XSC Wallet Driven Cryptopayments Available at the FI-Forum

Blockchain

The success story of the XSC Wallet continues as Datarella, for the second conference this year, offered visitors of the FI-Forum the possibility to use the XSC Wallet. This builds upon the our XSC Wallet deployment at the the DAHO.AM conference last July.

FI Forum

The Fi-Forum is the trade fair of Finanz Informatik, the IT service provider of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe. IT solutions, innovations and new services are presented there each year. There were also more than 90 speeches and a parallel hackathon with interesting topics to be addressed.

At the fair, visitors got XSC Coins in their own private event-wallet which they could spend on merchandising products such as powerbanks, bags and notebooks, generously provided by partner ZEB (zeb.rolfes.schierenbeck.associates GmbH). To do so, the visitors only had to download the wallet from the App Store or from Google Play. They were instantly rewarded with XSC Coins which they could spend on the goodies. The ease of use and rapid transaction execution often opened a new and more positive view on crypto payment. Moreover people who didn’t spend all of their XSC were regularly asked by others to send them the unused XSC to their wallet in order to buy extra goodies.

Together with ZEB, we held many discussions with prospects about topics such as blockchain-based financial systems, crypto payments and the future challenges of this technology.

A big thank you to the Finanz Informatik and ZEB for making it possible to help visitors explore the world of crypto payments by using the XSC Wallet on the Fi-Forum.

A Guide to Trading CrowdstartCoin XSC on EtherDelta & ForkDelta

EtherDelta

We’ve gotten many requests for a clean step by step guide on how to buy and sell CrowdstartCoins XSC on EtherDelta and ForkDelta. Decentralized exchanges are awesome but often hard to use. We want to improve this with our trading guide.

There are two ways to get XSC, either you create value for the advancement of the blockchain ecosystem and receive XSC as a reward or you buy XSC in the open market. In the initial phase, we at Crowdstart Capital determine who receives XSC but we are hard at work on the CrowdVote DAPP which will allow XSC holders to directly and decentrally decide who deserves XSC for their contributions to the blockchain ecosystem.

This guide is for everyone. Regardless of whether you want to buy XSC to use in our upcoming CrowdVote DAPP or you have received XSC as a reward and want to sell, this step by step guide will show you the way.

What are EtherDelta and Metamask?

As most of you know, EtherDelta is a decentralized trading platform for Ether and Ethereum-based tokens. Many of you may also be familiar with the EtherDelta fork ForkDelta. The latter offers an offchain orderbook but is otherwise functionally identical to its parent, Etherdelta. For this reason, our guide can currently be used for both exchanges. This could change in the future as ForkDelta is planning upgrades to the user interface.

XSC is traded on four decentral exchanges at the moment. Decentralization means that your funds are held in a smart contract so that you are the only person who can deposit, withdraw or trade. This doesn’t require trusting an administrator or any centralized service provider. This also means that there’s no password reset and no undo button.

There’s a huge variety of different wallets out there with which you can send, receive or save your funds but the safest and most user-friendly way to interact with decentral applications is by using the MetaMask-extension. That’ll be our first step. MetaMask offers a secure identity vault allowing for easy management of private keys and for the signing of blockchain transactions without exposing your keys directly in the DAPP.  If you already have the MetaMask-extension installed or decided to go without it you can skip the following step.

Set Up MetaMask

The MetaMask extension is available for many browsers like Mozilla Firefox, Opera or Chrome. In this documentation, we use the extension for Google Chrome. To add the MetaMask extension to Chrome you can use this link. By clicking on “add to Chrome” the extension should be visible on the top right of your browser, right next to the URL field.

MetaMask extension installed

After clicking on the extension and accepting the terms of conditions you can now import your existing account or create a new one by setting a new password that you won’t forget. (There’s no password reset functionality here by design.)

Create MetaMask Account

At this point, MetaMask informs you that your vault was created and gives you 12 random seed words which you need if you want to restore it or to transfer your account into other wallets or devices. Save these words somewhere safeand secret, e.g. write it down on a piece of paper and store it securely. After you’ve done this, click on “I’ve copied it somewhere safe” in order to continue.

Metamask seed words

Now you have your first MetaMask-vault. If you received XSC in another wallet you may want to import your tokens into Metamask. To import a wallet into MetaMask you’ll need your private key or your JSON keystore file. To do this click on the account settings as shown in the following screenshot and click on “Import Account”.

Import account to MetaMask

In the next step either select “Private Key“ or „JSON File“ in the dropdown and enter your private key or import your JSON file. If you use a private key it should look like shown in the next screenshot. Finish importing your account by clicking on „Import“.

MM enter private Key

As you can see MetaMask created a new account (Here: Account 2) which contains your funds. Your wallet is now successfully synced with MetaMask. At this point, you need to add the Crowdstart Coin (XSC) contract address so you can see your tokens both in MetaMask and on EtherDelta. To add a token, click on the tab „tokens“ on the button and click on „add token“.

MetaMask add token

To successfully add a token you need the token contact address, the token symbol and the decimals of precision. We’ve included these details below so you can just cut and paste.

XSC Contact Address: 0x0f513ffb4926ff82d7f60a05069047aca295c413

Token symbol: XSC

Decimals of Precision: 18

If you entered the contact address successfully it should look like this:

MetaMask XSC token details

After adding your XSC and syncing your wallet, your MetaMask account will now display your tokens like this:

MetaMask display XSC

Now you can safely and securely trade with EtherDelta.

Import Your Wallet Into EtherDelta

If you use MetaMask, the wallet is already synced and you just need to select your preferred account in the dropdown as shown below.

EtherDelta Import Wallet from MetaMask

If you don’t use MetaMask you need to import your file using your private key. To do so click on the upper right corner to „Select account“ and „Import account“ in the dropdown menu.

EtherDelta Import Wallet

Afterward, EtherDelta asks for your wallet information. In the first input box, you need to enter your public key while your private key belongs to the second input box. The private key is stored locally in your browser and is not communicated to EtherDelta or stored on any server. That said, this login method is generally considered as risky due to the fact that many phishing sites pose impersonate EtherDelta. If you enter your private keys somewhere malicious it’s game over. For this reason, we vastly prefer MetaMask. If you want even more security you can use a Ledger hardware wallet but that’s beyond the scope of this guide.

EtherDelta Enter keys

After clicking on „Import account“, EtherDelta displays your account like this:

EtherDelta after import not MetaMask

Trading XSC

After your wallet is imported and synced to EtherDelta it’s time to trade XSC on EtherDelta. This chapter will describe the process in detail.

First of all, you need to tell EtherDelta that you want to trade XSC. To do so, you need to click in the dropdown in the top middle of the page and select XSC as shown. After selecting XSC the page reloads and shows the dashboard for XSC to ETH trades.

EtherDelta select XSC

Deposit ETH to the Smart Contract

In the account dropdown (upper right), next to the account address is your wallet balance. If your wallet balance is 0 you need to send some ETH to that wallet. Do that before proceeding to the next step.

Now that you have some Ether in your wallet, you need to deposit from your wallet to the EtherDelta smart contract to start trading. By doing this the funds will be available to any purchase at EtherDelta.

In the upper left, there is a “Balance” panel as shown below. There are three columns, “Token,” “Wallet,” and “EtherDelta.” The first column, “Token”, will have a row for XSC and a row for ETH. The “Wallet” column shows the balance held in the account you have selected in the account dropdown. Notice that the balance shown in the ETH row under “Wallet” matches the balance shown in the account dropdown.

EtherDelta Balance

When you deposit, you will move funds from your “Wallet” to the EtherDelta exchange smart contract. To do this, enter the amount you want to deposit and press “Deposit”. Don’t deposit all of your ETH though. You need to leave some behind in your “Wallet” to cover gas fees. A good rule of thumb is to leave 0.05 ETH in your “Wallet” to cover gas fees for future transactions you will do (trading, depositing, withdrawing).

EtherDelta Deposit ETH

After you press the “Deposit” button, if you’re using MetaMask you’ll have a transaction to approve. You can reduce the gas price from the default (~4 gwei) if you’re willing to wait longer for your transaction to confirm but pay a lower fee. It’s generally a good idea to check the gas prices at ethgasstation and use either the standard price or the safe low price listed there. If you’re not using MetaMask, you can set the gas price from the “Gas price” item in the account dropdown (upper right). If you are depositing a token (not ETH), depositing will involve two back-to-back transactions. The first one approves the EtherDelta smart contract to transfer the deposit on your behalf. The second one is the actual deposit. You must approve both.

EtherDelta Deposit ETH to smart contract

After your transaction has been sent, EtherDelta will tell you that you generated a transaction. You can click the link to track your transaction on Etherscan.io.

EtherDelta Deposit ETH transaction

Once your transaction confirms, you should see funds move from the “Wallet” column to the “EtherDelta” column. In our case, you can see that the “Wallet” column reduced by 0.005 while the “EtherDelta” column raised by 0.005.

EtherDelta Deposit ETH afterwards

Withdraw ETH

The Withdraw tab is the opposite of the Deposit tab. It will move funds from the “EtherDelta” column back to the “Wallet” column. Remember that in order to withdraw, you need to pay a gas fee, and the gas fee comes from your “Wallet.”

Transfer

If you want to transfer your tokens then the “Transfer” tab is for you. The Deposit tab moves funds from your wallet to EtherDelta. The Withdraw tab moves funds from EtherDelta to your wallet. The Transfer tab moves funds from your wallet to another wallet address. If you want to “withdraw to another Ethereum address,” you need to withdraw and then transfer.

On the Transfer tab, the first box is the amount you want to transfer. The second box is the address you want to transfer to. By default, the address you want to transfer to is pre-filled in with your existing address. Overwrite this with another address of your choice and then press “Transfer.”

Buying XSC

You have now accomplished the last step needed to trade XSC by depositing ETH to the EtherDelta smart contract. To buy XSC you need to place a buy order in the order book panel in the center of the EtherDelta interface.

You can choose which way you want to buy your XSC tokens. One option is to post a new buy order to the order book and wait for someone to fill the order. This method requires no fees at EtherDelta. On the other hand, you can choose an existing sell order to buy the XSC at a price already offered in the order book. This method has the advantage of executing immediately. 

Placing a Buy Order

If you don’t want to trade immediately or don’t like the prices you see in the order book, you can place your own order. To place a buy order you need to click on the “Buy” tab in the “NEW ORDER” panel. There are 4 input boxes to fill. The first is how many XSC you want to buy (in this example 10 XSC). The second describes at which price you want the XSC to be purchased (here 0.0005 XSC/ETH). The next box is filled automatically depending on your entries above. So in our case, the transaction would cost 0.005 ETH. The box “Expires” describes the timeframe in blocks that your order is being active. The EtherDelta timeframe is based on ether blocks, which means that each block takes about 14 seconds. A 10000 block limit should last about two days.

EtherDelta place XSC order

After clicking on “buy” EtherDelta adds your order to the order book and will inform you via two notifications. One says “You sent an order” the second one will say “Your order was received”.

Prompt order placed

Don’t panic if the order isn’t shown immediately in the order book, it can take up to a minute. From now on you can see your order highlighted blue in the “order book” and in the “MY TRANSACTIONS” panel under the tag “Orders”. Your balance will not change when you place an order, it will only change when your order is executed.

If your order was successfully executed, you can find the order in the tag “trades” together with a link to the transaction on Etherscan.io as shown:

EtherDelta confirmation order

You can also cancel your order if you want to. Go to the “MY TRANSACTIONS” panel in the lower center of the EtherDelta interface and go to the tap “Orders”. Here you can click on “Cancel” which triggers a new transaction.

EtherDelta cancel order

Buying a “Sell” Order

As mentioned above, you can buy XSC by buying a sell order. You can find the sell orders in the order book panel in the upper center of the EtherDelta interface. Here you can see buy offers, which are green, and sell offers, which are red. Both of them show the price where they are willing to buy or sell, the amount of XSC they are willing to trade and the total amount of ETH that this transaction would cost. The orders are ordered depending on their price. If you want to buy ether, look at the lowest sell order (the red ones) to get the cheapest price.

EtherDelta Buy sell order

Now just choose your preferred sell order by clicking it. EtherDelta will then open a new dialog to confirm your purchase.

EtherDelta Buy from sell

As you can see in the dialog, you can buy less XSC than offered. So it’s up to you if you want to buy all XSC offered or less. Keep in mind that the more XSC you buy, the higher the value of the transaction.

Click on “Buy” if you entered your preferred amount of XSC to buy. After this, your transaction will be triggered. As in the steps before, EtherDelta will provide a link to the transaction on Etherscan.io to track the transaction. After a few minutes, you should see your XSC in your wallet.

Deposit XSC to EtherDelta

If you have XSC in your wallet you can sell them on EtherDelta as well. It is basically the same process as buying XSC, just the other way around.

So in the first step, you need to deposit XSC to the EtherDelta smart contract. You are doing this by entering the amount of XSC that you want to deposit in the “Balance” panel on the upper left in the interface. In our case, we want to add 10 XSC to the smart contract.

EtherDelta deposit XSC

Once again, set the gas price on the MetaMask dialog that will prompt and confirm the transaction by clicking on submit. This will once again trigger a transaction and an etherscan.io link to track the transaction will be provided.

MetaMask deposit XSC

After your transaction was successfully executed, you can see the chances in the “Balance” panel and on your MetaMask account.

Selling XSC by Creating an Order

Now that there are XSC on the EtherDelta smart contract you can create a sell order. Therefore go to the “New order” panel in the lower center of the EtherDelta interface and click on the “sell” tab. Now you can enter the amount of XSC you are willing to sell and set a price at which you want to sell each XSC. Here we want to sell 10 XSC at the price of 0.03 XSC/ETH. The box “Expires” describes the timeframe in blocks that your order will be active. It’s the same as with a buy order in that a 10000 block limit should last about 2 days. Finally, click on sell to publish your order to the order book. MetaMask will ask you to confirm the transaction by signing it.

MetaMask sign sell XSC

Now you can see your order in the “MY TRANSACTIONS” panel in the tab “orders” as shown below.

EtherDelta show order

Selling XSC by Choosing Buy Order

The second option is to sell XSC by selecting an already existing buy order. You can find the buy orders in the “ORDER BOOK” panel in the upper center of the EtherDelta interface. To sell your XSC you need to look at the green offers in the order book. The first green order from above represents the highest price that somebody is willing to buy your XSC.

EtherDelta order book sell XSC

Now just choose your preferred buy order by clicking it. EtherDelta will then open a new dialog to confirm your transaction.

EtherDelta sell from buy

As you can see in the dialog, you can sell less XSC than offered. So it’s up to you if you want to sell all the XSC the buyer wants or less. As you can see, there are no fees because you sell your XSC. Confirm your transaction by clicking on “sell”.

After this, your transaction will be executed. Like in the steps before, EtherDelta will provide a link to the transaction on Etherscan.io to track the transaction. After a few minutes, you should see the changed value in your wallet.

Happy trading!

Credit Where Credit is Due:

Thanks to EtherDelta Team and ChronoLogic Team for their guides. We borrowed lots of inspiration and structure for our guide from your posts.

Also, a big thanks goes out to our working student Martin Schäffner who did all of the legwork to make this post happen.

Crowdstart Coins XSC for Pryze Runner-Ups

Pryze + Datarella Sweepstakes for early adopters

Good news for all you non-developers out there. As many of you already know we are partnering with Pryze.com to offer an ethereum-based provably fair sweepstakes where early adopters can apply for a chance to win up to 100 XSC Tokens (A value of 100 USD if the price of XSC reaches 1.00$). The sweepstakes will run until the 21st of February.

What you don’t yet know is that we’ve decided to award the first 99 runners-up in the Pryze Sweepstakes tokens as well. Token distribution will be drawn at random by the Crowdstart Capital team!

 Pryze Sweepstakes – Crowdstart Coin (XSC) Awards:

  • 50 Runner-ups: Recieve 25 XSC tokens
  • 25 Runner-ups: Recieve 50 XSC tokens
  • 24 Runner-ups: Recieve 75 XSC tokens
  • 1 Grand Prize Winner: Receives 100 XSC tokens

Here’s a refresher on how it works.

  1. Download the sweepstakes app from Pryze.com. It is available for iOS and Android mobile devices.
  2. Register with your details and an Ethereum address where we can send your XSC.
  3. Wait and see if you are chosen! We’ll award the first 99 runner ups with Crowdstart Coins (XSC).

Don’t wait! Register today and win a few tokens!

CrowdstartCoins XSC Now For Early Adopters With Pryze.com

Pryze + Datarella Sweepstakes for early adopters

For a limited time, early adopters now have the opportunity to win XSC! In collaboration with pryze.com, we’re offering a chance to win up to 100 XSC Tokens.

If you have transacted recently on any of the decentral exchanges you’ll notice that the user interfaces sometimes leave something to be desired and liquidity is often an issue.

CSC mainly focuses primarily on incentivizing blockchain developers, but XSC is meant to be the token for the blockchain ecosystem. One important element needed to meet our goal of advancing the development of industrial blockchain applications is the availability of interested early adopters willing to test new technology such as decentral exchanges and give feedback about the user experience. Everyone in the blockchain ecosystem has something to contribute.

To this end today we are pleased to announce a sweepstakes event for blockchain early adopters. As a blockchain early adopter you are also a valuable part of the development process. We want to reward and incentivize your participation and contribution to the ecosystem.

We are partnering with Pryze.com to offer an ethereum-based provably fair sweepstakes where a limited number of early adopters can apply for a chance to win up to 100 XSC Tokens (A value of 100 USD if the price of XSC reaches 1.00$). The sweepstakes will run from today until the 21st of February.

Here’s how it works.

  1. Download the sweepstakes app from Pryze.com. It is available for iOS and Android mobile devices.
  2. Register with your details and an Ethereum address where we can send your XSC.
  3. Wait and see if you are chosen!

Stay tuned for updates about this sweepstakes.  We’ll be releasing more specifics about the exact distribution of tokens very soon.

 

CrowdstartCoin – A Currency Creates Sovereignty

We want blockchain technology to live up to its original concept: being and staying an open, free technology. We want to prevent blockchain technology from the fate of the internet, being corrupted by lobby groups who succeeded in persuading the U.S. government to abolish net neutrality in December 2017.

For millennia, sovereignty defined currency. Governments created curency and the currency allowed a government to execute its monopolistic control. Now, people create currency. And since currency creates sovereignty, the former equation has been inversed: economic freedom is no longer dependent on governments but can be exerted in a trans-national, self-determined way.

Blockchain developers of all sorts, be it Bitcoin maximalists, Ethereum proponents, IOTA tangle enthusiasts, Stellar developers or active supporters of currencies such as Monero, Dash, etc, – all of them will be awarded CrowdstartCoins for committing valuable code. Two weeks after having issued the first CrowdstartCoins to developers participating at the IOTA hackathon in Gdansk, CrowdstartCoins have been distibuted to over 125 developers, most of them working on IOTA and Ethereum.

CrowdstartCoin can become the currency of choice for all those who work on blockchain technology. When CrowdstartCoin is widely adopted in and used by the Blockchain community, its value supports the future development and the evolution of the Blockchain ecosystem at-large.

If you’re a developer who committed code to advance Blockchain technology at-large, you’ll be eligible to receive CrowdstartCoins. You can request CrowdstartCoins by filling out the Developer Incentive Program: Claim XSC Rewards form.

Blockchains And Cryptocurrencies – A Disconnect In Cryptoland

Coming from blockchain technology and its use cases in various industries as diverse as manufacturing, energy, automotive, healthcare and finance, looking at the cryptocurrency market is quite interesting. 

Whilst blockchain plays the role of a foundational technology when using it to simplify legacy database infrastructures and adding a lean ‘singleton-ish’ transactional layer to formerly stale and complex technology stacks, most participants in cryptocurrencies don’t seem to be interested at all in the technology behind the tokens. Here, the token’s currency aspects dominate, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but…

A brief look at the market shows a huge money influx especially in the last 6 months. About 830 different tokens represent a total market capitalization of just under $90B with the Top 10 currencies representing around 90%, or more than $80B, as of this writing. Six months ago, the total market value was about $15B.

In order to get a better understanding of this phenomenon, we started listening to crypto market’s participants. Since Twitter and Reddit are two major channels of choice, it’s quite easy to get a feeling for the market in a short time. Here is what we have learned so far:

Learnings

  • If you come from the technology side of blockchain, you should put your expertise aside, unless you don’t want to go mad: in cryptocurrencies, blockchain does not matter at all – it’s the currency, stupid!
  • This aspect alone makes you think again: Bitcoin’s CPU-based PoW vs Ethereum’s RAM PoW? Who cares? Single-currency-purpose Monero vs financial settlement network Ripple? Cryptocurrencies, application-specific tokens or meta-protocols, mostly based on Bitcoin? Nothing’s easier than comparing “valuations” of contenders representing totally different asset categories or applications.
  • Then: valuations. What, exactly, does it mean when Ethereum “is worth” $19B?  In its 2014 launch, the Ethereum foundation issued 72m ETH – after three years of mining there’s a total ETH supply of 92m, as of this writing. Mining means, there is a certain inflation built in the currency’s protocol. Is it priced in?
  • Ok, there are certain tokens, especially the application-specific ones, that could be modeled as economic entities rather than currencies. This allows us to use some of the valuation methods we apply to securities, such as well-established economic and cash-flow models used in equity research. However, investors should be aware that the market price of tokens can differ significantly from the underlying valuation models: a large component of price is speculative in nature and will probably decrease with time, as the ecosystem matures.
  • Next, there is a strikingly outspoken communications behavior in cryptoland. Many self-appointed crypto investors, crypto traders or, more generically, crypto experts (!), seem to possess some finite knowledge about individual tokens, the crypto market in general, and – which is no differentiator versus the stock markets – they know the future. In other words: the cryptocurrency market is dominated by the same group of traders and investors as any other financial market in its espective infancy. And, as a side note, some occasional Nonviolent Communication training for market participants wouldn’t do any harm.

Disconnect between asset and its value

Our most relevant learning? Blockchain lies at the heart of crypto tokens, but the cryptocurrency market is dominated by people and their strategies without any connection to blockchain technology. Cryptocurrencies are treated as random assets. From the financial market’s perspective, this should not be much of a surprise. However, this disconnect between the value of an asset and its application could lead to major distortions in the future. The very first of these, the fact that blockchain transactions become more expensive the more the asset price increases, are already visible and have significant impacts on the respective blockchains.

In Germany, there existed a segment of the stock market called ‘Neuer Markt‘. From 1997 to 2003, the Neuer Markt created many success stories and many more bankruptcies. The originally 30, later 50, listed companies represented a total market capitalization of more than 200B EUR. And, today exactly, we saw  the impact of a 1.6 minute sarcastic video presented by Monero developer Riccardo Spagni during the Monero meetup prior to Token Summit.

Evil to him who evil thinks.

What is an Initial Coin Offering ICO?

ICOs have become a popular way to fund any kind of projects on the blockchain. An ICO is an event in which a project sells part of its to be offered digital tokens to early investors in exchange for money today. ICOs provide a way for project creators to raise money for their future operations. The digital tokens don’t necessarily function as cryptocurrencies by allowing investors to pay with it, but can have other or additional key functions, such as representing tokens for using smart contracts in a respective blockchain.

The ICO usually takes place before the project is completed, and helps the project team fund the expenses undertaken until launch. For some of the larger projects, part of the ICO money goes into a foundation that provides ongoing support to the project. They also work as an initial distribution model for the digital tokens, especially those with a PoS consensus algorithm.

Typically, anybody can participate in an ICO by investing some money. The ICO participants are invested in the success of the project.  And they provide early liquidity for the digital tokens when they start trading. As co-owners of the project participants can help spread the word and raise awareness in their respective communities.  They are also usually motivated by a profit potential if the project takes off and the tokens become worth more than the ICO price.

What’s the difference between an ICO and an IPO?

At first glance, ICOs resemble the better known IPOs. An Initial public offering (IPO) or stock market launch is a type of public offering in which shares of a company usually are sold to institutional investors that in turn, sell to the general public, on a securities exchange, for the first time. There are some similarities between ICOs and IPOs – both of them are used to sell a stake and raise money, and both invite investors who (hopefully) recognize both the potential and risk of investing their capital in order to make a future profit.

However, there are significant differences: Because of the infancy of the digital token market, ICOs are mostly supported by early enthusiasts and not necessarily by professional investors. In that respect, they are similar to crowdfunding, but with the backers having a financial stake in the project. ICOs are also not regulated or registered with any governmental institution and there are usually no investor protections other than what is built into the project’s and/or the digital token platform itself.

Today, most ICOs are marketed as digital presale tokens akin to giving early access to an online platform or game to early supporters. In order to try to avoid legal requirements that come with any form of a security sale, such as in an IPO, many ICOs use legal disclaimers and tell the participants that they won’t participate in a securities sale.  Different to most crowdfunding campaigns, ICOs don’t account as donations because they give digital token purchasers a stake in the company and a right to vote on future decisions. Neither can they be called the cryptocurrency equivalent of stocks. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission SEC and their counterparts in other countries have remained largely silent on whether digital tokens account as securities. A framework tries to weigh in on the issue but stops short of providing a definite answer, part of which is due to the unregulated nature of blockchain itself.

How does an ICO work?

Rather than issuing a formal prospectus or Information Memorandum as in an IPO, most ICOs are represented by a technical white paper, timelines, project goals and other information that will help potential investors understand and evaluate the project. The white papers are very similar, in structure and format, to traditional academic whitepapers. They explain the project itself, how the platform will work, how it can benefit participants, and how the project will be developed technically using the proceeds of the ICO. Since ICOs happen before project completion, or sometimes even before the project starts, being transparent and comprehensive about the details of the project is key to gaining trust and appreciation with potential investors.

After the ICO’s launch, digital tokens are made available for sale and will have value in the future for those who will work with the platform and/or for those who will use it as traceable assets. While in the very first phase of ICOs, the preferred currency was Bitcoin, most projects launch their own cryptocurrencies today. A list of cryptocurrencies can be found here.

ICOs typically last from a few days to a few weeks, depending on how quickly the initial supply will be sold. Therefore, investors should be aware that the ICOs roadmap reflects the plan of the project’s founders but doesn’t necessarily fit into reality, when there is excess demand and the offering must be closed earlier because the cap on the total amount raised is met before the proposed end of the offering.

Once the ICO is completed and the project launched afterwards, the digital tokens typically get listed on cryptocurrency exchanges to trade against other cryptocurrencies or fiat money. The price usually reflects the overall cryptocurrency market sentiment, project-specific news, the addition of new features and the ability of the project team to reach their goals described in the business plan.

Advantages and downsides of an ICO

An ICO is a great way to bootstrap a blockchain based project and gain the initial capital necessary to motivate a talented team to join the project and get started. It is possible to raise as much money as in a typical seed round. of a venture capital VC or business angel funding. The difference, however, is that the founders don’t need to give up equity for the money invested.

An ICO removes many of the hurdles present in the VC process and allows startups to take the shortest way to the market by directly presenting the idea to potential customers and gauging general interest on the project.

A problem with ICOs is that many of them have turned out becoming scams, ideas that never materialized or failed to deliver on their promises. Building on the hype surrounding digital tokens in general, some teams launched projects that lacked solid ideas and not enough initial research was done to prove the viability of the project.

Investors, on the other hand, usually cling on to the general success of Bitcoin and successful ICOs like Ethereum, one of the most successful ICOs ever, and see every ICO and blockchain project as the potential for making easy money. Due to the fact that becoming an investor in an ICO is very easy – you just have to verify yourself as a natural person with an address in a country the project teams allows to participate, some investors might lack a sound practical or theoretical investment experience and therefore might not be prepared for the things to come.

Following several cases of failed projects and outright scams, there has been a raise in wariness and skepticism toward ICOs, and the landscape is gradually self-regulating itself by adopting a set of rules and best practices to evaluate every project. There are now platforms performing due diligences on ICOs and help investors better asses the risk structure of the project. That’s forcing project teams into being more clear and transparent about their projects.

Another problem with ICOs is that, unlike venture capital investments, they  aren’t regulated or registered with any government or organization and therefore offer no investor protection. They owe this characteristic of ‘trustlessness’ to the nature of the Blockchain technology that supports them.