore. This month Stratis launched its ICO platform, which aims to make the process of both running and participating in an ICO simple and fool-proof. The company also has big plans for the future, as it aims to launch smart contracts on its blockchain later this month. As numerous cryptocurrency startups can attest, an ICO can be a very lucrative funding route, but running it well is a tall order. It's near impossible to find an ICO that hasn't run into some sort of problem, be it technical glitches, interfering scammers, or poor communication with investors. 

The Stratis ICO Platform aims to streamline this by offering a sort of a "white label" solution for startups wishing to run an ICO. The platform offers design customization, the ability to accept funds in more than 50 cryptocurrencies and U.S. dollars, as well as an integrated KYC (know-your-customer) service (from partnering startup Onfido) for checking participants' identities. The use of the platform is free, and two startups, Gluon and BeyondGlobalTrade, are already slated to use it for

their upcoming ICOs. 

On Stratis, developers can build projects in familiar environments like C# or .NET.

Stratis also plans to expand its blockchain, whose main differentiator is that it allows to build native apps in commonly used C# and .NET programming environments, to allow for smart contracts. But the competition in the space is fierce: Well-funded startups such as Cardano and EOS are racing to create a next-generation smart contract platform. "We've never done a serious marketing push until now," Trew told me. "We've been extremely frugal with our funds". These funds are considerable, as Stratis own a sizeable portion of its own tokens. Now, Trew and his team seem to be ready to tackle the largest projects in the space. 

The first big push this year comes in the form of Stratis' ICO Platform. "It's a web app. Somebody can come along, deploy in Azure and do their own ICO. It's free to use, and the fact that the person can deploy it themselves means they're using their own infrastructure, which means there's no trust placed upon us," said Trew.

Stratis' competitors in this space include Bitcoin Suisse and Lykke. But Stratis claims its platform is easiest to use. "Somebody can very easily deploy an ICO with one click, fill out a few options, and their ICO is up and running," said Trew. The platform utilizes ASP.net and runs on Azure, which should make the ICO secure and robust. This is important, since a typical popular ICO will have thousands of investors trying to fill out forms and send their funds roughly at the same time. "We hope we'll see a lot less of these ICOs where people try to invest and can't do so because the site has gone down," said Trew. 

The ICO platform is just one part of Stratis' master plan. The company plans to launch an alpha version of its smart contract platform on May 16. That, along with upcoming solutions for scaling, which include sidechains and a promising technology called TumbleBit, should make Stratis a lot more like the leading decentralized app platform, Ethereum. And Stratis is already using a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, meaning it does not require energy-intensive coin "mining," while Ethereum is planning to gradually switch to PoS in the future. 

It's awfully hard, even for experts, to judge which blockchain project is further along when it comes to securely implementing all this bleeding-edge tech. Stratis hasn't been boasting its technological achievements as loudly as some other projects, but on paper it appears it's up there with the best of them. Stratis' primary focus, however, is the enterprise. New Ethereum-based startups show up daily, but building on Ethereum means learning a new programming language called Solidity. On Stratis, which has a partnership with Microsoft, developers can build projects in familiar environments like C# or .NET. 

Stratis' strategy sounds impressive in a year in which seemingly everyone, including major companies such as Facebook and JPMorgan, is looking at building something on the blockchain. Competitors include Lisk, which lets developers build blockchain apps in JavaScript, IBM Blockchain, and, of course, Ethereum itself, which has an enterprise-oriented alliance in place with companies such as Intel and Accenture on board. Trew believes Stratis is well positioned to tackle them. 

"It's been developed from the beginning, targeting the enterprise. Nearly all of our workforce comes from an enterprise background. Myself, I've worked in the enterprise space for 15 years as a technical architect before I started Stratis," said Trew. "We believe we can make a compelling product in this space."

Article Written By

Stan Schroeder

Stan is a senior editor at Mashable, where he has worked since 2007. He's been a pro IT journalist in Croatia for over 9 years, having written for numerous IT publications there. Interested in writing for a global audience he started his (now defunct) blog, FranticIndustries, and he also co-founded (and subsequently sold) whoishostingthis.com, a simple tool for determining the hosting provider of any website. He lives in Zagreb, Croatia, and spends his free time pursuing his many interests, which include speaking at conferences, startups, mobile development, cryptography, collecting band T-shirts, tinkering with gadgets and hardware and generally leading a frantic lifestyle.

https://mashable.com/2018/05/11/stratis-ico-platform/#nPztv.xkXkq9

Thomas Prendergast

The Most Successful ICOs of All Time

In the trendy world of cryptocurrencies,

the greatest levels of hype and anticipation have often been reserved for initial coin offerings (ICOs), the crowdsourced fundraising sales used to launch new tokens, coins and services. ICOs have come to be seen as a significant risk for the everyday investor. They are both highly speculative—since few ICOs actually go on to see the tokens they launch meet with real success—and many ICOs themselves are actually fraudulent. Nonetheless, investors continue to watch the ICO space closely for the next big opportunity. Perhaps they would do well to look for those ICOs that come closest in design to the most successful ICOs. Below, we’ll explore some of the biggest ICO events in history.

NEO

NEO is a Chinese open-source blockchain project that has gone by several different names in its short history. One of the most common is not an official name, however, but rather a nickname: “China’s Ethereum.” NEO gained this distinction by utilizing smart contract applications, decentralized commerce and more. The company had a massive ICO thanks in no small part to support from the Chinese government, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and other major companies. From an initial token price of just over 3 cents to an all-time high price of roughly $180, NEO investors who timed their investments right stood to make an incredible amount of money.

Ethereum

Ethereum remains the second-largest digital currency by market cap today. While bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, ethereum is both a digital currency and the foundation for decentralized applications that make use of smart contracts. Ether tokens sold for $0.31 each, and the token now sits around $700, providing a return on investment of more than 200,000% for those lucky investors who bought in during the ICO.

Spectrecoin

The third-most successful ICO on our list is for a cryptocurrency that has not made nearly as big of a name for itself as NEO or ethereum. Spectrecoin launched in November 2016 as a “privacy-focused cryptocurrency.” One of the features of the coin is that it can be sent and received around the world with complete anonymity. Spectrecoin pushes the boundaries of what governments around the world are willing to tolerate from digital currencies, but it has not yet broken through to the mainstream. Nonetheless, an investment of $0.001 per token back in late 2016 during the ICO would be worth close to $0.60 today, marking a significant gain.

Stratis

Stratis is another cryptocurrency that has not yet made it big into the world of leading digital currencies. The company, based in the U.K., prides itself on having a platform that is compatible with various programming languages, allowing businesses the ability to create and design custom applications easily. Microsoft was a prominent supporter of the Stratis ICO, and that led to major success. The project raised nearly 1,000 BTC over a period of five weeks, and individuals paid just $0.01 per token, paying off with a ROI of more than 50,000%.

Ark

Ark is designed to be as efficient as possible. The digital currency platform allows for quick integration of other cryptocurrencies into its own blockchain. With a global focus and a commitment to decentralization, Ark seems to have been destined for success. The initial token price was $0.04 during the ICO. At its highest levels, one Ark token climbed to nearly $11, marking a return on investment of more than 35,000%.

NXT

In 2013, a developer known by the handle "BCNext" launched NXT. This was one of the earliest ICOs, and it was also one of the very most successful. NXT was designed as a blockchain platform catering to the financial services sector. With tokens selling for just $0.0000168, the NXT development team managed to earn about $16,800 worth of bitcoin at the time of the ICO. This money was focused toward developing the currency associated with the platform. At its peak, NXT tokens reached as high as $2.15 each, giving investors an astonishing 1,477,000% return on investment.

One notable aspect of many of the above ICOs is that the tokens themselves are not particularly well known today. ARK is currently the 64th-most-popular digital currency, while NXT is currently the 90th according to total market cap, for instance. Because the cryptocurrency boom has been largely unpredictable, with prices rising and falling dramatically and at the slightest provocation, it can be incredibly difficult to time the sale of such tokens. Perhaps even more tricky for the budding digital currency investor, though, is identifying which potential new ICOs on the horizon could yield results with the same degree of success as the projects above. For more insight, be sure to consider all of the pros and cons of any ICO before investing, and look to our guide for advice on how to select your next cryptocurrency investment.

Investing in cryptocurrencies and other Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”) is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or other ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns cryptocurrency.

Nathan Reiff

Nathan Reiff is a writer and musician based in the New York City area. He holds degrees from Yale University and the University of Michigan. Nathan has previously worked for Orion Consultants and Partners in Performance and has written for Internet Brands on subjects ranging from money matters to personal and home development. His interests include technology, travel, and food.

Thomas Prendergast

Binance CEO Calls ICOs Necessary And ‘100 Times Easier Than Traditional Venture Capital’

Binance CEO Calls ICOs Necessary And ‘100 Times Easier Than Traditional Venture Capital’

Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of digital currency trading platform Binance,

said in a blog post May 7 that initial coin offerings (ICO) perform far better than venture capital funds (VCs), even with a high risk of failure. In a blog post titled “ICOs — Not Just ‘Good-to-Have,’ But Necessary,” Zhao expressed his support for ICOs claiming they are

“100 times easier” for raising money than traditional VCs:

“Through my own experience, and watching hundreds of other projects at a close distance, I would say raising money through ICOs is about 100 times easier than through traditional VCs, if not more. With the ease of raising money increased, logic says there may be 100 times more startups, well-funded startups, where ICOs are allowed.”

Zhao said that while some VC investors are real experts in their field, the great majority of “professional VCs” have “no clue” about the projects or fields they invest in. According to Zhao there is a notable absence of startup experience and insufficient understanding of projects’ technologies. Zhao admitted that the ICO market is in its early days and therefore is encountering problems, including scams and failures. He still believes that “compared to ‘traditional VC invested projects,’ a larger ratio of ICO projects will succeed.”

He wrote:

“Most ICOs are new startup projects, and have a high rate of failure, just like in traditional startups. This is nothing new. Most ICO investors already know this. ICO investors are early adopters (and learners).”

Zhao concluded by mentioning that many VC groups are now investing in ICOs. He said that VC groups “have their nose on the money”, adding that they are more “nimble” than other large organizations which are responsible for public wealth; “the faster movers will reap exponential benefits.” Cointelegraph previously reported that American venture capital firm Sequoia sued Changpeng Zhao for allegedly breaching an exclusivity agreement during negotiations of an investment deal. The deal was for an $80 mln, 11 percent stake in Binance which broke down last year.

Article Produced By
Ana Alexandre

Total change in her career took Anastasia into the world of analytics and business information as a researcher and translator in 2010. Some time later she got into FinTech, a dynamically developing segment at the intersection of the financial services and technology. Ana joined Cointelegraph in September 2017.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/binance-ceo-calls-icos-necessary-and-100-times-easier-than-traditional-venture-capital

Thomas Prendergast