Security Token Offering (STO) is slowly becoming a darling among technocrats, especially those involved in raising funds for blockchain projects. STOs are usually strictly regulated by federal regulations making them one of the best and most secure forms for raising funds. However, due to the strict regulations that the STO tokens must comply with, special standards are required to make them comply with the regulations.

The common ERC-20 standard is not sufficient for creating STO tokens. Therefore, companies and organizations had to come up with more advanced standards with an additional layer for regulations compliance. In addition to complying with the set regulations, the additional layer also helps in identifying who interact, purchase or even trade the STO token.

Available token standards for creating STO tokens

  1. ST-20

This security token standard was developed by a company known as Polymath. It is a smart contract that defines a set of rules, including who can interact with the security token and how they should interact.

Polymath, the company behind this standard, provides a set of pre-programmed regulatory modules that developers can use when creating a security token using the standard.

  1. R-Token

This standard uses a combination of three smart contracts, namely A, B, and C. The three smart contracts are interlinked in a way that they can associate. Smart contract A contains ERC-20 standards. Smart contract B contains the rules on who can interact with the STO token and how they should interact. Smart contract C dictates who can communicate with the token and how they should communicate.

  1. ERC-1404

This is a special standard, developed by Tokensoft. The standard enables tokens that are built using different standards, including R-Token and ST-20, to be interoperable with different cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges.

  1. ERC-1400

This standard was developed by ERC-20 and ST-20 developers. The standard is designed to incorporate gatekeeper access control, redemption semantics or issuance, error signaling, and differentiated ownership.

For non-fungible tokens, this standard is backward compatible with the ERC-777 standard.

Due to the additional layer of standards required for the security tokens so that they can comply with security regulations, STO requires more advanced standards when it comes to their creation. STO security tokens are not created using the ERC-20 standards as most ICO and IEO are.

To cater for the additional regulatory layer, there are a number of companies and organizations that have come up with platforms where STO issuers can create their security tokens with ease.

Below are some of the best platforms for creating your STO’s security tokens:

  1. Polymath

Polymath allows security token issuers to create tokens using the ST-20 standards which were designed by Polymath.  It works similar to the Ethereum network and it has its own crypto token referred to as POLY.

It connects the smart contract developers, advisory experts, legal experts, KYC/AML providers, and token investors.

The process of creating security tokens is quite simple as one does not have to do any programming. You just have to follow through the steps and end up getting a fully functional security token and a configured STO.

  1. Swarm

Swarm uses the SRC20 protocol to create security tokens for real-world assets. In short, the platform allows users to create asset-backed security tokens. Therefore, users can create tokens backed by assets like real estate and so forth.

The Swarm platform also has its own crypto token that can be used for operations within the platform. The Swarm token has a symbol of ‘SWM’.

  1. Harbor

Harbor platform is a special security token creation platform since it allows traditional assets to transform into security tokens. It allows the creation of security tokens backed by real-world assets like real estate, fine arts, etc.

The platform uses a regulated system token referred to as the R-token. The R-token is a token on the Ethereum blockchain that allows the transfer of tokens once an On-chain Regulator Service is approved. The token basically gives permission for transfers.

  1. Securrency

This platform allows the creation of security tokens through a drag and drop process.

Furthermore, the platform allows users to perform Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money- Laundering (AML) verifications over 155 countries on both crypto and fiat transactions.

Users can use the InfinXChange™ APIs to select blockchains of their choice and also get an abstraction layer.

  1. Securitize

This platform manages the entire process of security token creation and issuance throughout the token’s lifetime. It manages the processing of the investors to the received capital.

Coinbase, a US-based cryptocurrency exchange, is set to join the league of cryptocurrency exchanges with IEO Launchpads soon. Kayvon Pirestani, the head of Coinbase institutional sales in Asia, revealed that the exchange was currently exploring a number of capital-formation tools including an IEO Launchpad.

According to the head of sales, an Initial Exchange Offering (IEO) Platform is a great opportunity and Coinbase is carefully exploring it. Though also hinted at developing a Security Token Offering (STO) platform, the IEO platform seems to have stolen the show and it could be the first to be launched.

However, Pirestani careful to say that he could make a formal announcement on the development yet. Nevertheless, the revelation is already an indicator that the IEO platform could be coming within the next few months.

If successful, Coinbase shall join its peers, the likes of Binance, KuCoin Bitfinex, Probit and OKEx. This would greatly enhance Coibase’s revenue and reputation, which is already high at the moment following years of great cryptocurrency exchange services.

A strategic choice for the US Market

Coinbase’s move to launch an IEO Launchpad could be viewed as a strategic move considering the trouble that US investors are going through trying to invest in ICOs. In the US, ICOs are either classified as stocks or securities depending on whether the tokens meet the Howey Test or not. And being a US-based exchange, it stands to benefit the most from US clients who wish to use IEOs instead of ICOs to solicit funds for their blockchain projects.

Compared to ICOs, IEOs offer a better investment opportunity for investors since they are not very much sought after by the regulatory authorities, especially the SEC. The only hectic part is getting an exchange to allow to host the IEO. Once the token sale is allowed to be offered on the exchange platform, authorities do not come looking for the IEO. The exchange is the one responsible for scrutinizing the IEO token sale.

Exchanges scrutinize the IEO token sale issuers to ensure that they are not scams. They also evaluate the project to see whether it will be of any economic value to the exchange.

Source of revenue

In addition to creating an opportunity for investors, IEOs also come in handy in attracting users to register with crypto exchanges. For investors to cash in on any IEO, they have to first register with the exchange running the IEO.

Therefore, if a promising project chooses a certain crypto exchange to run its IEO, the exchange can be sure that new users will sign up with it for them to be able to invest in the IEO.

The new users who sign up with the exchange start trading the IEO tokens once they become tradable and in the process pay commissions as they trade, which adds up to the exchange’s source of revenue.

On the other hand, IEO issuers also pay a certain amount of fee to the exchange running their IEO so as to be allowed to issue their tokens through the exchange’s IEO Launchpad.

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.

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.