Pro 10

Venezuela and Argentina Are Buying the Dip, New Data Shows

If you look at the latest activity on Localbitcoins, there has been a large spike in recent days from both Argentina and Venezuela buying bitcoins. Both these troubled Latin American countries have displayed a steady increase in buying cryptocurrency due to rising inflation and troubled economies. But is the sudden uptick evidence of the two countries buying the dip?


What’s Happening in Venezuela?

Looking at the charts, one of the first things you notice is that bitcoin purchases in Venezuela didn’t really begin in earnest until the second quarter of this year. Since April of 2018, the volume has increased from around 17 million to over 3 billion for the second week of December 2018, where it rises astronomically.

coin-dance-localbitcoins-VES-volume

This likely indicates a lack of knowledge, trust or means to purchase virtual currency. But as the economic situation has worsened and the government devalued the national currency by 95 percent from one day to the next, more and more Venezuelans are looking to shield their wealth.

Bitcoinist spoke to Eugenia Alcalá Sucre who founded Dash Venezuela earlier this year and she explained the many problems in Venezuela that prohibit them using their national currency. Not only is its value almost entirely wiped out from one day to the next but there is a limit to the amount you can take out of machines and a scarcity of notes. She said:

Bills are really, really scarce. You go to the bank and they only give you a little amount. They have limits. Even though you have the money in the bank you can’t take it out.

Venezuela is one of the most important countries for Dash cryptocurrency acceptance, with more than 2,500 merchants taking it including KFC.

While the western world is in panic at the crashing crypto market, for Venezuelans, it’s still a better option than their national coin. They’ve been using bitcoin (BTC) 00 to shield their wealth despite the value going down.

Volume Keeps Rising

However, the recent spike on Localbitcoins could indicate that more people are getting in as a lower price makes buying bitcoins more accessible.

Bitcoinist spoke to Rodrigo Marques CEO of Latin America’s largest crypto company and bitcoin investing platform Atlas Quantum. He said:

Look at the countries in Latin America, especially Venezuela and Argentina. It’s very hard for people to move money outside of these countries and people see bitcoin as a way to protect their investments. So it’s not just a matter of it’s faster and more stable, but making it possible for some people in some place to actually hold on to what they own, protecting their wealth.

A Look at Argentina

Argentina is in a similar situation, and Bitcoinist has been reporting on how Argentinians are using cryptocurrency to protect their wealth from inflation.

Reports of easing regulation could also see as many as 4,000 bitcoin ATMs in Argentina go online in the near future. However, the number currently still stands at two. According to Reuters, though, this is expected to rise to 30 by the end of the year.

Argentina is not undergoing a humanitarian crisis the likes of Venezuela. However, it is no stranger to inflation, which can almost be defined as hyperinflation since it is expected to reach 40 percent by the end of the year.

Moreover, the Argentine peso has lost more than 50 percent of its value against the dollar in 2018 alone. This makes it extremely hard for Argentinians to buy outside goods, to leave the country, or to protect their wealth.

Unlike Venezuela that is relatively new to cryptocurrencies, Argentina has demonstrated a longer history of buying bitcoins. Like Venezuela, though, it looks as if the dip of the week of November 24 when bitcoin was over $4,000 and the psychological barrier to it falling well under $4,000 now has encouraged more to jump on the bandwagon.

coin-dance-localbitcoins-ARS-volume

Are Argentina and Venezuela Buying the Dip?

Are Argentina and Venezuela buying the dip? It’s possible. However, the uptick also appears to coincide with the most influential Bitcoin and Blockchain conference in Latin America held on December 6 in Santiago Chile, LA Bit Conf. As we’ve seen, trading volumes of bitcoin tend to rally upon an event or announcement.

Moreover, Chile despite a much lower volume of trading in the first week of December, also saw a huge uptick that coincides with the event.

Are Venezuela and Argentina buying the Bitcoin dip? Share your thoughts!


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Pro 05

Tether Dominance Of Stablecoin Market Falls To 74%

As 2018 began, with only two competitors, Tether commanded 94 percent of the stablecoin market. With the year seeing the emergence of 8 new players in the space, that dominance has fallen to 74 percent.


Flood Waters

It seems that the cryptocurrency du jour is the US Dollar, or at least the stablecoins pegged to it. This year has seen a wealth of new offerings flood to market, causing exchanges to reassess how to list them.

Huobi added its own stablecoin to the fray, with the launch of HUSD. This is interchangeable with and amalgamates Paxos, TrueUSD, USDCoin, and Gemini Dollars, allowing deposits and withdrawals for no conversion fees.

Binance also introduced changes, to clearly identify markets with stablecoin pairings.

Chip Chip Chipping Away

Forgetting the headline figure, 74 percent is still a full three-quarters of the market, which is quite significant. On average, each new competitor eroded less of Tether’s market share than the original two.

Which illustrates the value in this case of being first to market, compared to the comparative value of your product. Despite the continuing criticism and scrutiny of Tether, it maintains a market share that its competitors are all vying for.

Stablecoins Aren’t Going Anywhere

Stablecoins are certainly divisive. The touted benefits are questioned as often as they are lauded. Are they just the answer to a problem that nobody really had in the first place? Or are they a necessity in the evolution of crypto?

Either way, they are fast becoming a permanent fixture in crypto-news and shaping the current crypto-landscape. As more and more players continue to move into the market, stablecoins are clearly the current craze in the nascent industry that has struggled as a whole against the USD in 2018.

What remains to be seen is the ongoing impact of this on Tether. Will each new project continue to nibble away at its market share? Will a plucky young upstart find enough popular support to launch a serious uprising and eventually usurp the king? Or will the overcrowded throng of hungry contenders start to cannibalize each other’s piece of the pie?


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Lis 27

FCA Investigations Into Crypto Businesses Have Doubled Since May

FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), UK’s Financial watchdog, has doubled the number of investigations into cryptocurrency companies to 50 since May 2018.


FCA Increasingly Looking at Crypto Firms

According to Top Ten accountancy firm, Moore Stephens, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has doubled the number of investigations into crypto related businesses in the UK since May of this year. This takes the total number up to 50 as of October 2018 against a backdrop of increased regulatory scrutiny.

FCA Urges UK Banks to Adopt Robust Security Measures Against 'Risky' Cryptocurrency Business

According to the UK’s 9th largest accountancy firm, failure to correctly address existing problems in the crypto community could lead to heavy regulation in the future.

Moreover, the latest plunge in the price of bitcoin 00 and a massive drop in the value of all major cryptocurrencies has further shed light onto concerns that the market is not properly regulated. This has also caused a surge in the number of complaints to the FCA.

The FCA Isn’t Messing Around

Often accused of regulatory indifference or moving at a glacial pace, it seems that the FCA is finally taking a serious approach to cryptocurrencies. One of the key focuses of their investigation is on closing down unauthorized businesses. These are the types of companies that hold ICOs to raise vast sums of money by using unregulated loopholes.

Tighter regulation in the future is a concern to many in the industry as it is widely believed that restrictive regulation could be inhibitive to innovation. Partner at Moore Stephens, Andrew Jacobs, explains:

The huge sums lost as a result of cryptocurrency prices falling this year will have triggered a rash of complaints to the FCA.

He goes on to add that the rise of Bitcoin and other altcoins’ prices had attracted interest from many “enterprising firms” who aren’t conducting themselves by the book. Now the market has all but bottomed out, this is a problem.

Now that prices have collapsed, fraud and other suspicious activity are likely to be exposed, with greater pressure coming to bear on the FCA to ensure that this market can operate transparently and fairly, with investor protection embedded at its heart. The FCA is now clearly looking to get out in front of potential issues related to cryptocurrencies in order to more effectively manage their risk.

A Properly Regulated Environment

Regulation is still a topic that splits the crypto community down the middle. While many argue that lack of regulation causes problems, Jacobs believes that an environment that is correctly regulated is crucial to building confidence in cryptocurrency for both retail investors and institutions alike. He says:

It is important that any new regulations don’t choke competition in the market to the point where cryptocurrencies become ineffective. Walking this line will be key in helping to establish the UK as a cryptocurrency hub in Europe.

The UK’s FCA released its Cryptoassets Taskforce report in October. The report includes the actions that it will take to mitigate risks with cryptocurrencies, including the correct classification of cryptocurrencies–and which ones fall into the perimeter of the FCA, whether or not the FCA will need to regulate all cryptocurrencies, and an extra section on the need for regulation of e-wallet providers and exchanges.

Will a regulated environment benefit the cryptocurrency industry? Share your thoughts below! 


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Lis 13

Stock Market Slump Could See Bitcoin Price ‘Make New All-Time High’

Cryptocurrency inventor, fund partner and advocate Max Keiser is predicting new all-time Bitcoin price highs as the stock market tumbled again this week.


Bitcoin to ‘New All-Time High’ as Stock Market Slumps

A drop in share prices for both Goldman Sachs and Apple has equated to an approximately 160-point loss for the Dow Jones November 12, leading Keiser to suggest the index could collapse to below the significant 10,000 barrier in future.

“10 (years) of cash transfusions from central banks – masking the globe’s economic death in 2008 – hasn’t worked,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Dow 10,000 here we come. (Bitcoin) will make new (all-time high).”

The Dow last saw 10,000 during the banking crisis a decade ago, having hovered around 25,000 for most of 2018.

Anticipation Of Crypto Awakening Grows

While Keiser like many other well-known commentators has long heralded a return to form for Bitcoin price 00, cryptocurrency markets have yet to signal their bear market is over this year.

As Bitcoinist has frequently reported in recent months, the anticipation of institutional investor money buoying sideways prices continues to run high. Major crypto assets themselves, however, continue to trend slowly downwards.

Big money remains faithful to the optimistic narrative on Bitcoin, however. Last week, billionaire investor Tim Draper took to the stage at Europe’s largest fintech conference Summit 2018 to double down on his prediction the largest cryptocurrency would hit $250,000 per unit by 2023 at the latest.

He was joined by Blockchain wallet CEO Peter Smith and Managing Capital co-founder Garry Tan. While both stopped short of endorsing the quarter-million figure, there appeared to be unanimous agreement that Bitcoin would be worth more in USD terms by this time next year.

“…My prediction for $250,000 by 2022 – maybe 2023 but in that range – is absolutely solid, but I’m not so sure how we’re going to get there,” Draper said.

What do you think about Max Keiser and Tim Draper’s predictions? Let us know in the comments below!


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Říj 30

Japan’s Financial Regulator Says Stablecoins Are Not Cryptocurrencies

The lack of uniformity in stablecoins has led Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) to conclude that stablecoins are not cryptocurrency.


Not All Digital Assets Are Created Equal

Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) recently announced that it does not believe stablecoins should be classified in the same category as cryptocurrencies.

According to Japan’s Payment Services Act and the Fund Settlement Law, cryptocurrencies are considered a method of payment that users do not need to pay taxes for. Meanwhile, stablecoins do not meet these criteria as the majority of the current dollar pegged digital assets have varying characteristics, and the lack of a uniform set of characteristics makes it impossible to categorize them.

FSA Japan

JVCEA Cannot Regulate Stablecoins

Under the Payment Service Act, stablecoins fail to meet the current criteria for classifying as a “virtual currency” and an FSA spokesperson said, Due to [varying] characteristics [of stablecoins], it is not necessarily appropriate to suggest what those companies need to obtain or register before issuing stablecoins.”

Interestingly, while the FSA recently ceded authority to Japan’s Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA) by granting the collective the authority to self-regulate Japan’s cryptocurrency exchanges, the JVCEA will not be able to regulate stablecoins as they have been determined to not be cryptocurrencies.

It appears that the task of regulating stablecoins to will fall to the FSA and regulators will need to analyze each stablecoin on an individual basis.

Do stablecoins function the same as non-fiat pegged digital assets? Share your thoughts in the comments below! 


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Říj 29

UK Fintech Industry Slams Govt’s ‘Blunt Instrument Approach’ To Cryptocurrency

The UK could compromise its fintech sector with “very blunt instrument” regulation currently under consideration, a new report from several industry entities warns.


‘Ashamedly Geared Around Bitcoin’

As local news outlet the Telegraph reports October 29, the report criticizes plans to award more power to regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and says treating all cryptoassets in the same way as Bitcoin was counterproductive.

“Bad regulation is worse than no regulation at all,” the Telegraph quotes it as reading, adding that the extant proposals are “ashamedly geared around Bitcoin.”

Politicians had lobbied for wider FCA jurisdiction in September, six months after the regulator had launched a dedicated “task force” with the remit of formalizing the domestic space.

Far from increasing security and consumer protection, however, one of the report’s authors argues a laissez-faire attitude would be considerably more beneficial for a sector which is only just beginning to mature.

“It is a very blunt instrument approach and I haven’t seen this in other countries,” Patrick Curry, chief executive of the British Business Federation Authority (BBFA) commented about the plans.

The use of this technology is still a voyage of discovery and these technologies are being refined for different types of use. My concern is the law of unintended consequences.

Overreaching?

The government had pledged to make London a home for fintech in the coming years, sounding out concerns that Brexit would make the city an unattractive place for innovative newcomers.

Blockchain Expo - Crypto La La land

At the same time, the Bank of England has said it is open to the concept of a self-issued national digital currency while also claiming that cryptocurrency poses “reputational risks.”

“Crypto-assets also raise concerns related to misconduct and market integrity,” Deputy Governor Sam Woods wrote in June.

Many appear vulnerable to fraud and manipulation, as well as money-laundering and terrorist financing risks.

What do you think about the UK’s cryptocurrency regulation plans? Let us know in the comments below!


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Říj 28

Fidelity Won’t Build Its Own Exchange, Focused on Bitcoin Custody, Exec Confirms

Tom Jessop, President of Fidelity Digital Asset Services says that the asset manager will take crypto to the next level by enhancing the sector and providing a secure Bitcoin custody solution so institutional investors can get a piece of the crypto pie.


Bitcoin Custody Solution Will Remove Barrier

In the most recent episode of her Unconfirmed podcast, Laura Shin interviewed Fidelity president of Digital Asset Services Tom Jessop. The two had a cryptocurrency and blockchain focused discussion about the company’s plans to help develop the Bitcoin 00 and cryptocurrency market to a higher level of functionality and value.

When asked whether or not Fidelity would build its own cryptocurrency exchange, Jessop explained that he believed that the current exchanges do a fairly good job at this and Fidelity is more focused on providing custody services for institutions looking to become involved in cryptocurrency.  

Jessop also explained that a current barrier to cryptocurrency has been service providers that require pre-funded accounts and Fidelity intends to remedy this problem by building a more traditional investment platform, which allows users to execute trades on one or more exchanges at best price, then determine how to settle once completed.

Fidelity Foresees the Future of Crypto

Shin and Jessop them delved a bit deeper into the nuts and bolts of Fidelity custody solution and Jessop explained that at the moment there are plenty of investors with sizeable cryptocurrency positions that lack a custody solution and also find it tedious to carry out trades.

Fidelity intends to fill this niche by providing a cold storage solution and Jessop believes that the well-known fact that Fidelity manages more than $7 trillion in assets will provide the assurance of security that institutional investors require. According to Jessop, this is why Fidelity chooses to focus on custody rather than developing an exchange since “we know how to manage security at scale.”

Shin and Jessop closed the interview by forecasting future events in crypto and Jessop believe that retail and institutional interest in crypto is increasing as the market matures. He points out that hedge funds managers, family offices and emerging market analysts are all focused on creating new cryptocurrency products and instruments that will move the industry forward.

When asked what does 2019 hold, Jessop said the world can “expect more [influx] over this year and into ‘19, which will raise the bar for everyone and help accelerate growth in the market.”  

Do you think Fidelity’s Digital Assets Service will usher in the next cryptocurrency bull run? Share your thoughts in the comments below! 


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Říj 27

10 Years On: Five Things Needed for the Mass Adoption of Bitcoin

It’s been ten years since Satoshi Nakamoto published the Bitcoin White Paper and introduced cryptocurrencies to the world. His radical vision of a decentralized peer-to-peer electronic cash system was groundbreaking, as it sought to rebuild the structures that upheld our global financial institutions. A decade on, the cryptocurrencies market is now worth $209 billion globally, and there are more than a thousand separate tokens in circulation.


[Note: This is a guest op-ed article submitted by Samuel Leach, Founder of Yield Coin]

Despite this success, Nakamoto’s vision is yet to be fully realized. Although “cryptos” and associated phrases have entered the popular language, and awareness of them is at an all-time high, uptake has been restricted to a narrow subset of society.

Bloomberg estimates that around a thousand users own approximately 40 percent of all bitcoin currently in circulation and cryptos have failed to supplant fiat currency. Before we see the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies, there are a number of obstacles that first need to be overcome.

Regulation

While regulation is often treated as a pariah among many in the crypto community, if executed properly, it will bring beneficial change for all. Cryptocurrencies have only been in existence for a relatively short amount of time meaning many governments are still figuring out the best way to regulate them. The result of this has been a crypto market structured in a laissez-faire fashion. While it can be argued that this has fostered further innovation, it has undoubtedly led to several negative side effects.

At present, anyone could set-up a new cryptocurrency and raise significant capital without having to face repercussions if they fail to implement their plans. This has reduced overall confidence in the market, as it can be difficult to differentiate legitimate projects from nefarious ones. This is also preventing many institutional investors from entering the market, as the lack of regulatory guidelines will lead to compliance issues on their part.

Volatility

A daily price swing of 10-20 percent is not uncommon among most cryptos, making them exceptionally volatile in comparison to fiat currencies; in comparison, the pound lost 4 percent of its value against the dollar on the infamous Black Wednesday. Finding a way to temper this instability would go some way to certifying cryptos as legitimate currencies.

Bitcoin Price Volatility

At the moment, it would take a very brave consumer and equally brave merchant to conduct a transaction using cryptocurrencies. The inherent volatility of most cryptos means consumers run the risk of massively overpaying and similarly, the outlet risks the value of the crypto received being eroded.

Practicality, Usability & Accessibility

While cryptocurrencies have seen some mainstream usage among investors interested in day trading and investing, this uptake hasn’t been reflected by everyday consumers.  This is mostly due to crypto’s impracticality for day-to-day usage. Some of this is due to its price volatility but a more central factor is the lack of businesses who are willing to accept it as a form of payment. If individuals are unable to find a legitimate use case for their crypto, then its value as a form of electronic cash is zero. Further, the process of acquiring crypto itself is difficult, meaning uptake has been restricted to a tech-savvy subset of the overall population.

It should be noted, however, that while numerous solutions are in place allowing the spending of bitcoin via third-party services such as gift cardsBTMs, etc. — this often adds friction and introduces more middlemen into the experience.

BTCPay is a Better (and Cheaper) BitPay, Says Core Developer Nicolas Dorier cryptocurrencies

Security

In the beginning, cryptocurrency related crime was almost non-existent, but as the market has grown, it has attracted the attention of organized scammers and hackers. Earlier this year, criminals stole $530 million worth of crypto from the Coincheck exchange, and there have been many other examples of large-scale thefts.

With ‘traditional’ financial systems, when a payment is made, third parties ensure that the transaction goes through and if anything does go wrong, they are liable for recovering the funds. Similarly, if your credit or debit card information is stolen, then you aren’t responsible for any transactions made. With cryptos, however, it is the user’s responsibility to ensure that all the data associated with a transaction is correct. If a user’s private key is stolen, then crypto can be stolen with a low chance of recovery.

Understanding

Research has found that 38 percent of the British population do not ‘understand’ cryptocurrency. With the commonly held misconception that it is a tool for criminals to launder money being the most cited reason for mistrusting it. While those involved in the community understand the revolutionary possibilities of cryptos, the wider public still needs further education on the potential benefits.

For those not familiar with trading concepts, the notional value and artificial scarcity that underpins crypto may be hard to grasp.  Further, the existing way in which money has been exchanged for goods has been long established, and cryptocurrencies will require people to think about transactions in an entirely new way.

Without a doubt, the introduction of cryptos has been revolutionary. However, whether we are within the midst of a complete reconstitution of the financial system remains to be seen. If the engineers and developers involved with cryptos can find a way to deal with the intense volatility and lack of widespread understanding around cryptos, then their benefits will be able to be enjoyed by all.

Do you agree with these barriers to adoption? Are there more? Share your thoughts below!


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Říj 13

Goldman Sachs Ex-President Gary Cohn to Advise Blockchain Startup

Former Goldman Sachs president and Trump chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, will take an advisory role with Spring Labs. The FinTech startup aims to use blockchain technologies to revolutionize credit and identity services.


New Horizons

Cohn resigned as director of the US National Economic Council in April, after disagreements with President Trump over trade tariffs. Prior to taking this position, he served as president and chief operating officer at Goldman Sachs for over ten years.

The Spring Labs venture will be his first major move since leaving the Trump administration. He joins a host of high-profile names in financial services, blockchain technologies and regulatory bodies on the advisory team.

The First Days of Spring

[nb: this is the title of a Dali painting. not sure if it can be used as an image to illustrate]

Spring Labs is building a decentralized network using a distributed ledger to improve transparency, security, and efficiency in exchanging credit and identity information. It also intends to allow consumers to view information held about them without charge.

The company, which has offices in Los Angeles and Chicago, raised nearly $15 million in seed-funding, without an ICO in sight. CEO Adam Jiwan explained:

We don’t have a need to use a coin offering or token offering as a means to raising capital. We might deploy a digital asset. But at the moment, our focus is on architecting the network and driving adoption.

Role Play

On taking the position, Cohn received an undisclosed amount of equity in the company. And as to the role he will fulfill, Jiwan says:

We envision him playing a role around helping us think through for developing something that’s regulatory compliant and that others need to see in order to adapt it.

In the press release, Cohn himself states:

I have been very interested in blockchain technology for a number of years, and Spring Labs is developing a network that could have profound implications for the financial services sector, among others.

Is traditional finance becoming more embracing of cryptocurrencies? Share your thoughts below!


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Srp 13

Soaring ICO Failure Rate Sees Investors Flock to ‘Bigger Players’

ICO failure rates are increasing. However, there seems to be a trend of fewer projects receiving bigger sums. Due to regulatory pressure, ICO bans, and a bear market, investors seem to be taking a new strategy to funding blockchain projects.


ICO Failure Rates Surge

There is new evidence to suggest that one in two Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) failed in Q2 of 2018, while those that succeeded suffered huge loses. This is according to the agency, ICORating, whose data suggests 55% of ICO’s failed to complete in Q2 of 2018.
Last Call for 3 Must Buy ICO’s in 2018

The difference in returns between Q1 and Q2 is significant. In Q1, ICOs enjoyed an average return of almost 50%. In Q2, returns equaled -55%.

According to Michael Spencer, Editor of Future Sin, this as a sign of blockchain projects deteriorating in quality. But, he believes there is more than meets the eye. Other factors are at play. In particular, regulatory pressure from the SEC, ICO bans, and the Bitcoin price slump.

“While ICOs exploded from almost nothing to be a multibillion-dollar market in 2017, however in 2018 they appear even more speculative, risky and dangerous to the layperson investor,” Spencer writes

Less Projects, More Money

But while the failure rate is increasing, investment is not. In fact, the amount of money pouring into ICO tokens is rising. In fact, Business Insider notes that out of a total 827 ICO projects, investment totaled $8.3 billion in Q2 and $3.3 billion in Q1.

At the same time, fewer projects are attracting bigger sums, suggesting that bigger players are entering the market. Spencer also interprets this is a pivot towards private blockchain projects. He explains:

It spells a movement towards bigger players that we are seeing in the larger space; where private instead of public blockchains might be more the order of the day as bigger players enter the space: e.g. Bakkt. Bakkt’s focus on digital assets was wildly acclaimed by crypto insiders and the media as being potentially disruptive.

ICO Investment Dependent on Project Location

As the blockchain market continues its rapid development, investors are adapting as the country of registration is becoming an important factor. In other words, the country in which the company’s legal entity is registered at the time of the ICO.

North American startups attracted the bulk of funding, according to the ICO Rating report, with 64.6% of the total raised in the quarter. But smaller countries are increasingly hosting projects that are attracting larger sums.

The total amount of ICO funding per country presents an interesting picture:

  • Malta: 8 projects raised $113M
  • Cyprus: 8 projects raised $124.7M
  • Isle of Man: 2 projects raised $37M

This is compared to $393.7M and $301M raised in the US and UK, respectively. Put simply, projects within countries that have less red tape and friendlier regulatory frameworks tend to raise more capital per ICO.

In any case, as blockchain technology develops and regulations play catch up, ICOs appear to also be adapting to this borderless new industry.

Is the ICO space experiencing a cool-down? Or is it only getting started? 


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