Study Finds Less Than 15% of Team Members in ICO Startups Are Women

A new study confirms the crypto industry has a lot of progress to make to bridge the gender gap. It shows that startups conducting ICOs are still markedly male-dominated – over 85 percent of the team members in the surveyed companies are men. The data also suggests women are even less likely to hold executive and advisory positions.

Also read: New Platforms Track Major Stablecoin Markets

Four out of Five Startups Don’t Have a Female Executive

The research conducted by Longhash covers 100 upcoming initial coin offering (ICO) projects listed by ICO Rating, a website that tracks new token sales. The crypto analysis platform has collected data about the overall gender balance of each team, the number of female executives, including founders, as well as the share of women among their advisors.

Study Finds Less Than 15% of Team Members in ICO Startups Are Women

According to the report, 14.5 percent of the team members are female, with only 7 percent of the executive roles occupied by women. Their number among advisors is just a touch higher – 8 percent. Furthermore, almost four out of five startups (78 percent) don’t have a single female C-level executive and 75 percent don’t have female advisors.

The survey is based on information published on the projects’ websites. The companies have listed a total of 1,062 team members, including 326 founders and senior executives, and 473 advisors. Another key finding is that well over a third of the companies, or 37 percent, have no female employees at all. The authors believe these are telling numbers and also warn they might even be overly optimistic:

In the case of advisors, if you discount two outlying startups that had large advisory boards with more than 25 percent women, the overall percentage of women in advisory roles drops to under 6 percent. And in the case of executives, there was only one startup out of the entire 100 we looked at that had more than one woman in an executive role.

ICOs With Female Advisors Less Likely to Be Managed by a Woman

Study Finds Less Than 15% of Team Members in ICO Startups Are WomenResearchers at Longhash have also found some interesting correlations. It turns out, for example, that crypto companies with a woman on their advisory board are “slightly less likely” to have a female member of their executive team.

On the other hand, startups that have at least one woman in an executive role appear to be more likely to have a female advisor too. Longhash warns, however, that in both cases the differences as well as the samples are relatively small to draw reliable conclusions.

The authors of the report also note that the tech industry in general remains largely male-dominated. They point to other studies in the field indicating less pronounced but nevertheless evident imbalance. For instance, a study published by Statista on March 8, the International Women’s Day, shows that women made up between 26 and 43 percent of the employed in eight leading tech companies last year. And in 2015, they held 25 percent of the executive roles. Also, according to another study released by software platform Carta in September of this year, less than a third of the employees at small tech startups are women.

Study Finds Less Than 15% of Team Members in ICO Startups Are Women

Some representatives of the crypto industry have tried to address the issue. Following accusations that its leadership had become an “old boys’ club,” Switzerland’s Crypto Valley Association recently elected two female members to its board. According to a recent report, the upcoming major reshuffle of its management team will not affect their roles.

What is your opinion about the gender imbalance in crypto startups? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Longhash.


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ICO Funding Continues to Plummet Amidst Crypto Bear Market

The latest statistics regarding ICO funding in recent months shows that investors continue to turn away from investing in ICO projects amidst the persisting crypto bear market.

The statistics, which were reported in the latest issue of the Diar digital asset newsletter, show that ICO fundraising in November plummeted to the lowest level of 2018. The drop in funding is likely tied to the cryptocurrency markets, which set fresh 2018 lows towards the end of November when Bitcoin fell to $3,600.

Since then, Bitcoin has continued to trade sideways, and just recently set another fresh 2018 low at $3,300 last week. Because ICO fundraising appears to be linked to the cryptocurrency market conditions, it is likely that December will also be a rough month for ICO fundraising.

ICO Fundraising Falls to 2018 low Amidst Crypto Market Turbulence

According to the report, in 2018 alone ICOs have raised a total of over $12.2 billion, most of which came from the first five months of this year. ICO projects raised the most amount of money in February, during which over $2.6 billion was raised. January was the second-best month for ICO projects looking to raise capital, with $2.4 billion being raised.

Fundraising then declined steeply in March and April but rebounded in May. Since then, ICO fundraising has steadily declined, and has nearly disappeared in November. Diar notes that last month, ICO projects only raised a mere $65 million.

“Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) are all but over with November seeing total raised funds at $65Mn. ICOs in 2018 have raised over $12.2Bn but have now petered out from regulatory backlash fears, as well as a slow-down in cryptocurrency markets with token prices plummeting leaving retail investors with a bitter taste,” the report explains.

Regulatory Concerns A Huge Factor in ICO Decline 

Although some countries are taking actions to promote regulated capital raising through token offerings, the United States has yet to institute any type of legal framework specifically for ICOs, and in their current state they have been deemed to be securities products.

During a recent speech from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) chairman, Jay Clayton, he noted that although ICOs can be an effective way to raise capital, they still must adhere to traditional securities laws.

“ICOs can be effective ways for entrepreneurs and others to raise capital. However, the novel technological nature of an ICO does not change the fundamental point that, when a security is being offered, our securities laws must be followed,” Clayton said.

Clayton also noted that ICOs expose investors to additional risks, including a lack of protection that comes with traditional equities, and increased exposure to potential fraud and manipulation.

Diar concluded their report regarding the current state of ICOs with a pessimistic outlook, stating that without proper regulatory frameworks from global regulators, they will likely continue to lose their popularity.

“It’s unlikely the contentious fund raising mechanism, at least in its current unregulated format, to garner much interest moving forward with regulated tokenized securities platforms paving the way for a new realm of finding investor capital.”

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Sentiment Analysis Service Predicoin Launches for Cryptocurrency Traders

Keeping abreast of cryptocurrencies means frequently browsing and interpreting vast amounts of content from various online sources. As the crypto markets expands and matures, information overload becomes a problem. Astute traders are increasingly seeking crypto-specific tools that can distill the noisy input data into quality insights. Predicoin is one such potential solution.

Also read: Meet the New Sentiment Analysis Tools Empowering Smarter Trading

Predicoin Goes Live With “Sentscore” Functionality

Sentiment Analysis Service Predicoin Launches for Cryptocurrency TradersIn August, news.Bitcoin.com previewed Predicoin, which was then in early stage development. The data analytics platform, which is now open to the public, aggregates news and social media content before extracting the sentiment using machine learning. In addition to serving up crypto news and social media content, Predicoin provides its own built-in analytics in the form of “Sentscore” (sentiment score). This functions as a general sentiment indicator for the cryptomarket, powered by algorithms that compute sentiment from five verticals:

  • Amount of content and article context from crypto news sites
  • Social media sentiment (currently Twitter and Reddit) and volume from crypto influencers
  • Macro and micro economics/fundamentals of a coin (team, developers etc.)
  • Technical indicators on a coin’s price
  • Popularity and trending characteristics of a coin

Predicoin plans to use its datasets and analytics framework to derive trends between sentiment and price. “We’re still tuning our algorithms and regularly backpropagating updates to prior data,” explained Pierre-Alexandre Picard, Predicoin COO. “These metrics could change, but we’re very excited to start seeing some potential correlations on our charts. We continue to work hard on identifying patterns to provide the most accurate indicators to our users.”

Sentiment Analysis Service Predicoin Launches for Cryptocurrency Traders
BCH social sentiment leading up to the hard fork

Gauging Social Sentiment

Although Predicoin is still in beta, testing shows the platform to be quite efficient in some cases at accurately conveying social trends. For instance, at the height of the recent Bitcoin Cash fork, Predicoin detected a significant upward shift in volume of news and social media that mentioned BCH. While this finding isn’t surprising, seeing the data overlaid with that of BCH price action suggests the degree to which sentiment can be used to predict price.

This is best seen in the case of Ripple’s eponymous cryptocurrency. XRP’s price run-up in September, which was linked to the announcement of U.S.-based PNC Bank partnering with Ripple to conduct instantaneous cross-border payments. Predicoin identified the positive news published on XRP and shared multiple times across social media, taking its native Sentscore to an all-time high for ripple. The price followed within the next 12-24 hours, boosting XRP to over $0.60.

Sentiment Analysis Service Predicoin Launches for Cryptocurrency Traders

BTC’s social chart is also interesting to explore, showing sentiment falling with the bitcoin crash that occurred on Nov. 15:

Sentiment Analysis Service Predicoin Launches for Cryptocurrency Traders

The platform detected a strong downturn in the sentiment of social media the moment BTC lost around $100. To further improve its algorithmic predictions, Predicoin runs statistical tests on the data it amasses to develop metrics that connect price and social information. The goal is to ultimately develop a tool that traders and investors can rely on for asset research.

Predicoin’s data analytics service currently extends to 30 cryptocurrencies, enabling enthusiasts to log in and discover social patterns, check daily, weekly, and monthly scores, and access the content from which these scores are formulated. Generating profit in a bear market isn’t easy, even when armed with tools and algorithms aplenty. Given the fallibility of technical analysis, however, alternative indicators are to be welcomed, be it to bolster existing trading ideas or to give rise to new ones.

Do you think sentiment analysis can be a valuable trading indicator? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Predicoin.


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Korean Court Case Alleges Government’s ICO Ban Is Unconstitutional

A constitutional complaint has reportedly been filed in South Korea alleging that the government’s ban on initial coin offerings is unconstitutional. It has been more than a year since token sales were banned in the country but the government has yet to introduce any regulations for them, causing problems for startups.

Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations

Constitutional Complaint Filed

South Korean blockchain startup Presto announced on Friday that it has filed a constitutional complaint alleging that the government’s ban on all forms of initial coin offerings (ICOs) in September last year is unconstitutional, local media reported. The company has requested an appeal of the ban, according to Sedaily.

Korean Court Case Alleges Government’s ICO Ban Is Unconstitutional
Constitutional Court of Korea.

Presto CEO Kang Kyung-won explained that although his company had considered alternative means such as setting up an overseas corporation to issue tokens, the Korea Economic Daily quoted him as saying, “We trusted that the government will foster [this] new industry through follow-up measures.” However, it has been more than a year since the ban and the government has yet to introduce any forms of ICO guidelines or regulations. Kang was further quoted by Sedaily as saying:

As a blockchain startup company, we face a great deal of difficulties due to the ICO ban and the lack of legislation from the government and the parliament for more than a year. I am requesting confirmation of the unconstitutionality of the lack of legislation.

Lawyer Explains Why the Ban Is Unconstitutional

Korean Court Case Alleges Government’s ICO Ban Is UnconstitutionalLawyer Park Ju-hyun, who is in charge of filing this case, explained last week why the government’s ICO measures are unconstitutional, Zdnet Korea reported. He noted that the measures can be subject to a constitutional appeal if a request is filed with the constitutional court.

Park said the ban is unconstitutional on two grounds. The first is that it infringes on “the basic rights of the Constitution,” such as “freedom of occupation, right to property, [and] right to equality,” Sedaily wrote. His “second point is that the basic restrictions were imposed without legal basis,” which he cited Article 37 (2) of the Korean Constitution, the news outlet added.

Korean Court Case Alleges Government’s ICO Ban Is UnconstitutionalThe lawyer also referenced a recent court case where the court ruled that one of the country’s largest banks, Nonghyup Bank, illegally blocked transactions of cryptocurrency exchange Coinis. He reiterated the importance of “whether there is a legal basis,” noting that the bank’s action was illegal because it was done without a legal basis.

Presto emphasized that the ban infringes on “the right to equality because it arbitrarily discriminates against ICO companies without reason,” compared to initial public offerings or other types of crowdfunding methods, Sedaily conveyed.

Do you think the Korean government’s ICO ban is unconstitutional? What do you think the court will do? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Korean Court Case Alleges ICO Ban Is Unconstitutional

A constitutional complaint has reportedly been filed in South Korea alleging that the government’s ban on initial coin offerings is unconstitutional. It has been more than a year since token sales were banned in the country but the government has yet to introduce any regulations for them, causing problems for startups.

Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations

Constitutional Complaint Filed

South Korean blockchain startup Presto announced on Friday that it has filed a constitutional complaint alleging that the government’s ban on all forms of initial coin offerings (ICOs) in September last year is unconstitutional, local media reported. The company has requested an appeal of the ban, according to Sedaily.

Korean Court Case Alleges Government’s ICO Ban Is Unconstitutional
Constitutional Court of Korea.

Presto CEO Kang Kyung-won explained that although his company had considered alternative means such as setting up an overseas corporation to issue tokens, the Korea Economic Daily quoted him as saying, “We trusted that the government will foster [this] new industry through follow-up measures.” However, it has been more than a year since the ban and the government has yet to introduce any forms of ICO guidelines or regulations. Kang was further quoted by Sedaily as saying:

As a blockchain startup company, we face a great deal of difficulties due to the ICO ban and the lack of legislation from the government and the parliament for more than a year. I am requesting confirmation of the unconstitutionality of the lack of legislation.

Lawyer Explains Why the Ban Is Unconstitutional

Korean Court Case Alleges Government’s ICO Ban Is UnconstitutionalLawyer Park Ju-hyun, who is in charge of filing this case, explained last week why the government’s ICO measures are unconstitutional, Zdnet Korea reported. He noted that the measures can be subject to a constitutional appeal if a request is filed with the constitutional court.

Park said the ban is unconstitutional on two grounds. The first is that it infringes on “the basic rights of the Constitution,” such as “freedom of occupation, right to property, [and] right to equality,” Sedaily wrote. His “second point is that the basic restrictions were imposed without legal basis,” which he cited Article 37 (2) of the Korean Constitution, the news outlet added.

Korean Court Case Alleges Government’s ICO Ban Is UnconstitutionalThe lawyer also referenced a recent court case where the court ruled that one of the country’s largest banks, Nonghyup Bank, illegally blocked transactions of cryptocurrency exchange Coinis. He reiterated the importance of “whether there is a legal basis,” noting that the bank’s action was illegal because it was done without a legal basis.

Presto emphasized that the ban infringes on “the right to equality because it arbitrarily discriminates against ICO companies without reason,” compared to initial public offerings or other types of crowdfunding methods, Sedaily conveyed.

Do you think the Korean government’s ICO ban is unconstitutional? What do you think the court will do? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.

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Malaysian Financial Regulators to Intensify Scrutiny of ICOs, Cryptocurrencies

Malaysia’s securities regulator and central bank are to strengthen their scrutiny of initial coin offerings (ICOs) through new rules meant to eliminate issues of unfair trade practices and alleged risk of money laundering and terrorism financing. The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) said they will also tighten regulation in the trade of cryptocurrencies to boost investor security.

Also read: Brazilian Bitcoin Exchange Sends User $35M in Bug-Induced Error

‘Fair and Orderly Trading’

“The SC will regulate issuances of digital assets via ICOs and the trading of digital assets at digital asset exchanges in Malaysia,” the regulators said in a joint statement released Dec. 6. “Regulations are currently being put in place to bring digital assets within the remit of securities laws to promote fair and orderly trading and ensure investor protection,” they added.

Malaysian Financial Regulators to Intensify Scrutiny of ICOs, Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin and other digital currencies are not recognized as legal tender in Malaysia, but they aren’t banned either. That means individuals or companies trading cryptocurrency are free to do so, but are not protected by law. However, under the anti-money laundering legislation, all crypto asset exchanges operating in Malaysia are subject to reporting obligations.

Malaysian finance minister Lim Guan Eng said cryptocurrency regulations will come into force during the first quarter of 2019. He also warned individuals and companies planning to issue new cryptocurrencies with a stern: “Don’t do it,” advising to wait for guidance from the country’s central bank.

Lim Guan Eng said the government was open to emerging forms of money such as virtual currency, but only if they adhere to the law.

 Enforcing Compliance

Now the Securities Commission and Bank Negara are starting to put that regulatory framework together. The two “will enter into coordination arrangements to ensure compliance with laws and regulations under the purview of both regulators,” said the statement.

Malaysian Financial Regulators to Intensify Scrutiny of ICOs, Cryptocurrencies

It added: “Initial coin offering issuers and digital asset exchanges which are involved in the issuance or dealing of digital assets with a payment function will need to comply with relevant BNM laws and regulations relating to payments and currency matters.”

Malaysia is slowly emerging as a hotbed of cryptocurrency trading. The government isn’t particularly averse to the technology. For example, Pakatan Harapan, Malaysia’s ruling party, is raising political funding through a cryptocurrency called “harapan coin,” in preparation for the 2019 general elections. Party officials say they have submitted documents of the harapan coin to Bank Negara for approval.

What do you think about the regulatory developments in Malaysia? Let us know in the comments section below.


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International Cooperation ‘Critical’ to SEC Action Against ICOs

Steven Peikin, co-director of the enforcement division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), recently described international cooperation as playing a critical role in facilitating investigations in the initial coin offering (ICO) sector.

Also Read: Chinese Miners Short BTC Markets to Hedge Against Falling Prices 

‘Daunting Task’ of Identifying Misconduct

International Cooperation 'Critical' to SEC Action Against ICOsSpeaking at Harvard Law School, Peikin described the SEC’s enforcement division as having the “daunting task of ferreting out misconduct and, where appropriate, recommending civil enforcement actions that variously seek injunctions or cease-and-desist orders, penalties, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, suspensions and bars of bad actors, and the temporary suspension or delisting of securities.”

Peikin stated that collaboration with international regulators is “critical” to the SEC’s ability to investigate and take action against ICOs. The operators of ICOs are typically located outside of the U.S. and raise funds from “a broad base of investors both inside and outside the U.S.”

Quebec Regulator Played Key Role in Plexcoin Case

International Cooperation 'Critical' to SEC Action Against ICOsPeikin said that the SEC generally sees two types of securities law violations from token offerings.

“First, we see ICOs that meet the definition of a security, but are being sold, brokered, or traded to U.S. investors without complying with the registration requirements of the federal securities laws. Second, we see ICOs that appear to be simply outright frauds — where the issuers are using excitement around the crypto-asset space to simply rip off money from investors,” he said.

Peikin stated that the international assistance received by the SEC in regulating the ICO sphere has been “essential.” As an example, he noted how cooperation with the Autorité des marchés financiers in the Canadian province of Quebec led to the SEC charging two Canadian residents for their role in the fraudulent Plexcoin token sale. He added that the commission will continue to work with other international regulators “to develop pending ICO investigations.”

Increased Popularity of ICOs Obscures Risks

International Cooperation 'Critical' to SEC Action Against ICOsPeikin said that in recent years, ICOs have “exploded from a mere concept to a phenomenon.” He added that the global ICO industry has grown “some 22,000 percent” in just two years, comparing the “more than $22 billion” raised by ICOs in 2018 with the “less than $100 million” raised in 2016.

“The growth in the ICO market can obscure the fact that these offerings are often high-risk investments,” Peikin stated. “The issuers may lack established track records. They may not have viable products, business models, or the capacity for safeguarding digital currencies from theft by hackers. And some of the offerings can be simply outright frauds.”

What is your response to Peikin’s comments regarding the need for international cooperation in investigating ICOs? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, sec.gov, Wikipedia


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Best ICON Wallets In 2018

Best ICON Wallets In 2018

Claiming to “hyperconnect the world,” ICON (ICX) is a decentralized platform that enables blockchain interoperability. With ICON, every single blockchain would be able to communicate with one another, similar to how many modern devices can do so now via the Internet. In this guide, we’re going to break down the best ICON wallets available today. Some will be mobile wallets while others will be on desktop. Either way, this guide will teach you enough about each one for you to make an educated decision.

Let’s take a quick look at what factors you should consider when choosing a wallet:

  • Security: How secure is the wallet you’re looking that? Does it support two-factor authentication (2FA) or cold storage?
  • Private Keys: Who has access to the private keys? Are they stored locally or online?
  • Cost: Is the wallet free or paid? Are there hidden transaction fees?
  • User-friendliness: How hard is it to set-up? Is it ideal for beginners or only for experts?
  • Supported coins: Is the wallet specifically for ICX?
  • Device compatibility: What devices can run the wallet? Is it supported on Mac, Windows, and Linux? What about mobile operating systems?
  • Convenience to transact: Can you trade from within the wallet? How easily is this done?

Now that you know what to look for let’s detail the best ICON wallets for storage!

ICONex – Best Web Wallet for ICON

ICONex is the official wallet for storing ICON. Similar to Jaxx, it is a Chrome extension and not something that can be accessed by any browser.

Create or load in a previous wallet. You can also connect to the Ledger hardware wallet.

This wallet is easily installed and supports ICX tokens. Upon creation of your wallet, you’re provided a Keystore “wallet backup file” for safe keeping. This is in case your wallet is compromised in any way. ICONex then gives you a randomized private key for you to control. As an additional security measure, you can also set up a six-digit PIN code that you must enter every time you open ICONex. You can create multiple wallets within ICONex as well. Each is separated by name and contains their own address to send and receive from.

A strong point of ICONex is its user interface, which has only a few tabs to switch between and provides all the features you need from a full-functioning wallet. You can also export your entire bundle of wallets at once for easy transferring.

You can create multiple wallets to trade between.

Best of all, ICONex is free, and the team has even released a mobile version for iOS and Android devices.

Trust – Best Mobile Wallet for ICON

Having launched only last year, the Trust mobile wallet stores ERC20 and ERC223 tokens, as well as ICON (ICX).

This app is easy to use, with a streamlined interface that provides access to coin storage, settings, and a built-in dapp browser: Web3. Trust stores your private keys locally, and protects them with “industry-leading security features found in modern smartphones.” The application was audited by a leading security firm, which ensures your assets are as safe as possible.

The Trust portfolio section.

On top of that, Trust has finger-print support and a PIN code as extra barriers to entry. Additionally, the app gives you push notifications whenever your address has been in use – a nice touch.

As a user-friendly application, Trust almost always runs smoothly. Maneuvering between the different features via the tabs is easy. Also, this wallet doesn’t require any personal information. It simply utilizes the security options mentioned above alongside a recovery key to keep your holdings safe. Of course, that means you can only use the wallet on one device at a time.

Interestingly, Trust went from an open-source app to a closed-source one early in its development. This was to prevent anyone cloning the code and creating fake applications, which was mainly an issue on Android devices.

The Trust dapp browser.

Trust’s dapp marketplace is a distinguishing feature as well. The app requires developers to be verified before submitting their projects, which is an efficient form of quality control. Also, Trust uses its token economy to incentivize a healthy community. Overall, this wallet is a safe option for mobile crypto storage. The team is transparent and dedicated, while the app is easy to pick up and provides a ton of useful features.

The Trust wallet is a free download on either iOS or Android.

Ledger Nano S – Best Hardware Wallet for ICON

It’s widely agreed that the Ledger Nano S is the best space to store supported cryptocurrency assets. As a hardware wallet, this device is only connected to a device when you’re using it. Otherwise, assets are entirely offline and inaccessible by any hackers or bad actors.

Similar to recent credit and debit cards, the Ledger Nano S uses a tamper-resistant chip to secure your keys. On top of this, this wallet has a specialized operating system entitled BOLOS. Essentially, these unique factors allow the wallet to keep track of your currencies on the blockchain without requiring a constant connection.

The Ledger Nano S is powered by USB, and stores tons of cryptocurrencies including ICX. Upon startup, the wallet provides you with a backup phrase in case your wallet becomes compromised. On top of this, there is a secure log-in PIN, and the device only contains two hard-to-press buttons to prevent any accidental asset transfers.

While the Ledger Nano S costs 100 dollars, it’s much safer than any free wallet. This device provides the utmost security for your digital currencies and is essentially hack proof thanks to its cold storage solution.

The Ledger Nano S is supported by Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS.

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Amid Crackdown, SEC Chairman Emphasizes Compliance Requirements for ICOs

Jay Clayton, the chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), recently discussed the current regulatory climate surrounding initial coin offerings (ICOs). Clayton emphasized that all ICOs must register with the SEC to ensure compliance with U.S. law.

Also Read: Estonia to Tighten Rules for Licensed Crypto Companies

Requirements for Regulatory Compliance

Amid Crackdown, SEC Chairman Emphasizes Compliance Requirements for ICOsThe SEC chairman reiterated that the SEC does not see bitcoin as a security. However, it does view the tokens that are offered in many ICOs as securities. “If you’re going to offer and sell securities, you have to do that in compliance with our laws,” Clayton said.

Recent regulatory moves by the SEC against ICOs “further emphasize that our securities laws do apply to the ICO space,” he added. “If people are going to raise money using initial coin offerings, they either have to do so in a private placement, or they have to register with the SEC … when you register with the SEC, you’ve got to provide financial statements and disclosure along the lines that we would expect.”

When asked if all ICOs are noncompliant, Clayton responded by simply noting that he hasn’t seen any ICOs register with the SEC. He acknowledged that ICOs “conducted off-shore” or those that are “pursuant to a private placement exemption” could fall outside of the SEC’s regulatory purview. However, he added that “to the extent that you’ve conducted a public offering in an ICO, it’s noncompliant.”

No Comment on Timing of ETF

Amid Crackdown, SEC Chairman Emphasizes Compliance Requirements for ICOsWhen asked about the proposed Vaneck bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), Clayton declined to “comment on timing.” However, he asserted that the SEC has been clear about several matters of regulatory concern. Among the issues it has identified are “whether there is reliable price information on trading markets.” The SEC has also looked at concerns about custody, particularly “whether people who hold those assets can count on those assets to be there in the same way you can with other assets that underlie an ETF.”

In a recent appearance on the “What Bitcoin Did” podcast, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce discussed the SEC’s decision to reject nine proposed bitcoin ETFs earlier this year. She stated that the the commission has a tendency to “sometimes look at crypto and … say, ‘well it is very different from any other asset class’.” However, she added that while the notion is “to some degree true … there are similarities with other asset classes if you look at something like gold.”

Do you think that ICOs will begin to register with the SEC as cryptocurrency becomes more mainstream? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock


At Bitcoin.com there’s a bunch of free helpful services. For instance, have you seen our Tools page? You can even lookup the exchange rate for a transaction in the past. Or calculate the value of your current holdings. Or create a paper wallet. And much more.

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ICOs Use Sponsored Reviews to Attract Investors

Although the 2018 cryptocurrency bull trend has humbled many self-proclaimed crypto “experts,” the business of sponsored cryptocurrency reviews has continued to boom, influencing many market participants in the process.

Also Read: Estonia to Tighten Rules for Licensed Crypto Companies 

ICOs Sponsor Social Media Influencers

ICOs Use Sponsored Reviews to Attract InvestorsHacken, a Ukrainian startup, partnered with social media influencers to promote its initial coin offering earlier this year. Dmytro Budorin, Hacken’s chief executive officer, said the company embarked on an extensive promotional campaign that leveraged social media to reach mainstream investors, after it successfully raised $3 million at the end of 2017.

Hacken paid $7,500 to Christopher Greene, an Alternative Media Television (AMT) host, to review the ICO for his followers. The company chose Greene from a list of 200 prominent social media personalities within the cryptocurrency niche. He went on to produce a 25-minute video proclaiming that Hacken was a “huge market opportunity” with the potential to yield “1,000x returns.” The video, which has over 90,000 views, does not explicitly state that Greene received remuneration in exchange for producing the video. Instead, it simply directs viewers to a disclaimer on his website that concedes that he “may receive compensation for products and services.”

Sponsored Content Sways Inexperienced Investors

ICOs Use Sponsored Reviews to Attract InvestorsLarry Cermak, head of analysis at The Block, said he is concerned that sponsored reviews delivered by self-purported cryptocurrency gurus are driving new investors to make poor decisions. “The main reason why so many inexperienced individuals invest in bad crypto projects is because they listen to advice from a so-called expert,” he complained. Many unskilled investors “believe they can take this advice at face value even though it is often fraudulent, intentionally misleading or conflicted.”

In a recent interview with Reuters, Hacken’s Budorin said that sponsored video reviews should feature tags identifying them as such. He added that the company’s decision to pay for positive reviews was “unethical.”

Tim Glaus, co-founder of Swiss cryptocurrency ratings company Alethena, said the company has been approached by several individuals offering to arrange paid-for ratings from Icobench experts. Maxim Sharatsky, the chief executive officer of Icobench, acknowledged that the platform has accidentally published reviews that were sponsored by ICO issuers.

“We have more than 16,000 ratings on our platform. Unfortunately, we have (had) accidents with sales (of) ratings, and it’s very bad. It’s a problem for me, for our platform and for all interested,” Sharatsky said.

Icobench Authors Reprimanded for Paid Reviews

ICOs Use Sponsored Reviews to Attract InvestorsMarkus Hartmann, another Alethena co-founder, revealed earlier this year that he was contacted by two individuals in May offering to broker five-star ratings on Icobench for $500 each, for which the broker would take a $50 commission. Hartmann negotiated for two five-star reviews in exchange for $800 worth of ETH. The reviews were published within 30 minutes of finalizing the negotiations.

Based on the speed with which the stories were published, Alethena believes that the sponsored reviews were written by Icobench authors Daniil Morozov and Antoly Bordyugov. Alethena’s public disclosure of the sponsored reviews prompted Icobench to conduct an investigation into the reviews.

The investigation found that both authors had accepted payments in exchange for the reviews in question. Both authors were stripped of their “expert” status on the website and their reviews were deleted.

Do you think that sponsored reviews influence the trading decisions of new investors? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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