Singapore is recognized as a pacesetter in blockchain and cryptocurrency due to its unfailingly supportive regulatory environment. Over the last few years, Singapore has seen a tremendous rise in the number of blockchain projects that have been registered within its borders.

To keep up with the evolving world of digital tokens, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) published a guide on the e-Tax that details how digital token transactions including ICOs, IEOS and STOs shall be taxed. These came a few months after Singapore released its new regulations for enterprises offering payment services.

The guide focuses on the taxation of three types of digital tokens. These include security tokens, utility tokens and payment tokens (tokens used as payment options). The guide also elaborates on the taxation of other tokens that are distributed through unconventional means like hard forks and airdrops.

Payment tokens

According to the e-Tax guide, all transactions done using payment tokens shall be considered to be in the form of barter trade. Therefore, the recipients of the tokens shall be taxed depending on the value of the underlying goods or services.

Nonetheless, purchasing a payment token is not taxable. However, the returns from the disposal of the token are taxable if the process involved is a trading activity.

Payment tokens miners shall also be taxed if the mining intends to make profits.

Payment tokens distributed via hard forks and airdrops are not taxable if they are freely given out.

Utility tokens

According to the e-Tax guide, utility token transactions are not taxable since they are mainly acquired to enable the users to acquire future services within a specific blockchain network.

Security tokens

According to the e-Tax guide, security tokens are regarded as a form of equity or debt since they give owners an implied degree of control or equity to a certain asset or project. As such, the taxation of the returns gotten from security tokens depends on the type of the return. The types in consideration here are interests and dividends.

ICOs and STOs taxation

According to the IRAS, the proceeds of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and Security Token Offerings (STOs) shall be taxed depending on the functions and rights of the used token.

If the issued token is a utility token, the sale shall be considered to be in the form of revenue and is therefore taxable. This is because the utility token is an obligation for the issuer to provide a service or good in the future that shall be bought or paid for using this token.

On the other hand, the issuance of security tokens shall not be taxed since the proceeds parallel the proceeds obtained from issuance of equities or debts, which is normally capital in nature. However, as mentioned above, withholding tax obligation and the general income tax shall apply to the interest and dividends paid to the owners of the token.

Tokens set aside for founders in ICOs and STOs

In most cases, startups set aside some tokens for the founders. In this case, if the tokens are used to pay or compensate the founders, they are regarded as revenue and the founder that receives them shall be taxed. However, if the tokens are not issued as a form of payment, they are regarded as a capital asset of the founder.

What a taxpayer dealing with digital tokens in Singapore should do

IRAS instructs taxpayers in Singapore that deal with digital tokens to keep proper records of the digital token transactions so that it can be simple to file the returns.

The records should have the following:

  • Transaction date.
  • The number of tokens sold or received.
  • Value of the digital token at the time of transaction.
  • The used exchange rate.
  • Purpose of the transaction.
  • Details of the customers/suppliers in case it was a buy or sell transaction.
  • Details of the ICO or STO.
  • Invoices or Receipts of the expenses incurred within the business.

Security Token Offering (STO) is for sure one of the safest methods to conduct crowdfunding for your blockchain project. Nevertheless, if you decide to go for an STO, you have to be ready for the strict regulations that go along with it.

Security tokens are normally backed by real assets, therefore they have to comply with the US Securities and Exchange Commission regulations. Therefore, before marketing your STO, you have to ensure that you have fully complied with all the required rules to avoid being on the wrong side of the law.

Once you start marketing your STO, your project becomes known by many including the authorities. If the authorities get wind of your project and you have not complied with the set rules, you can be sure you will not like the repercussions.

Therefore, before marketing your STO, you have to adhere to a number of prerequisites generally referred to as general solicitation which allows any security issuers to solicit and advertise their offering widely. The conditions that must be met include:

  1. All the purchasers of the security tokens in the STO should be accredited.
  2. The token issuer must take all the required steps to confirm that the investors are accredited.
  3. For US issuers, all the conditions provided in Regulation D must be satisfied.

To understand what Regulation D entails and how it influences STO marketing, let us have a look at it.

Regulation D

Rule 506 (b) of Regulation D states that a company can be assured of exemption from Section 4 (a) (2) by complying with the following:

  • The company should refrain from general advertisement or solicitation in order to endorse the securities.
  • The company offering the securities can sell its securities to a limitless number of accredited and verified investors and up to 35 extra buyers.
  • The company should ensure that it gives the accredited and verified investors the correct information to avoid misleading information.

Therefore, for a company to solicit and market its security token offering, all the investors must be accredited and it must take all the necessary measures to confirm that the investors are accredited.

STO marketing depending on the STO development stages

  1. Initial Stage

These are normally the things that one should do to ensure that the general public is aware of the project and STO. The activities under this stage include:

  • Writing a whitepaper
  • Coming up with a one-pager
  • Creating a responsive website
  • Simplifying your project idea to interested investors
  • Blog writing about your project and Search Engine Optimization
  • Guest posting

When writing the whitepaper, you should ensure that you clearly explain your project and also lay out all the regal compliances for the STO. Furthermore, it should give a detailed technological, financial and commercial overview of a security token. Therefore, you ought to look for a professional writer who clearly understands about STO whitepapers.

The one-pager, on the other hand, is a one-paged document which is actually a summary of your project, giving clear reasons as to why investors should invest in the project.

For STOs, the websites created for the projects should be HTTPS sites to ensure that they are secure.

  1. Pre-STO stage

This is the stage just prior to the launch of the STO and the marketing team should ensure that word about the STO has reached as many people as possible. Some of the most commonly used marketing strategies used at this stage include:

  • Press Releases and Media outreach
  • Getting High Domain Authority backlinks
  • Getting the STO listed on STO listing websites
  • Creating profiles on professional websites like LinkedIn and CrunchBase
  • Social media marketing (using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Telegram and Steemit)
  • Running video campaigns depicting use cases

For the Press Release, you can pay for articles to be written and published on websites, especially those that you are sure that they receive a high amount of traffic. You can have some of those articles posted on High DA websites with backlinks to your website.

Listing your STO on popular STO listing websites like ListICO, InitialCoinList, and CoinIntelligence also go a long way in ensuring that investors looking for prospective STOs to invest in easily find you. When listing your STO on such a website, you should not forget to include the following:

  • A summary of the entire project and why investors should cash in
  • Link to the website of the projectLink to the project’s whitepaper
  • All the regulations that have been applied to the Security Token.
  • Know-Your-Customer and \Anti-Money Laundering Regulations
  • The specific STO Launch date
  • The Roadmap of the entire project
  1. STO running Stage

At this stage, the STO has already been launched and it is running meaning investors are flocking in to invest. Though not much awareness can be done in this phase, the marketing team should ensure that they are able to catch the attention of every investor that comes across the STO.

Some of the most effective methods used include:

  • Carrying out Airdrops of the security tokens
  • Building on the project’s credibility via networking
  • Deal marketing
  • Contributing to related forums

Nevertheless, these activities should be done in moderation to ensure that the main goal of raising funds for the project during the STO is maintained. For instance, when carrying out airdrops, you should refrain from giving away too many free tokens since it would compromise the amount of funds you shall receive during the STO.

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.