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Despite Regulatory Hurdles, ICOs Raise $1.2 Billion in January

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January was one of the strongest months yet for the bustling world of initial coin offerings (ICOs), as billions poured into the market in spite of growing regulatory scrutiny in places like China and the United States.

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ICOs by the Numbers

Startups in January raised $1.18 billion via ICO crowdfunding campaigns, according to data provider ICOData. The total capital raise for the month was superseded only by the December tally, which came in at a whopping $1.67 billion.

So far in February, $192 million has poured into coin offerings, bringing the yearly total to $1.38 billion spread out across 176 projects.

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The ICO market is coming off a record-breaking year, with more than $6 billion in funding raised. With Telegram set to launch an ICO, 2018 could be the market’s biggest year yet. The hugely popular messaging app is planning to generate $2 billion through public and private sales, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Even with record amounts flowing into the market, many companies are struggling to reach their target funding amount. A massive influx of projects combined with greater investor scrutiny have made the market much more competitive than it was even six months ago.

There are currently more than 1,500 cryptocurrencies in circulation, with many more planned in the coming weeks. Outside of the top 200, few coins are trading for more than a dollar.

Regulation and the Way Forward

The January feat is even more impressive considering the growing number of ICOs barring U.S. citizens and permanent residents from participating. Although ICOs are no illegal in the United States, federal regulators are keeping a close eye on the market for signs of securities violations. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – the regulator in question – does not care if a project labels its token a “utility” token; if it provides the same function of a security, it will be deemed such.

That’s one of the core messages SEC Chairman Jay Clayton will deliver on Tuesday in a prepared testimony before the Senate Banking Committee.

Testifying before lawmakers, Clayton will insist that:

“Tokens and offerings that incorporate features and marketing efforts that emphasize the potential for profits based on the entrepreneurial or managerial efforts of others continue to
contain the hallmarks of a security under U.S. law.”

Many startups are simply foregoing the American market entirely to ensure they don’t unknowingly violate the SEC’s stern guidelines, as was the cast last summer when The DAO was deemed to be a security token.

ICOs have been illegal in China since September, but that hasn’t stopped keen investors from participating. Now, Beijing’s so-called “Great Firewall of China” is ratcheting up efforts to block access to foreign services.

Fortune recently quoted a central bank-affiliated newspaper in stating, “Overseas transactions and regulatory evasion have resumed.”

The same source indicated that the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) will “tighten regulations” on citizens participating in overseas cryptocurrency markets, including ICOs.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 415 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Canaan Mining Company Is Planning the Biggest Ever Blockchain IPO

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China’s second-largest bitcoin miner is planning to launch an initial public offering (IPO) this summer with the stated goal of raising $2 billion, according to sources familiar with the matter. If successful, the public sale would be the largest the crypto industry has ever seen.

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Canaan IPO

Canaan Creative submitted its IPO application to the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (HKEX) on May 15, having previously short-listed the United States for its public sale. The Beijing-based miner has yet to comment on its plans, but sources say it seeks to raise between $1 billion and $2 billion.

The company aims to start trading shares in Hong Kong by July. Its application is still pending approval by HKEX.

Canaan controls roughly 15% of the global market for bitcoin mining chips. Revenues and profit surged last year as bitcoin prices topped $19,500 on major exchanges. Company financials reveal a seven-fold increase in profit last year to 361 million yuan ($56.67 million). Canaan’s customers are primarily large-scale miners with thousands of machines working 24 hours a day.

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In May of last year, Canaan raised 300 million yuan ($43 million) in Series A funding with participation from Jin Jiang International Group and Baopu Asset Management, among others.

Mining Profitability in Decline

Canaan plans to go public at a time when mining profitability is in decline. Mining bitcoin is 60% less profitable today than it was in 2017, with retailers confirming a sharp decline in rig demand.

Sources familiar with the IPO say Canaan is marketing itself not as a bitcoin company but as a manufacturer of high-end chips. The company announced last year it was developing chips for artificial intelligence applications. In addition to bitcoin mining equipment, it is also focusing on other blockchain applications.

Speaking of Canaan, a source told Reuters that, “Their customers happen to be bitcoin miners. But they are a chip company, not a bitcoin company.”

Canaan’s IPO could transform the market’s perception of ‘bitcoin proxy stocks,’ a phrase used to describe indirect exposure to cryptocurrency by way of companies operating in the blockchain space. Examples include Nvidia, Longfin Corp and Riot Blockchain.

A successful IPO would likely encourage other blockchain companies to consider a public offering of their own. This would give investors more options to invest in the blockchain economy without having to own volatile cryptocurrencies.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 415 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Google Courts Vitalik Buterin to Assist With Mysterious Cryptocurrency Project

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Despite banning cryptocurrency ads, Google is exploring new applications of blockchain technology, according to Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, who was recently courted by the technology giant to assist in the mysterious project.

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A Job at Google?

In a recent Twitter post, Vitalik Buterin revealed that Google’s human resources department had contacted him about a potential job offer. Buterin shared a screenshot of an email from Google recruiter Elizabeth Garcia, who expressed a strong desire to onboard the 24-year-old programmer. Though the post has since been removed, Garcia apparently said Google would make a great fit for Buterin.

Buterin’s post was accompanied by a poll asking followers if he should quit Ethereum and go work for Google. About 59% of the respondents said he should not abandon work on ether.

It is unclear why Buterin deleted the message, although he later tweeted the following: “Too bad you can’t quote tweet someone and add a poll.”

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Google has yet to comment on the email.

Silicon Valley Embracing Blockchain

Though details remain scant, Google has previously expressed interest in blockchain technology. A spokesperson for the company told Business Insider in March that Google was exploring potential applications for distributed ledger technology, but that it was too early to speculate about possible use cases.

Some analysts believe Google’s Cloud service could be an ideal fit for blockchain applications. Just as Google Cloud customers can use the service to build databases, they might be able to design a blockchain through it.

Facebook, another company that has banned crypto-based advertising from its platform, has already announced plans to explore blockchain technology. The social media giant revealed earlier this month that it is putting together an exploratory blockchain group that will report to directly to Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer.

IBM is another company making strong inroads into blockchain. Though much older than its internet peers, the 106-year-old company is contributing code to an open-source project that encourages startups to explore blockchain technology. In addition to running its own blockchain business, IBM recently announced a partnership with Veridium Labs to develop a cryptocurrency that tokenizes carbon credits. The new currency will be launched on the Stellar blockchain.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 415 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Parity Wallet’s ICO Passport Services Are Shutting Down

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Parity Wallet has succumbed to EU regulatory pressure and is shutting down it’s PICOPS services on May 24th, 2018.

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EU Crackdown

PICOPS, a service which allowed customers to associated a single Ethereum address with their identity to simplify KYC requirements, allegedly due to the more stringent requirements of the EU’s new GDPR legal framework.

The Parity Wallet team itself posted a statement saying, “We are looking at ways of resolving the uncertainty and making PICOPS compliant with GDPR while keeping it useful. However, as things stand the solutions we have identified restrict the service to a very limited set of features.

Because of this, the significant resources required to make PICOPS GDPR-compliant, and the fact that PICOPS is not part of our core technology stack, we have decided to discontinue the service despite overwhelming market needs and demand.”

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The team remained open to restarting the service in the future however, stating, “These challenges make running a service like PICOPS more difficult. We are looking at ways of resolving the uncertainty and making PICOPS compliant with GDPR while keeping it useful. However, as things stand the solutions we have identified restrict the service to a very limited set of features.

Because of this, the significant resources required to make PICOPS GDPR-compliant, and the fact that PICOPS is not part of our core technology stack, we have decided to discontinue the service despite overwhelming market needs and demand. PICOPS’s deprecation does not mean that we are going to wait and see what happens to blockchains under regulation.”

Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin tweeted his disappointment with decision on Friday, but didn’t go into specifics about the state of EU regulation.

Based on the company’s statements, it seems likely that Parity Wallet will continue to be an active voice in trying to steer more crypto-friendly regulations into law. But the shuttering of an incredibly useful tool could be interpreted as a byproduct of international government’s growing hostility to all things blockchain.

Governments around the world are still in the very early stages of understanding, defining and adequately regulating cryptocurrencies. The state of crypto regulation varies wildly across the board, with some nations recognizing cryptocurrency as money and others banning them outright.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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