Initial coin offering (ICO) is an unregulated means through which startups raise funds for a cryptocurrency venture. ICOs are used for the purpose of bypassing the rigorous processes of fund-raising that most banks require. Initial coin offering is also known as initial currency offering and derives from initial public offerings (IPO).
ICO is a recent concept that came to be with the rise of the cryptocurrency world. despite its brief existence, it has an eventful history as the engaging visual narrative below provided by BTXchange clearly shows.
The first recorded ICO was conducted by Mastercoin in July 2013. In 2014, Ethereum, the current leading blockchain for ICOs, raised more than $2.3 million within the first 12 hours of making their initial coin offering.
Due to the unregulated nature of ICO, there has been a number of problems with the fund raising venture, mostly due to thefts, frauds and failures. For example, in February 2018, a crypto startup named Giza raised $2.4 million in a fake ICO that involved more than 1000 investors. In 2016, an ICO named Dao that raised $150 million had a bug in the smart contract that led to the loss of $60 million.
ICO is currently banned in some countries such as China and South Korea, and ICO adverts are banned on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google.
Despite the fact that ICO is often labeled as an avenue for scams and fraudulent activities, startups still continue to benefit from funds that are raised from ICOs. As at the beginning of second quarter of 2018, the network communications industry had raised almost $700 million from ICOs while the healthcare industry had raised over $200 million.