Despite all the talk of increased regulation and looming lawsuits, ICOs seem immune. Many new tokens are struggling to trade above their ICO price on exchanges in the current bear market, but crowdsale allocations are still selling out. In February, ICOs raised $1 billion for the third month in a row. They’ll be sternly scrutinized in March, however, as the U.S. Congress prepares to discuss ICOs on March 14.
ICOs Are Making More Money Than Ever
Crowdsales are a lucrative business in 2018 – for the project teams at least, if not for their investors. In February, they raised $1.2 billion, down slightly from the $1.56 billion recorded the month before, placing them on a par with December’s total. It’s the third month in a row that the symbolic $1 billion threshold has been passed. As a result, ICOs in 2018 have already raised 50% of last year’s total. Tokendata’s latest report singles out three countries as having risen to prominence in the ICO space: the U.S., China, and Lithuania.
These countries have proven to be hotbeds of ICO activity. Of the billions raised this year, $788 million has come from projects based in the U.S., $265 million from China, and $249 million from Lithuania. (Switzerland, Europe’s crowdsale heartland, is fourth with $249 million). What’s notable about these figures is that investors based in the U.S. and China are largely excluded from participating in ICOs. As a consequence, the innovation is occurring within their borders, but the funds are coming from overseas.
The Crowdsales Keep Coming
For all the brouhaha surrounding ICOs right now, the majority aren’t as hilariously bad as Miroskii, led by its star designer “Ryan Gosling”. This week, European cryptocurrency broker Bitpanda announced it was getting in on the act with the launch of Pantos, a “multi-blockchain token system”. With its ICO scheduled to kick off in just 12 days, that doesn’t leave much time for investors to perform due diligence. Regardless of the merits of Bitpanda’s new project, there’s every chance it will reach its cap, just like February’s top performers, which eased past $1 billion with room to spare.
Tokendata’s figures for February would be markedly higher if two of this year’s biggest hitters had been included, Telegram and Dragon Coin. The former is on course to raise a staggering $2 billion, having already amassed $850 million over the past two months in its private sale. Its ICO remains active however, as does Dragon Coin, which has reportedly surpassed $320 million in its private sale already. The project, which has its sights set on high rollers in the lucrative Asian casino market, is gunning for $500 million. If achieved, it would make the crowdsale one of the largest projects to date after Telegram.
Congress Hearing to Shed a Light on ICO Regulation
At the start of February, a “landmark” Senate hearing saw cryptocurrencies examined in earnest for the first time before a government committee. ICOs were discussed by SEC chairman Jay Clayton, but they’ll have the spotlight all to themselves on March 14 when “Examining the Cryptocurrencies and ICO Markets” kicks off in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee. The hearing has been described as “educational”, giving lawmakers a chance to learn before they charge in and start legislating.
Regulation talk has been rife for days, with the SEC cranking up its rhetoric and a federal judge decreeing cryptocurrencies to be commodities. Coupled with the release of a research paper predicting a flurry of ICO lawsuits, it’s left investors more than a little confused about what they’re buying – security; commodity; something new altogether – and what the implications will be in terms of taxation and regulation. While U.S. regulators seek to clarify the legal status of crowdsales, ICOs are pressing ahead in their quest to tokenize all the things.
Do you think the Congress subcommittee hearing next week will spell good news for ICOs, or is more regulation coming? Let us know in the comments section below.
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Author: Kai Sedgwick