We share insights & agency-side experience of running ICOs.

Later Ctrl + ↑

The Artificial Intelligence development trends

The world transforms every day with fastening pace, and the digital age is so fast-coming that most of corporation and fintech organizations sometimes do not even realize how to implement the more and more developing technologies. That goes double for blockchain industry. The fusion of AI and blockchain tech in the nearest future will give a lot of useful results. The most known advances so far include the development within the rising blockchain industry.

Artificial Intelligence market goes decentralized

No doubt that Decentralized Artificial Intelligence is coming the big time this year with the advent of decentralized platforms. As the traditional existing AI market had become controlled by corporate tech giants like Google, IBM, and Microsoft, all of which offer cloud-based AI solutions and APIs, the model assumes little control of the users over the AI products. This major flaw, in the long run, shows that a currently existing centralized model leads to the monopolization of the AI market.
The main cons of this are unfair pricing, a lack of transparency, interoperability and limited participation of smaller, but progressive, rival companies in bringing AI innovations to this day.

Today we see the fast emergence of a decentralized AI market, born at the intersection of the blockchain, on-device AI, and edge computing/IoT-tech. The continued AI market-trend is the development of decentralized networks built on the blockchain.

Best current examples of existing platforms that should be outlined are Maxtrix AI and SingularityNet projects.

In the long run, decentralized solutions can produce the radical democratization of the AI market, optimization of solutions for a wide variety of use cases, easy integration and communication between different algorithms through a single protocol and the development of interoperability standards, which will ultimately lead us to the era of AGI (artificial general intelligence). Here the most promising pioneers should be outlined.

The MATRIX intelligent Blockchain is a game changer in its sector. The platform differentiates itself from previous Blockchains by offering breakthrough technologies in building AI-enabled autonomous and self-optimizing Blockchain networks, which feature multi-chain collaborations and decoupling of data and control blocks.

As a result of the extreme congestion on both the Bitcoin and Ethereum Networks, ICO investors or contributors have faced significant challenges with cryptocurrency transfers which cause substantial hitches in trade transactions. The MATRIX Blockchain, via a unique dynamic hierarchy generation mechanism, enables the delivery of a superior transaction speed with the goal being to outperform the VISA system and deliver a remarkable throughput of 1 million transactions/second.

MATRIX also aims to reduce cases of cryptocurrency fraud and theft with reports of such incidences increasing over the past few months. The MATRIX Blockchain also offers ease-of-use to the Blockchain community, allowing a user base which is 3500 times bigger than that of Ethereum to design smart contracts without having programming expertise. With the MATRIX Blockchain, smart contracts are easily implemented with natural language, and it offers a flexibility that is welcome to Blockchain technology and by the crypto community. MATRIX provides the higher flexibility that affords the dynamic adjustment of parameters as required to adjust to the ever-changing and improving cryptocurrency market needs.

With most Blockchain projects having to deal with the hard fork community splitting and digital asset devaluation challenge, MATRIX offers evolutionary parameter optimization without triggering hard fork while also providing the intelligent integration of public and private chains with AI-based coordination.

The SingularityNET projects, in its turn, seeks to dodge the monopoly of tech giants over AI by allowing any company or researcher to monetize their AI solutions and get access to a variety of AI algorithms. The concept of AI merged with the blockchain is an extremely useful idea. For now, Hanson Robotics and its partners are still seemingly in the early stages of development.

Smart data search and AI-driven marketing

An issue of slow and inefficient data search is still at large in major IT-companies. Nowadays, proper data collection is a serious task in the world at large. First of all, companies that need the data are almost never sure about the quality of it. Besides, consumers do not know which companies use their data and what purposed is it used for. Right here, the AI-blockchain based project also steps in. The Apex platform, for example, aims to create a decentralized data platform based on Neo where companies can get high-quality, and up-to-date checked data while consumers benefit from the use of their data.

Here, the AI-based programs come to place. With Apex, users will be able to control which companies get access to collect and to use their data in future. Before a company uses the collected data, a notification is sent to the user which may contain additional links or marketing tools. Opening a link, users have the chance to earn other rewards, and companies can use targeted marketing, while not spending extra money.
In addition to Nexus and IQ, this platform will also use the PRISM (real-time data collection infrastructure), and the company already has clients among large brands like Maserati and BMW.
The Nucleus Vision promises to take data-driven marketing to the new level. The project was founded at Harvard University in 2014.
It is known, that the current data collected by the retailer (and other industries) very often have significant errors, which means that this data cannot be used to optimize the customer’s purchases. The main feature of the project is a unique AI-driven technology of IoT sensors designed for the stable operation that does not depend on RFID, WiFi, Bluetooth and other high-tech solutions and systems, which are currently used for face recognition.

Nucleus Vision is based on blockchain to preserve complete security and privacy of users ’ personal data. The innovation AI-system determines the range of interests of the client, accumulating data on his preferences and behavior in the shopping center or mall. Taking into account all these data, the client can be offered certain goods on the basis of his personal preferences. Nucleus Vision system already operates in 10 major shopping centers.

According to the creators of the platform, today offline retailers are unlikely to provide personal price, and other offers for their customers-they simply do not have opportunities for differentiation. Nucleus Vision also offers a differentiated approach to each client. Buyers will receive nCash tokens for each visit to stores equipped with Nucleus Vision system.

The blockchain-fueled future of the AI- research projects

These are only a few examples of what’s coming in the nearest future. The upcoming merge of blockchain technologies and Artificial Intelligence will see many existing areas revolutionized. The blockchain and AI will continue to disrupt the financial services industry. Future AI development and tech will focus on cognitive use in the data collection, sales, marketing, investments, the wealth management and compliance sectors of the financial services industry.

Hottest Blockchain News Weekly # 2

Tomorrow is a brand new day. That goes double for the crypto world as the dynamic industry of the blockchain-bases projects and cryptocurrencies are always full of exciting news, events, and occasions. We provide you with the most recent and inspiring stories of the outgoing week.

1)Youngest Crypto Billionaire goes for McDonald’s

The 34 year-old co-founder of the Bitmex exchange and Oxford graduate Ben Delo is recognized as the youngest British billionaire who has succeeded on his own, reports The Daily Mail.

According to Ben Delo himself, sincle 2014 he worked on his startup hard for 18 hours a day. He also said that at the initial stage the company had little money, so he rented accommodation on the online site Airbnb. At present, BitMEX is one of the largest cryptographic platforms in the world with a daily trading volume of about $ 2 billion.
As the newspaper writes, now the youngest crypto-billionaire of Great Britain lives with his wife in Hong Kong. Ben Delo said that he promotes a modest lifestyle and prefers to donate his money to charitable organizations.

Bitcoin-billionaire and his wife, according to the publication, use vouchers to buy food in McDonald’s and have only three pairs of shoes.
Note that there are at least 35 bitcoins-billionaires around the world, although, according to the publication of BitInfoCharts, this number can reach 200 people.

2) Crypto money laundering is still at large

It is reported that over the first six months of 2018 with the help of crypto-currency, $ 761 million.

During the first six months of 2018, fraudsters cleared $ 761 million in cash generated through illegal activities. The American company published such data on cybersecurity CipherTrace, writes American Banker.
As CEO of CipherTrace Dave Jevans said, the world trend of money laundering using crypto-currency sharply increased this year. According to his forecasts, by the end of 2018, the amount of funds “hidden” in this way will grow to $ 1.5 billion.
For comparison, for the entire year of 2017 criminals, to conceal their illegal incomes laundered $ 266 million – three times less than in the first half of 2018.
In the fight against this unfavorable trend, the company created an anti-wash platform CipherTrace AML, which is based on artificial intelligence. To identify potential sources of money laundering, the system uses advanced analysis methods and public cloud services.

The technology developed by CipherTrace offers a visual interface showing traces of financial flows and attributive information about the current currency location, including the country and the exchanges used. According to Dzhevans, these flows can also help determine the possible origin of the transaction from the darknet.
In June, the tax authorities of the United States, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom joined forces to fight tax crimes and money laundering using cryptocurrency.

Recall, in April, Europol detained 11 people who developed a scheme for money laundering through crypto-currencies.

3) ICO Hypetrain goes hot – more than $14 Billion gathered

According to the report of the joint study by PwC and the Crypto Valley association, in the first five months of 2018 with the initial placement of coins (ICO), 537 start-ups managed to raise $ 13.7 billion. This included projects such as Telegram and EOS, which collected 1.7 and 4.1 billion dollars, respectively.
Last year, 552 ICO-projects collected a total of 7 billion dollars. Even if you do not take into account Telegram and EOS, this year ICO has already raised about $ 8 billion.
According to Daniel Diemers, head of PwC Strategy, “after the ICO boom in 2017, now more attention is paid to improving business and legal practices, investor relations and attracting financing.”
The report notes that the success of ICO projects in 2018 is primarily due to the involvement of hybrid companies that allow start-ups to raise funds after receiving venture financing publicly. Such ICOs prefer to collect from 100 000 to 1 million dollars from venture investors and only then to open the presale to the general public.

This year in the UK there was almost as much ICO as in the US, and given the number of planned companies, the UK is in the lead. Regarding the number of funds raised (about half a billion dollars), Swiss projects have almost equaled that of Great Britain, and Lithuanian and Estonian projects have collected the same amount in aggregate.

Against the background of the Telegram and EOS companies, the Cayman Islands and the Virgin Islands rose in the rating, followed immediately by Singapore, which far exceeds other Asian countries.

Despite the active competition among European projects, as well as the favorable attitude of the French Ministry of Finance to the cryptocurrency area, France did not fall under this rating.

The latest in the ranking in Hong Kong, which is likely to be influenced by Chinese bans, despite being technically a separate jurisdiction.

Of the top 20 most substantial ICO funds as of November 2017, 65% have either submitted their product or are close to it, 20% have severe problems in the process of selling the product, 10% have no product, 5% have abandoned their plans.

Key findings:

Starting in 2013, 3,470 ICOs were conducted. Even though many stopped or ceased to exist, 30% were still able to complete the procedure successfully;
The leading place for the ICO is the USA. In the first five months of 2018, 56 projects were able to raise $ 1.1 billion;

Switzerland is the recognized capital of the ICO, but in 2018 Britain broke out in the first place regarding volume and quantity.

ICO is gaining momentum and is becoming a real alternative to financing, as technology start-ups around the world continue to raise funds through the ICO bypassing banks and other intermediaries. However, ICOs are increasingly beginning to register with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

4) Bleeping Computer: new virus software can monitor 2.3 million BTC addresses

The CryptoCurrency Clipboard Hijackers virus can monitor 2.3 million cryptocurrency addresses and change them to other wallets, Bleeping Computer reports.
Malware is detected as part of the All-Radio 4.27 Portable package. Last week, hackers forged the program and gave out an infected version for the original.
With the activation of the package, the malware begins to run unnoticed for users in the background. So, after installation in the Temp folder on Windows, a DLL file named “d3dx11_31.dll” is downloaded. When the user reboots the computer, an autorun program is created that opens this DLL file. The DLL file is executed using the command “rundll32 C: \ Users \ [user-name] \ AppData \ Local \ Temp \ d3dx11_31.dll, includes_func_runnded”.

The virus then looks for BTC addresses in the Windows clipboard. If you copy the address without checking the transfer, then the cryptocurrency will fall on the purse of scammers.

As the newspaper writes, the best way to protect yourself against such viruses is to double-check the copied cryptocurrency addresses and use anti-virus programs.
Note CryptoCurrency Clipboard Hijackers is a unique virus due to the number of addresses that are monitored. Earlier, Bleeping Computer detected malicious programs that tracked more than 600,000 addresses.
During the first quarter of 2018, McAfee Labs discovered over 2.9 million malicious programs for the hidden cryptocurrency mining.

5) Canada blockchained: 5% of Ontario inhabitants hold cryptocurrency assets.

About half a million (5%) of the inhabitants of the Canadian province of Ontario are owners of bitcoin or other crypto-active assets. These are the results of a study conducted in the most densely populated area of Canada by the Department of Investments of the Securities Commission of the region, writes CCN.

Most often, interest in the industry of crypto-currencies is shown by men aged 18 to 34 years. About half of them spent less than $ 1 thousand to buy cryptocurrency, 90% spent less than $ 10 thousand. 9% of investors (almost 50 thousand people) invested more than $ 10 thousand in crypto-active assets.

“The survey results show that the vast majority of Ontarians look at crypto-active with caution. Only a small percentage owns them, and most often they do not spend significant amounts of money to purchase them, ‘the document says.
A significant portion of the investment was made from existing savings. Some also borrowed money or used credit cards, of which more than two thirds fully repaid loans.

The survey also revealed that about 1.5% (about 170 thousand) of Ontario residents took part in the initial deployment of tokens (ICO). Information about them investors received via e-mail, from online advertising, from friends and relatives, and through social networks.

About 46% of respondents indicated that they acquired their assets on trading platforms, while 28% minted them. About 19% used for crypto-cash ATMs and 18% received them for free, for example, via airdrop. Another 18% received crypto-currencies as payment for goods or services, and 16% – during the ICO.
To acquire crypto-agents, Ontario residents used to use trading platforms in the USA (48% of respondents), about 32% used trading platforms based in Canada. Platforms based in the UK and Hong Kong are also popular.

The poll also showed that the inhabitants of the province have an idea of ​​the crypto-currencies, but they can not explain the principles of the technology operation. Most residents of Ontario know about bitcoin – 81% say they knew about it. About Bitcoin, Сash heard only a quarter (25%) of the respondents. The number of those who knew about Litecoin was 13%, and only 11% of the respondents know about the second most popular cryptocurrency of Ethereum.

Recall, previously the state-owned energy company Hydro Quebec presented to the authorities of the Canadian province of Quebec a plan that will determine the procedure for working with local ministers cryptocurrency.

Music Industry Blockchained

The “blockchainization” marches victoriously throughout the world, and there seems to be no shortage of industries that the blockchain can disrupt or improve. Modern music companies are sure to hate the streaming services. Those, in turn, do not like the data storages, and the artists and content creators dislike nearly everyone for making huge profits on their work and not giving them a fair cut.

The blockchain is right the long-term awaited tool that can make the difference. With so many past and present conflicts of interest, it seemed that no service or business model would be able to organize everything correctly so that everyone will be satisfied.

The recent advanced in blockchain technology development and implementation had shown the right direction for the investors and tech specialists from different areas to go hand in hand with the demand of the musical industry.

As it is known, the blockchain technology is backed by the distributed ledger which can check up and verify transaction without having to authorize any central node.
To make a long story short – the registry has no owner – it is distributed among all the nodes making up the network, and is accessible to everyone.

Information that is stored in the registry passes through a so-called cryptographic hashing algorithm, which makes it virtually irreversible and protects against unauthorized access. This means that users can exchange data, money, and anything valuable in any amount safely and secretly.

How exactly can the blockchain be applied to the music industry?

With the help of the blockchain, one could transform the processes of publication, monetization, and the relationship of artists with the fan communities.
Like in many other fields of work and industries, the advantage of blockchain usage is the ability to simplify the relationship between creators and consumers.
First of all, music could be published in the registry with a unique identifier and timestamp so that it will make the further changes impossible. This will help to solve a long-standing problem of digital content – downloading, copying and arbitrary modification. Each audio recording can store metadata about the owner and copyrights so that everyone can see it and check it. Thus, the fee for the use of content will be received by its creator only.

Moreover, this technology can bring about a revolution in the field of music monetization. At the heart of the infrastructure are the smart-contracts – programs that can be launched through the block system along with the payment procedure. Crypto-cash loans, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, support micropayments, which is not feasible in traditional payment services because of the cost of transferring money. This way a new kind of music services can appear on demand. Users will be able to select songs and immediately transfer money to copyright holders while listening.

Finally, another advantage of the register in the blockchain is the ability to simplify the relationship between creators and consumers. Composers and artists will no longer need to purchase platforms and attract brokers, who often take a large part of their earnings. Musicians will be able to receive compensation directly from each listening song. This is especially useful to amateur musicians who do not have the support of major record labels.

ke any other solution to the problems of the music industry, the blockchain has its weak sides.

For example, last year, the singer and songwriter Imogen Hip began work on a new music system called Mycelia. A platform that works on the basis of a blockchain will support direct payments to artists and will allow them to control better how their songs get to listeners and other musicians. The singer describes her idea as “an attempt to transfer power from the top down and allow artists to manage their future independently.”

So, is it possible to solve all problems with the help of a blockchain tech?

Like any other solution to the problems of the music industry, the blockade is not without its shortcomings. However, he can, at least, equalize the rules of the game for all parties. It will bring the most benefit to artists, authors, performers, and musicians – the real trendsetters in the industry – because now they will finally be able to own their own works and receive for their work on merit.

At the same time, such changes will not appeal to those who benefit from a lack of transparency in the music industry, as well as significant technology companies that prefer to create monopolies of market openness. If the idea of ​​using a detachment really does develop, then conflicts are unlikely to be avoided.

How to catch the Bitcoin whale – fraud schemes explained.

In the crypto world, Bitcoin-whales are considered to be the people who have thousands of precious coins on their wallets. As it turns out, there are not so much of them.

Quite recently, Chainalysis “scanned” the entire network of the first cryptocurrency and found that only 1600 accounts contain more than 1000 BTC. Probably, several of them belong to Satoshi Nakamoto, which everyone knows about, but nobody has a clue about his personality.

Nevertheless, many people who bought Bitcoin many years ago for tech experiments or just for fun had become very rich last year due to cryptomarkets rising – a lot of multimillionaires and even billionaires had appeared suddenly. Even some of them managed to get to the Forbes list, this kind of people mostly tend to stay in the shadows.

Not all of them are active participants of the community or businessmen. Of course, some of them just withdrew some money for classical entrepreneurship, luxury goods, travel and other things that can be bought for cash.

However, when you trade 30, 50 or even 100 BTC, you are not concerned with security and legality from the law are your problems, and when you need to exchange 1000-5000 BTC, it becomes the problem of governmental and regulatory authorities.

No wonder that real criminals – drug lords or terrorists have their own established channels of financing and money laundering, and lawyers have their own methods of destroying such channels.

Let’s imagine that you’re the good guy here and you need to deduce a tremendous amount of money of a 4000 BTC for example. Even considering the bearish lawlessness in the market, it is more than $ 25 million at the current exchange rate. Do you start thinking if it is possible to arrange everything in offshore zones? And of course – how and where to find such a buyer?

In 2015, sophisticated fraudsters took care that the answer to the main question had become the following. We call it a conditional harpoon cannon because of this time attackers aimed at single whales, not organizations like exchanges or e-wallets.
At first, scammers throw their networks into the necessary information flows, which are used by community members. The story they tell always has same contours and diverges only in non-essential details.

A particular person “with great experience in concluding international crypto-currency transactions” has a “large buyer” who is ready to buy 10 000 – 20 000 BTC at a price of -5 % shall we say of the Bitfinex price. And the task of an “experienced intermediary” is to find a seller or sellers. Then they will be invited to meet in such cities as Vienna or Zurich to make the necessary transfers of tete-a-tete. Besides, to scale this scheme, intermediaries attract other intermediaries, promising the recent commission, which gives the system a pyramidal character.

The most known and rich cities often are used for such crime schemes.

One might think that the most bitcoins-whales are intelligent people and will feel wrong, but scammers are incredibly persuasive, focusing on details and nuances, demonstrating imaginary professionalism. And what can happen to a man in a wonderful Switzerland, a country of bank secrecy, luxury, and security? It is the names of cities that create the so-called luxury effect so that the story of a large buyer seemed believable.

The overall scheme is quite simple: the sophisticated fraudsters could arrange a change of suitcases with cash or any other virtuoso trick to convince the seller that he received money without actually receiving anything – not even weapon threatening is required.

There are also thoughtful raids of European law enforcement agencies, which take the issue of money laundering and violation of tax legislation very seriously. Even in Switzerland, where bank secrecy is akin to the biblical commandment, the transfer of a suitcase or sports bags with a massive pile of cash will cause suspicion.

All members of the community should remember that the Bitcoin-industry has attracted the attention of not only hackers, talented crackers of digital systems, but also good old thieves from the area of classical crime. They can come up with dozens of methods for identifying and robbing whales, but the latter should always be a step ahead, and certainly not to be fooled by such infamous schemes.

Hottest Blockchain Week News #1

1) Facebook is open for crypto advertising again

The world’s largest social network and media giant Facebook announced the revision of the total ban on advertising crypto-currencies. So, previously approved advertisers will be able to post content about crypto-currencies and related topics, except ICO. The news had been announced on Tuesday, June 26.
To obtain permission to publish advertising products and services in the field of cryptocurrency, advertisers must provide Facebook with data on licenses, listing on stock exchanges and any important public information about their business.
Facebook will make decisions based on the data received from advertisers; however, as already warned in the organization, not everyone will be tested.
The company promised to listen to the community’s opinion, learn technology and review the rules if necessary.
A recall is regarded, earlier Facebook banned advertising ICO ads and cryptocurrency, including the Bitcoin.

2) Bithumb Exchange hacked

After just over a week after breaking into the South Korean trading platform Coinrail, the crypto-exchange community shocked the news of the hacker attack on Bithumb. As a result of the hacking of this much larger stock exchange, crypto-investors lost a total of 35 billion South Korean won (about $ 31 million).
However, the management of the exchange Bithumb managed to move part of the digital assets to a cold wallet and promised to reimburse investors funds soon. Payments will be made from the fund’s own stock exchange, which holds about $ 450 million.
Against the backdrop of this wretched event, the government of South Korea announced a tightening of the regulation of the crypto-currency industry and acceleration of the implementation of the new regulatory framework.
“If the bill of the deputy from the Democratic Party of Korea, Zhe Yong-gyun, is adopted, the authorities will be able to introduce rules for crypto-exchange exchanges that are identical to those for commercial banks,” the representative of the Financial Intelligence Unit of the country (KFIU) said.
It is expected that with the participation of KFIU and the Financial Services Commission (FSC), security and the infrastructure of the crypto-currency market will be strengthened. In this case, exchanges will be obliged to work in compliance with the safety standards that apply to financial institutions.

3) John Mcafee is back to life

Unknown attackers poisoned the famous crypto enthusiast, media person and founder of MGT Capital Investments John McAfee. He was unconscious for two days but woke up on June 22, which he immediately told his subscribers on Twitter.

“I apologize for my three-day absence, but I was unconscious for two days at the Vidant Medical Center in North Carolina and just woke up. My enemies managed to spike something that I ingested. However, I am more difficult to kill than anyone can imagine. I am back.” – McCafee said.

Besides, the crypto-enthusiast has left a rather ominous message for the attackers themselves.

“And for those who did this – You will soon understand the true meaning of wrath. I know exactly who you are. You had better be gone. – He replied.
Attackers poisoned the famous crypto enthusiast and founder of MGT Capital Investments John McAfee. He was unconscious for two days but woke up on June 22, which he told his subscribers on Twitter.”

Earlier, Roger Thomas Clark, known under the pseudonym Variety Jones or simply VJ, was extradited from Thailand to the US, where he would stand trial for alleged complicity in the illegal activities of the DarkNet marketplace Silk Road.

It is believed that it was VJ that prompted Ross Ulbricht to order the murder of Curtis Green, the Silk Road administrator of the Silk Road, caught by the FBI.

The Dangers of Darknet

Numerous articles had been written on how the blockchain will change the world to better and why cryptocurrency assets are the future of the financial industry.

However, while admiring the current and future benefits of usage, the digital money also has the other side with its malicious nature. The fraudsters, hackers and different criminals use the topcoints and altcoins for different activities forbidden by the law. So, the common public knowledge is often influenced by the unfavorable market situations and overall despair against cryptocurrency are getting worse.

Quite often media highlights the dark side of the crypto world and make the public opinion regarding cryptocurrencies look like facilitating criminal activity. Actually no wonder that being the top coins at the moment Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero, and a few other assets are the weapon of choice for the digital fraudsters and cybercriminals during these years of crypto market fever. Of course, the governmental bodies and special commissions are up for changing that as they present more and more strict regulation measures and laws, but the current situation will not change in the nearest future.

Going on with the explanation, there are a quite a few reasons why cryptocurrencies are so attractive to the fraudsters these days. No real names are being used, and the wallet address is convenient for hiding your real identity, which makes the personality disclosure a hard challenge.

Next thing is the volume of transactions. The global worldwide networks take a lot a massive load due to everyday growing number of transactions, and that makes the finding of the fraud schemes a tough challenge.

Even considering the popularity of cryptocurrencies, the so-called Darknet existence is still bad news for the many crypto enthusiasts of this industry as not many newcomers are aware about the crypto realm shadow side. But the highlights are often come to this area, as the cryptomarket rise thieves the activity.
The main points that drive the fraudsters methods popularity are the anonymity and privacy.

Due to the latest researches, over the 95% of illicit activity on the different darknet nowadays had been produced using the Bitcoin. This is of course due to the most popular asset popularity, liquidity and value.

However, the Silk Road has shown the world how the darknet and cryptocurrency can come together in meaningful ways. Perhaps people can remain convinced this was a positive development in general, and the public opinion looks very different these days.

The Darknet itself is a place, mainly speaking, where one can get any items strictly prohibited by the law and get away with it after.

The main points of user interest include such things as illegal drugs acquisition, black market guns trade, fake documents and IDs of any kinds, all sorts of explosives, secret files disclosure, porn content of all types, going on with the nasty stuff like that from there.

No wonder that the Bitcoin is the most liquid instrument for this kind of activities, and it will likely remain for some time.

Speaking about official statistics, it is known that 2016 had almost 14,000 cases related to the drug and other illegal substances. Therefore, over 1,400 people engaged in this type of activity until police officials around the world actively began arresting vendors and buyers globally. It is estimated in 2016 more than $1.3 billion of the worth of profits for drug sellers embracing cryptocurrencies was the actual number. Considering the crypto market popularity rises, no wonder that the official date of 2017 could present much more embarrassing and shocking data.

One thing is sure that the shutting down of such darknet marketplaces cannot change the situation significantly as the new platforms will arise pretty much soon. Same as with Hydra – you cut one head, the more appears. Much more drastic measure is to be taken by the world governments to change the situation and make the widespread more closed and the acquisition of dangerous prohibited items – even more complicated.

Gambling goes blockchained

During the last couple of years, the popularity of digital currency casinos has increased considerably, given the wide variety of benefits being offered to players worldwide. Many people believe that the Bitcoin and some top coins are the perfect currency for online casinos, and recent statistics show that the market agrees with this mass opinion.

The blockchain industry victorious march is even out of the question for – the next years will undoubtedly see this prominent technology getting adopted in more and more industries. Banking area, transportation, jurisdiction, logistics, different productions, healthcare, gaming – there is potentially no shortage of sectors of current human activity where the blockchain cannot be applied for improving the existing solutions. Verifications of the highest possible level, unmatched security&safety options, smart contracts that can ensure payment transactions on the new standard.
Online gambling represents one of the first industries that went on experimenting with the use of blockchain technology, as different bitcoin casinos represent one of the most widespread use cases of cryptocurrency in its early years.

However, despite the evolution of cryptocurrencies in recent years, the overall impact on online gaming had been relatively small so far.

Anyway, despite the cryptocurrency market rapid shifts the last couple of years, the digital currency casino market has evolved and grew, given the appearance of more game types, features, bonuses, and more.

Nowadays not many even professional online game players and supporters do realize the potential benefits of cryptocurrency casinos when compared to more “traditional,” fiat-currency based online casinos.

1)The blockchain technology allows providing the games results, stats, and ratings that cannot be counterfeited. Different solutions out there in the market even before the blockchain adoption, though so far nothing is likely to provide better security and privacy in the coming years.

2) Client’s anonymity of the top level and best access options. Years before many had legitimate doubts and concerns with the personal information being shared on third-party gambling resources. And of course, this isn’t a case with crypto casinos. However, many gambling solutions are so easy-to-use that they automatically register user accounts when accessing the websites, and therefore, do not require personal information such as email, name, or real postal players address. Of course, it is a positive approach as an anonymity level like this also allows users located in countries where online gambling is under a legal ban, still access the resources and play their favorite games.

3) Unfortunately, some emerging crypto casinos currently suffer from the governmental tightening regulations as they are required to obtain licenses and apply more and more stricter rules over time.

4)The astronomically high speed of transaction execution. Before the blockchain stepped in, both the deposits and withdrawals in online gambling had never been that fast. Most popular existing casinos require transactions to have one confirmation on the blockchain network, before allowing users to wager the funds. However, the overall process can require no more than a few seconds or a couple of minutes, based on the client’s digital currency of choice. In contrast, the withdrawals are usually processed almost instantly. Users no longer have to wait for days before being able to play or withdraw their funds.

5)Lowest fees – the modern digital currency casinos had proven to have some of the most affordable dues on the existing market. Most cases show no cost associated with either deposits or withdrawals, and many new startups aim for low maximum indications to be attractive in this market and cope with numerous competitors.

The market for mobile applications and online games shows tremendous growth and an ever-increasing influx of new users over the past few years. According to 2017’s “AppAnnie 2017 Retrospective: A Monumental year for the application economy”, the overall market capitalization of mobile applications has reached $ 86 billion.

Due to the latest Newzoo insight, in 2018, the mobile games market will generate $70.3 billion – 51% of the overall global games market. However, the data from Statista reports that social casino revenue worldwide is estimated to reach $5.89 billion by 2022.

Moreover, according to Newzoo – the quarterly update of its Global Games Market Report service – the current forecast shows that 2.3 billion gamers across the globe will spend $137.9 billion on games in 2018. This represents an increase of +13.3% from the year before which was $16.2 billion.

Digital game revenues will make up 91% of the global market with a value of $125.3 billion. Mobile gaming will continue to be the largest segment following 10 years of double-digit growth since the first iPhone was launched in 2007. In total, mobile revenues will grow +25.5% year on year to reach $70.3 billion. This means that for the first time, more than half of all game revenues will come from the mobile segment.

No doubt that in fact best options for immersive player experience nowadays are provided by the most reputable companies.

Old World ICO Regulations

Initial Coin Offering regulations in the European countries differ from the ones of Northern American and Asian regions – the so-called “Old World” always has its own approach to any problem. In this article, we examine the ICO regulations in top European world countries.

Nowadays, one of the problems that many governments have with ICOs is that, technically, they represent a regulatory workaround. The problem is, that instead of seeking initial public offering businesses mostly can find low amount seed funding without the due diligence regulatory requirements, time, or fiduciary permissions as the  “traditional” IPO model would require. For a small business dealing with untested or unknown technologies, this peer-based alternative offers funding opportunities to firms otherwise ineligible for conventional funding approaches.
Of course, this approach can definitely help the ambitious enthusiasts to embody their perspective ideas. However, the last year’s reality shows that the number of fraudsters in this area of activity had risen to an unexpected level of 90% or close. Such countries as China and South Korea both claim that the possibility of scammers using ICOs to defraud investors is the primary reason they have moved to ban the creation or selling of them in their countries.

Many nations are pursuing changes to their regulatory policies to codify adherence to anti-money laundering/know your customer (AML/KYC) practices into law for ICOs and require additional oversight, such as registrations and disclosure statements.
Additionally, if the ICO relates the property transfers to fiat currencies, these ICOs, in fact, may be dealing with securities. This has implications for taxation and securities integrity.

The European Union

For now, within the European Union, overall, there has been a focus bringing ICOs in line with current legislation. The main idea of the process was in contending with them is to allow ICOs to operate within this territory, as long as they adhere to Anti-Money Laundering/Know Your Customer (AML/KYC) policies. However, like many of the nations in this category, The European Securities and Market Authority declared that they represent a substantial risk for investors.

United Kingdom

Up to latest time, the UK allows for the operation of ICOs but expects them to regulate themselves to the existing financial laws and regulations. On top of that, there have also been some issued warnings.
The Financial Conduct Authority warned that ICOs are unregulated and potentially fraudulent, while investors may be provided with “unbalanced, incomplete or misleading” documents by the ICO issuer, the Financial Times reported.

Isle of Man (UK)

The Isle of Man has indicated that it is seeking to forge regulations in the future that will establish and protect ICOs’ legal status.

Germany

One of Europe most developed countries, Germany is another one that has not yet set out direct regulation of ICOs, but they expect any new Coin Offering to adhere to the existing legislation, including the Banking Act, Investment Act, Securities Trading Act, Payment Services Supervision Act, and Prospectus Acts. They have also gone as far as to issue a warning however that there are risks in ICOs.

Moreover, there had been an official statement issued which stated: “Due to the lack of legal requirements and transparency rules, consumers are left on their own when it comes to verifying the identity, reputability, and credit standing of the token provider and understanding and assessing the investment on offer. It can also not be guaranteed that personal data will be protected in accordance with German standards”.

Estonia

For now, Estonia is currently considering starting its own ICO to raise funds. However, the Eurozone rule on nation states not having their own currencies continues to split opinions about the possibility of this happening.

Russia

The Kremlin issued five orders in October 2017, requiring altcoin miner registration and taxation, the application of securities laws to ICOs, and the use of altcoins to create a  “single payment space” in the Eurasian Economic Union to oppose the Eurozone. Russian President Vladimir Putin in May 2018 states, that “Russia will not issue its own government cryptocurrency.”

Switzerland

In one of Europe’s wealthiest countries, the recent attempts to regulate ICOs have failed, but the need to codify protections may reignite the regulation efforts. The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FANMA) has started to examine ICOs for possible breaches of securities laws, which may be the first signs of a new wave of campaigning for regulatory oversight. Regulations are not thought, however, to be able to stop the current momentum to incorporate ICOs into Swiss culture.

Healthcare blockchain development

The future is much closer than most people think. Current advances in the blockchain technology developments open the new horizons in different already existing areas of human activities and create the previously incredible opportunities.

The blockchain technology, which stands behind Bitcoin and many other existing cryptocurrencies, had attracted billions of investments from some of the world’s leading corporations for its security and immutability. It is known that nearly 150 million of secure Bitcoin transactions had been successfully performed since the digital currency launched in 2009. In the modern world of today, the Bitcoin and others can be used for various purposes that include hotel and flights booking, digital products purchase, paying in cafes in restaurants and even the healthcare.

The emerging blockchain technology has the much-needed potential to transform healthcare industry, placing the patient at the center of its complex ecosystem and increasing the security, privacy, and interoperability of health data overall. With the help of it, a new model of health information systems can be built.

The ambitious goal can be achieved by making electronic medical records more transparent, efficient, correct and secure.

So far, most of the blockchain tech success is supported by the fintech startups, but it does not end up just there. The healthcare industry is undoubtedly attractive as it has a high demand for innovations in different areas. In most of the world leading-tech countries, the healthcare authorities and even always cautious with the new movements governments are equally excited about the new possibilities presented by the blockchain technology.

Still, the top industry developers have to focus their efforts on establishing the blockchain community on forging the future ecosystem standards and frameworks options for the further implementation on a large scale level across healthcare implementation areas.

With the recent improvements in genetic research and the advancement of precision medicine, the healthcare industry is witnessing an innovative approach to disease prevention and treatment that incorporates an individual patient’s genetic makeup, lifestyle, and environment. Moreover, IT advancement has produced large databases of health information, provided tools to track health data and engaged individuals more into their own healthcare problems. Combining these advancements in healthcare and information technology would lead to a significant transformative change in the health IT-field.

Truth be told, the overall excitement emerges progressively as the blockchain tech marches all over the world. Nevertheless, specific points need to be taken into account for considering how the real implementation could look in future applications.

So, what qualities and application implementation features do the blockchain specified for healthcare industry has to offer to become truly useful and demanded? We need to define the primary cases where the blockchain can be at full fit and need for use in the nearest future.

1) Personalized Health Data Exchange systems advancement

Among many options needed for crafting the technology of the future, the very first thing comes to mind is a creation of the advanced systems of data exchange.
The thing is, currently existing IT-systems of the healthcare industry are in need of the fundamental upgrade and the blockchain can undoubtedly become that very stone on which the future of these systems will stand.

With it, the specific current challenges such as health data interoperability, overall integrity, security, portable user data, and processing speed could be tackled on an entirely new level.

Speaking about the areas that are more fundamental, the blockchain could enable data exchange systems that are cryptographically secured which will allow seamless access to historical and real-time patient data – with it the cost of data reconciliation will finally be out of the question.

It is also worth mentioning the recent collaboration between Guardtime, the data-centric security company, and the Estonian eHealth Foundation to secure the health records of one million Estonian citizens using its proprietary Keyless Signature Infrastructure (KSI) – a specific successful example of blockchain technology.

Anyway, that particular case is not likely to be global so far – specific complexities around the data origin, ownership and overall governance structure for health data exchange between public and private entities lead to the difficulties created in implementing the similar blockchain model for the health records worldwide.

When speaking about the patient care level, the standard clinical data integration would allow providers to seamlessly use the entirety of a patient’s health data to provide individualized care quickly and easily.
For example, blockchain technology could facilitate and streamline the use of tools like the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) Surgical Risk Calculator, as the necessary clinical data inputs could be automatically gathered with access to a patient’s records.

In its entirety, data gathered across a range of personal health and wellness activities, diagnostic and therapeutic services, procedures, laboratory testing’s, radiology, smart devices, and genetic testing services could all be securely incorporated into a patient’s file, accessible to both patients and healthcare institutions. Patients control their own data, while institutions control institutional-level data. Each party involved could give encrypted access keys to providers, researchers, or any other parties they choose, providing a range of access—from minimal amounts of de-identified data to individual-level full-chain access—that can be revoked at any time. Every data interaction is appended to the chain in a time-stamped and stable manner, adding to the system’s intrinsic security.

2) Management systems for fraud & false claims elimination and Clinical trials resolution

For now, nearly 50% of all the clinical trials in the U.S. are known to go unreported, and investigators often fail to share their results (that makes almost 90% of trials on ClinicalTrials.gov results). All of it creates the troubles and safety issues for the patients and knowledge gaps between healthcare stakeholders and health policymakers.

The anarchy could be eliminated with the new system based on the blockchain, supporting the time-stamped permanent records of clinical trials, protocols and results could potentially address the issues of outcome switching, data snooping and selective reporting. This will help in reducing the overall level of fraud and time to time errors in clinical trial records.

Also, the blockchain-based management system could help drive unprecedented collaboration between participants and researchers around innovations in medical research in fields like precision medicine and population health management.
In the United States and many leading world countries of today, nearly up to 10% of healthcare costs are considered as fraudulent, which results in excessive billing or billing for non-performed services. In 2016, for example, the fraud in healthcare industry officially caused around $30 million of loss. The blockchain-based systems can provide realistic solutions for minimizing these medical billing-related frauds. By automating the majority of claim adjudication and payment processing activities, blockchain systems could help to eliminate the need for intermediaries and reduce the administrative costs and time for providers and payers. Blockchain could also have significant ramifications for improving some of the enormous logistical information tracking hurdles of reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) functions. For example, Gem Health, a provider of blockchain application platforms for enterprises, has collaborated with Capital One to develop blockchain-based healthcare claims management solutions.

3) Building the pharmaceutical products supply chain of the next level

Due to recent statistics, the pharmaceutical industry and companies annual loss worldwide are now close to $200 billion due to counterfeit drugs all over the world. Nowadays about 30% of drugs that are sold in developing and third-world countries are considered to be counterfeits. A blockchain system could ensure a chain-of-custody log, tracking each step of the supply chain at the individual drug/product level.

Moreover, the implemented new functionalities such as private keys and smart contracts could help build in proof of ownership of the pharma source at any point in the supply chain and manage the contracts between different parties. For example, a company called iSolve LCC is currently working with multiple pharma/biopharma companies to implement its Advanced Digital Ledger Technology (ADLT) blockchain solutions to help manage drug supply chain integrity.
Blockchain technology also stands to eliminate fraudulent clinics billing cost, for instance, are increasing every year. Crafting a tech-immutable severe blockchain with the help of which the patients are informed of all changes to their health care records and bills would eliminate the possibility of such abuse. The creation of such a system would also increase the safety of the drug and device supply chains. Counterfeit drugs are understood to pose both a public health threat and a significant cost to the pharmaceutical industry, costing the EU area nearly 10 billion Euros per year according to the official data.

4) Medical research implementations and data sharing

The future HC – data blockchains can surely help the next generation of scientific research as the Surgical and medical data of today is encumbered by the difficulty of building large datasets across existing silos of patient data. The cost, labor, and error associated with the problem of manual updating databases like ACS NSQIP, the National Trauma Data Bank, or the National Cancer Database can be avoided if clinical data are integrated into a standard, searchable blockchain records. Moreover, the power of these data will be amplified in coming years if the troves of genetic data from public online sources and phenotypic data from wearable devices can be effectively incorporated into the technology.
The data gathered across a range of personal health and wellness activity, diagnostic and therapeutic services, procedures, laboratory testing, radiology, smart devices, and genetic testing services could all be securely incorporated into a patient’s unique file, accessible to both patients and healthcare institutions.

Everyone can benefit from it – so the patients are in control of their own data, while the medical establishments control data on the institutional level. Each party involved could give encrypted access keys to providers, researchers, or any other parties they choose, providing a range of access—from minimal amounts of de-identified data to individual-level full-chain access—that can be revoked at any time. Every data interaction is appended to the chain in a time-stamped and stable manner, adding to the system’s advanced security measures.

5) Advanced network security

Speaking about the last, though not the least worth attention point of HC-blockchain development features, the security measures are needed to be executed on an entirely new level.

For example, the last reports by Protenus Breach Barometer, there were a total number of security breaches in the US exceeded 450 in 2016, and over 27 million patients had been affected. Moreover, about 43% of these breaches were insider-caused and 27% due to hacking and ransomware.
As the market of Internet of Medical Things evolves and grow every year, the existing computer system of health industry can face a lot of challenges in future due to the overall infrastructure weakness. It is estimated, that by 2020, no less than 20-30 billion of healthcare IoT-connected devices will be used on a global scale.

Blockchain-enabled solutions have the potential to bridge the gaps of device data interoperability while ensuring security, privacy and reliability around IoMT use cases. Companies such as Telstra, which specializes in user biometrics and smart homes, IBM (cognitive Internet of Things) and Tierion (industrial, medical device preventive maintenance) are actively working around these use cases.

Blockchain-based systems that aim to track each step of pharmaceutical procurement and delivery—with each intermediary contributing a cryptographic key to a final product hash are already being developed to eliminate this problem.

There are also security issues related to the centralized nature of these records in their current form, making them frequent targets of cyber attacks. More than one-third of the U.K. National Health Services’ (NHS) trusts report coming under cyber attack, and more than 110 million U.S. citizens had health care data stolen in 2015 alone. The next year the situation even got worse as the hackers targeted several hospitals in so-called “ransomware attacks,” where hackers locked systems until ransoms were paid, with at least one hospital in Los Angeles, CA, admitting to paying to meet hacker demands.

Blockchain-based systems that aim to track each step of pharmaceutical procurement and delivery—with each intermediary contributing a cryptographic key to a final product hash are already being developed to eliminate this problem.

In the nearest future, the health care providers would need encrypted keys to request information from patients, and patients could, in turn, select who has access to their medical records and when. Patients could potentially preauthorize information sharing with legitimate providers in unforeseen emergencies without actually pre-sharing that data, and choose to which, if any, research entities to lend their data.
Healthcare providers would need encrypted keys to request information from patients, and patients could, in turn, select who has access to their medical records and when. Patients could potentially preauthorize information sharing with legitimate providers in unforeseen emergencies without actually pre-sharing that data, and choose to which, if any, research entities to lend their data.

As blockchain technology continues to develop rapidly, it is essential that surgeons and other high-profile medical personnel understand both its capabilities and its limitations.

The more specific benefits of implementation and top existing problems
The HC-systems that currently exist are massively overrated regarding functionality and cost. The patients sometimes are treated without access to medical histories, current medications, and prior imaging studies that could influence patient care at large.

It can save up to $77.8 billion per year in U.S. market, mostly by avoiding redundant tests and imaging studies, and by decreasing administrative expenses as well.

Multiple reasons are standing behind the healthcare sector vulnerability to cyber attacks. The clinics budget shortages, IT-staff incompetence and overall systems insecurity, come to mind in the first place.

But there is always a place for human error which results in malware and ransomware infections due to the incompetence of clinic staff, and the software of unknown origin to be installed on healthcare systems.
Recent research made at Trapx Labs discovered the 63% increase in attacks in 2016. The most significant attacks revolve around the theft of patient records, including 3,6 million records stolen from Banner Health, and 3,4 million patient details leaked by Newkirk products. What drives all these cases? Patient record databases can fetch a decent price on the deep web these days, as long as they contain full information.
Medical device data hijacking remains one of the consistent trends throughout the recent years. A lot of medical devices are connected to the Internet, for some reason, making them prone to attacks from hackers looking to gain remote system access. Medical devices also contain backdoors, which can be accessed through targeted campaigns, malware attacks, and ransomware distribution. For now, addressing this problem is not easy, as the healthcare sector cannot afford downtime due to cyber attacks. In most cases, they will end up paying a ransom to make sure that their systems are left alone.

Conclusion

In healthcare, opportunities exist not only to revolutionize the electronic health information, supply chains, and data ownership, but also to assimilate expansive tranches of data for research purposes by creating technology that is transparent, digital, immutable, secure, and controlled by institutions and, more importantly, by the healthcare industry patients.
That represents another critical step at the beginning of the blockchain revolution at large, and significant obstacles to implementation remain. It is imperative that further research and advocacy efforts led by clinicians underscore potential advances in research and innovation as a result of blockchain technology.

Only time can tell if the blockchain can raise the healthcare field to the new level, but there is no doubt, that its fuel will ignite the overall process of long-needed advance in this industry and many others. The global technology areas covered by blockchain spread beyond the healthcare of course. That also implies the next level of healthcare chips development.
Another significant factor of the biotechnology progress is the biochips technology. Since the end of the 20th century, microchips of different design began to enter the arsenal of techniques used in scientific biomedical laboratories, and then came into diagnostic practice as well. Biochips are a sensitive, highly specific, reliable and fast method of research.

The most known jesting coins

The traditional, centuries ago-established banking systems had proved itself being extremely hard for accepting changes and innovations. With the advent of blockchain technologies, it became possible to create the decent payment option with the cryptocurrencies assets. Over the years, the number of the cryptocurrencies in circulation had reached more than 1,500 and the capitalization of all assets in the brightest market moments was more than $500 billion – a decent result in comparison that in the first day of the year 2017 it was estimated only to $17,7 billion.

Though major five currencies are a long time, not the subjects the of jokes on the Internet since they present decent growing digital assets, the modern reality dictates the more pragmatic approach.

However, among the hundreds of currently existing digital assets, there had been numerous attempts taken by different geeks and crypto enthusiasts only to provide the so-called joke currencies, which hold a significant place in the crypto world.
Of course, there is a certain degree of coins which sole purpose of existence was the scam fundraising made by cyber pranksters, and some are hardly worth anything at all, yet they all provide a critical outlook on the hype. Their worth is mostly based on their critique of how we react to the financial world, both new and old.

MONACOIN

Introduced back in December 2013 Monacoin was the first distinctly Japanese cryptocurrency. Its icon is a cat featured on a golden coin resembling the mint of Dogecoin. Although its website is more bare bones than tongue in cheek, Monacoin’s community is very robust and engaged in the crypto world. Having been birthed in 2013, Monacoin has longevity relative to other joke coins. Most of its humor is geared toward Japanese speakers. However, every once in a while, a Western investor will speculate, “What about Mona?”

JESUS COIN

There are fewer things older than money and religion. Parodying the human relationship between the two is most certainly a stroke of genius. The Jesus Coin website fully mimics an ICO’s front page with a team, roadmap, and cartoon. Jesus Coin is a classic comedic coin for fans of joke coins.

USELESS ETHEREUM TOKEN

The Useless Ethereum Token is marketed as the most blatantly honest ICO ever created. The website’s creator is totally transparent about using the funds from the ICO for flat screen televisions and other electronics. Hilariously acronymed “UET” in the style of tokens that present themselves for mass trading, UET also flaunted bonuses to entice initial investors.

With an ICO in the summer of 2017, the dawn of the year of ICOs, Useless Ethereum Token is an apt reminder of the fool’s gold ICOs that plague the Ethereum network and the crypto community at large.

GARLICOIN

Garlicoin arose after a Reddit post which said that if it garnered 30,000 upvotes, its author would create a new coin. Well, the author’s position reached its goal, and so a new coin was forked from Litecoin on December 25, 2017.
Most of Garlicoin’s comedy comes from its community’s subreddit. The initial post has enough hilarious comments to keep you entertained for the better part of an hour. Its subreddit is also a central hub for humor with a vibrant community of memes and banter. Although Garlicoin is a very new joke coin, it will be interesting to track its progress throughout the year.

DOGECOIN

With over 110 billion coins mined and a rich meme culture of its own, Dogecoin is most certainly the king of joke coins. This widely known and well-loved coin was initially designed to illustrate the volatility of the crypto space and behavior. With its first flourish in December 2013, it soon became apparent that the joke was lost on its buyers, or that crypto traders will try to make a profit on just about anything. Its subsequent crash illustrated the darker side of cryptocurrency, with memes trolling the market. Perhaps even more ominously, a thief stole millions of Dogecoin around Christmas. However, the community united and donated funds to those who had lost them.

Fast forward to 2017, and Dogecoin had climbed to a $2 billion market cap. That amount has since declined, but Dogecoin continues to unite and inform crypto enthusiasts on various issues. One of its creators, Jackson Palmer, warned against its success in a series of press articles during the bull run of 2017-2018. It seems that despite its blossoming success, the joke was momentarily lost on at least one of its founders. Dogecoin’s staggering volatility, poignant moments and lingering humor place it at the top of the list.

The most underrated cryptocurrencies of 2017

The last year had brought the world crypto community attention to some relatively small digital currencies, which until the specific time had been regarded as failed even by many experts. We outline the most successful cryptocurrency projects that had achieved an unexpected acceptance by the community in 2017.

1) Monero’s main feature is that it’s entirely a unique kind of cryptocurrency — an utterly private coin. No one will be able to track the amount of your savings on this blockchain, unlike popular Bitcoin or Litecoin. The Monero network is constructed with the usage of the CryptoNote Protocol, which is the evolution of the principles which are behind the original Bitcoin. In contrast to the transparent blockchain of the Bitcoin which allows any member of the network to determine the sender as well as the recipient, Monero transactions cannot be tracked, making all the participants anonymous. A temporary drawback is the fact that a small by now number of users hamper the procedure of mixing transaction, and as a result, significant transactions can be visible and tracked down.

Initially launched in 2014, Monero uses a famous principle of proof-of-work. For a long time, it had been considered being an another-bitcoin-double as the media often used the expression “the perfect solution for the fraud and drug trafficking” because of its high level of privacy. However, in 2017 the value of this currency rose more than 3000%. Now Monero is the perfect choice not only for dubious personalities — the developers are actively working on the promotion campaign with five online stores and almost 50 well-known musicians, including Mariah Carey, Sia, Weezer, G-Eazy and many others, who will accept this currency as payments for their services during the holiday season. An exciting and competent move for the legalization and promotion of their cryptocurrencies, no doubt.
The main characteristics of Monero that explains its popularity as t
he currency are the following: maximum security, anonymity and transaction privacy.

2) Ripple cryptocurrency platform is focused on transactions to currency with no chargebacks. A Ripple company’s currency main feature is the usage of “consensus in the registry.” The system had been originally launched in 2012; the Protocol supports tokens representing fiduciary money, cryptocurrency, commodity or other objects, such as frequent flyer miles or minutes of mobile communication. At its core, Ripple is based on an open shared database that uses a negotiation process that allows you to make the exchange in a distributed process. The main feature of Ripple is the low and adequate value that will enable it permanently to be in the top 5 currencies by market capitalization.

The Ripple skeptics always had a negative attitude to it due to the apparent platform centralization as they believed that the blockchain must be decentralized. Thomas Ripple is going to dispel this myth, making efforts for a broader implementation of his creation — after all, with the mass success of this technology, there will be no more long days of waiting when the bank completes your transfer.

Nowadays Ripple indeed drew the attention of major players in the financial world like Western Union. In early 2017 Ripple had signed an agreement with the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, which operates in 17 countries. Today the list of organizations working with Ripple is мукн extensive. It is worth to note the expansion system — recently an additional service had been launched that allows you to complete even precious metals transactions. That had undoubtedly made Ripple a pioneer in this direction and significantly increased the confidence of investors — now even some trust funds make the Ripple deposits.

During the 2017 total rate of the Ripple has grown by more than 4000%, and the experts say that in the future this trend will continue.

3) The main advantage of Stellar Lumens cryptocurrency is its cheapness. Many experts claim that the purchase of XLM tokens is quite profitable because the buyer will not have to worry about the possible substantial loss if XLM is eventually removed from the list — which is very unlikely in the nearest future. Another argument in favor of this cryptocurrency is the trading volume, and the experts also draw attention to the XLM liquidity. Stellar Lumens — one of the undisputed leaders in the alternative coin market capitalization. Another attractive feature is that the XLM tokens can be used as a link between currencies that have no direct private market. They are always among the top altcoins by market capitalization, which means that major “players” are also waiting for the big payouts.

4) The New Economy Movement (NEM or XEM) cryptocurrency has very ambitious goals.

XEM is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency platform. It’s written with Java and JavaScript and uses the 100% original code. XEM is a model for widespread dissemination and adds some new features to blockchain technology with the importance algorithm confirmation of POI (Proof-of-Importance). NEM also offers an integrated peer-to-peer system for the exchange of encrypted messages, accounts with multi-signs and the reputation system Eigentrust++.

NEM (XEM) project does have ambitious goals. With the blockchain technology, one can create billions of services on it, from online shopping to decentralized social networks, structures with decentralization and the protection of the highest level.
XEM rewards those who support the internal project economy, so users can earn tokens by merely completing the transactions. This model of growth has much more sense than the conventional mining. No doubt, it also may be a revolutionary way to control the future. The developers have plans to create the first cryptocurrency trading platform like eBay, but with the technology power of the blockchain.

USA ICO Regulation

One of the world’s leading countries, the US, has specific issues regarding the ICO startups. As the world startup projects market is developing despite the severe regulation measures in certain countries, United States supports the Initial Coin Offering model of fundraising so far. However, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) often changes the strict regulation rules which need to be applied when conducting ICO.
Simply put, this model is allowed, but is already under heavy legal regulation.

As of Q1 2018 data– most of the ICOs were conducted under the United States jurisdiction – 59 projects totaled about $ 583.8 million.

ICO rules vary widely from state to state – from an absence of regulations at all in some states to the ones present that require deposits in equal to or more than all local transactions. Sometimes, a license for businesses to engage in the cryptocurrency activities is required. On the federal level, no current regulations are banning ICOs specifically, although ICOs are expected to be registered and licensed the same as if they were another fundraising models. This includes registering with the SEC if the ICO is to sell or trade securities. The SEC has recently found that some altcoins may be a security, and as such, may be subject to SEC’s ruling in the future. Some SEC commissioners hold the position that most ICOs are securities and should be treated as such. ICOs are expected to adhere to AML/KYC practices. Failure to adhere to these practices may leave an ICO open to legal action or possible seizure.

The United States has also moved to recognize celebrity endorsements of ICOs to be illegal unless all compensation involved is disclosed.

The Role of the SEC

As stated in the SEC mission statement, “The mission of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation.” Congress created the SEC in 1934 as the first federal regulator of securities markets following the stock market crash of 1929, when it became clear that many companies had provided false or misleading information about their performance and prospects to investors. Since then, the SEC’s primary functions have been verifying statements from corporations and ensuring that securities institutions (like brokers, dealers, and exchanges) treat investors fairly and honestly.

What is a Security?

To determine if an offering is a security, the SEC employs the Howey Test, which classifies an offering as security if it meets all four of the following conditions:

1)It is an investment of money

2)There is an expectation of profits from the investment

3)The investment of money is in a collective enterprise

4)Any profit comes from the efforts of a promoter or third party

Since being included in 1946, the Howey Test has been the default assessment for determining if an offering is a security, and there have been few exceptions made.

Securities Requirements

As explained by FindLaw, “The Securities Act and Securities Exchange Act have broad definitions of the term security. Under these Acts, a security includes many familiar investment instruments such as notes, stocks, bonds, and investment contracts.” Whether or not an investment is a security is important because securities are subject to meeting regulatory requirements. All securities must be registered with the SEC, with few exceptions. Along with registering with the SEC, a company offering securities must disclose:

1)A description of the company’s properties and business purpose

2)A description of the security being offered

3)Information about the company’s management

4)Financial statements about the company, certified by independent accountants

The requirements are in place to ensure that investors receive accurate information and that management teams enforce proper governance. Failure to register with the SEC and comply with securities requirements leads to legal action.
Are Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) Securities?

Almost all ICOs are security offerings, at least as the laws are written currently. As explained by Kirk, Caiazza, and Rosenblum from WSGR, “There apparently has been significant shock and surprise over recent reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a large number of subpoenas to initial coin offering (ICO) issuers and to ICO gatekeepers who may have been involved in token transactions that potentially did not comply with the federal securities laws. To a large extent, this shock and surprise is shocking and surprising. The SEC has been as clear as it knows how to be that it believes virtually all tokens (and simple agreements for future tokens, or SAFTs) are securities for purposes of the federal securities laws.” Of the major law firms that have issued opinions in the space, WSGR is considered to be amongst the more conservative and traditional. However, as the laws are written and how they have been historically interpreted, this must be regarded as correct. Many ICOs do pass the Howey Test because they “represent an investment of money in a common enterprise with an expectation of profits coming from the work or influence of a third party.”

Implications for Past and Future ICOs

For ICOs that have already been issued, the group from WSGR offers the following advice: “Fix the problem before the SEC fixes it for you. If you have sold tokens to unaccredited investors, or if you have otherwise not complied with the federal securities laws, strongly consider fixing the problem before the SEC finds you. Potential approaches include making a rescission offer, forking or burning certain tokens, and self-reporting to the SEC. All of these are unpalatable, to be sure. Having the SEC show up at your doorstep likely will be even more unpalatable, especially if you have not taken steps to address known securities law violations.” This will be very difficult for past projects that have issued a significant number of tokens that have gone on to trade on exchanges. If this is what is needed, it is likely the case that projects can make the best effort but not truly remedy the problem.
It is to be seen what the outcome of the subpoenas issued by the SEC to ICOs will be. This week (March 14th & 15th, 2018), the House Financial Services Committee has been holding hearings with members of the cryptocurrency industry to better understand regulatory concerns. From the regulatory perspective, the most significant concerns have been related to how cryptocurrencies may enable money laundering and the funding of terrorist groups through near-anonymous transmission of funds.

In the same, the group from WSGR concludes with a slightly optimistic outlook for the potential to adapt current laws to accommodate cryptocurrencies: “In the short term, ICO issuers and their legal counsel can work with the SEC to attempt to tailor existing registration, reporting, trading, and exchange rules to better reflect the nature of tokens and token platforms. In the longer term, the crypto industry perhaps can work with the SEC, other regulators, and Congress to develop a modified registration, reporting, and trading system that is designed specifically for the cryptocurrency.” This process of collaboration with industry has been ongoing and the hearings this week may lead to positive regulatory developments that allow innovation to take place while preventing investors from being defrauded.

What are the top cryptoworld blogs, channels and persons to look up for ICO tips?

Nowadays crypto enthusiasts and businesspeople look for market analytics info, latest trends, hottest cryptocurrencies and new ICO or blockchain projects to invest in a lot of various sources.

The importance and popularity of the “traditional” media sources at large and its forecasts are not so high as it used to be. Many people and investors do, however, pay significant attention to opinions of independent researchers, which operate on such highly popular platforms as Youtube, Twitter, and personal blogs.

The widespread of the professional tips and forecasts cannot be exaggerated in the digital economy sector, which often suffers from high volatility. The tips regarding ICO conduction, crypto consulting and blockchain projects at large from independent analytics and respected figures in the blockchain industry are always in high demand.

Speaking about the Youtube, its presentation format allows making useful, short and easy-to-understand video guides, market analytics and crypto news settlers to give a more bright, transparent and understandable way to deliver information to users. Other means of providing insights, sharing opinions, crypto market & ICO guidance are Twitter and blogs.

Today we have outlined the most popular, hot and exciting channels & blogs, where everyone, from enthusiast to professional crypto trader or investor, can find useful tips, crypto news, professional ICO guides, different projects previews/reviews, and forecasts.

We start with Youtube channels first:

Altcoin Buzz

http://altcoinbuzz.io/

(https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGyqEtcGQQtXyUwvcy7Gmyg/search?query=ICO)

The Altcoin Buzz is one of the largest channels for the decent crypto investors. Its popularity grows quite fast as the total number of subscribers had now risen to the number of 200,000. Also, the total number of video content hits is now estimated at more than 13,5 million.

The top discussed subjects on this channel are altcoins investments and ICO projects. Right now, the channel is rapidly gaining popularity due to the considerable number of high-quality and regular content. Right here, one can find relevant content on such topics as “ICO investments guide,” “Safety measures during the ICO campaigns,” and so on.

Moreover, the previews on the upcoming ICO projects are often published here – such as “Telegram,” “Safe Haven,” “Remme,” “Play2Live” and even more. One of the most popular videos at the moment, “What it Will Take For Ethereum Price To Rise to $10,000 Per Coin” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNAC6xbEM7Q), scored more than 195,000 views and 350 comments at the moment.

The man and creator of this channel and the website is Jeff. He is known to be an economist, crypto and altcoins enthusiast, and an active ICO investor, willing to share his opinions and predictions with broad user audience. The platform is also run by two market analytics, Steve, and Shashwat, and Shailen works on the project’s marketing part. The channel has been created only a bit more than a year ago, but its community is developing rapidly.

Ian Balina

(https://www.youtube.com/user/Diaryofamademan)

http://ianbalina.com/blog/

This channel is named by the creator’s name – Ian Balina is one of the most popular crypto bloggers on Youtube nowadays and an influential blockchain and cryptocurrency investor as well.

Moreover, he is often seen as an advisor of some significant crypto projects and the blockchain Evangelist. His works in analytics, cryptocurrencies, and entrepreneurship had led him to an appearance in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Huffington Post, The Street, INC and Entrepreneur Magazine. Balina is a former Analytics Evangelist at IBM; he has brought a data-driven, “Moneyball” approach to investing in cryptocurrency token sales (ICOs), called “Token Metrics.”

Ian Balina leads a global cryptocurrency investor syndicate that invests up to $3 million in promising blockchain startup’s token sales. The main topics of the channel are previews and reviews of different projects, ICO campaign developers, and founders of companies, live-streams from meetups and conferences, investments guides.

At the moment, his video channel has more than 115,300 subscribers, and the total number of video content hits is likely 3,3 million. The most popular video is an hour-long “How to make millions with Initial Coin Offerings” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkzeJrdKDJk&t=1s), which has already scored more than 330,000 views and more than thousand comments. Beside this channel, Ian has an official blog – http://ianbalina.com/blog/.

Ivan on Tech

http://ivanontech.com

(https://www.youtube.com/user/LiljeqvistIvan )

Ivan Liljeqvist is the creator behind another favorite Youtube channel named Ivan On Tech. He is a software developer from Sweden. This channel had been created back in 2013 and now has nearly 150,000 subscribers and more than 6,000,000 views of video content. Author’s primary vision is creating content that covers the cryptocurrencies news and implementation of the blockchain technology applications in the financial sector.

The extreme popularity of the channel is no wonder because its founder is a professional programmer with project development experience and participation in ICO projects. Ivan could also be seen as the speaker of many crypto conferences, often participating in different meetups, publishes exclusive video interviews with the developers and the ICO investors.

One of the most exciting and relevant recent Ivan’s videos is the one regarding the ICO and is an analytical “Bitcoin and Crypto ICO Ban Bloodbath – Programmer explains” with more than 30,000 views.
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6Ak2ulc9QY). Ivan also hosts the website http://ivanontech.com and is active in several in social networks.

Crush Crypto

(https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu1-oBOM-DzJ89o02Bx3XYw/search?query=ICO)

The Crush Crypto channel is one of the engaging and most underrated channels in this segment. It is being hosted by an independent research group focused on blockchain technology and digital currencies analysis. The team’s behind the project goal is to provide high quality and objective fundamental analysis in cryptocurrency investment sector and ICOs.

The creators assure its viewers that they are not paid or mandated to do any reviews and that the content is based on private research, analysis and personal opinions only. Victoria Wong is the face and part of the Crush Crypto team, who has experience in financial analysis, investment research, investing and C++, JavaScript, and PHP-programming. Victoria has extensive professional experience in corporate finance, economic analysis, and modeling, investment research. She was previously Vice President at Morgan Stanley where she had spent more than six years as an equity analyst looking at companies in Asia and the US with coverage across the transportation, industrials, infrastructure and logistics sectors.

Project CEO is Victor Lai, who has an extensive background in finance and previously worked in investment banking at Investec and various hedge funds in Asia and North America. He is specialized in the fundamental analysis and investing. The market researchers of the projects are John Coburn, Richard Wang, and Kieren O’Day.

Crypto Daily

(https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC67AEEecqFEc92nVvcqKdhA)

This British news channel is covering financial sector aimed at cryptocurrency investors. This channel was created by the digital economy enthusiast nearly three years ago and during that time has gained over 100,000 subscribers and more than 5 million views of his content. The main feature of the channel is high-quality and regularly provided content, mostly related to the topics of ICO, innovations in the cryptocurrencies market, blockchain technologies, platforms and media persons of the industry.

Also, the most popular video at the moment is “Top 5 Undervalued Crypto-Currencies!” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwFJp9MEfCo –
with more than 220,000 hits and almost 700 comments.

Nevertheless, the leading industry media figures and the favorite blogs related to crypto market and digital analytics should also be outlined:

Mike Butcher https://twitter.com/mikebutcher

now holds the position of an editor-at-large at TechCrunch Europe.

The new trend in the field of crypto technology advancement developments allows creating the so-called “startup incubators.” Mike Butcher analyzes how this rising idea will affect the formation of a new global community, services, and platforms.

Besides, he is involved in a project to bring European technology entrepreneurs and investors together in a club environment called TechHub in London. A long-time journalist, Mike has written for UK national newspapers and magazines including The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The New Statesman. He is a former editor of New Media Age magazine, the leading new media weekly in the UK, and the European edition of The Industry Standard magazine.

Since 1996 he has launched or re-launched numerous media websites, and in 2000 he was nominated as NetMedia’s European Internet Journalist of the Year. In 2004 he was voted ‘One of the 100 Innovators of the UK Internet Decade’ by GfK NOP, the fourth-largest custom research business in the world. In July 2008 he was put at No. 47 out of the Top 100 people in London’s creative industry by The Independent newspaper and The Hospital Club.

In August 2008 TechCrunch Europe was awarded the best “Web 2.0 and business blog” in the UK, by the readers of Computer Weekly magazine. Also, in 2009 he was named one of the Top 10 bloggers on Twitter in the UK. In October 2009 he was named one of the Top 50 most influential Britons in technology by The Daily Telegraph. In April 2010 he was named as one of Britain’s Top 100 “digital power-brokers” by Wired UK magazine.

Mike is a regular commentator on technology business at Tech Crunch, his articles relate to the ambitious development and the largest ICO-projects of the industry, crypto world latest trends and the cryptocurrency market at large.

His articles had also appeared on BBC News, Sky News, Channel 4 and Bloomberg. Mike’s personal blog http://mbites.com and the channel on Twitter has almost 150,000 readers.

Andreas M. Antonopoulos

https://antonopoulos.com/

Another well-known person on our list is Andreas M. Antonopoulos – a technologist and serial entrepreneur who has become one of the most famous and well-respected figures in Bitcoin industry. He is the author of two books: “Mastering Bitcoin,” published by O’Reilly Media and considered the best technical guide to bitcoin and “The Internet of Money,” a book about why Bitcoin matters.

As an engaging public speaker, teacher, and writer, Andreas makes complex subjects accessible and easy to understand. As an advisor, he helps startups recognize, evaluate, and navigate security and business risks. Andreas was also one of the first to use the phrase “The Internet of Money,” as early as 2013, to describe Bitcoin as a part of his speaking business.
Meanwhile, as a Bitcoin entrepreneur, Andreas had founded many bitcoin businesses and launched several community open-source projects. He is a widely published author of articles and blog posts on bitcoin, is a permanent host on the famous “Let’s Talk Bitcoin” podcast, and a frequent speaker at technology and security conferences worldwide.
Andreas offers strategic consulting to a small number of cryptocurrency companies that are aligned with his interests. He also provides expert witness testimony as an expert in the security, technical details and use of crypto-currencies, worldwide. A lot of analytics and tips can be found on his website and official blog, which has nearly 200,000 readers per month now.

Brian Armstrong

https://blog.coinbase.com/@barmstrong

Brian Armstrong is the co-founder and CEO of the famous digital assets exchange Coinbase. Armstrong had founded this company, which has now become one of the largest in the crypto space, back in June 2012.

Before founding Coinbase, Armstrong had worked as a Software Engineer at Airbnb in 2011-2012. Previously, he founded UniversityTutory.com and worked as a software engineer at CarWoo.com.

Coinbase, which received total funding of more than $107 million, perhaps, remains one the best-known startup in the bitcoin industry. Armstrong holds three degrees from Rice University: a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Bachelor’s Degree in Economics as well as a Master’s Degree in Computer Science.

Brian is known for his loud and brave statements, is an expert in the blockchain industry, takes an active part in various conferences devoted to the development of new projects and ICOs investment.

Armstrong’s blog is quite popular. He actively publishes articles on Medium as well – https://medium.com/@barmstrong.

John McAfee

http://www.whoismcafee.com/

McAfee is a famous American millionaire with Scottish roots, an eccentric media figure, a programmer, a real pioneer of many technological developments – he is one of the few people who first created antivirus software and developed a decent working virus scanner.

Talking a little bit about the biography of this extraordinary and famous person, it is worth mentioning that John worked at NASA from 1968 to 1970 in New York City. He then moved to work as a software developer and later worked in ‘Xerox’ as the architect of the operating system. In 1978 – joined Computer Sciences Corporation’ as a software consultant. Later, while working in ‘Lockheed’ 80-is, McAfee managed to obtain a copy of a computer virus ‘Pakistani Brain,’ and he began developing software to combat viruses.

In 1997 with the merger of ‘McAfee Associates’ and ‘Network General’ came to light the company ‘Network Associates,’ but later the company returned to its former name. ‘McAfee Associates,’ which over the last 20 years acquired and absorbed a huge number of American and European anti-virus developers, and today remains one of the largest global leaders in its industry. Another company founded by McAfee that has become the ‘Tribal Voice,’ developing a ‘PowWow,’ one of the first programs for instant messaging.

On December 21, 2017, a 72-old John McAfee, posted on Twitter that each day will assess any cryptocurrency. His position can be regarded as a kind of invitation. The businessmen, according to him, ready to share opinions about what cryptocurrencies are useless, and which deserve support.

It is worth mentioning that the most recent forecasts became successful – his data analytics about the Verge and DigiByte cryptocurrencies, made on December 13 and 23 respectively were entirely correct.

McAfee’s blog has an audience of more than 150,000 readers per month, and nearly 750,000 read his Twitter. Many people call an eccentric MacAfee the real incarnation of the favorite Marvel character – billionaire and tech genius Tony Stark.

Erik Voorhees

https://twitter.com/ErikVoorhees

http://moneyandstate.com/

Voorhees is a young, American-Panamanian founder of startups, currently living in Zug, Switzerland – like many well-known developers and project teams these days.

During his career, Erik has created projects such as BitInstant and Coinapult, he had founded and became CEO of the ShapeShift.io company and participated in the KryptoKit development.

Eric is a well-known supporter of Bitcoin, which is strongly emphasized in his speeches at various conferences and during interviews. He is actively involved in the creation of the regulator for cryptocurrency markets.

In his blogs, Voorhees explains not only the personal benefits of using the digital assets instead of traditional fiat money, the desire to improve the current financial systems, new ICOs and much more. Voorhees, also strongly supports the ideas and benefits of smart contracts. He has an official blog at http://moneyandstate.com/ and a Twitter account with more than 250,000 readers.

Top cryptomarket trends 2018

The dynamically growing cryptocurrency market environment had seen the real breakthrough at its ecosystem at large during the last year. A lot of industry experts and analytics are sure that 2018 will bring a lot of new and revolutionary technology features as well as the development of the previously known ones. We bring you the top significant trends that will be undoubtedly significant and during next following months. You should keep this in mind either you’re just an investor, an ICO-project developer or a boss of a major financial company:

1) Bitcoin goes mainstream – the dominance is under threat.

The top digital coin had been one of hottest topics last year, and we undoubtedly see the Bitcoin everywhere possible in 2018. In leading world countries it will gain more popularity as a mean of payment in stores, at events and so on.

On the other hand, with cryptocurrency becoming more mainstream each day, the overall Bitcoin mempool is only going to grow bigger each day, driving up the transaction fee even higher and generating new record profits for the miners.
During 2017, Bitcoin’s market cap as a percentage of the total value of all cryptocurrencies dropped from over 90% at the beginning of 2018 up to 43% now.
Among the main reasons is the proliferation of different blockchain apps, and this trend is sure to continue as projects with superior technology/features gain more popularity.Bitcoin’s development, particularly in relation to the scaling issues, is too conservative due to political reasons and infighting.

As many people are anticipating Lightning Network implementation to help alleviate the transaction fees, it is very risky to relay the future of Bitcoin entirely on in – the project that started in 2015 still doesn’t have a definite timeframe for publicly launching on Bitcoin.

If the scalability of Bitcoin does not improve in 2018, it has a real risk of being overtaken by another coin. The cryptocurrency community and investors all over the world had already seen the ether price surge against the ETH/BTC ratio in the first days of 2018, and this might be only the start of what’s coming next.

2) The DApps upcoming revolution

The blockchain based game “CryptoKitties” made some explosive noise during late 2017 as it managed to clog up the Ethereum network offering a rampant purchase of fluffy digital cats tied to the blockchain tech. And this particular example was an undeniable proof that DApp’s can be mainstream popular, but it also put a highlight on how far the Ethereum network has to go if one viral game can clog up the entire Ethereum main net.

2018 will witness an explosion of the number of “decentralized apps” built on Ethereum as well as other platforms heavily trying to capitalize on the hype train that “Crypto Kitties” had engaged – right now there are thousands of different decentralized applications being developed. According to State of the dApps current data, there are more than 900 dApps built on Ethereum alone already. Even if only a small fraction of the upcoming projects will rocket, we will still see many very popular dApps. Some of them aimed at tokenization of assets, payments & lending, insurance, gambling, and so on. With more and more functioning dApps that investors can choose to put their money in, we believe the market will have a higher bar for ICO projects in 2018. Investors will have a choice to back up the projects at more advanced stages, so the ICO projects will need to show further progress to compete for funding.

3) Scalability development issues

With the significant popularity growth of cryptocurrencies in 2017, the number of transactions made on the blockchain had grown exponentially. As a result, there are congestion issues with the more popular blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Of course, Ethereum has already shown that it can handle upwards of 1 million transactions per day, but this is not going to be nearly enough when the flood of dApps begin to launch next year. Different blockchain protocols are aiming to solve the scalability issue. The ones that can resolve the problem while maintaining decentralization and security will be able to gain substantial network value. For example, the SegWit2x was a proposed hard fork of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. The implementation of Segregated Witness in August 2017 was only the first half of the so-called “New York Agreement” by which those who wanted to increase effective block size by SegWit compromised with those who wanted to increase block size by a hard fork to larger block size.

3) Governments are getting involved, and cryptocurrency regulation is getting tight

The cryptocurrencies are taking over the world by storm, and the governments all around the world had to do something to control things – like they always do.
However, the entire point of the new system all along was to eliminate the government from the equation at all, permitting anonymous and secure trades, exchanges, and payments. While the governments cannot control the cryptocurrency owners through intrusive means, they’ll sure contribute to the shifting and modeling of individual currencies in the nearest future.

It is unfortunate, but in 2017 the crypto world already saw a taste of how governmental regulations can be incredibly impactful: the Chinese government’s move to ban Bitcoin exchanges in the autumn made the space temporarily reel and the regulatory ambiguity that’s been fomenting in South Korea in the first days of 2018 has all cryptocurrency investors scrambling.

Cryptocurrencies will rise for sure in the nearest future, but more regulatory turmoil is undoubtedly coming as well for the ride.

4) More Hardforks to come

One could say that 2017 had been the “Year of the Fork” – and he would be right. The world has seen a total of 8 forks during the last 12 months – in particular: the Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Super Bitcoin, Bitcoin Platinum, Bitcoin Silver, Bitcoin Uranium, Bitcoin God, & Bitcoin Diamond.

However, the hugely successful Bitcoin forks like Bitcoin Cash do encourage many more attempts at forking coins or “IFO’s” in 2018. These had proved the investors that forks could generate a large amount of value quickly and “Initial Fork Offerings” will become more popular than ever in 2018.

5) Advertising tech reaches new levels

We have already seen some interesting twists on traditional advertising models that step outside of the Google Adsense box and into crypto in the last months. In particular, the use of “in-browser” mining of cryptocurrencies while a visitor is on a specific website.

However, while it had mostly been done without the user’s knowledge, it may become more popular but more legally – like with the website asking “permission” first to initialize the process.

Moreover, the new advertising platforms trends like the BAT to take the lead in new and creative ways for content generators to get paid while users don’t have to be flooded with ads. This Basic Attention Token is based on the Ethereum blockchain. It’s a decentralized, transparent digital ad exchange that relies on two core parts: the Basic Attention Token (BAT) and the Brave Browser. The BAT, meanwhile, is a unit of transfer between publishers, advertisers, and users. The token is derived from – or denominated by – a user’s attention. Attention, as mentioned above, can be defined as “focused mental engagement”.

In this case, users are focusing on an advertisement. This leads to a transparent and efficient digital advertising market based on the blockchain. Everyone benefits from it: publishers receive more revenue because intermediaries and fraud are reduced. Users who opt in receive fewer ads, but better-targeted ads, that are less prone to malware. And advertisers get better information about their spending.

6) ICO projects will spread Beyond the ETH platform

One of the factors that led to an explosion of interest in Ethereum this year was how the Initial Coin Offering craze took off in the first half of 2017. This fundraising model fueled by Ethereum had led to ICO mania, as investors poured money into anything and everything that was launching a new coin or token. Anyway, ICOs are slowly, but steadily begin to branch out beyond Ethereum. NEO is starting to launch ICOs now, Stratis is also a major competitor, and more is up to rise in the nearest future.
For example, the NEO platform advantages are certain – it works towards developing a product for the future. NEO objective all along, while ultimately utilizing many of the same technologies as Ethereum, is to be the platform for a new smart economy. NEO uses a Byzantine Fault consensus mechanism which is an improved version of proof-of-stake. It can process 10,000 operations per second, while Ethereum can handle only 15 transactions per second.

Anyway, it is obvious that the Ethereum status of the first mover is going to be challenged further and further.

7) Crypto exchanges issues and development innovations

Modern crypto market exchanges face a certain number of severe problems at the moment. One of the main drawbacks for decentralized exchanges is the lack of liquidity compared to the more popular centralized exchanges. Moreover, a crackdown on cryptocurrency exchange platforms via stricter rules had been agreed by the European Union states and legislators in December 2017.

Another issue is the complexity of using the assets – multiple applications are usually required for an effective work, which is undoubtedly time-consuming and confusing for users. The existing traditional exchanges tend to have huge commission fees which don’t incentivize the user. They also implement the new rules such as additional ID-verification and double-checking.

All these factors lead users to search for an alternative concept that will make the trading more efficient and straightforward to implement, as well as easy for new upcoming investors.

8) The rise of Atomic Swaps

The revolutionary atomic swaps bear the promise of being the future of decentralized cryptocurrency trading for many public blockchains. Some notable breakthroughs were made regarding atomic swaps in 2017, and it would be expectable if further considerable breakthroughs happen in 2018.

Essentially, atomic swaps are a way for people to swap cryptocurrencies directly with one another without incurring any transaction fees, and without having to rely on a Bitcoin exchange or another third party to do so. Atomic swaps are very exciting in the cryptocurrency community because they make every cryptocurrency more liquid and useable. This can help to speed up adoption rates of cryptocurrency by the general public and enable transactions to be made more seamlessly and independently. All trading in the years to come may be decentralized, and the atomic swaps are one of the major technologies to power that reality.

9) National crypto projects go up

The rise of discussions surrounding national cryptocurrencies creation had also been around for some time – that means state-backed digital assets. For example, political debates surrounding the “crypt ruble” in Russia dominated headlines in the ecosystem in the latter half of 2017. And Russia wasn’t alone – nations like Estonia and Venezuela and some in between looked at the feasibility of creating their cryptocurrencies.

The central question is which nations are going to take the leap and start exploring cryptocurrency projects of their own first. Whether these projects will ever go anywhere is a whole different ballgame which we expect soon to see.

10) Banks will continue to lose investors money
The traditional financial institutions have seen massive amounts of money leaving the traditional investing world behind – to become cryptocurrencies and this had left some banks doing a scramble to catch up. As everyone now wants a piece of the action and in 2018 I think we will see more and more people leaving traditional banks behind for storing their wealth and entrusting it to the blockchain.

Why so DAICO?

As Initial Coin Offering Model popularity literally raised to the moon in recent years and the blockchain projects segment continued the constant development, new ideas regarding the future of this model arised. Back in January 2018 one of the the crypto industry top known persons, Vitalik Buterin, had suggested the DAICO model use in order to further advance the security measures.

The initial idea concept makes it possible to develop a more accessible way to manage the initial coin offering (ICO). This could be possible by combining the more traditional ICO concept with a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) features, which is governed by the rules strictly enforced in the code.

ICOs allow the team to find investors who believe in the idea (or speculation) and directly invest in it. This allows developers to bypass traditional methods of fundraising, such as IPOs and venture investments.

Up to date, almost $4 billion is involved in the ICO market.

So, how does it work? First of all, it starts off as a Smart Contract in contribution mode. However, the DAICO contract features a specific mechanism for the contributors to send funds into the project in exchange for particular tokens of the network. Point is, after the final crowdsale date this contract will prevent any further contributing attempts.

That could be done by involving the investors in the initial project development process. The scheme looks the followings: to further enable token holders to vote for the refund of the contributed funds if they are not happy with the progress being made by developers.For projects that implement the DAICO concept, it will force a level of accountability on developers and give token holders additional assurance that they are guaranteed to either see at least a minimum viable product or get their money back.

The model difference

The main point that shows the DAICO supremacy over the traditional ICO model is the access to funds. Basically, it begins with the distribution, which allows the team to raise funds. Investors can send ETH to DAICO and get project tokens in exchange for their investments.The tokensale may have several conditions, such as: limited sale,auction,interactive offer of coins,sale to resellers.Once the distribution period ends, tokens can be traded.

First, at no point is complete trust placed entirely on a centralized team. Decisions on funds from the get-go are decided by a democratic voting system.Second, funding is not released in a lump sum, but a mechanism is implemented to spread it over time.
And finally, there is an opportunity to refund the contributed money. This decision is based on the ‘wisdom of the crowds,’ i.e., the contributors can vote for a refund of the remaining finances, if the team fails to implement the project.

While with ICO model, once the token sale finishes, developers have complete access to all the contributed funds. Developers have to calculate in advance how much is necessary to produce a minimum viable product and once they reach this amount, called ‘the soft cap’, they can start to work on the product and spend the money on whatever they deem necessary. If they don’t reach this initial soft cap, they have to refund the money. But if they do, there’s no further real obligation. With a DAICO, contributors can vote on resolutions (during the development phase) to either increase the tap or to return the remaining contributed funds (self-destructing of the contract).

Benefits of usage

The promising DAICO financial model basically puts more control in the hands of investors, contributors have much more options and influence possibilities during the development stage of the project. In case the majority of them are not agreed on project progressing, they can set the contract to withdraw and get a refund.
It definitely can make the risk of scam ICOs absent, where developers hold a token sale and then run away with the money as soon as the ICO is finished, without producing any product, MVP or even a prototype.

With an ICO, once the team raises tens of millions of dollars, it suffers deterioration in its motivation to implement the project; or, at least, the activity decreases significantly. With DAICO model increases slightly the team’s motivation to bring the idea to life, – to deliver the final product, is sustained over a lifetime period. What are some of the potential challenges with DAICO’s shortly?

-If developers hold a large chunk of the distributed tokens, they potentially only have to influence a small percentage of contributors to sway their vote and get more funds released from the Smart Contract.

-Contributors’ education is also crucial. They need to understand why the price of a specific token is rising or falling to make the right decision when voting on increasing the tap amount, or returning the funds. The best decision is one based on the facts relating to the project itself, not on emotions connected to the price of a particular token.
-Finally, contributors can also completely disengage by putting all their trust in the DAICO concept itself and therefore feel it’s not necessary for them to actually partake in votes and resolutions, reducing the majority threshold and weakening the security of the mechanism.
The ultimate goal of DACIO implementation is to establish control over the budget intelligently, to achieve the goal, not throwing away other people’s money and increasing the overall responsibility of the team. For example, while the team is on the road map creation stage, the amount of funds issued can be increased so that the team continues to grow. If the team is irresponsible or seems to be scammers, investors can cancel DAICO and minimize their losses.

DAICO Security

The common knowledge is that, any voting on a decentralized network is subject to 51% attacks. However, DAICO minimizes risks in several ways.If during the manipulation of voting the amount of funds is increased at a time, the team has the opportunity to reduce it.

As the amount of funds that gets released from the Smart Contract is limited and strictly controlled, it will reduce the occurrence of 51% attacks. Even if a 51% attack takes place, where an attacker wants to send funds to a chosen third-party, the consequences will be contained to the amount that was authorized to be released by the contributors (or the developing team) at any one point (the so-called tap).
If the team does not work according to the initial planned, you can vote for fund self-destruction.If the hackers/ network attackers manipulate votes in favor of canceling the project, investors return their money. The team can create a new DAICO, and investors simply re-send their initial investment back to the team. Although this model is for those who invest in the project, and not those who invest for the sake of quick sale after entering the exchange.
Please note that two of the potentially most dangerous types of 51% attack: sending funds to a third party chosen by the attacker, and reducing the tap to keep funds pledged in a smart contract are simply prohibited.

To DAICO or not to DAICO?

Vitalik Buterin himself gave several ways to enhance and optimize the process further:

Use ETH instead of internal tokens,
Use a “crane” with dollars per second,
Develop and introduce new consensus mechanisms beside simple voting system.

Considering all this, the 2018 may be the year of DAICO rise. Improved levels of  security can attract investors who previously feared the ICO or those who suffered from fraudsters/scammers/hackers while being involved to ICOs previously and therefore, got a negative experience in this field. The established control mechanisms must filter the scum projects and fraudsters, clearing the way for a real, innovative and useful projects as well as perspective developers teams.

Initial Coin Offering vs Crowdfunding model

The modern digital world had seen the creation and development of the fundraising platforms due to rising need of an individual availability of the real opportunities and small private businesses development as well as innovative ideas financing via the Internet.

Even long before the Initial Coin Offering model came into big-time market play, the popularity of those largest platforms had been more noticeable, which had provided the chance to promote and finance the project online, like the most significant players of this business – Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.

Nowadays, the promising startups of independent projects have the opportunity and alternative to the classic venture capital funds. Anyway, both models do exist in parallel at the moment, each of them having apparent advantages and disadvantages, cons, and pros. Let’s have a closer look at the ICO and crowdfunding models, considering their best and worst current features.

The rise and fall of crowdfunding: from first success to the major problems.
The first example of the successful fundraising by the public network had been made 20 years ago – in 1997 the British band Marillion successfully raised $60,000 for its American tour, which was a significant event at the time.

However, this model of financing had gone mainstream only after more than a decade – with the advent of specialized websites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. Gradually, the private business shifted to the Internet, and yet, despite the popularity of such money investments grow even year, the main problem is still not resolved – the number of technological solutions of development had only increased the competition run, but it had not created fundamentally different mechanisms of financing for independent projects.

Right now, the undisputed market leader among the crowdfunding projects is the Kickstarter for sure. The platform, launched back in 2010, had shown consistent growth of almost 200% every year, but since 2014 the situation began to change, and it began to show serious problems.

Moreover, as the number of ambitious projects grew, eventually the attracted volumes of funds had reached tens of millions of dollars. Unfortunately, some of the extremely expensive projects had become an excellent example of the high-profile scams either dissatisfaction with the final product after the release date shown by many investors.

Here is the most striking example of such phenomena – at the time the project team behind the refrigerator Coolest Cooler creation, which raised $13 million, had not fulfilled its promises, and backers supporting the project lost severe investments. Another excellent case of the significant losses – a video game micro-console Ouya, which had cost its investors nearly $9 million. The project had been successfully funded, but in the final prototype was something much less than expected – beyond the user’s hope, as well as its sales were unsatisfactory.

An infamous project of Zano drone that devastated pockets of its bakers by as much as $3 million is also worth mentioning. At its time, it had been one of the most successful European project platforms, but with 12,000 investors extreme dissatisfaction of the unfulfilled promises by developers and the final poorly working prototype, general disappointment in the platform Kickstarter and crowdfunding had come along.

Video game developer had undoubtedly liked the crowdfunding model – a lot of teams collected vast amounts of funds, but the projects often did not reach even the stages of beta versions. Someone had focused their efforts for simple theft of tiny amounts– the indie project “Mansion Lord” developer had just disappeared a few years ago, after collecting a total of $30,000 from his project contributors.
These factors had a significant influence on the popularity of Kickstarter at all: if during 2013 more than 44,000 campaigns had been created, in 2014 the number raised to 67,000, 2015 had already started to show the growth rate slowing down – only 77,000. In 2016 the number of created campaigns decreased to the total number of 58,000, which gives a very negative outlook for future if the rules of the game on the platform stay the safe in forthcoming future.

Next, another serious problem is that the original essence of the platform created for the development and funding of the independent projects had somehow become smudged and almost lost. After the waves of success of particular small projects on the platform, the stable big-budget companies with colossal funding came into play. It is a fact that significant investments lead to significantly higher losses.

The fraud schemes involving the use of several hundred or more users appeared, which meant that companies had funded the successful launch of the campaigns from their own pockets – only to have real backers joined after noticing the sky-high start of a particular project on the platform. Because of such dishonest practices, the chances for the small developers and enthusiasts had been reduced slightly – without proper investments in PR-campaigns and Internet traffic, they risked to collect absolutely nothing or fail while being half-way to success.

According to all-time official statistics of the platform, over $ 3.3 billion of investment had been raised since launch, 13.6 million users had supported at least one campaign, and the total number of successfully funded projects is now more than 132,000.

If in the nearest future arrangements for the regulation of domestic competition are not introduced, the major players from the world of business will continue to reduce the number of advanced independent projects even more. Also, such things as fraud, deceit, and failure of obligations of the campaign organizer of the project are still present at large.

With the growth of demand for independent financing, the number of websites for crowdfunding is growing, but they mostly just copy the functionality with the addition of minor features to the existing and heightened competition. With the development of blockchain technologies and the emergence of ICOs independent entrepreneurs had gotten a real chance.

ICO features

Initial Coin Offering is a crowdfunding campaign based on the blockchain technology, it has a lot in common with the traditional crowdfunding, but there are also significant differences. Initially, ICO was one of the crowdfunding variants specified for cryptocurrency projects that did not want to work with traditional venture funds and capital – because it would, in fact, mean the loss of desired independence.

The most important difference between the ICO-crowdsale and crowdfunding lies like a financial asset that investor acquires. The crowdfunding campaigns get the real, Fiat money from its sponsors and that is, actually a payment in advance for the final product of a particular project. ICO, in turn, involves the purchase of a digital token for use by the client of the service project after its launch. In most cases, these tokens can be traded on the stock exchange, and some investors have the opportunity to obtain exclusive rights of a shareholder.

The ICOs organizers seek to obtain investments in the project by the concerned community, where funding is likely to be done with the use of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. The nature of these digital assets allows one to send them to the recipient anywhere in the world, quickly and almost without any cost, as well as avoiding the traditional banking system. No doubt, such advantages will be appreciated by those who had ever transferred money overseas.

It should also be noted that, over time, the collection of money has ceased to be the single most crucial part of the ICO often tokens of the project are used as the local currency for various actions on a specially created platform. 2017 showed a real boom in the growth of the ICO projects. According to CoinSchedule, compared with 2016, the number of successful and active ICOs in the past year increased significantly from 46 to several hundred. As at the end of 2017, the funds raised during the ICO investments in the USA exceeded $4 billion, reports Bloomberg, citing data from Autonomous Research LLP.

Unfortunately, there is still a shortage of solutions allowing investors and startups find each other because the technological complexity sometimes is beyond the understanding of project participants and the conducting of its developers and organizers.

Besides the funding approaches, there are other significant differences. The ICOs and crowdfunding project principles of conduct are not the same, so is their audience.
The main differences between ICO and crowdfunding are:

1)The Product:

While investing in crowdfunding projects, backers pay for the result of the job of the specific team that they are interested in – final products, merely saying.
Cryptocurrency projects investors are mainly driven by the motivation of fast earnings or promotion of the new technologies in specific areas. In the first case, the prepayment is made for the product, in another – it is the financing of an idea or concept.

2) Campaign length:

Crowdfunding projects take too much time to prepare and conduct the campaign. For example, it took the LHV Company 2 long years to develop its campaign. It is not the tool that is best suitable for independent startups – the only exceptions are those campaigns that are funded by the venture capital investors. ICOs, in turn, can be carried out much faster – from weeks to minutes and seconds even.

Some striking examples of it:

Based on blockchain technology internet browser Brave raised $35 million, and although it’s not much for the modern ICO market, the fact is the full amount had been collected in only 24 seconds, and after a week the benefit of the investors of the project came to astonishing 676%. The most recent example – on Dec. 27 the Singularity Net startup, designed to create a decentralized framework for AI-based blockchain, during only 66 seconds collected $36 million for its developer company.

3) Financial features:

Top projects crowdfunding with multi-million dollar budget, as mentioned above, can often fail or merely turn out to be a Scam. With traditional crowdfunding, users can risk of losing investments of Fiat money – besides, the investor should invest their money, wait until the company begins to create the product, but if the development does not succeed, the money can be lost in many cases. In case of ICO, the investor can track what is happening with the project. The potential benefit for the future investors grows in many times.

4) Investor accessibility:

Nowadays, most crowdfunding projects are restricted to a particular region or a specific country that is native to the people behind the project. While some of the projects are global, not all apply to a broader scope, unlike ICOs.
In turn, many would be able to participate in coin offerings as the accessibility for it falls on a broader range. A lot of ICOs have gathered investors from all over the world as they are more accessible for people around the globe as they are advertised well in social media.

Besides that, they offer something much more that would attract the eye of the masses. Although some of the newer token sales set restrictions to be able to join, a lot of people still pass those restrictions and can participate in the mentioned ICO.

5) The contributor’s confidence:

In contrast to the dynamically growing ICO project markets, the crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter, in particular, is inferior not only regarding the growth rate but also in steadily decreasing of the number of completed projects. Pure statistics: back in 2015 this figure was 22,000 projects, and – already 18,800 in 2016. The share of successful projects from 2011 to 2014, on average, ranged from 45 to 50%, and this fell to 20-25% in some categories. Slightly better things are with the budget projects with funding of up to $10,000 – 69% of current success, according to the recent statistics Kickstarter campaign.

6) Regulations

Fact is, existing crowdfunding platforms are registered and regulated by the law.
This perspective market is expected to reach $96 billion by 2025. Anyway, some countries governments have already come up with regulations that set requirements for crowdfunding projects and define liabilities. One of such regulations is JOBS Act, issued in the US in 2012. Only qualified investors could invest in startup projects due to it, and France is the only country to perform government control over crowdfunding in the European sector.

Nowadays, ICOs are still usually unregulated. In consequence, ICO investors and project enthusiasts are subjected to some risks. Of course, the investors in ICO startups cannot be fully protected. As a result, many lost their money. According to Chainalysis, for the year 2017, fraudsters appropriated about 14% of the funds raised by projects using the Ethereum-based ICO, namely approximately $ 225 million out of $ 1.6 billion. As a result of fraudulent activity, about 30,000 investors suffered losses with an average of $7,500. Cybercrime concerning investors’ financial resources is growing faster than the number of investments attracted within ICO. The jump in both these indicators has become especially noticeable since March 2017.

Security and Exchange Commission had recently imposed first charges on companies that went on ICO for fraud. Among other risks are technical mistakes in smart-contracts that lie underneath ICO processes – one of the most infamous examples of it is the DAO that raised over $150 m and lost one-third of its funding due to the exploited by hackers vulnerabilities in smart-contracts. Filecoin ICO, for example, had become the first regulated ICO ever and raised record-breaking $252 million in less than an hour.

7) The rewards

Traditional crowdfunding model bakers don’t expect some decent rewards. Companies or enthusiasts who launch campaigns may offer fancy, but useless stuff like T-shirts, a copy of the final product upon the release or pure gratitude in credits. Other case sees reward models offer the possibility to pre-order the product.

The Initial Coin Offering participants receive tokens in return according to the amount contributed. Some issued tokens give access to the services that platform will offer in the future. An ICO might involve attributing equity to a token so that ownership provides voting privileges and access to future dividends. The typical use case of a token issued in an ICO is the creation of an asset that gives access to the features of a particular project. Besides, some view tokens as an investment opportunity as they hope that the price will go up sooner or later.

Both models, ICOs and CF, have a lot of advantages and significant features. Initial Coin Offering and Crowdfunding may seem to have a similar nature, at first sight, but they do differ in many key aspects. Traditional crowdfunding is regulated and is less risky for investors and the blockchain project, and ICOs is the fastest and easiest way to raise money. In some cases, the amount of money raised may surpass the sum required to launch a project.

Therefore, technical progress always wins, and there is no doubt about the future triumph of the new technologies such as blockchain startups.

ICO Regulations: Asia

Asian market of emerging ICO start-ups had always been one of the most popular and lucrative ones. The market volumes in these countries rise constantly. Let’s consider the current governmental position on ICO in main countries of the Asian region.

1)China

Last year had seen the pressure on ICO market tightening as many major regulators including China had decided to take ultimate steps regarding the use of this economic model. Nonetheless, the ground behind such serious actions had been present – as the major checking’s had shown the fraudulent nature of the most digital start-ups.

An official document issued by the People’s Bank of China had indicated the number of 90% of start-ups being present as a scam. As a result, the

decision was to ban all the ICOs from China, either targeting domestic or an international market.

As a result, the world’s largest token sale market had been taken out of the picture. Moreover, the special directive statement had ordered all the Chinese companies not only to stop any ongoing and future projects, but also to fully return funds to their investors. These events led to Bitcoin and Ethereum market crash on 11 and 16 percent respectively, as the announcement went worldwide.

2)Hong-Kong

The regulators in this autonomy, presented by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), had been less straightforward. Instead of simple and total ICO ban, a certain set of rules for the ICO launching companies and entrepreneurs had been issued.

The approach taken by the SFC had been the following: ICO start-ups tokens could be considered as securities and had to comply with the Hong-Kong securities law. As a result, the ICOs are viewed as the activities regulated by the law and the teams launching them hold full legal responsibility. No matter which location these start-ups are registered in, the companies that are participating in such ventures must obtain specific licenses and to register in the SFC.

The legal statement indicated that tokens as an investment instruments should be considered depending on liability options, which are: the debt instrument use; corporate rights and property provision, collective investment scheme for token shares.

Summing that up, the current ICO market state in Hong-Kong could be considered quite liberal.

3)Japan

At the moment, the cryptocurrency market in Japan is the largest in the world – the country holds nearly 35% of the global volume of bitcoin trading according to the cryptocompare.com data. This is facilitated by various factors – the loyalty of the government of the country to new technologies and Bitcoin as well as the lack of a legislative framework for the direct ICO regulation.

Japan is one of the leading countries in terms of technology, and digital currencies are no exception – this country was one of the first to legalize cryptocurrencies, which occurred on April 1, 2017.

as means of payment for individuals and companies. The country controls approximately 65% of the world Bitcoin market at the moment and leads in the number of legal cryptocurrency exchanges.

Nevertheless, there are certain difficulties that prevent Japan from becoming a place of pilgrimage for ICO companies. For example, in order to conduct the business, the company must pay a license and to keep a reserve of funds in the amount of at least $100,000 and be ready for regular audits. Any incomes from cryptocurrency operations are taxed the same as Fiat profit.

At the moment, there is no legislative framework for the direct regulation of ICO in Japan, but the “law on virtual currencies” has been adopted recently. This law defines the legal status of how to attract investments in Japan – in particular, according to this collection of regulations, any company that is going to conduct Initial Coin Offering and issue its own digital currency, must be officially registered.

According to the latest Pony JFSA information, at the end of December 2017 the Bitocean Corporation specializing exclusively in bitcoin Toras. At the moment, she was 16 at the expense of officially sanctioned Burj in Japan, right – of pollute applicants over the past year. This bra since 2013 works in China and Japan, is engaged in the development of a trading platform and bitcoin Bank for operations on the period of cryptocurrency in Fiat funds.

In 2017 the Japanese finance regulator issued 15 rights totally – 11 at the end of September for the following exchanges: Money Partners, Quoine, Bitflyer, Bit Bank, SBI Virtual Currencies, GMO Coin, Bittrade, Btcbox, Bitpoint, Fisco Virtual Currency, и Zaif., and another 4 – in December 2017:Tokyo Bitcoin exchange, a bit of Arg stock Exchange, Tokyo, FTT corporations and Xtheta Corporation.

Another interesting point- it is curious that until recently, the FSA has never disclosed the names of companies that provided a legality application and are under review. The financial published a list of 32 exchanges on February 1, which are currently the object of attention of this organization, and it also includes 16 cryptoexchanges that have not yet obtained the license.

In addition to the above 16 exchanges currently working, another 16 are not currently licensed, but classified as “considered the Virtual value traders”, while their analytical FSA is being conducted, the Agency explained. Among them is Coincheck, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the country. Interestingly, at the same time, the application of the second crispy pans of crypto currency exchange Coincheck, which had water in the FSA in mid-September are still under consideration by the regulator.

Another 15 are: Minnano Bitcoin, Payward Japan, Lemuria Bitcoin Exchange (Bitcrements), Campfire Corporation, Tokyo Gateway, Lastroots Corporation, Debit, Eternal Link, FSHO Corporation, Kirin Corporation, Bit Station, Blue Dream Japan, Mr. Exchange, Bmex Corporation and Bitexpress Corporation.

The Agency published this list in response to the recent hacking of Coincheck, Japan’s largest cryptocurrency exchange at the moment. On Friday, January 26, the Coincheck platform announced the theft of 58 billion yen ($533 million) in NEM crypto currency (XEM). Even earlier, Coincheck suspended operations with NEM and other altcoins, after more than 100 million XRP tokens had been withdrawn from the company’s wallet in an unknown direction (about $123.5 million at the rate).

At the same time, although the exchange promises to repay the debts of its 260,000 affected clients from the company’s wallet, no timeframe for payments has yet been established. In addition, the FSA has ordered to conduct internal audits of all other cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan on the basis of a checklist of 43 items, according to Jiji Press. They must report on their risk management systems, such as the details of their systems for asset management clients and offer countermeasures cyber-attack prevention.

According to Reuters, the FSA ordered Coincheck to submit an “ incident report and measures to prevent recurrence” by February 13, 2018. In addition, the Agency can “conduct on-site inspections of other exchanges», the press service said. In addition, the Tokyo police Department will soon investigate the stock exchange hack.

At the moment, the government of Japan is not likely going to ban the ICO. Nevertheless, it is planned to create a legislative framework for regulation, the main priorities of which will be the fight against fraudulent projects and the protection of investors ’ funds, the inability to launder money during the ICO, as well as the creation of a set of rules for processing cryptocurrency transactions.

JFSA also issued a statement about the risks of investing in the ICO for the citizens of the country from 27/10/2017.It follows the trend of tightening ICO regulation by the governments of the Asian region countries.

In a statement, the Japanese FSA warns the citizens of the country about the possible risks of a sharp decline in token prices, as well as the risks of potential fraud conducted by the ICO companies: the opportunities of the token described in the White Paper projects may not be planned for implementation at all, and goods and services may not be intended to be provided for the platform tokens.

The financial regulator also reported that the ICO could fall under the law on payment services on securities market and stock exchange legislation depending on the legal registration of the ICO. In this case, the organizing companies of the ICO must comply with the requirements of a specific law, including mandatory registration.

In addition, the regular provision of services related to the exchange of cryptocurrencies will require a separate registration with the local financial Bureau. JFSA also specifically noted that carrying out these activities without registration is a crime in Japan.

To sum up, on the one hand, the JFSA and the authorities of the country encourage the production and use of cryptocurrencies, including through the adoption of a special law that enshrines the regime of virtual currencies as a monetary value used in the performance of obligations.

On the other hand, not all the tokens are cryptocurrency at large, and not all the token functions are limited to the means of exchange. That’s why the JFSA position is rather guided on the elimination of uncertainty than tighter ICO regulation.

These points, as well as all the above laws are included in the official document of the Japanese Blockchain Union of November 18, 2017 – ‘guide to ICO sale marker for residents of Japan.’

Koji Higashi, the co-founder of the digital token wallet IndieSquare and a very prominent figure on the Japanese cryptocurrency scene, believes that despite recent steps, there is still uncertainty about the country’s position regarding the ICO. Contrary to popular belief, many industries Japan is not risk-averse and conservative, and he believes that the suppression of the new amount of cryptocoins JFSA is still ‘certainly possible.’

‘Japan, in fact, is not very friendly to the ICO. Regulators are simply more loyal than in other countries. They are trying to find out whether it will be good or bad,’ he said during a visit to Seoul”. This does not mean that the JFSA will not begin to regulate the ICO more actively in the future when serious problems begin to arise.”

However, while the issue of ICO regulation is in limbo, some Japanese companies take advantage of the model. For example, at the end of November 2017, the administration of the village of Nishiavakura distinguished itself, which thanks to ICO successfully raised money for the revival of the economy in the region.

The recent events in Japan shows that the country will not become a new Mecca for the ICO campaigns in a short run as the latest trends, including a tightening of the rules JFSA hacking exchange Coincheck, an additional review of the exchanges does not improve the investment climate of the country.

4)South Korea

The country regulator called the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) had taken the cardinal approach to the ICO emerging market. While nearly two million people trading digital assets, South Korea is considered the world’s third-largest cryptocurrency market accounting for some 15% of daily global trade volume. Many analysts believe the unusual popularity of cryptocurrency in South Korea may be attributable to a unique mixture of geopolitical and cultural factors.

The digital currency meeting in Seoul had seen the declaration of the full ban of the all forms of virtual currencies fundraising. The reasons behind this had been clarified quite simple – the investors safety as the legal examination had revealed the unprecedented number SCAM projects. This event had put many in despair as before the controversial decision, the South Korean market had been viewed alongside Japan as one of the most favorable for an overall crypto industry development and ICO start-ups launch.

5)Singapore

Speaking about the best directions for ICO market development, this city-state is definitely aimed to become the most attractive one.

Certain factors could explain this phenomenon, though the main things is a government attitude as it results in convenient taxation rules and the government funding of the best digital start-ups.

Back In August 2017, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued its first guidance note on ICOs that stated “the function of digital tokens has evolved beyond just being a virtual currency” to the point that some coins “may represent ownership or a security interest over an issuer’s assets or property.”

In result, sellers of tokens with these characteristics are required to register a prospectus with MAS prior to their ICO. Along with secondary market operators set to trade the tokens, these sellers are also subject to Singaporean licensing requirements for securities vendors and need regulatory approval from MAS. This closely follows the line adopted by the US Securities & Exchange Commission.

In regard to ICOs, the Authority wishes to hold the Singapore reputation as a financial center and at the same to prevent money laundering. Already in August MAS claimed that tokens of certain ICO projects may be subject to the Securities and Futures Authority regulations. The stance was shared right after the similar announcement by the US SEC: tokens will be considered as securities depending on the context of their issue.

After revealing its position on tokens, together with the Consumer Advisory on Investment Schemes of Singapore Police Force, MAC has issued the statement on potential risks of digital token and virtual currency-related investment schemes. Among the factors to consider are the incorporation within Singapore territory, credible and reliable information on the issuer and token sales, and token liquidity
guarantees on the secondary markets. Moreover, investors should be worried in case the rocketing returns are promised or there are grounds to suspect criminal money laundering.

The authority is certain that not the restrictions but the right regulations will be a magic pill that will cure the ICO market. With relevant regulations investors will be protected by law and more people will be able to participate in ICO projects. MAS advised investors to mitigate risks when possible and in case of questions, do not hesitate to turn to MAS for assistance and clarifications. The authority promised to provide full information on the ICO projects, which have presence in Singapore.

6)Malaysia

Speaking about this country, the beginning of September 2017, the Securities Commission Malaysia has also published the press release warning ICO investors. The commission warned the companies that potentially the initial coin offerings could be a subject to securities regulations. As many others, the Malaysian regulator warned also the investors “to be mindful of the potential risks involved in ICO schemes”, resulted, in particular, from secondary market high price volatility and lack of legal protection for investors. The statement concludes “as the terms and features of ICO schemes may differ in each case, investors who wish to engage or invest in ICO schemes are reminded to seek legal or other professional advice if there are doubts on the legitimacy of these schemes”.

It is worth noticing, that in its statement the Malaysian regulator remains neutral towards ICO itself. There are no directions in regards to fees or any other methods for crime suppression.

7)Taiwan

At the beginning of October 2017, Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission chairman Wellington Koo has told during a joint session that Taiwan government intended to support the development and adoption of initial coin offerings and acknowledge blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies as lawful. Koo stated that Taiwan government is not planning to ban the blockchain and crypto-related activities. Moreover, the innovative startups were promised a government comprehensive support.

The legislator Jason HSU, a congressman from Taiwan’s Nationalist party, which has long adopted a deregulatory pro-FinTech stance, stated during the session:

“Just because China and South Korea are banning, doesn’t mean that Taiwan should follow suit – there is a huge opportunity for growth in the future. We should emulate Japan, where they treat cryptocurrency as a highly regulated, highly monitored industry like securities.”

8)Thailand

Thailand Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued its stance on ICO in the middle of September. With the development and growing popularity of ICO, the Thailand SEC has developed a concern that “in some cases, ICO may be deliberately used as a tool for fraud and scam”.The statement wording suggests that Thai regulator is striving to find the balance between protecting the investors and supporting digital innovations. The commission viewpoint is in many ways similar to Hong-Kong, Japan, and the US SEC stances:

“Since the digital tokens can diverge widely in design and representation, some may resemble financial returns, rights and obligations in similar ways to securities under the Securities and Exchange Act”.

As a final statement, the agency accentuated that the control over ICO market is the only way to gain the best value from the promising blockchain market, the development of which the Thai government does not plan to suppress in forthcoming future.

How to ensure ICO security from Ddos attacks

The security problem is among the top issues of the entrepreneurs which have chosen the Initial Coin Offering model to fund their project.

As for Q2 2018, the total amount of funds attracted using the ICO model stands at more than $2 Billion which indicates a steady market growth – for example; this number had risen from $26 million in 2014 to $225 million in 2016 and to $5,4 Billion in 2017. That undoubtedly high number still doesn’t include some significant future projects as Telegram’s planned $1 Billion ICO, or Overstock’s ICO and less perspective ones, so this year will definitely show new record heights.

Bold statistics show a visible increase in specific segments of business – Internet of Things and People, Financial Markets, Investments, Banking & Payments and Cryptocurrency sectors are the most popular at the current state.

In total, there are 225 crypto funds across seven strategy types (hey there Salt’s credit fund) and see assets in the space being between $3.5 billion and $5 billion.

As the number of ICO projects are rising steadily, the percentage of cybercrimes growth become disturbingly high. In 2017, for example, more than 10% of all the investments in Ethereum had been stolen by hackers and fraudsters.

This market is still a Wild West territory, specific measures are to be taken in order to protect the project before and during the ICO.

Nowadays a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is one of the most common, dangerous and hardest to prevent problems which gives a serious risk for any ICO. How does is basically work? During the DDoS attack, the project website is flooded with queries executed by a distributed network of malware-infected computers (botnet). Over time, eventually, the servers run out of resources and are down.

It is important to realize that the main reason behind the DDoS attacks which serves more as a smokescreen. While performing it, the hackers and internal attackers go for exploit the more serious security breaches and expose the most vital weak points. Usually, it refers to the access the control panel of the website either to mass mail spam of a link containing an attack vector to users and potential ICO token buyers.

Hackers go for complete control of the website and most likely change the purse addresses for the coin buyers. Next, fraudsters replace the content of the users’ page and use the original website address for the more effective phishing attack.

We outline the most typical and often attacks that take place:

1)Http flood attacks

This refers to the application level attacks, in case of which the main load is directed to the app server. In this case, the vital point is separating the real users from the bots. There are different ways to do it – installing cookies, JavaScript or flash flags.

2)Volume-based attacks

These kinds of network attacks are associated with the number of queries. When the number is too high, it can saturate the bandwidth of the targeted website and drain the network capacity.

3)Protocol attacks

The protocol attacks aimed at direct drain actual server resources, or the resources of firewalls and load balancers.

It’s also important to consider that:

-Be aware that the search engines to track the website activity as well as DDoS robots.

-JavaScript and cookies are not the ultimate solution for security as specific bots could be programmed to avoid these measures. To put it simply, they are implemented to basically increase the cost of attack for hackers.

-Important tip: the load from security measures should be lower compared to the case when the bot overcomes it.

Now, let’s consider the security measures that are to be taken in order to comply with the rising number of threats.

1) The main thing to do is to go for search and install the advanced anti-DDoS services. Particularly, such could be named as CloudFlare, Incapsula, Akamai, or DoS Arrest which are aimed at resolving issues with the volume-based attacks. Anyway, never forgot not to rely entirely on them as the third-party services are still may present a certain degree of danger. So, track their performance at times and look up for any unusual activity.

2) Web application firewall is a decent thing to use when it comes to security, so the impact of malicious payloads could be observed in real

time. In that case, a user should check up for any excessive rules not to be imposed.

3) Choose the reliable hosting with decent security features. Another major requirement for the hosting is the scalability options.

4) Check for any project code issues. The final quality control of the code and its scalability options is one of those things that should often be kept in mind at the last stages of development. Audits performed to double check the smart contracts and the website code would be of help as well.

5) The website. Nonetheless, it is essential to track your website always in order to notice even the slightest changes to the web pages, the size and content posted. The higher is the frequency of these check-ups from your side, the faster will the potential threat situation will be handled, and the control will be restored.

The final thing to keep in mind is your own ability to react to any rapidly emerging issues. No matter what measures are taken or implemented, that DDoS attack might still take place before or during your ICO. If a certain situation will happen despite all odds, a splash page must be used, to inform that the website is under attack, so the potential investors/visitors will be redirected to visit the social platforms and official chats to be appropriately informed.

ICO Market Progress – Q1

Despite the cryptocurrency market fluctuations, Initial Coin Offering market grows progressively as the number of specialists and enthusiasts involved in this industry only rises each month.

Due to the latest statistics, the market dynamic is definetly positive. The volume of funds attracted worldwide through the ICO for the first quarter of 2018 was $ 3.3 billion. For comparison, in 2017 with the help of ICOs, $ 6.1 billion was raised. The data was provided by the well-known rating agency ICORating.

However, as noted by the company’s specialists, the indicators take into account only the funds collected during the ICO. The statistics do not apply to the data of the unfinished sale rounds of funding, indicators of presale and round of the Telegram messenger private sale (the volume of funds attracted here is undoubtedly is the highest here).

In late 2017 and early 2018, many companies have entered the ICO work in the fields of financial services, exchanges, e-wallets, as well as in the blockchain infrastructure itself.

The average duration of all ICOs during the latest time varied from one to two months. At the same time, only half of the projects were able to attract more than $ 100,000 of capitalization.

As for geography – most of the ICOs were conducted under the United States jurisdiction – 59 projects totaled about $ 583.8 million; in Singapore – 34 projects raised about $ 468.1 million, and in the UK 26 projects raised $ 99.7 million. In Russia, 13 projects raised about $ 20.8 million.

Speaking about the stage of the product, analysts found out that 46.6% of the total number of ICO-projects did not have a finished product at the time of the token sales launch. This not obviously relates to the scam project nature (which reached the 90% level by the end of 2017), but for the funds required to develop a minimum viable product (MVP). According to ICORating, MVP was available only for 26.2% of projects, 15.5% created an alpha version of the product, 11.2% – a beta version, 0.5% of the projects had a primary code available only.

“When choosing similar projects that have nothing but an idea or concept, investors cannot in any way check the network performance, its bandwidth or other characteristics. Therefore, users are faced with a choice when they can either blindly trust or look for another project,” the researchers noted.

It was also noted that only 21% of new tokens had been added to the exchanges – by comparison at the end of 2017, this figure was 33%. Such a significant fall can be explained by the fact that 83% of coins issued from January to April 2018 are now lower than during the pre-sale period.

Back in 2017, the finance sector had become the most popular segment for ICO. This is still actual for early 2018, though, in total, there are 225 crypto funds across seven strategy types.

Why so serious? The reasons behind governments worldwide ICO regulations

As more and more entrepreneurs do engage in worldwide ICO boom, the more extensive growth the popularity, which, of course, increase the governmental suspiciousness and alert level. As Initial Coin Offering model itself present a new way of attracting investments, which has been free of any legal rules at first place, the needed measures were to be taken in order to establish control.
Instead of shares in traditional IPO financial model, an ICO investor receives project tokens, that may one day present certain substantial value. The unmatched liberty of this market in recent years had caused the incredible rise in start-ups numbers, which had moved beyond the 1,500 figures as for Q2 2018.

Of course, such major market increase had attracted not only the initiative and smart entrepreneurs but the ones willing to succeed on the overall worldwide hype. The fraudsters’ actions on the creation of ICO bubbles and Ponzi schemes caused the rise of so-called scam project to the level of 90% by the end of the 2017 year, and in 2018 the situation ain’t much better.

As for Q2 2018, the total amount of funds attracted using the ICO model stands at more than $3 Billion which indicates a steady market growth – for example; this number had risen from $26 million in 2014 to $225 million in 2016 and to $5,4 Billion in 2017. That undoubtedly high number still doesn’t include some significant future projects as Telegram’s planned $1 Billion ICO, or Overstock’s ICO and fewer perspective ones, so this year will undoubtedly show new record heights.
Bold statistics show a visible increase in specific segments of business – Internet of Things and People, Financial Markets, Investments, Banking & Payments and Cryptocurrency sectors are the most popular in the current state of market.
In total, there are 225 crypto funds across seven strategy types and see assets in the space being between $3.5 billion and $5 billion.
More and more individuals and private companies became to recognize the convenience and perceptiveness of fundraising possibility of ICO.

The absolute absence of investment regulations and attractiveness of certain opportunities went hand to hand with no safeguard options for investors. The project documentation most of the time went on describing the promises in a white paper to solve the specific issue using the Blockchain as the most innovative and influential tool, and these promises quite often proved to be empty. However, holding them to those promises have not always worked.

At such circumstances, the political moves directed on ICO market were the matter of time. There are a lot of reason behind specific rules applied by different countries, so specific main reasons behind specific strict rules are worth mentioning below:

1)Fraud activities/SCAM project level rise

The percentage of scam project within the ICO fundraising models’ boundaries had risen drastically. For example, In June 2017, only 7% of total projects failed or turned out to be a scam, while in August-September this number had risen to 54%, and to 67% later in the following month. Financial reports indicated the rise up of SCAM-level up to 90% as of late 2017 and early 2018.

2)Pyramid/Ponzi schemes

The creation of more complex ventures explicitly made with one aim – to lure the investors’ money, had become a reality in ICO market quite a long time ago.
We can remember the infamous One Coin project – an actually MLM Ponzi scheme exposed worldwide. This project turned out to be much more sinister and ambitious as well as long-playing. Truth be told, the well known now Ponzi scheme of the OneCoin project should have met its demise many years ago. The amount of evidence contributing to One Coin’s status as a pyramid scheme is much more than considerable – its directors have previously been involved in other known scam operations, its resources contain no verifiable evidence for any of its business claims and documentation uploaded to support claims often conflicts with the claims themselves. Certain steps have been made by the many countries’ governmental organizations to put this project under the legal heat and stop it forever.

3) Fever ICO market nature

Some financial analysts had come up with the idea that the ICO market has specific indicators of a gold-rush feverish mentality, which harms both individual investors that follow the crypto market hype trends and both the companies.

4) Funding the terror organization cells

The absence of regulative and overwatch tools raised talks about the real danger of ICO model being used to support different worldwide terrorist groups and large organization even, although confirmations are hard to prove.

5) Manipulation

The United States SEC commission made the official statement alerting the public community that many companies can use the so-called “pump-and-dump” schemes with the goal to influence and fluctuate the market indicators and prices.

6) Money laundering

Last, but not the least point of justifiable governmental anxiety, is that the ICO model structure makes it perfect use for the good old way of money laundering.

Anyway, as ICOs itself present quite a new world phenomenon, regulators are about to formulate and create the new rules of tackling the incoming issues – in fact, most of the strict rules or official public statements had been done quite recently.
The legal base development is quite a time-consuming process as many governments try not to react on first notice but research the impact of the ICO on their economy as well as the country developments and effect causing ICO popularity growth on its citizens.

Earlier Ctrl + ↓