23 posts tagged

ICO

Airdrop evolution

The airdrop buzzword can be heard numerous times nowadays. Airdrop itself is a popular approach to give away the token to the community.

Airdrop is a popular way to distribute project tokens to the community. So popular that sometimes leads to congestion in the network Ethereum and important commissions in transactions. More recently, this mechanics, which was used to vote on the stock exchange FCoin, has led to sad consequences for the entire network of Ethereum itself. A suitable algorithm allows solving several problems of smart contracts, which operate with extensive lists of users’ addresses. The fact is that putting into the contract a list of even a few thousand addresses and letting this set of addresses do something directly in the contract will not work – in the block, every byte is saved and this is too expensive.

To solve the problem, it is necessary to determine whether the address belongs to the list of “white” addresses in the contract code. If yes, then allow the desired action. The proposed option will enable to solve this problem quite merely by keeping only one number in the contract. The algorithm of brilliant cryptographer Ralph Merkle is widely used in virtually any decentralized software to ensure the integrity of data sets.

Airdrop & ACL

There is such a practice – to release your token and send out its small amounts to tens of thousands of addresses, for which there is, for example, at least 1 ETH. Such spam is extremely popular now to promote your own projects tokens. Few people like the appearance on their balance of someone’s unknown tokens. Nevertheless, the projects need this, and orders for airdrop are prevalent. This is usually done in an old-fashioned way, like this (in the example of Ethereum, but other block contracts with contracts, EOS, for example):

  • Create an address where enough tokens are stored for distribution to all from the list, or they provide in the token contract the ability to create (mint) the required number of tokens to the specified address (when sending the transaction from a particular privileged address);
  • Put on this address is enough Ethereum, enough to pay for the commission for each shipment of tokens to the user;
  • Run a distribution script that iterates through the addresses and for each creates a transaction that transfers (or toms) tokens to the specified address.
    That is, it’s just a pass on the heap of addresses and sending tokens to everyone. In decentralized systems, this push strategy is usually pretty lame, expensive, generates security holes, and generally, it’s spam.

On the commission takes much money (the more addresses, the greater the commission). Besides, at the time of mailing the commission can grow, because the load on the network grows, the cost of the transaction grows too;
Mailing requires writing a script that will send transactions, and the script contains a secret key that gives access to a heap of tokens;

Mailing must be programmed and be able to continue from the place where everything has broken down.

At the same time, the solution is much simpler, which, as is the case in decentralized networks, most of the work is delivered by the software on the client side. This is access control using the Merkle tree – an incredibly convenient data structure to store in the contract only one fixed-size number (merkleRoot), which contains information about all the data included in the tree (about a massive list of recipient addresses, for example).

There is no magic here: information proving that the address is present in the list of allowed, client code provides independently, doing relatively voluminous calculations, and eliminating the need to view a huge list of addresses. The structure of the Merkle tree is extremely useful for a variety of tasks.

So, this algorithm is suitable for creating huge ACL (Access Control List), which allow you to give access to some function of the contract to millions of accounts. To do this, you need to write down a single number in the contract to verify that the account belongs to the list.

Consider the scheme with airdrop, because it is now in high demand on the market and is a demonstrative and straightforward example of smart contracts with large ACLs.

In general, Merkle-proof can be described as “the path that can be traversed from the user’s address in the Merkle tree to Merkle-root itself.”

The Merkle-proof proof consists of log₂N hashes (rounded up to the whole). Each hash is the same size as Merkle-root, which we recorded in a contract-airdrop. That is, for a list of 1024 addresses, the user must provide 10 hashes, and for ~ 4 billion addresses – only 32 hashes. It is in the protocol of construction and presentation of evidence that the main “counter” of the contract hides – the storage of the minimum amount of information to determine the belonging of some data to an extensive list. Also, the more the list is, the higher the gain.

In reality, the contract is supplemented by the ability to take unused tokens, update Merkle root and enter time limits, for example, to prohibit the release of tokens after some time. The contract is quickly updated to distribute an arbitrary number of tokens to each address, in this case, the file contains not just the recipients’ addresses, but also the necessary sums of tokens, and the merkle-proof function is slightly modified, but the general algorithm does not change from this.
Advantages and disadvantages of Merkle-airdrop.

Separately, one can distinguish the advantages and disadvantages of the above method in comparison with the traditional script distribution:

Pros:

The transaction that requires tokens costs little gas, and this number is a constant, depending on the size of the “white” list;
After the launch of the contract, it does not require the slightest support, and all activity is provided by users;
Allows you to work with lists of almost arbitrary size with a minimum consumption of storage block.

Minuses:

It is necessary to spread the public address list somewhere;
The client code needs to see all the addresses in the “white” list and execute a fairly resource-intensive code.
In this algorithm, there are no secrets, such a payoff from the memory of the contract is generously “paid” for the work of the code on the client side to verify the membership of the list. This approach demonstrates very well the difference between the models of using smart contracts in comparison with traditional centralized systems.

The traditional distribution of tokens by the script in response can be countered only by a simple and understandable scheme of work. Moreover, the efforts of the programmer to run ordinary airdrop at times exceed the efforts for laying out the Merkle-airdrop contract, the launched script should be monitored so that it does not fall off in the middle of the list so that it does not run out of funds for commissions for transactions, make sure that no one stole the key with which the script signs transactions. Plus, if you have a file with addresses, you really do not need a programmer-it’s extremely easy to implement such a contract through public services.

Features of the implementation

In addition to the basic smart contract, the full DApp for Merkle-airdrop has some features in the implementation. In the Merkle-airdrop scheme, a significant amount of work is assigned to the code in the user’s browser, for example, building Merkle proof, for which you need to run through the entire address list. The list of addresses should be stored somewhere, and for the user, it should be no more difficult than uploading the file to the server.

Conclusion

The main “advantage” of the traditional distribution of tokens on the list is that this scheme allows you to cast tokens even to those who do not want it. There are also special perversions when you can send out tokens so little that the exchange does not even allow you to make transactions with them, and users are forced to watch these “scraps” on their addresses without being able to get rid of them.
The problem of airdrop, when the company distributes part of the system tokens in the community, is of course extremely important for the development of projects. However, such a decision is unfriendly to users and inefficient in general. So in general, smart contracts tend to gravitate towards the concept of “pull” rather than “push,” in which network users are initiators and controllers of business processes, and stories, when someone centrally imposes something on tens of thousands of users, gradually the past.

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

Crypto cemetary – Dead ICO number rises

The rising market competition, new world regulations and investor overfed with scam projects and ideas had led to the point that most of ICOs tend to fail more and more times. As the market is already overwhelmed with the blockchain-based solutions and countless fraud attempts looking like the new industry solutions. Due to the latest statistics, there are already more than a thousand cryptocurrency projects that actually ceased to exist.

The analytical data provided by the DeadCoins and Coinopsy suggests that among such projects, ones can be found which show directly no hints of any planned developments or future activity in its protocol. The crypto coin cemetery is filling up despite to the market experiencing a specific cooldown since the last year. The  Dead Coins lists around 800 tokens which are out of the game for now, while Coinopsy estimates that more than 1,000 that had met their infamous fate.

Fewer than 4 percent of ICOs with market caps of $50 million to $100 million was successful or promising, according to a March analysis from ICO advisory firm Satis Group. Most ICOs were raising money without having an experienced development team or an actual product, just white papers studded with promises.

At the moment, the blockchain startups are faring worse than their counterparts in other industries. Going back in the past, in 2013 and 2014 precisely 103 companies received initial seed or angel funding in, but only 28% percent managed to raise additional financing, according to CB Insights’s report. For comparison – that number went up to 46 % of the 1,098 tech companies that raised a second round in the U.S. between 2008 and 2010. Among tech companies, 14 % went on to a fourth round, while only 2 percent of the blockchain companies did, the researcher found.

Such projects as BRIG, for example, represent the pure scam aimed to lure out money from its investors’ pockets. It goes way worse after that with the numerous fraudulent project such as one of the brothers Jack & Jay Brigov and Titanium for a fact. By the way, the latest one is an investigation which is being handled by the Securities and Exchange Commission USA (SEC) itself. Other latest scams worth mentioning are the CryptoMeth, Droplex, OreoCoin, and Roulettecoin.

Noteworthy is the amount of money wasted – the average amount of money stolen or lost due to these ICO projects gets close to several billion dollars of investment.
Even even though up to this points, numerous legislative acts had been issued in many countries, financial regulators which continuously check the issuers of tokens for legitimacy, the overall amateurness of investor’s approach often neglect one basic rule. Before investing in any suspicious activity which requires an initial project analysis at least, try not to invest all the money you have hoping to get huge profits sooner or later by reaching millions of dollars in extremely questionable projects.

Another enormous problems of ICOs are their either incompetent or openly fraud teams. The widespread disappearance of project authors took part quite often last year mostly – after getting the astronomic amount of investment into “innovative projects or platforms” on their assets globally, CEOs one after another started to disappear alongside with their bags of money flying off to offshore zones or private islands, having their future secured and backed by bankrupt investors.
Numerous exciting stories and legends about website malfunctions or the sudden “death” of developers count here as well.

Hackers and cybercriminals represented another common threat, which affected even the decent projects and their teams. That includes the direct strike on initial coin offering campaigns while the token sale stages, wallets and exchanges hits and more, which resulted in both investors and project creators suffering from this activity.

However, earlier this month, SEC chief Jay Clayton said that his agency’s fight against fraudulent ICO is just beginning. At the same time, companies that raise funds through sales of digital tokens should not have any illusions and think that the government will treat them differently than to firms participating in the traditional securities market.

The previous results of the Satis Group study indicated the amount of $ 1 billion collected by the fraudulent ICOs in 2017. Out of the thousands, 271 projects had issues with the White Paper plagiarism, either had employees who pretended to be somebody they are not or had another vicious indicator of fraud activities.
Moreover, an additional study conducted after had shown that only 8% of the tokens after ICO were able to get listed on the well-reputable exchange.

No doubt, we are about to see a lot more abandoned ICO that never make it to exchange and overall ICO investments may become unprofitable. Due to CoinSchedule info, ICOs have raised $11.75 billion only during 2018 up to this point.

ICO start-up: Defining the marketing strategy

Since the last years, the Bitcoin and other popular cryptocurrencies advanced slightly to the moon. So did the new model of fundraising. Back in the days, IPO was the typical way to achieve money for your company or project, but the blockchain technology involvement in world’s processes had influenced and changed that.

Over the few years that caused a global increase to the technology itself as well as to innovative and revolutionary (well, as most of them humbly present themselves) Initial Coin Offering (ICO) projects in different fields. More and more cryptocurrency startups join the race every day, influencing almost every area of human activity as their aim had shifted from tech-only.

As of Summer 2018, the latest researches suggest that the market dynamic is definitely 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 due to the ICORating provided data.

Moreover, most researches indicate the usual investment amount made per ICO project is about $1 million.

Anyway, to gather such substantial money one had to come up with the decent set-up. There can be no success without a serious plan with all the competitions present around. We are going to analyze and define the main points to look up when working on effective solutions and marketing strategy for and ICO project.

I. Get tracked on social media

Nowadays, any modern project is hard to imagine without some serious social media engagement. Of course, no need to go surfing through the whole network, but you have to get to of the major resources like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, which are crucial to promote the business idea and convince potential investors.

Moreover, you need to establish communication and partnerships with social media networks as well. These, however, should be the resources which know how to attracts your target audience. Apparently, the bound between your social media communication and influencers’ word of mouth marketing should be enough to get you more new and fresh leads and create decent publicity.

However, work with the social media marketing is a time-consuming business itself. One can rarely perform such a job in constant 24/7-mode, and in that way hiring a marketing agency for blockchain social media may help for this purpose, which will let your hands-free and let you focus on the things that really matter for your project.

II. Make the Whitepaper right

No doubt, that the Whitepaper is the core element for any startup aiming at ICO. This document will be examined both by the tech professionals with the background in blockchain industry as well as many newcomers who are willing to invest in your perspective idea.

First of all, you need to be transparent and let potential investors know more about the payment methods and the potential return as well as the investment protection mechanism and the commercial policy of an ICO.

Besides, people who invest in a project expect to gain a profit need the explanation of the existing market potential. That way, the investors will get the idea about the approximate investments return in a specified period of time and the token value.
The perfect balance is required here, so you need to work out the documentation which will satisfy both sides. Describe how your product works and what kind of problem it can solve. This is the part where you really need to impress expert investors.

There are some vital elements to look for when preparing the Whitepaper, however:
*The business model explained and detailed
*Working MVP (minimum value prototype) model
*Decent team credentials with bio and links to social network accounts
*Roadmap with actual and real dates
*The overall idea popularity and demand within the market

The post-production Whitepaper audit may also be required to make everything look perfect, and no tricky questions may be asked later. A high cost should not stop you in order to gain the positive feedback afterwards.

III. Build a strong community

Today the army of ICO followers are very keen on engaging in the new projects as they see new opportunities for themselves to get rich by investing, participate in bounty & airdrop programs and so on. You should take advantage of this fact and build a group of digital supporters for your startup. Online forums and social networks are the places where the work should be provided.

That approach may help in getting to know the public opinion, small or significant improvements, or you just will a get hints about the idea how to do your project, or it’s performance better. Interactive threads including chatting with the community may also help.

By production of live blog videos speaking about the campaign details, the developers may add points to their score as many users won’t miss an opportunity to engage in discussions.

IV. Keep up the website updates

After seeing the commercials all around, the official website is the first place where enthusiasts and investors will go, so that needs to be continuously updated and fresh content is required. Don’t hesitate to publish valuable information about the campaign and follow the development through blog posts.

Besides that, you need a special FAQ page to answer the most common inquiries. That goes from the primary explanations for those who invest for the first time, going to more complex and technical-related stuff as well as legislative regulations questions.

V.Target Audience analysis

No matter what project type you are working on at the moment, the target audience had to be analyzed before you begin to work with it, and that goes double for blockchain startups as well.

At first, the marketing strategy should be adapted to the blockchain industry. You need to try to align your strategy with the latest trends in this field and match the taste of key opinion leaders.

Besides that, you should know that blockchain technology is still a new thing, which means that many people don’t do anything about it. Yes, they heard of it before but can’t explain how it works or understand the mechanism behind startups.

In that regard, you need to promote the project in a way that is equally logical both to cryptocurrency experts and amateurs who would like to try their luck in this field. This is crucial because you will hardly ever accumulate enough funds without the participation of both sides. Therefore, marketing communication should be two-fold and aim at these two target groups simultaneously.

VI. Get the Paid Advertising

Undoubtedly, the best way to increase the business revenue is through the native searches, but sometimes it’s impossible to achieve it without paid advertising. You shouldn’t save money on this activity because it will probably bring you a bunch of fresh investors in the early stages of the project.

You can research to find the most popular industry-related forums, web pages, and online communities. This is where serious investors spend much time, and they will probably notice your banners or floating ads.

However, even if you don’t find too many interesting niche-related pages to promote the startup, you can always turn to sites specialized in cryptocurrency topics. There are dozens of high-quality options in that regard, but we strongly recommend checking out pages like Coindesk or Cointelegraph and so on.

VII. Reveal your Team and Advisors

Nowadays, most clients tend not to trust “innovative ideas” that had already brought many people to bankruptcy and only some – to million dollars in their bank accounts. They, however, tend to believe the authoritative people standing behind those ideas. It would be smart to reveal the names and resumes of professionals who develop your startup as the part of your marketing strategy in. These steps can certainly adds credibility to the project and reassure the investors.

Nothing questionable about it: if you are an baker and you don’t know anything about this group of individuals and their key developers, how can you trust them? The people from the business industry will always conduct thorough research prior to making any moves.

In that regard, you need post resumes of all team members on the landing page. Include their academic background, work experience, and previous results in the blockchain industry.

Another way to strengthen the reliability of your staff is to add links to their social media profiles preferably LinkedIn – so that everyone can send them a message to learn more about this startup. Of course, you should not forget other partners like official sponsors or expert advisors.

VIII. E-mailing actually matters

A lot of new entrepreneurs forget that email campaigns still represent a decent marketing tool. You should generate emails from your website and send segmented messages for different types of potential investors. Segmentation is critical – as we explained already, some people know more than others about ICO campaigns, so you need to adapt emails to match their knowledge and interests.

When it comes to the first-time investors, try to emphasize commercial aspects of the story because that’s what they know and want to explore even more. On the other hand, blockchain professionals require expert approach, and you need to provide them with technical explanations. Keep them informed about each phase of the project development, and they’ll be ready to start or keep supporting your project further on.

Considering the given tips one should perform well well launching the project idea. Make sure to follow these or other steps – the main things that matter is the general plan, and its decent execution. Working step-by-step on the project you will be sure that everything is smooth. Knowing how to attract the investor to your project properly you increase the chances of your project’s success greatly. Do not hesitate to fail, but keep in mind the things that matter.

2018   Blockchain   ICO   Marketing   Start-ups   Tips

Most known ICO Advisor mistakes

ICO model of fundraising still rates high as the new startup appear on the market and there seem to be no end of ideas fueling the numerous blockchain based-start ups. However, the cryptocurrency market is far from its former heights, and the overall cap state is not astronomically high.

Certain prominent industry hype-trainers like John McAfee claims that the BTC price will touch $500,000 by 2020 and even the ICOBENCH report is optimistic with the prediction of the overall market recovery in early Autumn 2018.

ICO advisor is a person responsible fro project development vector, the one that can help in overall idea development and director, concept creation and expert in a specific industry field. All these qualities make him essential as a team member.

Being a famous industry person or a highly-valued professional increase a chance that a team will use advisor as one of their trumps card and investor’s hook.
Problem is, a lot of start-ups creator did overuse that practice, having attract prominent names just to be listed in the project and without having a direct impact on the development process.

One of other problems is the lack of understanding. The hired professional can be the best marketers, analysts or economists, but when it comes to understanding decentralization, and based on these singular utterances their understanding could be quite limited.

Moreover, right now there is another quite popular rumor on the market – as  nobody is interested in ICO investing anymore and there are days of this idea left to be profitable.

No wonder that over the years of million profits going to the scam projects, the regulation around ICOs has finally tightened and many countries had already made their points clear and issues the policies on so-called ‘utility tokens.’

Nowadays, the tax-havens are tricky topics as continually changing regulations make companies change their location quite often. What seemed to be easy to handle a year or a month ago today represents a stricts laws so what will the next day bring is always a question.

Things is, despite all the fraud, exchange hacks, and increasing legislative bodies regulation attempts, the amount of money in this industry gets higher and higher every year.

Due to the latest statistics, the market dynamic is definitely 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 well-known rating agency ICORating provided the data.

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.

During this year, the overall number of non-accredited investors investing is expected to reach the same number as the number of non-accredited investors in equities and other capital market products.

We sold the decentralization protocols to them as the silver bullet that would usher us into the era of equitable wealth distribution. This turned out to be a lie.

Another deal-breaker for the small investor is the terrifyingly frequent pumping & dumping of the market’s unworthy altcoins. Due to many advisor and consultants, specific points should be outlined of what documents should be issued before meeting investors, private or otherwise. If neglecting them, there is a slight chance that not even the best ICO Advisor could help to raise funds.

1) Decent project tokenomics.  While working on this part, specific rules should be followed as well as specific criteria to derive the token price, utility, and the total number of tokens mined.

2) Tokenization plan —  in case of utility token route, one must find out the best fit for tokenization. Most ICOs these days tokenize the access to the platform badly.

3) Working MVP — Most conservative investors whom I reached out to, “I wanna see how much skin do you have in the game.” What I learned from that conversation was that if the ICO had not invested at least 30% of the planned ICO money from their own pocket, investors are not going to like it.

4) A scalable business model —which is strong money attracting plan. However, it is not about appreciation of token utility and burning of unsold tokens. Explain why will people come to your platform and how will you monetize their interest.

5) Investor pitch deck  — An investor pitch deck must definitely have an elucidation of the business model, existing user base, and team credentials. Additionally, it must have an explanation of your product’s features and scalability potential.

6)  Elevator pitch is the thing that most often. It is useful for pitching an idea to the potential investors that you might meet at meetings and seminars etc. It is better to have an elevator pitch and save yourself from explaining the white paper to someone at a dinner party.

7) Team with decent credentials — a great idea and smart contracts are not always enough to present the successful product. Most people look for those team members who have legitimate experience in that particular space. Having a cryptocurrency advisor whose only claim to fame is that they became ‘Experts’ on ICObench does not cut ice with investors anymore. In case with ARK ICO. They have a team that has been in the business of managing seafood logistics of over 50 years combined.

8) Social media traction — if the product is so revolutionary, it must reflect on social media. While a part of your social media outreach can be seeded inorganically, you must refrain from letting it go beyond 20%. There are tools to find out the engagement on social channels such as Telegram, and it will reflect poorly if these reports come out adverse.

9) Practical market strategy —  as investors and buyers have an uncanny ability to fish out the rotten eggs and reject them.

As of Q3 2018, the ICO could not be regarded as a scheme to get easy and fast benefits from as we need to provide much more than the usual white paper to attract funds. One may also have to fork out equity to the private investor if you are really strapped for funds.

For now, there are no magic recipes to win in ICO market ultimately. One has slight chances of failing even with the decent team. If your marketing, product development, and the team credentials are great, you will raise funds.

However, there is no point in going pessimistic with your perspective ICO idea – the history had shown that even in times of hardships and calamity, man has invested, for profit or for fun.

Gangster-powered ICO: Money laundering in blockchain industry

There are endless efforts of how fraudsters lure out the investor’s money. With the digital age, this activity had acquired new trends and options. With the blockchain technologies, the perfect tool for it became to be known as ICO.

Being developed to help provide the funding for the Internet-start ups which used such crowdfunding services as Kickstarter and Indiegogo before with the help of the new elements and securities, and digital money, over time this model began to be overused by criminal of all kinds due to its hype and convenience.

Recently, the news came around about the super-successful ICO of the former member of the Triad of Macao Van “Broken Tooth” Cup-koy. South China Morning Post officially reported that the gaming industry start-up held the initial placement of HB coins collecting $ 750 million within only 5 minutes.

However, 450 out of 500 million HB tokens intended for the general public have been sold, and the total amount of issued tokens is one billion HB tokens will be released.

At all, three events had been arranged by the same person – Wang. Initial token sale stages had been held in such locations as Cambodia, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Moreover, the people invested are known to be the senior government officials, military, celebrities and people in business from mainland China and Hong Kong, and the last round was held in Malaysia.

Also, it is known that the investment company Wang World Hung Mun Investment concluded a partnership deal with the Beijing firm Zhonggongxin Cosmos Internet Technology Limited, which includes, among other things, asset management and construction projects in Russia.

According to rumors, the parent company of Zhonggongxin Cosmos belongs to the state. However, it’s employees, incidentally, give conflicting answers to questions about the owners of the company.

Moreover, it is reported that Zhonggongxin Cosmos engaged in gambling – in online games in poker and chess. The stated prize fund of the tournament is about $ 1.5 million. Interesting is that the payments will be provided in both the traditional fiat currency as well as nd HB tokens. Moreover, it is noted that in China there is no law prohibiting the use of cryptocurrency as a prize.

The suspiciousness is also raised since the HB cryptocurrency is not provided with the tokens source code and detailed information about the technology. At the moment, the HB coin is traded on the Allin (a.top) exchange launched year by the Hong Kong-based All In Group Limited earlier this year.

The person of the day itself, Wan itself, is known as “Broken Tooth,” a former boss of the dominant 14K Triad that has figured prominently in China and Southeast Asia for decades, spent 14 years in a Malaysian prison for his organized-crime activities before being released in December 2012 for several wicked crimes.

The HB cryptocurrency itself is known to be issued by the shady Chinese company World Hung Mun Investment, and that’s to be among the Wan’s property.
Wan announced the new HB crypto coin in a splashy series of events in Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines, with a fourth launch-related event scheduled for Malaysia early this week. Wan’s company plans to sell a billion of the HB coins, which will also be used as the framework for online-gambling offerings. The company plans to pay the winners of its live poker and chess events either entirely or in large part with the HB coin; some smaller portion of the prizes may be paid in cash as well.

The companies’ plans for live poker and chess tourneys throughout China is slated, to begin with, a major poker event in the Chinese city of Hainan this October. That initial event was announced by Zhonggongxin Cosmos (Beijing) Internet Technology Limited, or Zhonggongxin Cosmos, for short, which also announced a deal with Wan’s World Hung Mun Investment a few weeks back. Zhonggongxin Cosmos’s back.

However, exactly how all this online crypto and online/live gaming events will work out in the wake of China’s recent ban on all Texas Hold’em smart-device apps remains to be seen. Oddest of all in this strange tale is that Zhonggongxin Cosmos appears to be claiming at a deal with China’s government to allow these events to proceed.

On its website, Zhonggongxin claimed to be reporting directly to an advisory committee under the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC) called the Advisory Committee on the Management of Financial and Energy Resources and Capital.

No matter, what the Zhonggongxin Cosmos’s true nature is, the whole deal looks like a big-time criminal scheme. The HB is already regarded as “suspiciously vague” cryptocurrency, and the existing code gives no idea of how many coins are created.

The launch and gaming tours are also receiving pushback from many of China’s regulated gaming firms. According to Su Guojing, the founder of the China Lottery Industry Salon, “When chess and poker games are paid with tokens such as cryptocurrencies that can be converted to fiat currencies, it becomes a disguised form of gambling in China.”

Moreover, the suspicions regarding the operations to be the money laundering are going to arise due to how the money transfers within the crypto’s exchange framework will occur still a question.

How to return ICO investments?

Being an ICO investor is a tricky thing – no matter how good at digital economics or how smart you are, lack can eventually run out. Nowadays, according to various estimates, fraudulent ICOs activity had brought their creators from up to $ 1 billion incomes of dirty money.

For now, there are different examples when the fraudster ICO organizers got eventually busted and brought to justice. The US SEC is among the best performing in this area up to date.

It is known that in 2017 the founders of the Munchen project were forced to return $ 15 million to investors after the SEC investigation. Moreover, In early April 2018, the organizers of ICO “Centra” were arrested – that one which managed to raise $ 32 million. The SEC especially, in particular, indicates that the founders of the project promised to invest in creating a debit card, which will be supported by Visa and MasterCard payment systems and will allow you to convert cryptocurrency into fiat money easily.

However, the investigation showed that the project had no relationship with cooperation either with Visa or MasterCard firms. Another fine example is from Canadian origin, where the court sentenced the organizer of Plex Coin ICO Dominique Lacroix to two months in prison and a fine of $ 10,000, and the company PlexCorps he founded – to a fine of $ 100,000. The SEC had done a good job here, no wonder.

The latest statistics show, that SEC is very active in the ICO field, but outside the US authorities are not yet successfully combating fraudulent crypto projects. Fact is, the needed ultimate legislation rules are still not established worldwide which makes the prevention of fraud a tough task to accomplish.

Nevertheless, there is still a set of legal instruments, and the necessary steps exist aimed to protect your rights and investments and not to become a victim or consider that the company does not fulfill its obligations for some reason. In fact, for most investors, it does not matter why they lost money in the first place – deception or because of the useless work of the organizers of the ICO. It is essential for them to return the money or at least part of it.

What to do before going to court or police?

In case you think that you have been deceived and want to start an actual case:
First, you need to collect the maximum amount of evidence available to you that you have been cheated or that you owe money. Making screenshots proving the fact of deception or fraud is necessary.

That could be the following stuff:

White Paper with the description of the project, advertising banners, correspondence in Telegram and other messengers will do. Also, it is essential to save and download all communication by e-mail.

If you had any telephone conversations with the fraudsters – you could ask the telephone company to print out the history of your calls, that wo;; serve as perfect proof. If you have personally met with company representatives, you need to specify the address where the meeting was held, the date of the meeting, and try to attract witnesses.

In case your meeting took place in overcrowded business centers, you should have a record of your visit at the security checkpoints. Documents from camcorders can also be saved there, which can later be requested by official representatives and the police. As a result, you should have an impressive folder with information, from which you can already apply to the court or the police. It remains a matter of small – to understand who specifically to write a statement.

Understanding the demanding side

Most ICOs have the same structure at modern market. An issuing company, as a rule, is explicitly created for the ICO, which issues tokens and accepts investors’ money. Very often, such companies are registered in the Cayman Islands, Seychelles or Bermuda, or in ICO-friendly jurisdictions such as Singapore and Estonia. Many ICOs, especially fraudulent, do not specify the information about the company-issuer not in White Paper, or anywhere else. Usually, one can find it in Token Sale Agreement.

However, the issuing company does not conduct operational activities. Moreover, information about the operating company is even more challenging to find – its traces could be seen only by indirect signs. That could be tricky as if the organizers initially wanted to deceive the investors. Most likely, one will first have to demand money from the issuing company.

Visiting the court

The court appeal against the company-issuer for inflicted financial damages could be regarged as the protection in situations where the actions of the responsible person do not contain the corpus delicti. The judicial procedure is relevant for cases when it is not a matter of fraud, but merely an unsuccessful project in which the organizer has not fulfilled his obligations and is in no hurry to return the money. However, in the case of fraud, recourse to a court with a claim against the issuing company can also become an effective way of protection.

One need to present a claim to the issuing company about the return of funds or compensation for damage before going to court with an appropriate application and the evidence collected. With a favorable outcome in court, one will be given a monetary claim to the issuer.

There is a decent worldwide trend – the fewer and fewer jurisdictions are available overtime in which beneficiaries manage to hide from taxes and creditors. Banks exchange information about the funds more actively and there are fewer loopholes. No wonder that over time, opportunities to pursue the issuing company and the real organizers of the ICO will only expand.

However, one can demand to return the money through court only where the company is registered. In case it is registered in the most popular off-shores like Cayman Islands, then one will have to visit the local court. The cost of doing business in the Caymans is up to $50,000 , in Singapore $ 75-125,000 – without regard to state duties, translation services, and other related costs. That is, either one’s investment in the scam-project should significantly exceed the possible costs of conducting the case in a foreign court, or one will need to file a class action together with other cheated investors.

When and how to contact the police

If there is an obvious deception (for example, the organizers received money, did not conduct an ICO and stopped communication), it would be appropriate to contact the police. The criminal case provides additional opportunities, which is a significant plus. For example, an investigator can obtain all the necessary information much faster than if one requested it through a court.

However, there are also several disadvantages: since there is very small legal practice, it will be difficult for the police to understand the matter of this category. The task is to bring the maximum amount of evidence of the violation of the law, and the statement is as simple as possible to describe the crime.

On the other hand, there is a parallel practice when, for example, clients money are stolen from a current bank account. In such cases, the crime scene is considered to be the bank’s registration address, although it is clear that the theft itself occurred somewhere on the Internet. So in the fraudulent ICO crime scene, there may be an address where the computer was located when you invested money in ICO.

Anoter vital question that investigators may have is a problem with determining what Bitcoin is, cryptocurrency, tokens and so on. The legislation does not yet have a precise definition. For the police, the qualifications of such crimes may not be apparent, although there are signs of fraud (theft of property or the right to fraud). Here, by the way, one can recall the cases in which cases of robbery of game artifacts in computer games were considered.

The conduct of both a criminal and civil-law case, especially international – along (and also expensive) process. Therefore, no matter how trite it may sound, it is best to study all documents carefully and all available information, weigh risks at the investment stage. Also, just in case everything is fixed – it will come in handy.

However, it is better to describe the case in the application as simple as possible, without overloading with technical terms. If everything went well for you: the application was accepted, you were interviewed, and the case started according to your application, – the question arises that such crimes, as a rule, are of a transboundary nature. Investigators will have to send a request to conditional Singapore or the Cayman Islands so that local authorities can conduct the necessary investigative actions. The state has much more leverage to handle such cases than an ordinary citizen who is unlikely to wait for help from a foreign court.

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

Rule of 56% – ICO fail number rises

While the cryptocurrency market is quite live, it is still far from its autumn 2017’s heights. Nevertheless, the ICO start-ups market shows the constant growing tendency – due to official statistics of ICORating, the amount of ICO projects in 2018 had significantly grown. The overall market dynamic is definitely 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 ICO funding model, $ 6.1 billion was raised.

For now, not only scam projects and fraud are the worst enemies of the investor though. While more than 4,000 ICO projects have managed to raise a combined total of around $12 billion during all the time – a majority of them fail within four months of their token sales, a new study suggests.

The latest research, conducted by a small team at Boston College in Massachusetts, found that a mere 44.2 percent of token projects are active into the fifth month or beyond, using their social footprint via Twitter as a live indicator.

About 56% of ICO start-ups ceased to exist during the first four months after the successful end of the token sale. According to many analysts, the most secure investment strategy for various tokens is the sale on the first day of trading. Either way, almost all investors get rid of coins purchased under the ICO in the first six months.

More than 1,000 different tokens have already ceased to exist, and overall return on investment is steadily declining.

It should be noted that the monthly investment in ICO projects still holds over $ 1 billion. This trend has been maintained since the beginning of 2018.

While the figures are perhaps shocking, they should maybe be taken with a pinch of salt, as the methodology of the study leaves some wiggle-room for ICOs to exist beyond that 120-day time-frame and not be indicated so in the data.
The tokens usually continue to grow in price, generating average buy-and-hold abnormal returns of 48% in the first 30 trading days.

Dead on arrival

Going for an experiment in determining the usual lifespan of an ICO project, the team behind the research, Hugo Benedetti and Leonard Kostovetsky, chose to use the availability and intensity of Twitter posts to analyze the lifespan of projects and found out that tweet absence during the fifth month meant the absolute project fail or, so to say, it’s death.

The analytics data of the research indicates that the safest way of performing for the projects would be managing to list on exchanges after the token has been launched:
“Breaking it down by category, 83% of the 694 ICOs that don’t report capital and don’t list on an exchange are inactive after 120 days. For the 420 ICOs that raise some capital but don’t list, this figure falls to 52%, and for the 440 ICOs that list on an exchange, only 16% are inactive in the fifth month.”

Moreover, their work beside went on with determining the value of ICOs as investments and the average returns over the different time-frames, after going on for the overall moves in the value of the cryptocurrency markets.
Fact is, the researchers Benedetti and Kostovetsky found that “in contrast to IPOs, tokens continue to generate abnormal positive average returns after the ICO,” with token values continuing to climb for six months after launching.

“We find evidence of significant ICO underpricing, with average returns of 179% from the ICO price to the first day’s opening market price, over a holding period that averages just 16 days. Even after imputing returns of -100% to ICOs that don’t list their tokens within 60 days and adjusting for the returns of the asset class, the representative ICO investor earns 82%.”

Conclusion

Further, the researchers say that startups sell their tokens during the ICO at a significant discount to the opening market price, generating an average return for  investors of 179%, accrued over an average holding period of 16 days from the ICO end date to the listing date.

During his interview, Kostovetsky told Bloomberg that “once you go beyond three months, at most six months, they don’t outperform other cryptocurrencies.”The strongest return is actually in the first month,” he added.

Anyway, the overall conclusion shows that, despite the shocking figures of failed projects, high rewards could be achieved for those that accept the risk of investing in “unproven pre-revenue platforms through unregulated offerings.”

However, the market future looks promising as a lot of promising startups in different areas continue to flourish every passing week.

ICO Smart-contracts vulnerability

Initial Coin Offering Models of fundraising still have a lot of loops which makes the money fraud and steal quite often and large-scaled.

According to the latest security researchers made by Positive last year as stated by the Bleeping Computer an average number of vulnerabilities in ICOs stands at number of 5.

The results had shown the very negative trends and outcomes. According to researchers, only one draft of the original offer of coins did not contain bugs.

The study found that 71% of the projects contained vulnerabilities in smart contracts. Among the common problems, analysts pointed out the inconsistency with the ERC-20 standard, the incorrect generation of random numbers and other significant shortcomings.

Experts said that such vulnerabilities appear due to lack of proper qualification of programmers and insufficient testing of the source code.

Most of the security breaches analysts found in ICO-projects to develop mobile applications. Among the common vulnerabilities were named the following: unsafe data transmission, unreliable storage of user data in phone backups and disclosure of the session identifier.

Some vulnerabilities in web applications were aimed at attacking investor funds. For example, because of a lack of proper security, hackers could register a domain similar to ICO, create phishing sites, thereby deceiving investors.

According to the research, every third project contained vulnerabilities that allowed hackers to access data and savings of companies-organizers. Analysts also noted that many initiators of ICO did not use two-factor authentication for important accounts.

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/researchers-last-year-s-icos-had-five-security-vulnerabilities-on-average/

Speaking about the background of the this research and former industry vulnerability issues, other things should also be remembered.

Currently, there are hundreds of thousands of smart contracts in the Ethereum blockchain that manage wallets, tokens, applications or are used to store funds. A group of some British researchers alone was able to identify 34,200 vulnerable smart contracts according to the Motherboard data.

An assistant professor from University College London Ilya Sergey and his colleagues conducted a large-scale study to detect all possible vulnerabilities of smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. To do this, they downloaded the Ethereum, in effect creating its fork for personal use, and began to launch a variety of scenarios, trying to achieve undesirable consequences. When these consequences came, they marked a smart contract “with a tracked vulnerability.”

Having analyzed about a million smart contracts in this way, the researchers found that 34,200 of them contained critical vulnerabilities. They tested their assumptions on 3,000 smart contracts, and in 89% of cases, they caused the most undesirable consequences. In theory, this could allow them to steal $ 6 million in Ethereum.

According to experts, early detection of vulnerabilities prevents
possible negative consequences. So, for example, in November 2017, a user under the pseudonym DevOps19 found a vulnerability in the code of the Ethereum-purity library Parity and accidentally blocked $ 150 million.

“We are working with applications that have two very unpleasant features: they are used to manage your money and can not be fixed,” Ilya explained.

Attempts to find the creators of vulnerable, smart contracts were in vain. However, since researchers do not say which vulnerabilities were found in smart contracts, they can be considered as safe.
“If someone wants to take advantage of our idea, he, at least, will have to do as much work as we did,” the researcher summed up.
Recall, in January, the Cisco unit detected many vulnerabilities in the Ethereum-client Parity. First of all, it was about the creation of operating code, the incorrect operation of which could lead to a large-scale DoS-attack on its supporting nodes. Moreover, some “loopholes” in the purse software allowed access to private information.

A few days later, representatives of Parity Technologies said that the vulnerabilities were corrected in new versions of the software Ethereum-client.

As we see, the ICO suffers from numerous vulnerabilities, and the further develops the market the points of hacker intrusion also appears.

Read the similar material about how to ensure safety from Ddos-attacks in our official blog

https://blog.merklion.com/all/how-to-ensure-security-from-ddos-attacks/

Music Industry Blockchained

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Why so DAICO?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The model difference

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

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

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

Benefits of usage

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

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

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

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

DAICO Security

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

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

To DAICO or not to DAICO?

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

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

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

Initial Coin Offering vs Crowdfunding model

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ICO features

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

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

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

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

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

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

1)The Product:

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

2) Campaign length:

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

Some striking examples of it:

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

3) Financial features:

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

4) Investor accessibility:

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

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

5) The contributor’s confidence:

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

6) Regulations

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

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

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

7) The rewards

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

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

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

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

ICO Regulations: Asia

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

1)China

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

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

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

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

2)Hong-Kong

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

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

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

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

3)Japan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4)South Korea

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

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

5)Singapore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6)Malaysia

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

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

7)Taiwan

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

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

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

8)Thailand

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

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

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

How to ensure ICO security from Ddos attacks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1)Http flood attacks

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

2)Volume-based attacks

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

3)Protocol attacks

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

It’s also important to consider that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ICO Market Progress – Q1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why so serious? The reasons behind governments worldwide ICO regulations

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

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

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

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

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

1)Fraud activities/SCAM project level rise

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

2)Pyramid/Ponzi schemes

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

3) Fever ICO market nature

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

4) Funding the terror organization cells

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

5) Manipulation

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

6) Money laundering

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

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

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.

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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