A Guide To Initial Coin Offerings


Keep up to speed on legal themes and developments through our curated collections of key content. Explore the legal landscape via our range of videos, podcasts and webinar recordings. Our business team members are enthusiastic, committed people who relish the challenges and opportunities that they encounter every day. Our lawyers are enthusiastic, committed people who relish the challenges and opportunities that they encounter every day.

One important note is that these innovations still need necessary improvements to fully address the ever-changing market needs, thus the risk could be unpredictable. Companies must recognise the important differences between IPO and ICO, thereby adopting a model that is in line with their business needs and growth. While some ICOs are analogous to stocks and shares, many, such as those which offer re-sellable access to an application to the holders, are more novel, and may survive regulation unscathed. “The initial coin offering is a new business model leveraging blockchain technology and it will remain,” “This is not the end of the ICO – absolutely not.” Oliver Bussman Switzerland-based Crypto Valley Association. Singapore also followed saying it too will regulate offerings that are deemed to be securities.

Payment tokens may in some cases only develop the necessary functionality and become accepted as a means of payment over a period of time. This white paper is written from the perspective of the in-house lawyer working on the legal aspects of their organisation’s adoption and use of AI. In addition, ICOs also allow issuers to build a dedicated community and garner support from early investors who, it is hoped, go on to become users of their platform. For this reason, the issuer’s PR and social media strategy is incredibly important to not only its ICO but its business’ life and success post-ICO. Early adopters are active across a number of social media, including Telegram, Reddit, Twitter and Discord and issuers are advised to maintain a presence across all of these.

History Of The Ico

At present we are seeing a degree of “land grab” among regulators in an attempt to be the first to regulate ICOs in a way that allows the market to grow safely. We’ve seen markets like Switzerland, Gibraltar and Singapore jostle to make themselves attractive as the choice of domicile for the issuing entities for ICOs. This thinking however, is largely rooted in addressing the challenge of issuing tokens in a way that complies with the jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction regulations in the world that we know now. Looking forward, there is a significant amount of work to be done to achieve international consensus at a legislative and regulatory level on how we deal with decentralised securities issuance.

Has anyone been fined GDPR?

GDPR fines rose by nearly 40% Penalties under the GDPR totaled €158.5 million ($191.5 million) Data protection authorities recorded 121,165 data breach notifications (19% more than the previous 12-month period)

If an ICO is used to raise capital from a number of investors with a view to investing in accordance with a defined investment policy, it might qualify as an AIF. The acceptance and reception of orders includes the arrangement between an intermediary, an investor and the provider or issuer of a financial instrument. As mentioned, the characteristics of a token and therefore whether it is a financial instrument must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. While there may be an economic similarity – in both cases, funds are raised for the first time from the public – equating ICOs with IPOs would not be fitting and may be misleading. However, depending on how they are structured, some ICOs may involve regulated investments and firms involved in an ICO may be conducting regulated activities.

What Are The Advantages Of Icos Relying On Dlt From A Regulatory Perspective?

In some cases, a separate instrument is intentionally created , which gives rights to, or is convertible into, the main token, once created. In others, the pre-sale is intended to amount to no more than a sale of property that will come into existence at a future date . As for tokens generally, the variety in structures therefore requires any pre-sale arrangements to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

what is icos

However, this presents a problem if genuine errors are made, and changes need to be implemented retrospectively. Networks need to have inbuilt mechanisms that allow changes to be made which accurately reflect the true position, and clearly show deliberate corrections in contrast to other corrupted or altered data which will be needed to identify malicious activity or fraud. As it involves network of users with direct access to information rather than a single repository of information, using DLT makes it more difficult for third parties to corrupt records of issuances and transactions. Furthermore, as all the network users will have the same record, if one user fails then the network will still be able to operate and the user can be re-included in the network easily without needing to transfer the database as a whole. DLT also often incorporates a consensus mechanism, meaning that the information on the network is designed no to be corruptable by a single participant. The use of ICOs to fund start-ups raises a number of questions which were discussed by the FCA in its Discussion Paper DP 17/3 and its subsequent Feedback Statement FS 17/4 (FS 17/4) which is summarised in our briefing here. As with nearly all things, there are advantages and disadvantages to using ICOs, including operational benefits and potential risks which derive mainly from using of digital currencies and DLT.

Guidance And Regulation

By some estimates, ICOs have raised in excess of $3 billion for businesses and now accounts for more start-up funding for blockchain businesses than traditional venture capitalism. As for the IPO, shares are publicly traded by listing on stock exchanges such as the commonly known New York Stock Exchange , Stock Exchange of Hong Kong , and London Stock Exchange . The stock exchanges are subjected to opening hours based on countries’ working norms. One significant feature that makes an IPO a challenging process is its long duration, which is due to the legal and accounting processes that the company must go through. If coordinated and managed properly, it should take an average company between six to nine months to go through an IPO. The process of going public can be time-consuming, which makes it less attractive an option for fairly young companies who are looking to grow at a rapid rate. At the same time, the expenses of going public—underwriting fees, filing fees, reporting, and disclosure requirements—can strain the company’s budget and overwhelm overall operations.

The term ICO refers to a digital way of raising funds from the public using a virtual currency, also known as cryptocurrency. In recent years token sales, combined with regulatory changes, have lowered the barriers to invest in start-ups and we’re seeing non-blockchain native projects use token models to bring innovation to their industry. Token sales have been one of the cryptocurrency sector’s most important innovations.

You should only invest in an ICO project if you are an experienced investor, confident in the quality of the ICO project itself (e.g. business plan, technology, people involved) and prepared to lose your entire stake. Today blockchain technology is safely facilitating investing outside of traditional capital markets. Crypto tokens facilitate capital formation and provide incentives within blockchain networks. Token sales have become an essential part of the crypto economic ecosystem and how projects rise to prominence. There is a craze sweeping the crypto-verse, and its cause is decentralized finance largely made up of decentralized exchanges , like Uniswap with the aim of replacing all “intermediaries” while also removing custody risks. DeFi is driven by several major areas including stable tokens, decentralized loans, decentralized exchanges, decentralized derivatives and decentralized financial process automation.

what is icos

Other streams of research concentrate on the impact of managers quality on the ICOs. Momtaz studies the impact of CEOs loyalty disposition and the magnitude of asymmetry of information between managers and investors on ICOs performance . Moreover, to remain in the management area, an interesting spark comes from a research specifically directed on CEOs role and effects on ICOs results . Finally, another area of studies focuses on the driving factors impacting the liquidity and trading volume of crypto tokens listed after the ICOs. Some tokens may also constitute transferable securities and therefore may fall within the FCA’s prospectus regime.

Deploying an offer document in addition to a white paper to fully disclose possible risks and set out investor protections may be a sensible step to take. ICOs which might be held to stray into the areas of loan-making, deposit-taking, collective investment schemes, insurance products or any other regulated financial services activity will need to be similarly mindful of existing regulations. It is also possible that a token could be a security in one jurisdiction but not in another. Depending on the regulatory analysis of the token, a successful ICO can cost upwards of £150,000 or, if an aggressive PR and marketing plan is pursued, £500,000. This cost can be managed by negotiating conditional retainers and, in the case of ICO advisers and PR agencies, agreeing to pay for services out of post-ICO proceeds, either in fiat or ICO tokens. Many tokens are not directly exchangeable for fiat currency or, even if they are, are not exchangeable easily.

Even if no prospectus is required to be prepared, issuers should provide potential investors with detailed information on the project or investment eg in form of a White Paper. As funds are accepted from the public, issuers must consider carefully whether the fundraising constitutes deposit-taking business which is a regulated activity unless exemptions apply.

Burges Salmon Appoints Heavyweight Fintech Lawyer

In terms of the FCA’s approach, the FCA view is that ICO investments are high-risk and are not likely to be suitable for retail investors. ICOs relying on DLT for issuance and ongoing administration of issued tokens have the potential to provide very efficient means of financial dealings. In light of the increasing prominence of such endeavours in the financial services sector, Andy Peterkin, Louise Bralsford and Fiona Lowrie, reflect on FCA’s views on ICOs and digital currencies, and highlight some of the associated legal and regulatory challenges. Commentator Preston Byrne, in his excellent blog on the FCA’s warning, similarly gives the example of how some tokens can be seen as types of future or other options which require authorisation. This in part can be explained by the fact that the UK’s regulated activities and financial promotions regimes were not originally drafted with ICO’s in mind. However, many digital tokens perform the same or similar functions to financial instruments which do fall within these regimes.

According to the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungs-aufsicht, BaFin), tokens in an ICO qualify typically as financial instruments in the form of units of accounts within the meaning of Sec. 1 para. However, the BaFin has determined that the German Stock Corporation Act would not apply to ICOs. IPOs are implemented on the basis of a comprehensive legal framework and established market practice aimed at addressing relevant stakeholders’ interests, including investor information requirements. In contrast, ICOs are very diverse in set-up and structure and there is no specific regulatory framework that applies to ICOs.

The co-founders were separately charged and arrested by the criminal authorities. We expect to see more U.S. enforcement action in this area from both the SEC and the CFTC in the coming months. • holders of repayment obligations from relevant systems or legal entity issuers.

The issuer or offeror puts tokens for sale in exchange for a so-called fiat currency such as the Euro, or, more often, for a virtual currency . Typically, tokens are bilateral arrangements which are not issued in the form of a security / certificate or similar type of transferable instrument, although some tokens, depending on their structure, can be sold on specific exchanges specialising in such transactions.

what is icos

This would set out the story of the project and its goals as well as details of the tokens including their cost and the total value of the sale. This will need to be carefully marketed to raise awareness of the project and get people excited about buying the tokens.

In this perspective, ICOs analysis can be considered a very particular type of fraud detection activity. However, in our opinion fraud detection presents some specificity that prevent us from entailing ICOs related problems as a proper instance of fraud detection. In particular, our data are not flowing in such huge amount from an on-line system as typically happens with credit card payments or banks transactions. Typical fraud detection approaches, as in Maheshwara Reddy et al. , aim at discovering, almost in real times, fraudulent financial activities based on transactional data that ideally should be blocked as soon as possible. ICOs instead are characterized by a slow process of engagement of the prospect clients and establishment of consensus that goes through Telegram chats , white paper and website. That being the case, we would suggest to label this specific stream of research as FinTech Fraud detection with all the relative specificity. As it concerns the unstructured data, insightful information can be derived by the white papers in terms of quality of the technical report and specific content.

  • In the event that Tokens are exchanged for other cryptocurrencies, the issuing company can exchange them for fiat currencies.
  • Individuals and organisations that have completed ICO fund raising should make arrangements to return funds, according to a joint statement from the bank, China’s securities and banking regulators, and several other government departments.
  • The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has said that many ICOs will fall outside the regulated space, but each needs to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • Even when Tokens are not qualified as securities, ICOs and Whitepapers have to conform to certain anti-fraud and information requirements.

And others such as the US SEC, Singapore, Hong Kong, Russia and others followed soon though in a more lighter variant. We’ll assume you’re ok with this, but you may change your preferences at our Cookie Centre. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License .

Expanding a business or starting a new venture can definitely be financially challenging. Both IPO and ICO have different merits which might benefit a growing company based on the nature of their company and business. Navigating the fund-raising landscape might be daunting for a company looking to grow faster. A thorough understanding of regulations and the various fund-raising options for your company based on your current needs are what our consultants can provide for you. Let us take care of these while you focus on setting directions for your company’s growth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *