23 posts tagged

2018

Citizenship for crypto

Nowadays, the crypto investors are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain and increase their fortunes seeing how the cryptocurrency is taking an increasingly prominent place in the world financial system.

The actual citizenship for money (including digital) can be issued only in a limited number of countries. In fact, there is a little more than a dozen. Moreover, the opportunity to obtain citizenship for Bitcoins is still available only in one state – legitimately and quickly – Vanuatu.

Over the past years, it has been possible to observe many changes in the offshore, banking, investment, and tax spheres. These changes began to occur especially often with the acceleration of the transition to the era of the digital economy, and also against the background of active Internetization and globalization. Each next change brings with it specific opportunities and challenges. Also, as practice shows, only those who are ready to adapt to these changes thrive.

This axiom is still relevant, including for the crypto-currency industry. More recently, crypto-currency investors began to face a growing “snowball” of changes. Governments are stepping up the onslaught through tax instruments and are trying to regulate the ever-increasing crypto-currency market. In response to these events, prudent investors began to explore the possibilities of tax and offshore planning available to them to adapt to the changes.

Cryptocurrencies are still an exciting component of wealth planning tools for any successful person. In this case, cryptocurrency investors, no doubt, must protect their assets with advanced tax, offshore and other strategies.

Those who conscientiously seek to adapt to changing realities and norms should take a small part of their cryptocurrency wealth and invest in alternative residences and passports to ensure long-term prosperity for themselves and their loved ones by protecting their crypto savings.

As noted above, you can get the same additional passport for Bitcoins. This procedure is legal and debugged. The first cases are already positive.

Why invest in alternative residence permits / PZHM / citizenships? Here are five main reasons why each serious crypto-currency investor needs an additional residence and/or a new passport – preferably in an offshore and/or low-tax jurisdiction.

The direct approach

In April 2018, the Hungarian company Ajax Software LLC presented the world a new cryptocurrency – Citizenshipcoin. It is designed specifically for the investment immigration industry (CBI / RBI / EB5 programs) and is the first of its kind in the market. According to the developers, the use of the new digital currency will allow investors to instantly settle for participation in passport programs anywhere in the world.

To date, digital currencies are not used in the field of investment immigration due to anonymity. According to the idea of ​​the authors, it is Citizenscoin (CTZ) that can, in the long run, occupy a free niche. The creators assure that using the new cryptocurrency will allow conducting financial transactions without intermediaries in the form of banks.

It is expected that payments will be faster, cheaper and more efficient. Developers predict that in the foreseeable future, consulting companies, citizenship specialists, development, and legal companies, as well as authorities of countries that have the opportunity to obtain a passport for investment, may prefer this cryptocurrency as the primary settlement instrument.

However, given the fact that the level of mistrust of digital currencies is growing, and more fake projects are appearing on the network, it is easy to assume that CTZ authors are facing many difficulties in the way of promoting their coins. Those wishing to issue the second citizenship are required to prove the legality of the funds they use for the investment. If we talk about Bitcoins, then it’s difficult to do. Moreover, the government is involved in the financial operation, which currently relies only on banks that are guarantors of the legality of the process.

The introduction of a new instrument for settlements cannot yet be interpreted as something revolutionary in the industry. It is essential to understand and take into account the specifics of the market. In the Caribbean, the introduction of any innovations drags on for years, Europe is also not ready for such radical innovations.

In October 2017, the readiness to sell passports for Bitcoins was announced in the Republic of Vanuatu. This information edition of The Vanuatu Independent was reported by Jeffrey Bond, the head of the Vanuatu Information Center. Relevant information had appeared in many world media.

A week later, the information was disproved. Samuel Garay, acting Secretary General of the Office of Citizenship of Vanuatu, said that payments are still made exclusively in US dollars.

The current situation was interpreted by many as a profitable marketing move aimed at increasing investor interest in the passport program of the Pacific state. Also, this gave its results: among crypto assets owners, the demand for second passports is growing.

Meanwhile, on April 27, 2018, James Harris, VIC Managing Director, informed the Investment Migration Insider that Vanuatu had established a system for accepting Bitcoins as payment for a Caribbean passport. He said that several applications for issuing second citizenship for Bitcoins had already been successfully processed in his department.

According to James Harris, a particular system timeframe has been developed. The foreign investor and the Vanuatu authorities are contacted in real time. The applicant is informed of the cost of the passport in digital currency and gives two hours for the transfer of funds to the specified wallet. The procedure for conversion into US dollars is made after the successful completion of the transaction.

The Carribean factor

The fact that the idea of ​​using cryptocurrency to pay for a second passport is not new, according to information messages from other countries. In 2014, the authorities of Saint Kitts and Nevis were ready to accept digital money from the participants of the passport program. Soon the website of the Government of the Caribbean country published a refutation of this information.

The prerequisite for the release of relevant information was a series of events. In 2014, Arthur Porter was detained for holding illegal financial transactions in Canada, who at the time of his arrest stated that he was a citizen of St. Kitts and presented a Caribbean passport. Shortly after that, the US Treasury Intelligence Department issued a statement that persons who had registered the economic citizenship of St. Kitts were carrying out illegal financial transactions. Quite often, fake pages with the proposal to issue citizenship of Saint Kitts and Nevis in exchange for Bitcoins appear over time.

At the same time, the authorities of Antigua and Barbuda are working to legalize operations with the cryptocurrency within the jurisdiction. Stedra Benjamin, the country’s attorney general, is working on a bill that would allow the digital currency to be paid for a second passport.

In particular, in May 2018 the possible introduction of a new option to participate in the passport program on Antigua was reported on. Investors will be offered to invest $ 150,000 in the construction of a new university in Antigua. According to the information provided on the Coingeek website, program participants who choose this option will be able to pay for the passport in Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

On the official website of Antigua and Barbuda, there is no confirmation of this information. Representatives of local media expressed concern that the cryptocurrency, which was put into operation only in August 2017, was able to win such support from the authorities and expressed doubts about the possible implementation of this scheme.

The second passport and the change of tax residency – the ability to freely dispose of its crypto-currency asset

The issue of citizenship in exchange for a cryptocurrency is relevant for residents of countries in which strict currency restrictions apply.

Conducting an illegal currency transaction fraught with the imposition of an administrative fine, the amount of which can reach 100% of its amount.

For example, earlier you bought bitcoins for an impressive amount, and now you transfer profits from their sale to an account opened in a foreign bank. In this case, the fine can be imposed not only on the income received but also on the entire crypto-currency asset.

Registration of the second citizenship and change of the tax residence permit to carry out tax planning, personally manage the available assets and significantly save on paying taxes on income derived from the implementation of the cryptocurrency.

Is it now possible to buy citizenship for bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies?
To explain why on Antigua reported on Antigua reported on Bitcoins and other types of digital currency do not use investment immigration in the industry is not difficult. Some leading states have banned transactions using cryptocurrency because digital money can be used in illegal schemes and for money laundering – the thing we have outlined several times in our articles. Stay tuned.

Hottest crypto industry women

Many people have a wrong though about the industry of the crypto start-ups and blockchain tech to assume that it’s a male-dominated field.

Of course, there has always seemed to be an apparent domination of the technology space in general by Asian and Caucasian males. Women hardly ever get a look-in. This assumption covers all organizational levels within the industry, from the boardroom all the way up to the tech developers huddled behind multiple monitors and processing units. A look at some of the major conferences, seminars, and sundry gathering of minds in the blockchain space will reveal a startling scarcity of womenfolk.

However, to say that there are no women who are making tangible contributions within the blockchain space would be a false assertion. There are a number of notable women who are actively involved in leading projects that are dominating the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry. These women aren’t just restricted to any specific sub-niche of the industry as they are scattered across many of the functional segments. Some of the biggest ICOs, digital currency payment platforms, and even blockchain tech development firms have been founded by women. Apart from being part of the evolution and development of the industry, many of them play active roles in improving the adoption of cryptocurrency in mainstream commerce. Here is a brief look at some of the notable women in the blockchain and crypto industry.

1. Galia Benartzi (Bancor)

Education and Early Career

Galia Benartzi graduated from the Johns Hopkins University in 2005. After college, she became heavily involved in software start-ups including Mytopia, Founders Fund, and Particle Code Inc. She was the co-founder and CEO of Particle Code until it was sold to Appcelerator in the year 2011.

Exploits in the Blockchain and Crypto Space

Galia has been something of a tech genius and also a consummate professional in the field of Business and Economics. She is the co-founder of Bancor as well as acting as the Head of Business Development for the crypto firm. The Bancor ICO is one of the highest grossing ICOs of all time. The campaign raised $153 Million in funding and has since gone into advanced development stages.

Bancor is focused on the cryptocurrency exchange market and is building a platform that significantly simplifies the process of cryptocurrency trading. The platform will also allow users to create their own tokens which can then be monetized and traded for other established tokens like BTC, ETH, and LTC just to name a few.

2. Meltem Demirors (DCG)

Education and Early Career

Meltem Demirors is an alum of the William Marsh Rice University where she graduated with a degree in Mathematical Economics. She went further after her first degree to get an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Exploits in the Blockchain and Crypto Space
These days, Meltem Demirors is a top Director at the Digital Currency Group (DCG). The company specializes in creating and deploying blockchain tech protocols. The company also manages cryptocurrency investment portfolios. Many of her colleagues at the New York-based DCG describe Meltem in glowing words. On the team page of the company website, she is described as being the connection that forms the bridge between the core operating areas of the DCG.
In addition to her role as Director of Development at DCG, Meltem has also been an active voice against the trend of centralized cryptocurrency mining pools, especially in the Bitcoin network. As a believer in the equitable distribution of wealth within the crypto space, she uses her position at DCG to develop investment strategies that help spread the wealth of the crypto industry.

3. Elizabeth Stark (Lightning Labs)

Education and Early Career
Elizabeth Stark is a graduate of the prestigious Harvard Law School. She is also the founder of the Harvard Free Culture Group and an affiliate member of the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society. She spent a considerable portion of her professional career as a professor at both Stanford and Yale. During her time at Yale, she established a program to help students come up with projects that would improve the existing Internet technology.

Exploits in the Blockchain and Crypto Space

Together with Olaoluwa Osuntokun, Elizabeth is the co-founder of Lightning; a start-up that is developing protocols to significantly increase the speed of crypto transactions. She serves as the CEO of the company. The company’s focus is primarily on the Bitcoin network but contributors are welcome to develop protocol layers for other blockchains.
Apart from her involvement with Lightning, Elizabeth has been quite active in the blockchain space in general. She has contributed significantly to the Bitcoin community as is also a fellow at Coin Center.

4. Rhian Lewis (London Women in Bitcoin)

Education and Early Career

Rhian Lewis studied at the University College London. She graduated with Second Class Honors (Upper Division) in Economics. She is a consummate professional in the Engineering and Technology fields with a working career that spans across many different organizations. She has worked at firms like DigitasLBi, AKQA, and Beamly. She is currently a Director at Salvia Media Services where is a tech consultant for both SDET and Blockchain.
Exploits in the Blockchain and Crypto Space
Rhian has been actively involved in improving women participating in blockchain and cryptocurrency. She started the London chapter of the Women in Bitcoin organization along with a group of friends. The organization has grown to include 100 members, many of whom are CEOs and COOs of tech companies. Rhian continues to be an advocate for women participation in the Blockchain space regularly attending and speaking at conferences, meetings, workshops, and seminars.

5. Elizabeth McCauley (Bitcoin Foundation)

Education and Early Career

Elizabeth Ploshay McCauley graduated from Wheaton College in the year 2011. She holds a degree in Political Science. Her early career was spent in Washington where she served as both Intern and Staff Assistant to United States Congressmen.

Exploits in the Blockchain and Crypto Space

During her time serving members of Congress, she contributed to the adoption of Bitcoin in the United States. Such was her enthusiasm that she has come to be known as the “Bitcoin Evangelist.” She utilized her considerable expertise in grassroots activism to bolster the adoption of Bitcoin within the United States.
She is currently a member of the Board of Directors at the Bitcoin Foundation. She is an adviser at both the BitGive Foundation and Coin Congress. Her previous roles include a stint with BitPay Inc. where she worked as an accounts manager.
This is by no means an exhaustive accounting of all the leading female figures in the blockchain space. There are also individuals like Kathleen Breitman (co-founder of Tezos), Maxine Ryan (co-founder and COO of Bitspark), Tavonia Evans (CEO of $Guap), and Elizabeth Rossiello (co-founder and CEO of BitPesa). These women are setting high standards in many areas of the blockchain space and are contributing immensely to the growth and development of the industry.

2018   2018   Blockchain   Crypto industry   Media figures   Women

Crypto cybercrime level rises

We do know that the cryptocurrencies are being used for different crimes and fraud activities. There is no wonder, and it’s almost the common knowledge. Fact is, the very small percentage of users do realize the reason underlying that.

However, understanding the magnitude of the problem and how it affects us as we use the internet is an important starting point.

Earlier this week, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) released their 2017 Internet Crime Report. More than 300,000 consumers reported that they were victims of malware and cyber-fraud attacks last year (with registered losses of over $1.4 billion combined).

The most common types of crimes were non-payment and non-delivery, phishing scams, and data breaches. The crimes that cost the most regarding financial loss were compromised email accounts, investment scams, and non-payment/non-delivery. In all, the IC3 received over four million complaints between 2000 and 2017.

Profitable business

Fact is, that advanced malware protection specialists from Bromium, together with Dr. Mike McGuire, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Surrey, released a report entitled “Web of Profit” last month. The report digs into the dynamics of cybercrime and looks at how new ‘criminality’ platforms are bringing about a booming cybercrime economy, generating at least $1.5 trillion in illicit profits. In fact, according to their findings, if cybercrime were a country, it would have the 13th highest GDP in the world, comprising illegal online markets, data trading, identity theft, and ransomware.

The CEO of Bromium, Gregory Webb, says, “The platform criminality model is productizing malware and making cybercrime as easy as shopping online… We can’t solve this problem using old thinking or outmoded technology. New approaches to cybersecurity will be required.”

AI blockchained

There are many blockchains and AI startups springing up to fight cybercrime using these new technologies. Blockchain, especially at the application layer, is certainly moving in the right direction by removing easily crackable passwords. Moreover, if AI can be used to help us predict and prevent cybercrime before it happens, that could be the perfect combination.

Scott Schober, author of Hacked Again and President/CEO of BVS, says, “You’re accomplishing things much quicker when you apply machine learning to cybersecurity. You can anticipate and build up your defenses because we don’t have enough manpower to do it. Using AI and machine learning can do everything much, much quicker.”

However, while we can contemplate the uses of new technologies like blockchain and AI to fight cybercrime when it boils down to it, almost all attacks have a common element: human error.

Schober continues, “I think blockchain applied in the right area is definitely going to help secure things, but you can spend billions of dollars in security, you can implement the latest and greatest blockchain to secure things, but blockchain is fundamentally a layer underneath allowing things to happen; it’s not a magic silver bullet to stop hackers in their tracks.”

The Human Element

There are many people making money by preying on unsuspecting internet users. Also, we all know by now the importance of being careful when we go online. We don’t open links from strangers, we don’t download suspicious attachments, and we don’t respond to messages on Skype asking for our bank details.
Most of us have been victims of cybercrime at some point in our lives. It’s not surprising that criminals pick the easiest targets (people over 60, according to the IC3 report). However, even the highly technically minded among us can be affected too. Just look at the continued Binance phishing scams that have duped more than one exchange user.

However, the Schober notes that , the biggest problem in cybersecurity today is people. “We continually fall back to choosing convenience over security… We were lazy with creating passwords, and guess what? It hasn’t changed much today. We don’t take the time to carefully vet what we’re putting out on the internet and then it’s used against us. People are too trusting; we give out information too easily.”
Until we fundamentally change our habits and improve what Schober calls our “cyber hygiene,” all the blockchains in the world won’t be enough to keep our account funds or our identities intact.

So, one should start from himself when thinking about safety in the digital and crypto environment.

2018   2018   Crime   Crypto industry   Digital investmens   ICO

Top cryptocurrency deceptions

The cryptocurrency market had its moments of glory last year and that attracted the sharks from all around – hackers, criminals and fraudsters, despite the current shifts, market dips and regulations, are still aim strong on luring the digital assets out of consumer wallets.

Basically, there is no shortage of ways of how to lose money in today’s crypto industry, which includes overestimated predictions, fraud commercials, Ponzi schemes and financial pyramids, an overwhelming number of ICOs made solely on purpose to make their creators rich, weak investment strategies and most importantly – the lack of market understanding.

Moreover, today’s crypto investors highly lack profile education as well as proper strategic thinking and, in turn, the market players capitalize on it big time.

For example, Andrew Smith, the director of the trade watchdog’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, speaking recently during an event focused on cryptocurrency scams and fraud, told that the consumers would lose more than $3 billion by the end of 2018.

Becoming an ICO investor is not so hard and overcomplicated as being the IPO participant due to numerous reason, and the entry barrier into the Blockchain niche is not high at all. However, the statistics show that the lack of knowledge and experience results in high losses and over-the-top revenues for ICO creators.
We need to consider the most known and usable cases of these fraud activities:

1)Overestimated false perspectives

There are numerous examples over the Internet where companies and specific people offer the so-called “investment boosts” or “the new strategies” to lure out trustful investors or enthusiasts.

That start’s at doubtful offers of participation in new Ponzi/Pyramid schemes (of course, they all seem legit and solid at the start) or mining bigt time-solutions and goes further with an invitation to invest in a new shiny fake coin to get huge profits in a long-term perspective.

Thus, an investor should be smart and careful in projects selection and not to overestimate the real possible profits of the industry in 2018 – nowadays, market and it’s returns are not skyrocketing as it had been last year.

Of course, these kinds of commercials visuals appeal to classic good old desires like shiny resorts lor luxurious life, or newly-born teenager millionaire stories or just something new. Anyway, if one’s not eager to lose the money he should not buy this and not participate in giving back to anonymous teams or getting involded in another become-a-millionaire-in-3-days-offers.

2)Simple phishing

So far, it is the oldest and most often used method of cyber fraud and crime – little wonder these things had reached into the crypto world. Phishing itself is the way of intrusion of the malicious programs, viruses or other programs aimed to harm your computer or digital device to your device while pretending to look at usual software. For this to work, things used as website creation to require the password, newsletter with viruses, open wi-fi networks, etc.

Moreover, cryptocurrency wallet prompts are often used for tricking out users to send their original keys to hackers. For example, the fraudsters targeted PCs using this Ethereum browser wallet to hijack the accounts by adding a window requesting users to «confirm» their seed phrase – as a matter of fact, that happened to MetaMask.

So, the phishing is a mass and often used method working on the large-scale, and it is not on the list of the witzy-looking fraud solutions.

3)Risky Crypto Exchanges

Basically, the exchanges at large are used to buy/sell and trade the cryptocurrency. Most people praise Bitcoin, and a few main digital assets only and over time try to people trade the less popular currencies into Bitcoin or transfer it to traditional fiat currencies. Though even the most known and well-established exchanges with good reputation provide specific security options and look solid, holding the substantial amount of money on these accounts during the extended time is still a risky game – nowadays no can tell about the malfunctions, hacks or something worse.

Overtime as the crypto assets popularity rose to the moon, the amount of operating and fake exchanges increased as well. So, losing money had become even easier by participating in those shady exchanges operations and trading there only to find out soon enough that the funds you want to withdraw are no longer available.

4)Mining operations faked

Getting Bitcoins and cryptocurrency through mining operations had been trends years ago and building massive mining farms including numerous machines in the second- and third-world countries are things of one can hardly be surprised nowadays.

Thus, commercial offer for investing in those mining operation had become quite popular with shiny prospects and promises about the more and more improved and vast GPU processing units and power levels. No matter to mention the astronomic revenues from this activity.

Quite often, proofs are not provided and money requested are promised to return usually in a long-time perspective only – these make months if not years. Moreover, the payback never actually comes. Do notice the vital point – chances of getting robbed or lose the money increase the less control over your assets and money you have.

So, by attracting the funds to these companies and investing in their hardware one can only make rich the wrong people.

5)Lack of assurance

As the digital age advances, more and more fraudsters activities appear over time. However, the technologies like social engineering are still strong. In case one keeps little attention on what’s going on with his wallet and it’s actives, he’s surely making a perfect target and prey out of his himself.

Actually, the now-popular Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) at large can as well be regarded as scam activities, and they even are getting banned in certain countries. However, before the industry boom in 2017, a lot of ICOs had made many people become millionaires.

ICOs rather represent a fundraising tool for innovative technology startups in the world of blockchain made to receive funding directly from the crypto enthusiasts and investors as well as future users. As it often happens, this became a convenient method for a lot of quick-thinking fraudsters to get their hands on a new shiny Lamborghini or a full-stacked island with a condo in the Pacific.

Of course, even right now one can still earn fat X’s for investing into the right project with decent team and perspective idea, or you can just accidentally invest into some joke coin and hit an unexpected price growth which makes you a millionaire.

How to get scammed?

So, what is the surest way of losing your money?

To invest in ICOs that without any innovative ideas, no website or media presence or advisors who are the developers. Whitepaper full of wordiness and no actual business model/tokenomics is another point to look out. Of course, the less you know about the people involved in the project and their plans, the better is for its scammy developers. What happens next? The coin’s price usually goes down in an instant as it hits exchanges. Its team disappears with profits leaving you empty-pocketed.

One part of the problem is a lack of care on the part of investors. This was an issue highlighted by Joe Rotunda, enforcement director for the Texas State Securities Board. Also, it’s an especially acute one set against the backdrop of a huge rise – and subsequent fall – in the value of cryptocurrencies over the past six months.
Coin Center director of research Peter Van Valkenburgh said that people get sucked into fraud – from exit scams to pump-and-dump schemes – merely because they’re looking to see a higher return on their investment.

“I think nobody should ever buy any more cryptocurrency, put anymore [into] cryptocurrency than what they are completely willing to lose … if you are willing to participate at all,” Van Valkenburgh remarked.

However, at all times the best strategy is to take any actions with a clear mind and always think in advance where your desires to get rich instantly can get you in the end.

2018   2018   Crypto currency   Fraud projects   ICO   ICO Scams

First world’s ICCO – from Malta with love

The emerging world of blockchain industry had seen different kinds of investment and crowdfunding approaches. The nowadays most popular instrument which is ICO had surely been around for some time and literally rocketed to the moon during the last year, but it’s certainly not the only and top tool to collect money from the investors around the globe.

Malta is known, amongst many other reasons, to be the country which recently applied specific official regulatory measures to make the fundraising for blockchain-based projects fully legislatively regulated within its territory. That implies the first milestone in the industry – the ICCO which stands for Initial Convertible Coin Offering.

The first in the history ICCO was announced by the blockchain company Palladium, and the leading bitcoin-exchange Bittrex – as the first fully regulated environment in Malta.

As stated in the Bittrex press release, the difference between convertible coins is that within three years after the release holders of these coins can at any time change them for shares of Palladium company.

Moreover, Malta is enacting comprehensive blockchain legislation and has a dedicated blockchain unit at the MFSA. This ICCO is one of the unique investment opportunities in the blockchain world. The University of Malta will also offer a special Blockchain degree which will start in October this year.

An ICCO model differs from the now-more-traditional Initial Coin Offering in that investors will be able to convert tokens into company shares at a later date – in Palladium’s case, three years after the sale.

“We expect this project, which will create more than 100 job opportunities, to be a historic landmark and to bridge the gap between traditional financial services and cryptocurrencies,” – founder and chairman Paolo Catalfamo commented. Moreover, he also spoke very positively about Malta, as a country located at the front of blockchain technologies.

The launch of the project was attended by the Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat, Secretary of the Parliament for Digital Innovation and Finance Silvio Schembri, and the head of the Maltese Financial Services Department Joseph Kushiri.

“This ICCO will become one of the largest investment opportunities in the world of the blockchain. Institutional investors understand all the advantages of investing in the cryptocurrency industry, but the lack of regulation discourages them. The decision of Palladium will change this and allow users to use their accounts to manage cryptocurrency and fiat assets in full compliance with regulatory requirements, ‘says Paolo Catalano.

The goal of this particular ICCO is to collect financing of $ 150 million. The official campaign is scheduled for the period from July 25 to September 30, and the prescription of tokens began on Tuesday, July 10.

‘Our cooperation will lead to a new trading platform based on blockbuster technology, and users of this site will have access to many tokens available at Bittrex,’ said Bill Shihara, CEO of Bittrex.

Malta had adopted the new legislative acts governing the cryptocurrency industry only last week. Silvio Schembri noted back then that Malta had become one of the first countries with such official regulation.

No doubt, during the next months we are about to witness if this recent approach would be appreciated by any other countries which try to apply the ICO regulation rules or other legislative measures within their territory.

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.

2018   2018   Blockchain   Crypto blogs   Crypto industry   News

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.

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.

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.

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.

Top rating ICO platforms

The creation of the marketing campaign for ICO projects is the brand new fusion of the latest advanced informational resources and modern advertising tools. Right now, listing sites or trackers are the most convenient and useful means that are used to post information about upcoming or already running ICO projects. At the moment, only a few platforms offer free listing though, most of the trackers require their services to be paid and sometimes the charges maybe be quite high.

Let’s have a closer look and examine the largest and most popular platforms nowadays: CoinSchedule represents a popular platform with listing support, and discussion forum of potentially successful and exciting projects are provided along with ICO-crowdfunding. The main feature of this website is selectiveness regarding the projects — not every team can host their idea here. To get listed on the website, the plan must be successfully approved by the community regarding specific features: the Whitepaper and core team review, the website and roadmap checking. This web portal would be interesting to the contributors willing to invest at least $100,000 in certain ICO-project. The administration will also check the Whitepaper and the project team themselves.

The standard placement fee is usually around $300-$800, and premium slots will cost your company up to $2,000-$3,000 per month. Average monthly website attendance is between 800,000 to 1 million unique users with almost 2 million hits monthly. Nearly 25% of the visitors are from the United States, nearly 10% — from European countries, up to 5% and 4% from India and Turkey respectively. ICObench allows you to overview a large number of discussions regarding active and upcoming ICO/crowd sales, ICO-calendar and convenient to use website structure. This platform has a constant and active community; the website is also interesting for investors because of high worldwide popularity among developers.

Every month up to million unique users attend this website, and a total number of hits is estimated around 2–2, 5 million. Up to 20% of the visitors come from US market, 10% — from Europe, 7% users come Vietnam, 5% — from Japan. The standard listing here is free, priority package will cost you around 0.05 BTC, and the premium listing for seven days is 1 Bitcoin (Fiat currencies are not accepted). ICO Drops This platform is quite popular and well-known among the major investors from USA, Europe, Russia and Japan as it provides a large and continuously updated list of prominent ICO projects. At the moment, it’s in the top-3 listing website for the English-speaking audience. The platform has a user-friendly interface, supports a rating system of “Interest level” for potential investors, a comfortable ICO-calendar and Bounty-list.

At the moment, the website traffic reaches 1–2 million unique users per month, and total monthly hits of the platform reach nearly 3 million. Speaking about the countries — 20% of visitors log in from the United States, 15% — from Europe, 7% — from Russia and 6% from China. The platform hosts projects only after a careful check of Whitepaper, website, and ICO project team done by the administration. A premium listing is not provided, the accommodation here is free. ICOrating is also quite well-known resource that maintains the listing of current and future ICO projects, token sale and crowdsales. Projects are evaluated with consideration of many criteria, mainly in the advanced products or projects with unique features are listed here. Previews and comments on the upcoming ICOs are supported.

The attendance of the resource per month is nearly 500,000 unique users along with 1–1,5 million hits. Most users (17%) come to this platform from Vietnam, up 12% — from the USA, 7% -from Russia, 4% — from Japan.

Standard listing here is free, and priority package will cost nearly $50–500. ICOExaminer platform is mostly aimed at preview and evaluation of future and upcoming ICOs and review of current projects. It has an active forum with a large number of members. This resource is in the top 5 in attendance the international community in the network.

The platform also has a section of educational materials for ICO conduction and identification of fraudulent projects.

Every month website is viewed by almost 100,000–200,000 unique visitors with a total of 500,000 hits. The community consists of: 30% of visitors come to the USA, 10% — from Canada, 8% of the users are from Australia and up to 10% — from Europe. No fees required for the standard listing and the premium package will cost up to $ 500.

Top university blockchain courses

The IT-technologies had overtaken the world long ago. The currently available university courses most of the time tend to be behind the rapidly increasing wheel of progress. As the world develops quickly, sometimes the subjects are slightly changed even before the course is completed.

Nowadays, the blockchain technology is the spearhead of the world’s technological advancement and one of the most rapidly expanding industries. It is as ambitious as never before as it is aimed to increase the efficiency of all other existing industries while creating new markets, jobs and even fields of work.

Of course, the blockchain industry and Initial Coin Offering model, which has become recently popular, is changing so fast, that it is almost impossible to present up-to-date courses that will be relevant during a long time. Anyway, the demand for high-tech knowledge is astronomically high, and many students seek opportunities to study and develop themselves in this new industry. That creates a lot of options for the specialist who already exist in this area. The salaries are high, as the market has a growing need in highly-trained and experienced trainees, who can share their knowledge and vision of the increasingly developing technology.

There is an overview of the current leading and most public world universities, that can give you a brilliant insight into this marvelous technological world of innovations and help to make the first step in this industry by getting the right knowledge and skills necessary. So, the blockchain courses.

New York University – USA

Back In 2014, New York University was one of the first to start offering the blockchain classes. The primary course opened was – “The Law and Business of Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies.” It is still available today and explains Bitcoin and other alternative payments mechanisms and future. NYU students can also sign up for “Digital Currency: Revolution in Money and Payments?”, the course which introduces participants to digital currencies and emerging mobile payment systems of this dynamic industry.

Stanford University – USA

This famous university currently offers a unique course known as Bitcoin Engineering. The primary purpose of this particular course is educating students on creating their Bitcoin-enabled applications. It might be a perfect ability to learn from industry professionals how to rewire internet services on the basis of Bitcoin. Prior background in Python within a Unix environment is recommended though, but no previous Bitcoin knowledge is necessary.

Duke University – USA

World famous Duke University is definitely one of the brightest universities in the U.S. Situated in Durham County of North Carolina institution is currently offers blockchain courses as well. The course titled “Innovation, Disruption and Cryptoventures” provides an in-depth insight into Bitcoin background and the technology future. The main idea is to give the students a deep understanding of this rising and disruptive technology and its business implications in the inevitable digital future.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – USA

When speaking about the technology, no wonder that the MIT is among the top leading world universities to offer the top-notch blockchain courses today.
In fact, MIT was one of the first of the top institution to develop the specific course, and it is also one of the current maintainers of the Bitcoin protocol.

Blockchain University – USA

One of the flagman’s of industry studies, the Blockchain University, is situated in California. The course offered by this institution include the academic instructions led by the most influential figures of the crypto world and blockchain ecosystem.
The teaching solutions are regarded as hands-on training to acquire fundamental knowledge as well as develop the solution-oriented design thinking.

This university offers blockchain technology education for the future developers, managers and entrepreneurs of this industry.

An immersive course is providing an overview and in-depth explorations of the emerging field of distributed digital assets using blockchain distributed ledger technologies.Designed with a multi-disciplinary approach, this course brings together and educates developers, product managers, attorneys, designers, builders, entrepreneurs.

Participants walk away owning bitcoin, understanding the continuously evolving blockchain landscape, and knowing basic cryptography, programming transactions to the Bitcoin blockchain (and other altcoin ledgers, e. g. Ethereum), understanding other related technologies (IPFS, DNSChain), scripting language, forking the bitcoin source, smart contracts… and much more.

B9 Lab Academy – United Kingdom

The top-notch B9 Lab, which based in a financial &scientific hub, is on the spearhead of the modern technology, offering the course of in-depth study and understanding of the technology behind the Bitcoin and blockchain technology. The academy now has blockchain course available for technology executives and analysts. They aimed at experienced technical stakeholders introducing everything needed to understand the work in this dynamically changing sector, smart contracts writing and both technical and social frameworks relating to this technology.
This online course teaches technical decision makers and CTOs the basics of blockchain technology. The course goes into the underlying theory of blockchain, covers Bitcoin, Ethereum and Hyperledger in depth and provides an overview of many other protocols both in public and managed networks.

IT University of Copenhagen – Denmark

One of the world leaders in University IT-courses had organised the first Blockchain Summer School in August 2017, which focused on education in the blockchain technology sector for future innovative solutions developments within three focal industries. The students learnt of how the blockchain technology had disrupted existing business models and gained insights into paradigmatic changes occurring from economic, organisational and computer science viewpoints.
Robin Baldwin, an educator for Academized attending this university, wrote:
“Denmark has always been a leader when it comes to technology and this university is one of the best; ideal for if you want to learn about the most up to date blockchain developments.” The current plans are to develop and maintain courses in the foreseeable future.

Princeton University – USA

Princeton is, no doubt is one of the most prestigious universities in the United States, and nowadays it offers a pioneering course entitled “Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies”.
This course is available online and answers many questions related to Bitcoin as well as foreseeing the future uses and implementations of the blockchain technology and its latest developments.

University of Nicosia – Cyprus

The most significant institution in Cyprus, an independent University of Nicosia had opened the new possibility for study with a Master of Science degree. The primary course is entitled “Introduction to Digital Currencies”, it is available online and can be obtained for free as an open enrollment MOOC course. Anyone interested in learning can study the fundamental principles of digital currencies from such renowned Bitcoin experts as Andreas Antonopoulos and Antonis Polemitis. The course includes 12 live online sessions.

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How much costs the Initial Coin Offering Campaign?

Consider that your company seriously takes advantage of rising crypto market and decides to fund the project using the Initial Coin Offering model, instead of going through the long and tensioned IPO-process or a complicated search of traditional venture investors. The ICO campaign complexity and cost depends on many factors.
In order to have a full and transparent understanding of the possible future budget needed for a specific project let’s take a closer look and examine each of the items of expenditure of this complicated venture separately.

1)Hiring a team of professionals

When you have already come up with an idea as well as clear working concept, the next thing in line is to gather a team of specialists. It will be the core, the heart of your project. A lot of professionals in different fields would be required for hiring: from the frontend and backend-programmers to community, HR- and PR-managers. You will also need financial and blockchain analytics, smart-contracts developers and more. It is essential for members of your project team to know at least one foreign language, English preferably because ICO projects are aimed to the worldwide market, so the communication and understanding of specific professional moments would be more comfortable for the whole team.

The salary of each position varies depending on specific factors as the development duration, project complexity and country of project origin. It may be a wise idea to use the hired developers outsourced from other countries which have less high incomes to lower the overall budget.

Here is the data of annual income of the key team members in ICO project in the US market according to the information of early 2018:

Frontend developer income varies from $45,000 to $150,000; Backend developer:$25,000 - $80,000; Blockchain analyst:$40,000 - $165,000; Cryptoeconomist:$45,000 - $150,000; Public Relation Manager:$35,000 - $100,000.

For example, the highest salaries in European market industry (and in the world pretty much at all) right now is observed in Switzerland, where the top blockchain companies base. The monthly income for Frontend and Backend developers in this country is around $10,000 - $15,000 which makes the annual earnings up to $120,000 and $180,000. PR-Manager can get up to $45,000-$120,000 annually working in Switzerland while the Blockchain analyst earns around $50,000 - $150,000.

According to Glassdoor data, the salaries on Asian market are not that high of course, but the industry is growing, and the situation changes dynamically here as the number of major crypto exchanges rises. Heads of Department blockchain development in Japan and South Korea can obtain up to $7,000-$10,000 monthly, approximately $100-$120,000 per year. PR-managers, in turn, earn an average of $3,500 per month – from $30,000 to $55,000 per year.

Frontend developers have an income in a range from $3,000 to $5,000 per month, the annual salary of an experienced programmer usually is around $60,000.
In Russia and the CIS countries, wages are somewhat lower, Frontend and Backend developers earn about $2,000 -$3,000 per month, which makes about $25,000-$36,000 per year. Technical Director with professional experience earns an average of $5,000-$6,000 monthly and $50,000-$70,000 per year, respectively. PR Manager usually earns from up to $2,000 per month and up to $24,000 annually. Email marketing specialist income ranges from $1,500 to $2,000 per month, $18,000 -24,000 per year. Head of development earns about $2,000 - $4,000 per month and $24,000 and $48,000 per year, respectively.

It is essential to ensure the presence of the well-known and reputed advisors from different areas and technical experts  in your team – sometimes their opinion may slightly influence not only the investor’s viewpoint whether to invest or not but the further direction of the project development at large.
This whole part cost is considered the most voluminous and can absorb up to 50–60% of total funding.

2) The technical developments

The next relevant of importance topic should be split into individual parts for easier comprehension:

The Token

For a start, your team will need to create a tradable token that your investors will use to fund your project. Most exchanges require that you have an ERC20 compliant token that will allow the transfer of tokens from one address to another.

At this stage, you will have to hire an ERC20 token developer. Although finding a good Ethereum developer is hard - an experienced freelance developer could be hired to work with for approximately $10,000 per month/project in the U.S. This cost will be up to $5,000-$7,000 in other countries.
The program for smart contracts execution is required to deliver tokens to investors in exchange for Ethereum. This part of work will need the presence of developer or a group of them to create a decent Smart Crowd Sale Contract; the process can take up to 3–4 weeks and cost you on average $15,000-$20,000.

Smart Contract Audits

To guarantee and ensure your investors in the complete security of their investments, you will need to perform an audit of your smart contracts. Frankly, the significance of this stage cannot be overestimated as you will expose any vulnerabilities in the project code. The cost of this service done by a reputable company ranges from $10,000 to $30,000 depending on country and the company reputation. This figure is steadily increasing due to the growing number of ICOs on the market.

3) ICO campaign preparation stage

On this milestone, your team will need to work hard to complete all parts of project’s presentation materials and more - that means creating a convenient and easy to comprehend website, complete the SEO-optimization, create the promo materials and highly engage in the media field.

• Website and SEO-optimization

Another important and responsible step. You must choose a reliable hosting and website structure (now favorite and user-friendly one-pagers come into consideration) that has a functional design and be user-friendly, as well as protected from possible DDoS attacks. Your website must list specific promo materials including the video presentation about the project, a transparent and easy-to-understand Whitepaper, Roadmap with clear milestones, the project team with photos and links to their social networks and LinkedIn, a list of partners and advisers involved contacts and active social network channels. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) also has the significant importance to improve positions in Google search system and, simply put, allow investors faster access to your project.

• Whitepaper & Roadmap

The whitepaper is the primary document that serves as a presentation of the project to potential investors, explaining the vision, objectives, implementation and milestones in the project development. Visualizing your concept vision to potential investors is essential, so the infographics should illustrate the main financial indicators that the company plans to achieve in the first place. Also, any signs of market research are better perceived in this format. But do not forget about the information value - you can come up even with a 100-page text document, but investors will find it simply not interesting to read and hard to understand. This document must have a transparent structure, support the statements with facts, clearly explain the concepts and potential benefits from participation in your project. Not all the project teams are capable of writing this document themselves; therefore, often a professional help may be required. Of course, it is possible not to spend money on this stage at all by making it by yourself. The cost of creating a Whitepaper with third parties companies’ involvement estimates from $2,000 and may even reach $10,000 in the USA and European countries, and this cost is growing.

• Publicity and Advertisement

You will also need a marketing team to create a buzz online so that you can capture the attention of investors and enthusiasts before the start of the pre-ICO and ICO stage.

The team should promote the project in traditional media and social media advertising, write articles and news about the project, make publications on crucial web resources. Some of them may be free; others will require part in the premium services (for example, the popular web platforms like Cointelegraph listing cost is estimated at thousand dollars).

In the United States, banner ads with a so-called “Hot-rate” will cost nearly $10,000- $15,000 for two weeks at the central website position, and mailing to the whole database of investors for the same “burning” rate will cost around $6,000-8,000.
The total cost of marketing and promotion can be slightly different — you can spend $5,000- $10,000 or even more than $100,000 at this stage, depending on how much your company can invest in the project. It includes interviews with the company founders and member, advisors, promotion through social media channels and forums. Many teams are willing to pay huge money to specialized advertising companies for the traffic to achieve contact with the target audience of the project. Marketing cost typically eats up to 30% - 50% of total budget depending on the project complexity, time limit and orientation.

4) Legal support and project security

This step includes ensuring the web security measures made to prevent project data and financial information leak and making hack risks as low as possible.
During the Initial Coin Offering campaign, a lot of investors make substantial financial donations to the project; this cannot go unnoticed by the fraudsters and government agencies of course. ICO regulations in most countries have not been appropriately developed on the legal stage yet, so the wise decision would be ensuring the assistance of lawyers to resolve contentious issues before they occur. Unregulated ICOs always stand at risk of being disavowed from legal inclusions. But just to be on the safe side, legal experts on the advisory board would still be a plus.
The cost of legal support varies depending on the level of experts involved — usually, the price ranges from $20,000 to $100,000 for the entire project (in the USA) and $10,000-$50,000 in other countries.

5) Logistics and live-conferences participation

Considering the magnitude of the ICO market and the growing number of specialized conferences with industry professionals throughout the world, many new and experienced developer teams often make journeys to other cities, countries and even continents with the aim of establishing business and professional contacts. The cost of participation in such events depends on a place, speakers level and prospective partners/investors. On average, the team may need $10,000-$20,000 during the project. Logistics costs can also assume the purchase or transportation of specialized equipment as required.

Conclusion:

Summing up the figures of crucial position salaries for 5–6 months of ICO-campaign project duration, approximately $100,000- $400,000 will be spent on the creation and ensuring of the team smooth workflow (depending on qualifications) in highly developed first world countries like USA, UK, Switzerland, etc.

In Asia, this number would be approximately $100,000-$250,000. In Russia and the CIS countries, cost of team hiring is nearly $50,000 - $150,000 respectively.
Moreover, software and tokens development, smart contracts, an audit performed by the professional company with a good reputation will cost your company up to $50,000-$80,000 in the U.S. market and $20,000-$50,000 in other countries. Functional website creation and proper SEO optimization, the Whitepaper done by the professional company will add the cost up to $20,000 mostly. Promotion in media varies greatly — on average, $50,000-$100,000 or eve more in the US market and $20,000-$50,000 for active work on the development of your platform in the Asian region or Russia/CIS countries.

Legal support of the project cost in the United States - $20,000 to $50,000 for the entire project timeline, $20,000-$50,000 in Asian countries and up to $10,000 in Russia or CIS countries.

Nearly 50–60% of a total budget will be spent on the salaries of the team and the project advisers as well as the technical development, and media promotion also gets a significant amount of the budget – to 20–30%, 15–20%  -  will also go for the for legal support of the project. It is possible to separately allocate 5% of this amount for logistics and worldwide conferences participation expenses.
Summarizing all these data, we get the estimated budget ranging from $300,000 to $700,000 and even reaching a $1 million (depending on PR-and media-coverage) needed for the successful launch of the ICO campaign in the United States. In Asia market, this number is estimated at $180,000 -$400,000, and in Russia/CIS countries, respectively, $70,000 to $250,000.

The total amount of costs is determined by the geographical area (country of origin) in which the project is planned to be launched and overall professionalism and competence of the team and project advisors.

You can also use the specialized services of companies to conduct the ICO. Typically, an infrastructure of Initial Coin Offering presented by the third party will cost the company about $40,000 to $100,000.

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