What Is an ICO in Cryptocurrency?

ICO is short for Initial Coin Offering. When launching a new cryptocurrency or crypto-token, the developers offer investors a limited number of units in exchange for other major crypto coins such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.

ICOs are amazing tools for quickly raining development funds to support new cryptocurrencies. The tokens offered during an ICO can be sold and traded on cryptocurrency exchanges, assuming there is sufficient demand for them.

The Ethereum ICO is one of the most notable successes and the popularity of Initial Coin Offerings is growing as we speak.

A brief history of ICOs

Ripple is likely the first cryptocurrency distributed via an ICO. At the start of 2013, Ripple Labs began to develop the Ripple payment system and generated approximately 100 billion XRP tokens. These were sold through an ICO to fund Ripple’s platform development.

Mastercoin is another cryptocurrency that has sold a few million tokens for Bitcoin during an ICO, also in 2013. Mastercoin aimed to tokenize Bitcoin transactions and execute smart contracts by creating a new layer on top of the existing Bitcoin code.

Of course, there are other cryptocurrencies that have been successfully funded through ICOs. Back in 2016, Lisk gathered approximately $5 million during their Initial Coin Offering.

Nevertheless, Ethereum’s ICO that took place in 2014 is probably the most prominent one so far. During their ICO, the Ethereum Foundation sold ETH for 0.0005 Bitcoin each, raising almost $20 million. With Ethereum harnessing the power of smart contracts, it paved the way for the next generation of Initial Coin Offerings.

Ethereum’s ICO, a recipe for success

Ethereum’s smart contracts system has implemented the ERC20 protocol standard that sets the core rules for creating other compliant tokens which can be transacted on Ethereum’s blockchain. This allowed others to create their own tokens, compliant with the ERC20 standard that can be traded for ETH directly on Ethereum’s network.

The DAO is a notable example of successfully using Ethereum’s smart contracts. The investment company raised $100 million worth of ETH and the investors received in exchange DAO tokens allowing them to participate in the governance of the platform. Sadly, the DAO failed after it was hacked.

Ethereum’s ICO and their ERC20 protocol have outlined the latest generation of crowdfunding blockchain-based projects via Initial Coin Offerings.

It also made it very easy to invest in other ERC20 tokens. You simply transfer ETH, paste the contract in your wallet and the new tokens will show up in your account so you can use them however you please.

Obviously, not all cryptocurrencies have ERC20 tokens living on Ethereum ‘s network but pretty much any new blockchain-based project can launch an Initial Coin Offering.

The legal state of ICOs

When it comes to the legality of ICOs, it’s a bit of a jungle out there. In theory, tokens are sold as digital goods, not financial assets. Most jurisdictions haven’t regulated ICOs yet so assuming the founders have a seasoned lawyer on their team, the whole process should be paperless.

Even so, some jurisdictions have become aware of ICOs and are already working on regulating them in a similar manner to sales of shares and securities.

Back in December 2017, the U.S. Securities And Exchange Commission (SEC) classified ICO tokens as securities. In other words, the SEC was preparing to halt ICOs they consider to be misleading investors.

There are some cases in which the token is just a utility token. This means the owner can simply use it to access a certain network or protocol in which case they may not be defined as a financial security. Nevertheless, equity tokens whose purpose is to appreciate in value are quite close to the concept of security. Truth be told, most token purchases are made specifically for investment purposes.

Despite the efforts of regulators, ICOs are still lingering in a grey legal area and until a clearer set of regulations is imposed entrepreneurs will attempt to benefit from Initial Coin Offerings.

It’s also worth mentioning that once regulations reach a final form, the cost and effort required to comply could make ICOs less attractive compared to conventional funding options.

Final words

For now, ICOs remain an amazing way to fund new crypto-related projects and there have been multiple successful ones with more to come.

However, keep in mind everyone is launching ICOs nowadays and many of these projects are scams or lack the solid foundation they need to thrive and make it worth the investment. For this reason, you should definitely do thorough research and investigate the team and background of whatever crypto project you might want to invest in. There are multiple websites out there that list ICOs, we recommend checking this ICO calendar if you’re interested to invest in a crypto project.

Traveling to Ushuaia – A Journey To The End Of The World

4 a.m. around 100 km north of Río Gallegos. I haven’t slept for 32 hours, but the vast Patagonian landscape of veldt you are traveling through fills you with excitement and numbness at the same time, that makes it impossible to find rest. The hours pass, you stare out of the window and it’s as if you would glance at a prehistoric, untouched landscape and realizes how our planet might have been looked a million years ago, before mankind started to cover the earth with highways, urban sprawling and industrial sites.

I could have taken a plane. I could have avoided effort and pain. I could have saved time and money. I could have chosen the nice and easy way. But ever since I have seen the unfamiliar name of Ushuaia, the most southern town in the world, on a map I knew that traveling over land to this destination on tip of the American Continent would be the only way for me. The journey is the reward.

On the bus I met Ricardo, a student from Puerto Montt/ Chile. Together we have been listening to Gustavo Santaolalla’s great song “De Ushuaia a la Quiaca” over and over again, and it seems as if the Argentinean composer has created the perfect soundtrack for traveling trough Patagonia: a hypnotizing melody of distant, superjacent guitars containing this piercing twitch of solitude. A music that intensifies the delirious state on the edge of being awake and falling asleep I’ve been for almost 2 days. As further we are traveling south I realize that we are approaching to the end of the world, to a point were you can’t go any further.

The landscape changes, it’s getting sparser. Sometimes from the middle of nowhere turns up a sheep farm or some remote village consisting of three wooden houses and a church, but as soon as we have passed, there’s pampas, solitude and loneliness again. The incredible vast sky is melting with the horizon and suddenly you wonder if you will ever reach your destination or if this fragile dream of rough beauty might continue forever. And maybe it doesn’t matter anymore, because you have already crossed a hidden frontier and reached an inner point of no return.

But suddenly it all ends, Magellan Strait, the last barrier that had separated us from legendary Tierra del Fuego, has been crossed and we actually reach Ushuaia. The bus spills out its tired, exhausted and happy freight and it feels like a rebirth, like an awakening. Windy roads lead me to the port where giant cruise ships and rotten fishing boats are swaying in Beagle Channel. I’m glancing at the nearby mountain range, forming part of the National Park Tierra del Fuego, when a sudden thought rises up: maybe this isn’t the end of the world; maybe it’s just the beginning.