What Is an ICO in Cryptocurrency?

ICO is short for Initial Coin Offering. When launching a new cryptocurrency or crypto-token, the developers offer investors a limited number of units in exchange for other major crypto coins such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.

ICOs are amazing tools for quickly raining development funds to support new cryptocurrencies. The tokens offered during an ICO can be sold and traded on cryptocurrency exchanges, assuming there is sufficient demand for them.

The Ethereum ICO is one of the most notable successes and the popularity of Initial Coin Offerings is growing as we speak.

A brief history of ICOs

Ripple is likely the first cryptocurrency distributed via an ICO. At the start of 2013, Ripple Labs began to develop the Ripple payment system and generated approximately 100 billion XRP tokens. These were sold through an ICO to fund Ripple’s platform development.

Mastercoin is another cryptocurrency that has sold a few million tokens for Bitcoin during an ICO, also in 2013. Mastercoin aimed to tokenize Bitcoin transactions and execute smart contracts by creating a new layer on top of the existing Bitcoin code.

Of course, there are other cryptocurrencies that have been successfully funded through ICOs. Back in 2016, Lisk gathered approximately $5 million during their Initial Coin Offering.

Nevertheless, Ethereum’s ICO that took place in 2014 is probably the most prominent one so far. During their ICO, the Ethereum Foundation sold ETH for 0.0005 Bitcoin each, raising almost $20 million. With Ethereum harnessing the power of smart contracts, it paved the way for the next generation of Initial Coin Offerings.

Ethereum’s ICO, a recipe for success

Ethereum’s smart contracts system has implemented the ERC20 protocol standard that sets the core rules for creating other compliant tokens which can be transacted on Ethereum’s blockchain. This allowed others to create their own tokens, compliant with the ERC20 standard that can be traded for ETH directly on Ethereum’s network.

The DAO is a notable example of successfully using Ethereum’s smart contracts. The investment company raised $100 million worth of ETH and the investors received in exchange DAO tokens allowing them to participate in the governance of the platform. Sadly, the DAO failed after it was hacked.

Ethereum’s ICO and their ERC20 protocol have outlined the latest generation of crowdfunding blockchain-based projects via Initial Coin Offerings.

It also made it very easy to invest in other ERC20 tokens. You simply transfer ETH, paste the contract in your wallet and the new tokens will show up in your account so you can use them however you please.

Obviously, not all cryptocurrencies have ERC20 tokens living on Ethereum ‘s network but pretty much any new blockchain-based project can launch an Initial Coin Offering.

The legal state of ICOs

When it comes to the legality of ICOs, it’s a bit of a jungle out there. In theory, tokens are sold as digital goods, not financial assets. Most jurisdictions haven’t regulated ICOs yet so assuming the founders have a seasoned lawyer on their team, the whole process should be paperless.

Even so, some jurisdictions have become aware of ICOs and are already working on regulating them in a similar manner to sales of shares and securities.

Back in December 2017, the U.S. Securities And Exchange Commission (SEC) classified ICO tokens as securities. In other words, the SEC was preparing to halt ICOs they consider to be misleading investors.

There are some cases in which the token is just a utility token. This means the owner can simply use it to access a certain network or protocol in which case they may not be defined as a financial security. Nevertheless, equity tokens whose purpose is to appreciate in value are quite close to the concept of security. Truth be told, most token purchases are made specifically for investment purposes.

Despite the efforts of regulators, ICOs are still lingering in a grey legal area and until a clearer set of regulations is imposed entrepreneurs will attempt to benefit from Initial Coin Offerings.

It’s also worth mentioning that once regulations reach a final form, the cost and effort required to comply could make ICOs less attractive compared to conventional funding options.

Final words

For now, ICOs remain an amazing way to fund new crypto-related projects and there have been multiple successful ones with more to come.

However, keep in mind everyone is launching ICOs nowadays and many of these projects are scams or lack the solid foundation they need to thrive and make it worth the investment. For this reason, you should definitely do thorough research and investigate the team and background of whatever crypto project you might want to invest in. There are multiple websites out there that list ICOs, we recommend checking this ICO calendar if you’re interested to invest in a crypto project.

Top Financial Tips for Millennials

Are you a millennial who feels overwhelmed trying to manage your finances? Are you getting the most out of your money? Financial literacy is not often taught in schools and they don’t do a great job preparing their graduates to manage their finances. So when you’re out of college and start real life, it can be a little overwhelming and it is easy to get yourselves into debt and other financial trouble.

Most millennials are currently in their 20s and 30s – a time when many young people are ready to make major financial decisions in their lives, like home ownership, long-term investment activity, etc. If you’re currently a part of this generation here’s your crash course on what you should do to improve your financial wellness:

Take online financial courses
Since most young adults have the propensity for technology it is suggested you take a few basic online courses in economics, accounting, and any other financial topics that may be of interest to you.

Embrace Technology
When it comes down to managing your money there is probably an app. To help you do that. These apps. Can categorize your spending habits and help you manage your spending. These insights can help you save money each month and then transfer that money directly to your savings. Online financial apps can help you make a workable budget for your lifestyle and ultimately change your net worth.

When it comes down to managing your money there is probably an app to help you do that. Mobile apps like Clarity Money can help you track any wasteful spending habits. Digit and Stash can recommend where you can save money each month and then transfer that money directly to your savings. Online financial apps can help you make a workable budget for your lifestyle and ultimately change your net worth.

Examine Your Current Bank Accounts
Are you paying fees? If so, for what? Monthly maintenance and minimum balance fees should never be a fee on your account statement. Free checking accounts, are available, especially at credit unions and these accounts will help you keep more of your own money in your pockets. So don’t settle for anything else.

Build Your Credit and Understand the Impact of your Credit Score
Early on, you may only have a student loan or a credit card on your credit report. But now it’s time to start building your credit. Ask your credit union about a Credit Builder Loan to help jumpstart your credit. And if you already have some active loans, make sure you’re making payments on time every month. You’ll need that good credit history when you want to make big purchases in the future like a car, rent an apartment, or get a mortgage for your first home.

It’s also important to know that if you are planning on opening up a business your personal credit may be the defining factor in your ability to access necessary working capital.

Repay Debt Tactically
Since we are on the topic of credit, a lot of young adults have credit cards with very high interest rates. Focus on paying off those debts first! If possible, transfer those balances to a lower-rate credit card. It’s much easier to pay down debt when more is going toward the balance.

Track everything to obtain your whole financial picture
Just as businesses manage their cash flow, individuals need to do the same by tracking their income, expenses, assets and liabilities. There are many online tools to help you like Mint, Quicken and Personal Capital.

Build an Emergency Fund
Unplanned/unfair/unfortunate events can happen in the blink of an eye. You may get in a car accident, have unforeseen medical expenses or lose your job. That’s why it’s important for everyone to have an emergency fund. The best way is to set up an automatic savings plan where you pay yourself first by depositing a portion of your paycheck into a separate savings account. If you forget it’s there you won’t be tempted to spend it.

Create a Long-Term Savings Strategy
An emergency fund is a short-term strategy, but you also can’t forget the big picture. Does your employer offer a matching 401(k)? If so, be sure to take advantage of that opportunity. It’s fundamentally free money, and it’s an investment in your future.

Get yourself a financial mentor
Even though there is an overabundance of information and apps on the Internet to help with your financial security, it is far superior to pick the brain and bounce questions off a trusted friend or colleague. Their pertinent insights will most likely be tailored to your specific requirements.

Use these financial tips listed above to get your finances on track while you’re still young. You’ve got a bright future ahead – so start now and stick with it. Your financial well-being will thank you! Although these tips are targeted at millennials, they’re useful for all ages.