ICO, short for initial coin offering, is a new form of fundraising activity that became popular in 2017. Startups mint their own digital currencies, structured similarly to bitcoin, and sell them in exchange for bitcoin or ether. These cryptocurrencies can then be sold for fiat currencies or used as funding themselves.
These coins are often linked to an underlying product or company but there are no requirements for this. Regulators around the world have warned investors that ICOs are speculative, high-risk investments.
Startups, most of them looking at blockchain technology, raised $6.6 billion last year through ICOs, according to Autonomous NEXT, and have raised $9 billion via ICOs so far this year.
While that already eclipses the 2017 total, Autonomous NEXT said this figure is boosted by two mega deals that are unlikely to be sustainable.
Messaging app Telegram, which is hugely popular with the crypto community, has raised $1.7 billion through an ongoing ICO while Block.one, the startup behind the EOS token, on Friday closed a $4 billion raise.
“If we pull out Telegram and EOS on a monthly basis, the monthly trend look severely down – to $560 million from a high of $1.5 billion in December 2017,” Autonomous NEXT wrote.
“So unless you believe in the continued presence of mega deals, token offerings have indeed been dragging due to continued regulatory uncertainty, tax overhang, and a lack of tangible progress in software adoption by the mainstream consumer.”
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