Ethereum has been seeing a bullish trend in its adoption and applications ever since it was invented. Though the ETH coin isn’t the most valued of cryptocurrencies, Ethereum revolutionized the applications of blockchain technology by being the first open-source blockchain platform where developers could develop their decentralized applications (DApps) and introducing smart contracts.

However, despite its huge popularity, Ethereum’s full potential has been held down by being less scalable because it was developed to use the Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism just like its predecessor, Bitcoin. Though Ethereum’s program was slightly improved to make transactions faster compared to those of Bitcoin, Ethereum still lags behind some newer blockchain technologies like DASH, Ripple and the like, which use Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism. Initially, Ethereum could only handle 15 transactions in 16 seconds.

Change of the consensus mechanism

Ethereum users are egaelry waiting for the mich anticipated ETH 2.0 update that is expected in the last quarter of 2020. However, things seem to be moving faster than expected after Ethereum’s founder tweeted about the success of the initial deployment of Ethereum’s layer 2 scaling strategy.

With the success of the initial deployment, what is remaining is only the refinement and complete deployment of the layer 2 scaling strategy.

What layer 2 scaling strategy means

After identifying that Ethereum blockchain has scalability issues, Vitalik Buterin identified strategies of improving the blockchain’s scalability. Those strategies included “sharding”, also referred to as the “layer 2 strategy” or HackMD or ETH2 shard chain simplification.

Initially, the Ethereum blockchain network was designed for every transaction to be processed by all the nodes before being declared successful. This ended up taking a huge amount of the networks activity that would be used for other things.

To free up the system, sharding will make it possible for transactions to go through without the need of being verified by all the nodes. Transactions involving token transfers will be done on the layer 2 protocol to free the rest of the system.

In the new strategy, the amount of shards is brought down to 64 from 1024 while the number of shards required per slot is increased to 64 from 16. Then for every beacon chain block, there shall be a published crosslink to allow for optimal workflow. Additionally, the EEs shall be simplified, smaller shard chain logic shall be needed and it will not be mandatory to pay transaction fees via decentralized exchanges.

 What the scalability overhaul means for users

Once the overhaul is complete, Ethereum users will enjoy transaction speeds of thousands of transactions per second. This will only make Ethereum better especially for DApp developers.

It will also be good news for Ethereum’s use cases which span across a wide range of fields ranging from supply chains, health, Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), Initial Exchange Offering (IEOs), transportation, Structural health monitoring and finance among many more.

When Initial Coin Offering (ICO) was unveiled, blockchain startups and fintech companies were rushing to make use of the new crowdsourcing technique due to its simplicity in raising capital for projects. 2017 specifically was a very successful year for ICOs and the world witnessed some of the best ICOs to date. The total amount of funds that were raised in 2017 was close to $6 billion up from about $200 million raised in 2016.

However, not all the projects that used ICOs turned out to be successful and some also turned to be scams since ICOs are not regulated in most parts of the world. At the moment, only a couple of countries like Singapore, France, and Germany have come up with ICOs regulations to make them safe for investors.

Having said that, ICOs are still a viable option for raising capital for your blockchain project. In this article, we shall review some of the successful blockchain projects that started by raising capital through ICOs. You can still leverage ICOs and pull out such successful projects amidst the regulatory issues facing ICOs.

However, you will have to put more effort into the project development by putting together the best team for the job. Again you will want to ensure that you comply with any regulatory laws in the region where you investors come from to avoid court cases like those that hit BLOCK.ONE and Telegram ICOs.

The list below was developed taking into account the Returns on Investment (ROI) for each of the projects and also by how much the blockchain project has been adopted across the globe.

10 most successful ICOs

  1. Ethereum

Ethereum ICO was conducted in August 2014, making it the second blockchain project to leverage ICO to raise capital, after Mastercoin ICO conducted in July 2013. At the end of the ICO, Ethereum raised a staggering $16,000,000.

Today, Ethereum is a force to reckon with in the cryptocurrency and blockchain world. The blockchain network completely revolutionized the world of cryptocurrency by enabling blockchain networks to do more than just offering payment services. Ethereum introduced smart contracts which have been the cornerstone of every other blockchain use case.

Ethereum was developed as an open-source distributed ledger platform that enabled its users to create and deploy decentralized applications (Dapps) and also apply and use smart contracts. It introduced the ERC-20 token standard that offered other blockchain developers a basis for creating their crypto coins; most altcoins use the ERC-20 standard to create their tokens.

Ethereum is by far one of the most successive blockchain network second to Bitcoin. Currently, the ETH, which is Ethereum crypto coin, trades at $207.75 USD. Towards the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, ETH was trading at over $1200 USD.

  1. IOTA

IOTA ICO was conducted towards the end of 2015 and was one of the first blockchain projects to use ICO to raise capital. A single IOTA token was going for 0.00000133 BTC, which translated to less than $0.001 at the time. The ICO was able to raise $590,000.

IOTA blockchain holds lots of prospective use cases since it merged Internet of things (IoT) technology and blockchain technology. The project developers envisioned a future where different ‘things’ using the internet would be able to communicate with each other using blockchain technology.

IOTA stands out as the only blockchain technology that doesn’t rely on blockchain fully for its transactions. It uses another system known as The Tangle to verify transactions as they are being made. This way IOTA has been able to dodge the scalability problem affecting most blockchain networks.

IOTA has been adopted across various industries across the world. For example, Taipei signed an agreement with IOTA Foundation for its Taipei smart city project. Also, a Netherlands company called Elaadnl dealing with smart charging has succeeded in developing the first working prototype using IOTA. The list keeps on growing as more and more industries fall to IOTA’s technology.

At the moment, one IOTA token is trading at 0.00002073 BTC.

  1. DigixDAO

The DigixDAO ICO was the first crowd sale to be conducted on Ethereum. It was conducted in March 2016 and it raised $5.5 million.

DigixDAO is one of the main Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) developed on the Ethereum network.  DAOs are normally new business structures that have no bosses but rather all decision affecting the networks are made through proposals and voting.

One of the main features of the DigixDAO blockchain is that it has two crypto coins; the DGD and DGX.

The DGD tokens were the ones that were issued during the ICO. During the ICO, a single DGD token was going for $4.2000 USD.

Contrary to most other ICOs, buyers of DAO tokens hold the rights to vote in the proposals submitted to the DAO.

The main objective of DigixDAO is to create a stable cryptocurrency that is backed by real gold bars. According to the DigixDAO, the token that is backed by the gold bars is the DGX. The gold is stored in a custodian vault in Singapore that can hold up to 30 tons of gold. The gold goes through a Proof of Asset protocol, where its existence is verified through the Ethereum blockchain.

Currently, the DGD token is going for $39.98 USD.

  1. NXT

The official announcement of NXT ICO was made in Sep 2013 on BitcoinTalk forum.

The NXT blockchain is viewed as a descendant of the Bitcoin blockchain and it was developed to solve some of the issues affecting Bitcoin. Some of the issues that NXT promised to fix was shifting the mining algorithm to proof-of-stake and also resolve the issue of bloated blockchain.

The ICO which was conducted on the BitcoinTalk forum platform raised $16,800 in Bitcoin. At the time of the ICO, the value of NXT token was $0.0000168. However, at the moment the token’s value is above $0.01.

Besides the fact that the NXT is tradable on most crypto exchanges, the NXT blockchain is now fully operational and blockchain developers use it to develop decentralized applications. It also has an asset exchange platform, the Nxt Asset Exchange, and a messaging system.

  1. NEO

NEO ICO was conducted in September 2016 and it raised $5,050,000. During the ICO, a single NEO token was going for $0.032.

NEO blockchain is often referred to as the Chinese version of Ethereum. It offers smart contracts and on top of that provides digitized assets, identification decentralized commerce. The developers saw a future where blockchain would be used to represent legal proof-of-ownership for the broader society rather than the cryptocurrency community alone.

Today, NEO is traded on most crypto exchanges and currently trades at over $9.87. Towards the end of 2017 and early 2018, NEO was trading at over $120.

  1. Stratis

The Stratis ICO was conducted from August 2016 to January 2018. It was raised $610,000 by selling a single STRAT token for $0.007.

Stratis blockchain is a project that was developed to offer end-to-end solutions for the development, testing and deployment of Blockchain-based applications for the businesses worldwide. Its main aim was to make it easy for blockchain developers to develop blockchain networks that address whatever problem that is faced in the business sector.

The project has become quite a success since it ended up with a platform that is fully compatible with the C# and .NET programming languages, which are common among coders. One of its best use cases was when Microsoft added it as a Blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) to its Azure cloud service. Stratis has become a darling for enterprises that use Microsoft products and looking to incorporate blockchain technology.

Currently, the Stratis (STRAT) goes for over $0.30. It reached its all-time high at the start of 2018 when it was going for $21.21.

  1. Ark

Ark ICO was conducted from November to December 2016 raising $22,000,000 USD. During the ICO, a single ARK was valued at $0.1 USD.

The Ark blockchain project was developed to create a platform that could link different blockchain into one network of use cases. In so doing, users of different blockchains could transact. Besides, Ark provides an open-source code and blockchain creation tools to enable users to leverage blockchain technology.

Ark has won a number of partnerships with different firms including Ledger, Atomic Wallet, Exodus, Changelly, and Spend among others.

Currently, the Ark token is trading at over $0.21.

  1. Lisk

Lisk ICO was conducted in March 2016 raising $6,472,497 USD. During the ICO, a single Lisk (LSK) was going for $ 0.07647059.

Lisk was the first modular blockchain that has the main chain that hosts the LSK coin with other side chains, which are personal blockchain networks attached to the main chain. The side chains are built and tailored using Lisk tools.

Most importantly, the developers of the side chains are allowed to hold their own ICOs. And most importantly Lisk allows developers to use JAVA programming language to develop the side chains.

Besides, several Ethereum players have also invested in this blockchain project.

Currently, the Lisk (LSK) is trading at above $1.11.

  1. QTUM

QTUM ICO was conducted in March 2017 and raised $15.6 million. During the ICO, a single QTUM was going for $0.3.

QTUM is a blockchain network that aimed at bridging Bitcoin with Ethereum’s smart contracts. By this, QTUM hoped to open up more use cases for smart contracts, especially for businesses.

Different business can leverage the tools, templates and smart contracts provided by the QTUM blockchain to enable them to build and deploy the smart contract.

Currently, the QTUM token is trading at above $1.5 USD.

  1. Spectrecoin

Spectrecoin ICO was conducted from November 2016 to January 2017 and raised $15,427. During the ICO, one Spectrecoin (XSPEC) was going for $0.00081.

Spectrecoin platform combines blockchain and tokenized ring signature scheme to add a layer of privacy and anonymity in transactions. By using the ring signature mechanism, any member of the network can append a signature on any transaction and it, therefore, becomes hard to trace the specific person that signed a transaction.

Besides the ring signature, Spectrecoin uses the Tor network to increase privacy within the network. All the nodes in the Spectrecoin blockchain communicate with each other through the Tor network. Therefore, contrary to most blockchains, the transactions carried out within the Spectrecoin go through a number of “middlemen” to make the transactions untraceable.

Currently, the Spectrecoin (XSPEC) is going for over $0.12, which is quite an appreciation from its ICO price.

Conclusion

The above blockchain networks are just examples of the best performing ICOs. There are other blockchain projects like Brave, OmiseGo, Ox, waves, Cardano, ChainLink, and Golem among many others that have used ICO to raise capital for the projects.

Although investors are currently shying away from ICOs due to lack of proper regulations, some countries have already come up with laws governing the ICOs or means of making the ICOs safer, like in the case of the German’s rICO.

If you are in countries where there are rules that have been put in place, you should ensure that you comply with all of them. For instance, if you are from France, you could apply for a VISA from the AMF to have your ICO whitelisted, which would certainly attract investors since they would be sure it is not a scam.

In the USA, the SEC requires you to disclose information about your project to ensure that investors make informed decisions. You may also be required to disclose how the collected funds were distributed, which would certainly instil confidence in your investors.

Failure to comply with regulations may land you into trouble hampering the success of your blockchain project like what was witnessed in the case of Telegram’s TON or the court cases that BLOCK.ONE is facing.

 

The current COVID-19 pandemic is threatening to bring the world to a standstill. Everybody, famous or infamous, rich or poor, has currently been rendered equal in fear. Governments in America, Asia, Europe, Middle-East and Africa are going for a total lockdown to try and stop the spread of this killer virus that has claimed thousands of lives around the world and still spreading like bush fire.

Many businesses have closed shops in these difficult times. Others have opted for unorthodox means to try and stay relevant while hoping and praying for the return of better days.

However, for the FinTech industry, it is a race against time to try and offer solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic using Blockchain technology.

Blockchain technology has been hailed as the mother of all inventions in the 21st century. It has offered numerous solutions to many problems that have affected humankind over the ages. Currently, almost all departments ranging from, infrastructure, healthcare, transport, communication, and sports have adopted blockchain technology.

WHO launches a blockchain platform to Fight COVID-19 in partnership with blockchain and tech companies

With the COVID-19 Pandemic unfolding too fast for institutions and governments to keep track of the data concerning the Pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) in partnership with tech and blockchain companies launched a blockchain platform called Mipasa that would help in sharing information on the coronavirus.

Mipasa is based on distributed ledger technology (DLT). Its main purpose is to help in the early detection of those infected with the COVID-19 especially in the infection hotspots.

The companies involved in the development of the platform include Hacera, an enterprise blockchain platform, Microsoft, an IT corporation, IBM, a technology company and Oracle a computer firm.

The fact that the platform uses blockchain technology makes the shared information full-proof to doctoring. The platform shall also facilitate private sharing of information between individuals, health institutions and organizations as well as state authorities. Therefore the patient’s privacy is guaranteed.

According to the platform’s official website:

“MiPasa can help monitor and foresee local and global epidemiological trends and detect likely asymptomatic carriers by feeding big data on infection routes and occurrences to powerful AI processors around the world.”

The platform has also received backing from several state health institutions including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Europe, the US, and China. The Department of Health of Hong Kong, China’s National Health Commission and the Government of Canada have also offered to contribute to the project.

UAE’s Ministry of Community Development (MOCD) is also adopting DLT-based solutions

The Ministry of Community Development (MOCD) in the United Arab Emirates has also been reported to adopt DLT-based solutions to facilitate the work from home situation.  DLT shall make it possible for the distribution of official documents and identity verification, thus allowing the customers to engage with the MOCD at the comfort of their homes.

Blockchain proposed as the best means for the US to distribute the stimulus package

There are suggestions that the United States Government should consider using blockchain technology, especially DLT to distribute the stimulus package that the government intends to give. Experts have suggested that the US could launch a “digital dollar” based on the DLT.

China also using DLT to censor the spread of the Virus

China which was the starting point for the Coronavirus pandemic deployed blockchain in a number of areas in its efforts to fight the virus. It has adopted DLT to track the spread of the virus, distribute medical supplies, monitor health records and also distribute charity donations.

Could blockchain help in winning the fight against COVID-19?

It shall only be a matter of time before we get the real answer to this question. However, governments, institutions, organizations, and individuals have adopted the use of blockchain technology as the fight against COVID-19 intensifies.

There are reports that over one million personal computer users have donated their processing power to a distributed computing project being referred to as Folding@Home that is working on the simulation of protein dynamics, to find out therapies that can be used for the COVID-19 patients.

There are also reports that Bitcoin users and miners have also joined in the fight. A group of Bitcoin users calling themselves “CoroHope” are said to be working on a coronavirus vaccine.

After unveiling major announcements, towards the end of 2019, about the future of blockchain technology in China, the Bank of China is set to introduce a tough security token protocol soon. The bank is also seeking to create its cryptocurrency that will be centralized and pegged on the Chinese RenMinBi (RMB).

This has brought hope to blockchain startups in China where Security Token Offering (STO) campaigns were banned almost immediately after the Initial Coin Offering was banned in 2017.

China’s hard stand on Cryptocurrencies

Despite being the country with the most blockchain startups and cryptocurrency adopters worldwide, China has had a hard stand on cryptocurrencies. In 2017, just as cryptocurrencies were making their debut, China banned exchanges, ICOs and STOs making it practically impossible for blockchain startups to raise capital for their projects through fundraising campaigns.

Interestingly, China has also been very hard on the cryptocurrency miners even though the government controls some of the largest cryptocurrency mining rigs/facilities.

The turnaround

It appears Chinese officials, especially at the Bank of China, have finally realized that blockchain technology is here to stay.

China outlined its new strategy on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology through Weimin Guo, the Chief Scientist at the Bank of China, in a Finance Technology Summit held towards the end of 2019.

Among those new strategies is the intention of China to release its cryptocurrency that shall be called China’s Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP). The DCEP shall be a stablecoin pegged on the Chinese RenMinBi (RMB).

According to the DCEP developers, the introduction of the digital coin will streamline the obsolete traditional financial practices currently in use. They also anticipate that the digital coin will rival Bitcoin, one of the most adopted cryptocurrencies in the world.

According to Weimin Guo, Bitcoin failed in its purpose to provide a better financial market compared to avoid the manipulations of the traditional markets.

Proposed strict regulations on STOs

As China loosens its stand on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, it still wants to ensure that the technology is kept in check.

Among some of the strict regulations that China seeks to introduce is the tough security token protocol that will see all Security Token Offerings (STOs) operate within an austere “regulatory sandbox mechanism”. By giving STOs a leeway, the country seeks to promote blockchain technology innovations as it maintains complete control of the sector.

However, as China inches back into the game, it is interesting to see how the Chinese regulators continue to embrace blockchain technology. The country seems to be realizing that times are changing and changing fast. Regulators seem to have realized that the country has to embrace blockchain technology or get left behind as the completion across the world hits up. Other countries are doing all they can to ensure that they conform to the technology by introducing laws and regulations to govern it.

Security Token Offering (STO) is considered one of the safest crowdfunding methods for blockchain and fintech companies. However, for it to be secure, there are quite a number of regulations that go along with it and anyone who chooses to use it has to adhere to all the regulations provided.

The entire scenario is complicated by the fact that there is no internationally recognized legal framework governing cryptocurrencies around the world. Therefore, individual countries are left to fetch for themselves as they race to feel the gap by establishing their own rules and regulations for cryptocurrencies together with anything else like STOs, ICOs, and IEOs that go along with them.

Generally, things have gradually changed with most governments accepting cryptocurrencies contrary to the past. For instance, when the first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was launched, it took some time for governments to accept it. At the time, governments were wary of digital currencies since criminals became too fond of them since they could enable them to transact anonymously.

The adoption of cryptocurrencies around the globe can be attributed to the various legal frameworks put in place by the various governments together with regional regulatory authorities.

Today, blockchain projects can almost flourish within any part of the globe. Most countries have accepted cryptocurrencies, with some even laying foundation for the development of their own state-owned cryptocurrencies. However, since blockchain technology is evolving fast, governments are now caught up with yet another handle, the regulation of the crowdfunding of blockchain projects.

To begin with, Initial Coin Offering (ICO) and Security Token Offering (STO) were among the first crowdfunding methods that were invented by blockchain developers. However, due to the fact that it was not easily regulated, scammers could easily get their hands on it to swindle funds off investors. That led some countries like China and South Korea to ban the use of ICOs in funding blockchain projects.

The embattled ICOs led to the invention of Initial Exchange Offering (IEO), which is simply an ICO run through a crypto exchange, so as to ensure that it was easy to apply some regulations to the crowdfunding.

STOs, on the other hand, were well regulated from the word go. Just as the name suggests, STOs deal with securities and governments already had certain laws governing securities within their borders. Therefore, it was easy to draft regulations for the STOs. Interestingly, these laws and regulations have made it quite difficult for developers to use it. Some fear the long process while others fear the strict rules that they have to adhere to in order to be allowed to conduct an STO.

What is an STO?

Before indulging into cracking the nut on the regulations and rules governing STOs, it is quite important to clearly understand what these STOs are.

An STO is a funding method that involves the selling security cryptocurrency tokens to potential investors.

The next question then becomes, what are these security tokens?

Security Tokens

A cryptocurrency token can only be classified as a security token if it passes the Howey Test and is consequently subject to the federal regulations. Different countries have different regulations for STOs.

Holders of security tokens become part of the company behind the security tokens and are therefore entitles to some dividends out of the overall profit that the company makes.

There are four types of security tokens that a company could choose to use. These include:

  1. Equity tokens

These tokens are basically used to state the ownership of an asset like stock or debt for a certain company.

2. Debt tokens

These are just like short-term loans to a company where there is an interest rate on the loaned amount.

3. Utility tokens

These are the most common security tokens and they give users the ability to access the products or services of the project once the project becomes operational.

4. Asset-backed tokens

These are tokens whose value is tied to a tangible or nontangible asset. For instance a company could have a security token whose value is tied to the value of real estate assets.

Reasons why security tokens stand out

  1. It provides an improved way of accessing real-world assets that have been digitized. Companies can digitize almost anything from debt, real estate assets to the parking fee.
  2. It provides investors with some degree of ownership and they are entitled to dividends out of the total amount of profit made by the company.
  3. Security tokens also provide increased liquidity.
  4. In comparison to traditional tokens, security tokens ensure that the founders or board members do not have to surrender board seats in Venture Capital deals.
  5. The regulations set in place ensure that there are no loopholes for scammers.

Steps of developing an STO

  1. Come up with a viable idea that entails solving a certain problem within the society/community.
  2. Carry out research on the probable solutions to the problem(s) that you intend to solve.
  3. Carry out research on other companies or projects offering solutions to the identified problem and identify key areas of improvement.
  4. Recruit a competent team for the development of the project and the STO. At this stage, you should also look for a competent legal advisor or a consultancy firm like Gravitas International to guide you through the regulatory handles. The regulatory mainly depends on your geographical location and you should ensure that you clearly understand what STO regulations are in place for your location.
  5. Identify the exact security within your project that you wish to tokenize. This tokenized security is what you shall offer in the STO.
  6. Choose a platform where you shall launch your STO. Examples of such platforms are Polymath and Harbor.
  7. Create a compelling website that clearly outlines your project goals and asset tokenization.
  8. Develop the security token with the help of your development team, and legal advisors.
  9. Market your STO in accordance with the set rules within your location.
  10. Launch your STO and offer the security tokens for sale to accredited investors in accordance with the set regulation within your location.
  11. Look for a good partner Security Token Exchanges where you shall list your security token.

Security token development

This is normally one of the hardest phases of STOs that make developers crack their heads. However, it is not as hard as people may think. All that is needed is the right team and legal advisor.

With STOs, you have to be careful to ensure that you stick to all the set regulations within your location from the word go. Normally, you should go for a consultancy firm that will help in auditing both the financial and legal matters concerning your project. The legal team should run jurisdiction checks on the security titles like credit ratings among others that you may specify for use.

STO becomes an exception when it comes to the type of tokens. Contrary to other crowdfunding methods that easily depend on Ethereum ERC-20 tokens, STOs do not use ERC-20 tokens due to the gas prices, protocol changes and network congestion that is associated with the ERC-20 tokens.

You could be wondering if Ethereum is not used, then what other platform is there for token creation.

Well, experts had to come up with platforms that could solve the issues with the ERC-20. Organizers and companies came up with new standards that enabled whitelisting and locking, which could enable tokens to comply with the required security regulations.  These standards include ST-20, R-Token, ERC-1404, and ERC-1400. These standards still use Ethereum smart contracts, but they are improved versions that have an additional layer to accommodate regulations.

To make the process of creating security tokens, there are platforms dedicated to the creation of security tokens. Examples of these platforms are the Polymath, and Harbor platforms. These platforms provide an easy way of creating your security tokens.

The selected security token issuance platform should ensure that the value of the token is well scrutinized and in line with all the required regulations. It also takes you through all the remaining steps from setting the STO start or end date/time and payment acceptance.

The most important thing with STOs is that the required regulations have to be embedded within the smart contracts used for the STO.

What happens if your STO doesn’t meet all the requirements

  1. You will have problems getting your security token listed on security token exchanges. Normally, security token exchanges do not list STOs with legal issues. Worst, delisting from an exchange could greatly hamper your project brand.
  2. Failure to comply with the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know-Your-Customer (KYC) requirements makes future relationships with banks a problem. In case you already had funds deposited in the banks, the banks could seize the funds.
  3. If you do not comply with all the regulations and laws set in place by the regulatory authorities within your location, the authorities could penalize you or even shut down the STO.

As a blockchain or fin-tech investor, you have to keep up with the pace of the ever-changing market and investment opportunities. Two years ago, ICOs had dominated the fin-tech industry, especially the blockchain/cryptocurrency space. Blockchain startups easily raise funds through ICOs as long as the whitepaper is convincing enough to prove that the underlying project is viable. For the startups, they benefit by raising the required capital while investors benefit by making profits from the sale of the tokens at a later stage or using the tokens in paying for services connected to the project.

However, since mid-2018, ICOs have gradually become less attractive to investors, especially due to scammers taking advantage of the lack of proper regulations on the ICOs. Instead, investors are now going for IEOs and STOs since they have some degree of safety compared to the ICOs.

However, IEOs seems to be stealing the show. Though IEOs are newer than the STOs, STOs are yet to pick in the industry probably due to their strict requirements.

But how do you go about investing in IEOs to ensure that you make the most profits? How can you be sure that the IEO is profitable or not?

Below are the number of things that you should consider as an investor before commit yourself in an IEO:

  1. Carry out thorough research about the IEO

You may wonder why the research and the project have already been Okayed by the exchange platform that has better experts than you. But remember, the Exchange does not look too much at the end result of the project. The exchange is only concerned with whether the project is genuine and whether its users will be attracted to the IEO token sale. The exchange is in business and it has to find something that will be well received by its customers. Therefore, it is paramount that you do in-depth research about the project itself to find out if it is a viable investment opportunity.

As you do the research, you could try to find answers to the following questions:

  • Does the project seem to attract the interest of the general public?
  • Is the project a new concept or just a copy-paste?
  • Who are the people behind the project offering the IEO?
  • How experienced are the members of the development team?
  • Is the exchange listing the IEO reputable?
  • Is the exchange secure?
  • Has the exchange been involved in any malpractices?
  • What is the history of the exchange in line with IEOs?

Always remember that the exchange is also looking for profits from the IEO token sale. Therefore, don’t just rush to buy the tokens, do a background check on the project first.

  1. Find out about the work that the development team has done so far

You have to look at what the team behind the project has done so far. You can’t just invest your money into a project that is not yet started; it might end up not starting at all. The software should be completed. You should be able to look at the program to verify if it will indeed be applicable.

You should invest in a project that has already started and the team can show some commitment to the project. This shows that the team behind the project is serious about the entire project.

Things like a whitepaper, well-designed websites, and the development team must be there.

  1. Research about the exchange that offers the IEO

Once you are convinced that the project behind the IEO is viable and looks to be profitable, you have to consider the platform where the IEO is launched. For security reasons, you have to look at the reputation of the exchange platform.

In addition, you have to consider the onboarding processing that the platform requires for you to participate in the IEO. Remember, different exchanges have different requirements for you to become an investor in an IEO. But most importantly, you have to be a registered member with the exchange for you to participate. You have to go through the entire registration process, including the KYC/AML process.

Since it may take some time depending on the exchange that you choose, it is important to do this some days before the actual IEO.

The common exchanges with IEO Launchpads are Binance, Huobi Global and Gate.io.

  1. Find out how the payments for the IEO are to be made

This is a very important factor. You cannot participate or invest in an IEO unless it allows you to buy tokens through a means that is accessible to you. Again, you have to consider the asset that the development team together with the exchange sets as the accepted currencies to buy the project tokens. Some of the most used currencies include Bitcoin (BTC), US Dollar (USD), Great British Pound (GBP) Euro and Ethereum (ETH).

You should also look at the processing time. How long does the processing take after making a purchase?

  1. Look at the tokenomics of the IEO

You have to closely examine how the tokens are distributed. You have to clearly understand the number of tokens available. You also have to see what percentage is assigned to what.

One of the things that you should carefully look at is the percentage of tokens given to the development team. If the development team is given the majority share of the tokens, then that is a red flag. Most of the tokens should go to the investors so as raise sufficient funds for the project.

You should also closely look at the distribution of the funds that are raised through the IEO. How does the development team intend to distribute the funds? The development team should not be the one taking the lion’s share of the funds. A good IEO distributes the majority of the funds to the project development.

Initial Exchange Offerings (IEOs) may be headed for a more complicated scenario than the ICOs. ICOs got banned in a number of countries, including China and South Korea for poor regulations. When IEOs were invented, they proved to be the tie-breaker, especially in these countries.

However, the fact that the exchanges offering the IEOs act like brokers by bringing the development team and investors together, these exchanges could be headed for a legal confrontation with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Lately, a senior official indicated that the crypto exchanges that are offering IEOs could be violating the U.S. securities laws. The official argues that if an exchange has a set fee for listing an IEO and either the issuer of the token or any of the investors is from the US, the exchange can best be classified as Security Dealer (better referred to as a broker-dealer) under the US securities laws.

And according to the Law, security dealers engaging in broker-dealer activities should be registered and licensed as broker-dealers, national securities exchanges or alternative trading systems (ATS). But unfortunately, none of the exchanges that have listed IEOs in the past have met with these requirements despite the fact that a significant amount of IEO investors come from the United States.

At the look of things, this could be signaling the wake of a SEC crypto-crackdown targeted towards IEOs. However, we are yet to see if the exchanges interested in offei8rng the IEO and targeting US citizens shall choose to comply with the SEC regulations or choose to leave the US market.

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.