46% of Last Year’s ICOs Have Failed Already

46% of Last Year’s ICOs Have Failed Already

It has always been assumed that a large number of ICOs will fail, be it at the fundraising stage or when it comes to delivering the actual project. It’s hard to settle on a precise figure, however, as most dubious ICOs don’t exit scam: they slowly tiptoe away, like a sneak thief rather than a smash-and-grab robber. Having completed an extensive study into last year’s crowdsales, news.Bitcoin.com can report that 46% of them are effectively dead already – despite raising over $104 million.

Also read: FBI Arrests Exchange Operator for Lying About 6000 Bitcoin Hack

ICOs Are Even Riskier Than You Think

Given enough time, everything withers and dies, from the most robust institutions to the most popular crowdsales. No one expected all of 2017’s ICOs to last the course. The pace at which they’ve withered and died may come as a surprise though. Tokendata, one of the more comprehensive ICO trackers, lists 902 crowdsales which took place last year. Of these, 142 failed at the funding stage and a further 276 have since failed, either due to taking the money and running, or slowly fading into obscurity. This means that 46% of last year’s ICOs have already failed.

The number of ICOs that are still a going concern is actually even lower. An additional 113 ICOs can be classified as “semi-failed”, either because their team has stopped communicating on social media, or because their community is so small as to mean the project has no chance of success. This means that 59% of last year’s crowdsales are either confirmed failures or failures-in-the-making.

46% of Last Year’s ICOs Have Failed Already
Some of the many failed ICOs listed by Tokendata.

A Digital Graveyard of Broken Promises

Trawling through 900 ICOs in one sitting is a deeply depressing experience, news.Bitcoin.com can report. Abandoned Twitter accounts, empty Telegram groups, websites no longer hosted, and communities no longer tended are par for the course. A digital graveyard, complete with metaphorical tumbleweed, characterizes the crop of 2017 that decided to take the money and run. Many raised zero; some raised a couple of thousand dollars; and a handful raised over $10 million. In each case, the end result was the same though: no MVP, no alpha release, and no contribution to the decentralized web for the betterment of humanity.

Many of the dead ICOs were doomed from the start. It will come as no surprise to learn that projects such as Clitcoin, Neverdie, and Zero Traffic didn’t make it. Some, which fell flat at the fundraising stage, are doing it all over again this year and hoping that 2017’s failure can be written off as a trial run. Freight trucking platform Doft is one such example. Looking at the countries of origin for failed ICOs shows that developing nations – and an entire continent in the case of Africa – are over-represented. Nevertheless, every major country and continent features in the list of shame.

46% of Last Year’s ICOs Have Failed Already

Lessons Learned

Many of the 531 ICOs that have failed or are failing from last year looked sketchy from the very start. In most cases, investors were able to spot the signs and steer clear. Not everyone escaped unscathed though: these projects still raised $233 million between them. With ICO mania showing no signs of abating, there’s no reason to expect this year’s crowdsales to fare any better. Thanks to diminished returns, increased competition, and a never-ending stream of opportunistic ICOs, crypto investing in 2018 is riskier than ever.

Are you surprised by how many of last year’s ICOs have failed already? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, and Tokendata.

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Crypto-Backed SALT Claims $1.3 Billion Backlog, Suspends New Memberships

Crypto-Backed SALT Claims $1.3 Billion Backlog, Suspends New Memberships

Secured Automated Lending Technology (SALT) has an enviable problem if its recent Medium post is to be believed. The membership-based crypto-as-collateral loan platform has declared “a demand of over $1.3b in loan requests” is forcing it to suspend “new membership registrations, loan requests, and purchases of SALT.”

Also read: How To Regain Control From Nanny Zuck

SALT Comes to a Halt

Colorado-based SALT has only been around since late 2017, but during that time it claims to have issued “over $23m in blockchain-backed loans.” If that wasn’t enough, “there is still a demand of over $1.3b in loan requests that we are diligently working to address,” a recent communication from the company explained.

Using a member’s cryptocurrency holdings as collateral for cash loans, enthusiasts are able to leverage their gains in decentralized currency markets in the event they’d like to pay off debt or whatever financial spirit moves them. And they’re able to do it without giving up crypto holdings per se.  

Crypto-Backed SALT Claims $1.3 Billion Backlog, Suspends New Memberships

Evidently, it’s catching on. “Due to the enormous demand and loan requests we will be temporarily suspending new membership registrations, loan requests, and purchases of SALT on our platform. Existing members will still be able to deposit SALT on the platform and upgrade their membership in the interim. We plan to begin adding members and turn on all associated features as soon as we have satisfied the automation of our current loan process and have served the current pending loan requests.”

SALT’s business model is essentially larger loans floated by accredited investors; those with a net worth of more than a million dollars or with six-figure salaries. The minimum loan is 5,000 USD, and it does seem to be working well – maybe too well – to the tune of over 60,000 members. 

Alternatives to SALT

“The process of scaling and automating our processes and technology,” SALT continues, “has been progressing well but we’ve recognized an opportunity to focus our team’s time and resources on this important goal and on addressing the existing demand before we continue to add new memberships and loan requests.”

Cypto-Backed SALT Claims $1.3 Billion Backlog, Suspends New Memberships

While SALT figures out how to scale, other lending programs abound within the ecosystem. Coinloan is a crypto asset collateral lending program that offers significantly smaller loans and easier access. Ripio’s RPN Global Lending is more peer-to-peer in its approach. Ethlend of Switzerland works off of the Ethereum blockchain, and touts its decentralized features.

And even though SALT is “temporarily halting these features we will be able to dedicate all of our time and energy on serving those that have been integral to our success thus far, as well as positioning our platform to address the future demand for SALT’s lending platform,” which includes moving into US states such as Arkansas, Delaware, New Jersey, and North Carolina to push commercial loans.

What are your thoughts on crypto loan programs? Let us know in the comments section.

Images courtesy of Pixabay, SALT, Coinloan.

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France Cracks Down on Bitcoin Derivatives

France Cracks Down on Bitcoin Derivatives

Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), the independent regulatory body governing France’s stock market, issued two statements today, one on initial coin offerings (ICOs) and another on the prospect of bitcoin derivatives. Both point to more oversight to come for crypto in France, including everything from formal authorizations to a ban on advertisements.  

Also read: How To Regain Control From Nanny Zuck

France Cracks Down on Bitcoin Derivatives

AMF, France’s markets regulator, insists bitcoin derivatives are subject to the European Union’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) which trigger all manner of new rules and authorizations. In its 22 February published missive, The AMF considers that the offer of cryptocurrency derivatives requires authorisation and that it is prohibited to advertise such offer via electronic means,” the agency argues. “The AMF has reached the conclusion that platforms which offer these products must abide by the authorisation and business conduct rules, and that these products must not be advertised via electronic means.”

During its analysis the AMF determined “the legal qualification of the notion of “derivative” in the context of cryptocurrency derivatives and […] to consider whether a cryptocurrency could be legally regarded as an eligible underlying. The notion of “derivative” is not defined in EU legislation per se.”

France Cracks Down on Bitcoin Derivatives

The AMF describes growth in crypto exchanges as a boom, offering “binary options, CFDs or Forex contracts with an end-of-day maturity (rolling spot forex), where the underlying is a cryptocurrency. Such contracts allow investors to bet on a cryptocurrency’s rise or fall, without holding the underlying.”

As a result, the legal status of crypto is almost irrelevant because the AMF determined “a cash-settled cryptocurrency contract may qualify as a derivative.” Furthermore, the agency found the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) will be invoked, along with MiFID II, setting into motion rules for over the counter (OTC) derivatives and their online exchanges such as complying with “authorisation, conduct of business rules, and the EMIR trade reporting obligation to a trade repository. Above all, these products are subject to the provisions of the Sapin 2 law, and notably the ban of advertisements for certain financial contracts.”

AMF Also Takes a Hard Look at ICOs

The AMF publishes the summary of responses to the public consultation on initial coin offerings (ICO) was also revealed the same day, summarizing 82 comments from the French public concerning ICOs and their regulatory fate.

According to the agency, “a large majority of respondents expressed support for setting up an appropriate legal framework for this new type of fundraising.” Respondents were “digital economy players, individuals, finance professionals, market infrastructures, academics and law firms.”

France Cracks Down on Bitcoin Derivatives

The AMF offered three options for consideration going forward: “Promote a best practice guide without changing existing legislation (option 1); Extend the scope of existing texts to treat ICOs as public offerings of securities (option 2); Propose new legislation adapted to ICOs (option 3).” Of those, option 3 received 66% approval.  

“Respondents unanimously consider that an information document is necessary to inform buyers of tokens,” and should include project specifics, rights, distribution scheme, along with identifying the project’s heads and team. “Finally, the vast majority of respondents favour the establishment of rules making it possible to ensure the escrow of funds raised, and the setting up of a mechanism to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing,” the release concluded.

In response to the respondents, AMF officials have vowed to “continue work” on the prospect of regulating ICOs.

Is France overreacting? Let us know in the comments section.

Images courtesy of Pixabay, AMF.

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Centralized Cryptoruble Not Possible, Minister Tells Putin

Centralized Cryptoruble Not Possible, Minister Tells Putin

The Russian Ministry of Finance is not against a national cryptocurrency, provided the state does not participate in it. The creation of a centralized coin, like the cryptoruble, seems impossible, as cryptocurrencies are based on decentralized ledgers, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told President Putin, according to Russian media.  

Also read: Russian Authorities Criticized over Proposed Crypto Regulation

Educating the President

Responding to Vladimir Putin’s request to study possibilities to emit а so-called “cryptoruble”, Minister Siluanov has tried to educate Russia’s head of state on the nature of cryptocurrencies. In a letter dated January 29, 2018, he says Minfin would not object to a private project to create a Russian cryptocurrency under the supervision of financial authorities, but only if the government did not invest in it.

In the document, acquired by Interfax, Siluanov states that emitting a centralized national cryptocurrency seems impossible, given the “technical features of such emission“. “Cryptocurrencies are based on decentralized ledger technologies”, the minister points out. His department remains lukewarm towards the idea of using state funds to finance the concept.

Centralized Cryptoruble Not Possible, Minister Tells Putin

Anton Siluanov also notes that using distributed ledger technologies comes with some legal and technological limitations. In that respect, he mentions the relatively small number of transactions blockchains, like those of bitcoin and ethereum, can currently process.

“Attempts to use a national cryptocurrency to attract foreign investments would apparently have to deal with the need to exchange it for foreign currencies”, the minister says, pointing to recent reports of restrictions for Russian users on foreign exchanges. The trading of a Russian national cryptocurrency on international platforms may be limited in the future.

The letter also warns about the risks of using distributed ledgers for military purposes, as confidentiality is not guaranteed. Saying that, Anton Siluanov provides a strong argument against claims that blockchain transactions are completely anonymous and untraceable. Critics often insist they can be used for illicit purposes like money laundering and terrorism financing.

Cryptoruble – the Apple of Discord

Centralized Cryptoruble Not Possible, Minister Tells PutinBack in December, Siluanov’s deputy, Alexei Moiseev, said that the creation of cryptoruble seemed “impractical” to the Finance Ministry. The published letter is another proof of the fault lines that have emerged between his department and the Central Bank of Russia, which initially saw potential in the idea of a national cryptocurrency. The bank strongly opposed the legalization of decentralized cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin.

Last summer Centrobank revealed intentions to study the possibility to emit a “virtual national currency”, colloquially called “cryptoruble”. Later, in December, CBR’s Deputy President Olga Skorobogatova announced that Russia may start consultations with partners from the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and BRICS on creating a common digital coin to be used by member-states in their interactions.

“The introduction of a national digital currency seems not entirely justified from the point of view of macroeconomics” she said, indicating a change in Centrobank’s position.

Do you agree with Russia’s Finance Minister that a centralized, government issued cryptocurrency makes no sense? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Express yourself freely at Bitcoin.com’s user forums. We don’t censor on political grounds. Check forum.Bitcoin.com.

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California Bill Aims to Recognize Blockchain Records

California Bill Aims to Recognize Blockchain Records

The state of California has introduced a new bill that aims to recognize blockchain transactions, digital signatures, and smart contracts as a legal form of record. Assemblyman Ian Calderon introduced Assembly Bill 2658 on February 20 in order to re-define laws that apply to electronic records that take place within the state.  

Also read: Indians Look to Buy Bitcoin Overseas as Regulations Tighten

California State Assembly Person Introduces Blockchain Record Keeping Bill  

California Bill Aims to Recognize Blockchain RecordsAn American lawmaker serving in the California State Assembly in the 57th district, Ian Calderon, wants blockchain records, and smart contracts to be covered under California law. Calderon, a Democrat from the Gateway Cities region, believes these types of records and definitions should be included the California court system. Essentially the bill proposes that records or signatures will not be able to be denied because they are presented in electronic form.

“A record that is secured through blockchain technology is an electronic record,” Assembly Bill 2658 explains.           

A signature that is secured through blockchain technology is an ‘electronic signature’ and also updates the term ‘contract’ to account for smart contracts, or self-executing pieces of code that trigger when certain conditions (like a reaching a particular block number on a blockchain) are met.

Assembly Bill 2658 Will Also Cover Blockchain Storage

California Bill Aims to Recognize Blockchain Records
California’s 57th district democrat, Ian Calderon.

The California State Assembly bill will have to be approved by other state lawmakers alongside Governor Jerry Brown’s signature in order for it to become law. Calderon’s proposal aims to define blockchain storage recorded by blockchain technology as well. However, U.S. agencies can suspend a business licensee that provides electronic records if they failed to comply with certain sections of U.S. money transmission laws.

California’s State Assembly bill is very similar to bills introduced in Arizona, Vermont, and Florida. These three states also have lawmakers proposing new definitions and laws that recognize blockchain transactions, digital signatures, and smart contracts. If Assembly Bill 2658 pushes through California’s legislature and Governor Jerry Brown’s desk then the law will stay in place until January 1, 2021.

What do you think about the proposed bill that’s making its way towards California legislature? Do you think most U.S. states will follow this path? Let us know what you think in the comments below.  

Images via Shutterstock, Ian Calderon’s Assembly office, and the California State Assembly.

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Four Arrested Following Taiwanese Crypto Robbery

Four Arrested Following Taiwanese Crypto Robbery

Taiwanese police have arrested four men after a bitcoin robbery worth five million Taiwanese dollars (approximately $170,000 USD). The case has been described as the first of its kind in Taiwan by authorities.

Also Read: Bungling Bitcoin Thieves Foiled by Quick-Witted Trader 

Taiwanese Trader Loses 18 Bitcoins in Robbery

Four Arrested Following Taiwanese Crypto RobberyA bitcoin trader with the surname of Tai has become the victim of Taiwan’s first crypto robbery.

Taiwanese Police have stated that three men in their early 20s arrange to meet Mr. Tai in the city of Taichung under the pretext that they were wanting to purchase bitcoins from him. Once Mr. Tai had evidenced that he possessed 18 bitcoin using his phone, the assailants assaulted him and his friend, before taking his and phone transferring 18 bitcoins from his wallet. Taiching city police also stated that the suspects forced Mr. Tai to drink Kaoliang, a strong Taiwanese liquor, in an attempt to have the incident dismissed a drunken argument.

The police arrested one man at the scene of the crime after receiving a call about the incident. The official police statement said that “The police saw bloodstains at the scene…after further investigation, it was discovered to be a bitcoin virtual currency robbery,” adding that case comprised “the first domestic case of bitcoin robbery.”

Incidences of Crypto Robberies on Increase

Four Arrested Following First Taiwanese Crypto RobberyThe two other suspected assailants were arrested later, one of whom was found hiding on the outlying island of Kinmen. The fourth individual, surnamed Shih, was later detained and is accused of being the mastermind behind the robbery.

Last month, three men armed with handguns attempted to rob the office of an Ottawa-based bitcoin exchange, Canadian Bitcoins. Four employees were bound, however an unseen fifth employee was able to contact police, who were able to thwart the robbery. A Russian man holidaying in Phuket, Thailand was also the victim of a crypto robbery last month, after being blindfolded and forced to transfer approximately $100,000 worth of bitcoin to his assailants.

As a cryptocurrency investor, what security precautions do you take? Share your strategies in the comments section below!

Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Russia to “Tame and Test” Crypto Technologies in Crimea

Russia to “Tame and Test” Crypto Technologies in Crimea

A proposal to “tame” crypto technologies in Crimea has been made in Russia’s parliament this week. A local representative of the Russian Association of Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain told deputies the republic’s jurisdiction can be used to “test the new phenomenon”. RACIB has been working on a roadmap to implement the “Crypto-Crimea” plan and set up a blockchain technology development center on the peninsula.

Also read: Russian Authorities Criticized over Proposed Crypto Regulation

Testing Ground with а Special Status

Russia to “Tame and Test” Crypto Technologies in CrimeaEver since its accession to the Russian Federation in 2014, Crimea has existed in somewhat extraordinary circumstances, putting up with its special status, in both political and economic terms. Internationally, the self-proclaimed republic has been placed under economic blockade after its secession from Ukraine, following the “Euromaidan”. Domestically, Crimea is a federal subject, like many other constituent entities, but also a special economic zone. Moscow is aiding its development to compensate for the sanctions. Militarily, it is probably one of the most heavily guarded territories in the country, with the Russian Black Sea Fleet stationed there.

The special status of Crimea’s jurisdiction offers an opportunity to experiment with economic initiatives before implementing large-scale projects on federal level. That can help Crimea become a testing ground for innovations related to distributed ledger and blockchain technologies. The local crypto community has recognized that potential and is trying to attract Moscow’s attention. Other federal subjects have already made similar attempts.

We eagerly expect the introduction of legislation on digital assets and crowdfunding in the State Duma.

That’s what Victoria Bilan, the local representative of RACIB, told lawmakers during a parliamentary hearing on Tuesday, Regnum reported. She added that the association supports the draft bills in general. “We understand the conservatism of the Central Bank, but we think Crimea’s jurisdiction can be used to tame cryptocurrency technologies and test these new phenomena”, Bilan said. She noted the special economic zone status of the Republic and reminded parliamentarians about the investment blockade.

Roadmap to Crypto-Crimea

Russia to “Tame and Test” Crypto Technologies in CrimeaThe Russian cryptocurrency and blockchain association has been working on a roadmap to implement the so-called “Crypto-Crimea” plan. Some of its aspects should be presented this week at the “Blockchainrf – 2018” international conference in Moscow and during the Yalta International Economic Forum in April. The group working on the project met in early February to set the main goals. Attracting direct investments in the region was defined as a priority. They will be channeled through the creation of a dedicated Blockchain Technology Development Center expected to be opened within a couple of months.

The members of the working group, which includes representatives of the local authorities, have to arrange Crimea’s participation in the federal digital economy program as a “regulatory sandbox”. They will also make proposals to adopt a special legal framework regulating the activities of fintech companies within the Crimean Free Economic Zone.

Other Russian regions have also expressed desire to become testing grounds for crypto and blockchain technologies and spearhead their adoption in the Russian Federation. This week the head of the Republic of Udmurtia urged deputies to hurry up with the new legislation. Alexandr Brechalov offered its territory for experimental implementation of innovative crypto projects. Kaliningrad and Leningrad Oblasts have announced intentions to accommodate large mining operations and also called on the government to quickly adopt the regulatory framework.

Do you think that the special status of Crimea presents an opportunity for rapid development of cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies and businesses? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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24 hours of reconciliation

24 hours of reconciliation
It took all of 24 hours for the results of the rationality test to kick in after traders took time to the read the minutes from Wednesday. Not a heck of a lot has changed in the Feds view. The minutes were far more balanced than the equity market sell-off suggested. The discussions about their inflation target being symmetric indicate that the Feds are less concerned about the updraft from inflationary pressures than current market pricing. Overall there were few if any significant hawkish shift and traders have started to nimbly re-engage the US dollar downside not waiting until Powell’s key Humphrey Hawkins testimony which should clear up more than a few policy concerns.

The Feds will raise interest rates in March on the back of two strong inflation prints post-January meeting, but the market remains comfortably parked in the three rate hike camp for 2018.
This new Fed Chair will be as data dependent as his predecessor so, in reality, no one knows for sure what the Feds will do other than hike somewhere between two and four times in 2018.

Bond Markets

The bond markets continue to trade from a bear market bias, and this is unlikely to change anytime soon given the burdening supply issues which are compounded as the Feds delicately and gingerly pull back on QE largess.

Stock Markets
US equity market rebounded as concerns over rising US interest rates abate. If you were confused by Wednesday 50 pips downside adventure on the S&P post-FOMC minutes, you were not alone. However, until the dust is settled on the Fed policy debate, we should expect more back and forth ahead of Jerome Powells Humphrey Hawkins testimony.
Oil markets

Oil market bid was boosted by DoE inventories which saw a draw of -1.616 million barrels which far better than consensus and more profound than the -.9mn print by the API. While the market continues to communicate concern over rising levels of shale production, this bullish inventory data coupled with a slightly softer USD profile, it’s easy to see why oil prices are finding fresh session highs going into the NY close.
Gold Markets

Gold continues to act as less of a haven hedge and more as a proxy for USD sentiment. Given the greenback is trading within a restricted range as the stage is getting prepared for new Chair Jerome Powell, gold will remain supported by the $ 1324-25 levels given the markets ubiquitous bias to sell the USD.  But the topside should also stay in check as most traders will opt to only aggressively re-engage in  USD downside after Powell clears the policy airwaves in his Humphrey Hawkins testimony.

The Japanese Yen

No need to jump the gun, today’s CPI data will be a crucial driver in JPY sentiment. Post data comments to follow.

The Euro
Fact of fiction, the Euro remains a point of contention, but topside conviction remains low ahead of the Italian election compounded by softer EU economic data.

The Malaysian Ringgit 

The USDMYR landscape is a bit muddled, and this air of uncertainty could extend, more so if opinion on the soft dollar narrative become less reliable. Rising US interest rates and the markets growing sensitivity to local economic data presents some near-term challenges for the Ringgit. Ultimately we believe that US rates are in the process of topping but until we get a definitive signal from the New Fed chair, hopefully, next week, we should expect offshore flows to remain light in the short run.

None the less the Ringgit is getting support from higher oil prices and given we are far removed from the USDJMYR 4.0 danger zone, longer-term investors should continue to look for opportunistic levels to re-engage long MYR posting

The Chinese Yaun

Markets in China return from a week-long holiday only to discover the US has initiated another anti-dumping probe.. This time for rubber bands. Certainly sounds more bark than the bit, but non the less trade war discussion is picking up.

Continue to favour a constructive view on the Yuan given the markets negative USD bias. But he RMB complex will most certainly benefit from expected bond inflows which should accelerate as we move through 2018.