Recent financial figures for 2017 have shown that more money was raised using Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) last year than was raised during the three previous years combined.
ICOs have become a popular way for many start-up companies to raise their initial funding requirements. Indeed, mid-way through 2017, the funds raised via Initial Coin Offerings (or token sales, as they are also known) passed those raised through venture capital investment for the first time ever, ending the year with an unprecedented $6.8 billion worth of investment over 2017.
According to investment research company Smith & Crown, this compares favourably with previous years. With 2014, 2015, and 2016 taken as a whole, ICOs accounted for a little over $151 million in total. This means that investment via digital currency has soared by over 4500% in just 12 months.
ICOs are a controversial start-up solution to say the least. The premise is simple enough: the start-up creates its own cryptocurrency, specific to its product or industry sector, and puts them up for sale to investors. This provides the company with an immediate influx of ready cash, while investors have the promise of redeeming their tokens at a later date, once the product is ready for market, or to exchange them for another altcoin of their choice.
It seems like a win-win situation, with the start-up receiving its funds more quickly than through the traditional financing route (the Bancor Foundation, for instance, famously raised $153 million in funding in just three hours), and backers taking less of a risk, as they are taking out a mere fraction of the cost of investment (much like crowdfunding, but on a much larger scale).
However, some experts warn that the anonymous nature of cryptocurrency means that the scheme is ripe for exploitation by scammers, setting up fake companies promising innovative technology or solutions in order to line their pockets with the token purchases of eager investors, despite having no intention of bringing anything to market.
Such risks, however, do not seem to be deterring such investors, as money pours in for such projects, and seems likely to do so into 2018.
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