Tuesday 23 October 2018 4:34 pm

The ICO landscape


Last week we looked at how to assess the concept behind an ICO, but this week I want to “zoom out” a little, and talk about the competitive landscape in which ICOs are operating. It changes almost hourly, let alone daily, and it’s full of complexity, ambiguity, and contradiction. Sounds fun, right?

For those blockchain startups considering, or gearing up for, an ICO right now, it’s a worrying time. Regulation is tightening, but it’s also still incredibly inconsistent across different regions of the world, and no matter how much they spend on lawyers, they’re all still (mostly) coming up with slightly different answers! Aside from the regulation issues (which I will be honest, are not really my field of expertise), the general environment in which ICOs are now launched is VERY different to that of just 6 months ago.

As with the gold rush to California in the 1850s, in 2017 there was a feeling of the Wild West; and that was bad for the trust and credibility that is so necessary in this field. There can be little doubt that professionalisation and regulation are now slowly coming in 2018 and beyond; and that is a good thing for all involved. Recently announced plans for the New York Stock Exchange to trade Bitcoin have also given the industry a feeling of permanency to counteract the ‘flash in the pan’ perception from some quarters. The further announcement that The Boston Stock Exchange is working with Zero, a new Cryptocurrency exchange to trade security tokens, gives even further comfort as traditional investment professionals and institutions are taking an interest.

Authenticity is everything now if an ICO is to be successful, and for those now exploring the ICO world as a potential participant or investor, that means entering a potentially calmer, dare I say safer, environment than you would have been just 6 months ago. It will always be Buyer Beware, but ICOs and Tokens as a market are maturing before our very eyes at a rapid pace.