Another giant is coming up in the cryptocurrency arena; by the name of Initial Exchange Offering (IEO). Following the unprecedented rise of fame of ICOs in 2017 and the subsequent turmoil surrounding their regulations and scamming incidences, developers seem to have found another better way of raising funds for their blockchain and cryptocurrency projects through Initial Exchange Offering (IEO).

What is IEO?

Initial Exchange Offering is an ICO that is run through a Cryptocurrency Exchange Launchpad. Therefore, the Launchpad act as the intermediary that conducts the token sale.

Compared to ICOs, IEOs have succeeded in raising staggering amounts of funds in very short time spans. For instance, BitTorrent was able to raise $7.2 million in just 18 minutes through an IEO conducted via Binance Launchpad. Fetch.AI also raised $6 million in just 22 seconds via Binance Launchpad.

From statistics like in the examples highlighted above, investors seem to be more confident buying tokens via exchange platforms like Binance because they are certain that the exchanges are regulated and any activity that the exchanges are involved in must be legal and well analyzed by experts.

But how does the Launchpads work?

Launchpads are basically platforms that cryptocurrency exchanges have fostered to enable blockchain projects to offer their tokens for sale directly to the exchanges’’ customers. In the process, the buyers (Investors) of the tokens end up buying tokens from projects they are sure they are not scams.

To be allowed to use the exchanges’ launchpads, the blockchain developers have to enter an agreement with the exchanges so that their tokens can be initially placed on the exchanges.

Then, before any token sale is done on an exchange, the exchange performs a thorough audit on the project to find out its viability and potential of the token. The exchanges also directly manage the token sale.

The main participants of IEOs are the project developers, Exchanges and investors.

Through the IEOs, the exchange platforms get revenue from a listing fee for the token placement and also attract more customers since people will join the exchanges to participate in the IEOs and eventually stick in the exchange for other trading activities.

For investors, they get a reliable investment opportunity. It is hard to get a scam token sale being conducted via an exchange platform. Therefore, the investors can rest assured that they are investing in a genuine project that is well vetted.

Benefits of investing in an IEO

For the project developers, they are assured of a more legitimized token sale since they get the backing of the crypto exchanges who investors are sure to have done their due diligence on the integrity of the project. On the same hand, projects have their tokens exposed to a larger customer base since exchanges already have a wide customer base. The large customer base makes it possible for the projects to raise very large sums of money within a short timeframe.

Investors, on the other hand, get an opportunity of investing in a token that has immediate liquidity. They can also pay for the token through a variety of methods that are already established in the exchange platform.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that IEOs are not scams, it is good to remember that the investors are the ones left with the short end of the stick. They are the once that face the most risk in IEO. They can only trust the exchanges to be good at what they do.

The IEO policies also differ from one exchange to the other and the problems faced in one exchange may not be similar to those faced on another exchange platform.

By the look of things, one may argue that this is true. Initial Coin Offering (ICOs) were doing very well in 2017 and early 2018 and many startups were able to collect billions of funds as capital to get their projects started. However, to date, no proper regulations have been put in place to monitor how the ICOs are carried out.

ICOs lack a third-party overseer. Therefore, scammers have found it to be a great opportunity to reap from the uninformed investors. As it stands, basically anyone can launch and run an ICO provided they are able to convince people that they have something they want to do and money is the hindrance.

Some governments like those of China and South Korea have banned ICO completely making it very hard for the genuine startups to fundraise through the ICOs.

The introduction of Initial Exchange Offering (IEO) was a game-changer. Startups even in those countries that had banned ICOs can now easily raise funds through crowdfunding since they shall not be breaking any laws.

In addition, though both ICOs and IEOs share some degree of rationales, in IEO, there is an overseer who is normally the exchange platform through which the IEO is being run.

For a development team to run any IEO, they have to meet and comply with the requirements set by the exchange. Therefore, the exchange acts as a cushion for investors. Investors are guaranteed that whatever the exchange is offering is well cross-examined and that it is not a scam. As a matter of fact, if the IEO was to be a scam, it would ruin the reputation of the exchange which still needs to continue with its activities after the IEO.

It is always important to factor in the cost before undertaking any project. Otherwise, you may get stuck along the way due to a lack of funds. A clear picture of the cost will enable you to financially plan in advance to ensure that you have enough funds to run all the necessary activities for the success of any project.

For a STO, the cost depends on a number of things throughout the various phases of the STO, which include:

  1. The concept phase: this includes the development and drafting of the project concept and it entails the selection of the token standard and the whitepaper.
  • Choosing the token standards

For the token standard selection, you will need to choose the best standard to build your token on. The most commonly used standards are the ECR20 though there is a large list of standards ranging from the ERC20 to ERC1450.

The selection of the right token standard can be easy with the right standard consultant. Ideally, it is better to engage a consultancy that provides the full suite of STO services including legal instead of looking for a consultant for every task.

  • Whitepaper

As the founder or owner of the STO, you could have the best description of the project, but you require a professional to draft the whitepaper nicely and professionally.

  1. The development phase: This is the bulk of the entire project. It includes the creation of the smart contract, deploying the smart contract, and creation of an investor panel.

You will need to hire a development team depending on qualifications. Most importantly, you will need UI and UX experts, blockchain engineer (s) and product experts. All these professionals come at different costs depending on their level of expertise.

At this phase, it is wise to go for the highest experienced individuals to ensure that you get the best. You can always negotiate your way out with the professionals to charge you fairly instead of going for novices who may compromise your entire project.

  1. Security and legal audit: You will have to test your blockchain project for bugs before launching the STO. The testing requires an internal auditor and a third-party auditor who can also be a community auditor.

Above the security, you should also ensure that the tokens are checked for compatibility with the available crypto exchange platforms.

Most people ignore this phase due to the added cost, but it is an important phase which would prevent future problems with your STO.

  1. Legal and marketing: Contrary to ICOs, STOs have rules that they must adhere to. Therefore, you will require a good legal team to follow up on the issue of KYC, AML in addition to the other rules and regulations touching on STOs.

You also need to market the STO so as to attract as many investors as possible. However, you will need to involve the legal team to ensure that marketing is GDPR compliant. Most importantly, you will require website developers to create an attractive landing page.

You will also have to explore all the marketing avenues, especially through digital platforms. However, you have to strike a balance to avoid overspending on marketing.

 

Localcoin, a crypto exchange, has been receiving a backlash from the online community as well as investors for possible whitepaper plagiarism.

It is so embarrassing for a company or startup to be caught up in a plagiarism scandal! It throws the entire ICO project into jeopardy. It becomes extremely difficult to convince investors that it was just a mistake since a whitepaper should be a very original document explaining a project that should be original. Otherwise, any similarity in whitepapers shows that the project could also be a “Copy Paste” or a scam. It becomes extremely hard for investors to believe that the project is real.

This is what is happening to Localcoin exchange. People, especially on Bitcointalk, have concluded that the whole project is a scam.

Localcoin blames the whitepaper author, whom they say they had outsourced, for the misfortunes but it will be hard to persuade investors into buying into this narrative. The back still stopped with them even if they outsourced the author. An author can only write depending on the information he/she gets from the project developers. And further still, the development team out to have gone through the whitepaper before publishing it.

But what could have made the author make such grave mistakes? Was it deliberate?

From a closer look at things, the author could have made deliberate plagiarism possibly from a misunderstanding with the development team. There are allegations that Localcoin owes marketers over $15,000 and this could be the reason behind the plagiarism.

However, all in all, it shows that the team behind the whole project isn’t serious.

Tokenomics simply refers to a detailed outline of how your token works within the blockchain ecosystem, its viability and also how you plan on attracting investors.

Due to the lack of proper regulations, scammers are taking advantage of ignorant crypto investors who just invest their money in projects without first scrutinizing them thoroughly. In 2017 alone over 70% of ICOs were frauds mostly because at the time not many investors knew much about ICOs.

However, over a period of 2 years, investors have gained more knowledge making it is hard for scammers to con them. Investors are now more educated about what a trustworthy token entails and you will have to include all that in your whitepaper to convince them that you are not just another scammer.

The whitepaper informs the world about your project

The whitepaper is a very crucial aspect of an ICO/STO. It tells potential investors all about your project. Therefore, you will have to make it as much detailed as possible.

Most specifically, you will have to include everything about the tokenomics. You will have to clearly show that your crypto token is just not a way of raising funds but it goes beyond to become a robust alt coin in the near future. Investors must be able to clearly understand how your crypto token interlinks with the whole project and also understand its economic value.

What is included in the tokenomics?

For your crypto token to be proved to be viable, you should include a number of things, which include:

  1. The function of the token

You should explain how your token shall be used within the blockchain network and how users will benefit from it. You have to paint a clear picture to the investor of why you are creating the crypto token.

For instance, you could outline a number of services that can be paid for using the token or even give a number of goods that the user shall be able to purchase using the token if there are any.

  1. Token distribution

The token distribution gives a detailed outlook of how you intend to distribute the total amount of the available tokens. You should give the actual number of tokens that shall be available for the Pre-sale and also for the ICO itself.

You should also breakdown the information and show the potential investors out of the available tokens what number of tokens will be used for what. For instance, you could have a project with 1 billion tokens and decide that 60% will go to the token sale, 20% for marketing, and 20% for the team. This way, the investors will be able to get a clear picture of how you intend to fund your project.

You should also give a detailed outlook of how the funds collected through the token sale shall be used and show what percentage will be used for what.

  1. The token governance

You will also need to stipulate how the tokens shall be used within the blockchain ecosystem of your project. You need to clearly outline the rules on which the token shall operate. For example, you should include the pricing guidelines for transactions and many more.

Blockchain and ICO can best be explained as eccentric. Therefore, you need to look for eccentric ways of getting people to know about your ICO token sale. And one of the unorthodox methods of spreading the word is by using bounty programs.

Bounty programs for ICOs

Bounty programs were initially introduced for gamers where they could get rewarded for reaching a certain level in a game. Later, the idea was adopted by blockchain developers and it is now commonly used in finding loopholes in blockchain programs; and they have turned out to be such great avenues for developers to identify weak points in their programs for correction to prevent future hacking.

In our case, bounty programs for ICOs are programs in which people are rewarded for spreading the word. It is a great marketing strategy since the main theme in ICO marketing is getting the word about your ICO to as many people as possible since the many the people the more the probability of finding interested investors.

As an ICO owner, you simply reward people according to how much they help in spreading the word about your ICO. You can decide to reward them in fiat currency or crypto tokens being used in the ICO.

There are normally two types of ICO bounty programs which are very specific to the tasks they are oriented for. These are:

1.    The Pre-ICO bounty

Just as the name suggests, the purpose of this bounty is to drum up as much support as possible for the upcoming ICO. It basically sensitizes people that there is an upcoming ICO they could be ready to invest in.

Some of the activities that individuals can involve in in the pre-ICO bounty programs include but not limited to:

  • Social media campaigns: Social media has turned out to be a major tool when it comes to advertisement. Participant help by posting information about the upcoming blockchain project on popular social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Other means are by participating in discussions in crypto communities through Reddit or Telegram.

The reward, in this case, is normally based on how much the participant has engaged the general population.

  • Creating content: In addition to the whitepaper, you may still require bloggers to produce shorter and captivating articles to attract people since not all people find it interesting to go through whitepapers since they appear to be too technical.

The bloggers could also help in producing newsletters and even translate the content into different dialects for different communities around the world to understand.

Also, the reward is determined by how much the participant is able to engage the general crowd.

  • Bounties for signatures: These are programs where the ICO owner provides a code embedded signature. Then the participants post this signature and the more they rank the more they get. A good example of this bounty is the Bitcointalk signature bounties.

2.    Post-ICO Bounty

The purpose of this bounty is to gather as much feedback as possible and also keep on indicating the progress in accordance with the roadmap. This bounty programs normally involve:

  • Bounties to translate: the participants compete in translating the key documents into various languages. Key among the documents is the whitepaper and the website.
  • Bounties for reporting bugs: This is normally done to help in identifying and fixing any mistakes that may be present in the blockchain program.

Some years ago, there was a major push for cryptocurrencies to have debit cards just like banks have master cards and Visa cards. But was it really a viable idea?

When they first hit the market back in 2017, crypto debit cards were the talk of the town and every crypto investor was dying to own one. Probably at that time, it was all for identity purposes especially given the fact that cryptocurrencies had just been invented and anything to do with them was a source of prestige.

Two years down the line, the same cards that were once a hot cake have almost become extinct with the companies that had invested in manufacturing them almost becoming ‘endangered species’.

Shift Card for an instant, that had been issuing cryptocurrency visa cards with Coinbase, have stopped producing the cards due to low demand.

But why did the demand for these tools become obsolete while the bank cards never lose taste? Is there anything that cryptocurrencies could borrow from bank cards?

At the moment No! The fact that cryptocurrencies are decentralized makes everything quite complicated for debit cards. In addition, in case crypto users want to withdraw their crypto coins, they can easily convert them for fiat money and use the normal bank cards to transact.

Also, most of the cryptocurrency transactions are done online and there are very limited cases where cards would apply.

Sourcing for funds is always a hard task for entrepreneurs, especially when starting a new business. Most of the times, as an entrepreneur, you will be forced to spend quite a considerable amount of time meeting with prospective investors instead of using that time to concentrate on your business.

The time squandered by meeting with potential investors could be used in developing the business while still informing the investors about the business. To do so, you could consider using tokenization instead.

Currently, the most commonly used methods used method for funding startups is Initial coin offering (ICOs), Initial Exchange Offering (IEOs) and Security Token Offering (STOs). Despite there being a number of handles, ICOs have proven quite resourceful when it comes to crowdfunding. You are able to access funds from a wide base within a very short time while at the same time saving the time of meeting with the investors in person to concentrate on your business.

There are also other methods like Security Token Offering (STOs) which is better regulated compared to ICOs. Unlike ICOs, STOs are vetted by the SEC.

How does it work?

We all know that blockchain is decentralized and that is stored distributed ledgers. At the same time, blockchains come up with tokens/cryptocurrency coins to be used for transactions within the networks.

As an entrepreneur, you can tap into the benefits of using tokens to fund your next business.

With tokenization, you create digital securities for your business/company. The tokens or digital securities are backed by the assets of the business. You then let investors buy the digital assets once they know what your business is all about.

In the process, you are able to get funds in exchange for the digital assets while at the same time the investors have a claim of the company just as in the traditional shares.

However, even with the lucrative opportunities that tokenization offers for entrepreneurs in this era, there are still handles, most of which have to do with regulations that still hinder the full-scale adoption of this technology. We have seen countries like China and South Korea put a ban on such forms of raising fund.

Benefits of using tokenization in funding your business

  1. It increases the enterprise value of your business

The tokens reflect the value of the assets of your company and they can also be traded on exchange platforms.

Also, since the tokens have a value of their own, they also add up to the overall value of the enterprise.

  1. It offers better liquidity to investors

Compared to traditional stock markets, tokenization offers a more liquid form of investment. With tokens, there are lots of exchange platforms where investors can trade their tokens and there are always ready buyers.

  • You can raise capital without diluting your ownership of the assets behind the token

Since tokenization involves the creation of tokens that are sold to fund your business, the created tokens/ digital assets add an extra layer of enterprise value in addition to the company’s capital stock and assets.

In addition, it gives you the opportunity to fund the business without compromising on the ownership of the assets.

In addition to price speculation, cryptocurrencies have opened a whole lot of opportunity for entrepreneurs through their open financial system.

From being decentralized, there have been major strides towards making blockchain a better open financial system. From the adoption of identity protocols for now, your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML), compliance to modular, and open-source tools, blockchain has been able to align with the traditional economic structures.

The sheer innovation opportunities that blockchain has offered for entrepreneurs is exciting. Also, there is the monetary sovereignty that comes with cryptocurrencies that also includes data privacy within the unbanked world.

Adoption of open finance

‘Open finance’ simply refers to the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies/blockchain networks. It is increasingly becoming a darling for many entrepreneurs due to its interoperable nature of the system. Its core belief includes transparency, accessibility, financial inclusion, and standardization.

World Bank’s Global Findex report showed that more than 2 billion people around the world still have no access to bank services. Blockchain/cryptocurrencies could be a great opportunity for them.

Cryptocurrencies have made it easier for people to access transactions mechanism and data storage channels without involving intermediaries by creating new financial assets outside the traditional financial system which places banks at the heart of the system.

Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to be developed and since then other cryptocurrencies have been developed with emphasis to open financial tools. Cryptocurrencies are now being developed on open protocols and hybrid services offered commercial bodies.

Some of the open financial tools that are quickly gaining traction are blockchain lending services, security tokens, and decentralized trading markets.

It is normally difficult to employ a wholesale adoption of the open finance blockchain system. Rather, developers choose to develop hybrid blockchain ecosystems on the already existing business and financial models.

At the same time for open finance to prosper, the right infrastructure has to be provided. Financial institutions and regulators around the world are toiling very hard to ensure that the right infrastructure is in place as cryptocurrencies adoption gathers momentum.

For example, startups have found a new way to fund their projects through ICOs, IEOs, and STOs. However, without the right infrastructure, there can be a lot of fraud.

Standardization of the open financial ecosystem

The future of open financial system landscape is pegged on open protocols and hybrid financial services. For entrepreneurs, the adoption of open financial across the world which is rapidly replacing the traditional financial systems like banks presents exceptional opportunities. The whole system of the open financial system is completely reshaping the old financial model.

Countries are slowly transiting to cashless societies and cryptocurrencies provide the perfect solution.

The current rush by countries to come up with crypto regulations is a clear sign that governments have realized that cryptocurrencies are unstoppable and that they better do something before they are caught up in the shakeup. Almost every country is currently working on coming up with laws to regulate the use of cryptocurrencies.

With standardization across the board, the open financial ecosystem will be more applicable across countries.