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ICO Analysis: NVO

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Decentralized exchanges have long been thought of as a solution to the problem of centralized exchanges getting hacked, people losing funds, bad actors stealing funds, and the like. In NVO we find one more solution to that end, one of many, and this must be noted up front or else you might be confused when you see multiple other decentralized exchanges in the wild. There will be many such exchanges. There will be some just dedicated to trading a certain asset into others. Eventually, a platform will arise that will act as a hub to inter-network all of them, making it possible to trade anything anywhere without having any centralized point of failure.

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That there is relatively little novelty in the basic concept of NVO is not a drawback. The model will definitely succeed, if not here then elsewhere, as it always does over the centralized alternatives. Things that are decentralized, like the Internet or torrents or The Onion Router, are hard to defeat because they are incredibly resilient. Thus, if NVO gets off the ground at all, it will probably proceed at some pace regardless of any problems that may arise for them.

The second component is a validator hosted on the Safenetwork. Users will connect to the Safenetwork through the wallet to exchange. An application will match the orders issued by the users and check all transactions and order informations are valid. Unlike centralized and semi-centralized exchanges, there isn’t a wallet acting as a relay. Transactions are processed simultaneously through an order matching engine from one wallet to another. The validator on the Safenetwork will check if the transactions are valid prior to being exchanged. The orders are then matched and transactions broadcasted in their respective networks. The validator process raw transactions and doesn’t hold any private keys or assets nor can it sign transactions resulting in a trustless decentralized exchange using the Safenetwork to validate orders.

This is what makes NVO unique, and whether or not it is a major plus is really up to you. The Safenetwork is a secure network which is underpinned by a token called Safecoin. While the whitepaper thoroughly outlines how the decentralized transactions will take place, and how they will be validated using the Safenetwork, the important thing is whether or not the thing is worth investing in. The token will be called NVOT (NVO Token) and will apparently have a fixed price. This doesn’t, of course, make it untradeable via other exchanges, which could give it varying prices and some volatility regardless of any efforts.

The interesting and important part is that token holders will receive a portion of the exchange’s earnings weekly. This means that the value of the token is in the value of the exchange’s turnover. So long as the exchange is making decent money, the token is valuable because it gives the holder access to profits without any extra effort. That’s an important feature of NVO, and a definite boost to its safety score – it does, however, require us to investigate the viability of the exchange.

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NVO – Viability Assessment

The overall safety of this investment is entirely dependent on the potential of the exchange to actually make money. A decentralized exchange encourages people to do trades amongst each other, after all, and this begs the question of what will happen in practice. How long will most actually go through the exchange before figuring out a way to get around the exchange and pay no fees at all? The exchange will already try to have fees so low that they are basically unnoticeable, but some will still even want to get rid of those when trading. This all, of course, raises the question of the possibility that such an exchange could never truly flourish because it wouldn’t need to – the job would be done once parties were connected, then the exchange becomes unnecessary.

Yet, the exchange may flourish. In fact, it has a good likelihood of doing so. People want new ways to trade, and removing centralized points of failure is a good way to attract such people. That is the challenge, after all, however – actually gathering people. Because, beyond the people who hold the tokens which back the system and help it come into existence, there have to be people coming in to use the platform and therefore return profits to those token holders. This number has to be somewhat exponential in order for the token to continue to gain value. This, of course, incentivizes the token holders to tell others about the platform and to use it themselves. Their own usage doesn’t build the value of the token as much, for the most part, but external investment of sizable amounts can raise the price of the token substantially. The price, after all, will be based on the amount of profits that are being returned every week from the exchange.

One thing that is for certain is that people have not been discouraged from trading on centralized exchanges despite the problems that were experienced in the past several years with exit scams, hacks, and so on. Instead, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency trading has been at all-time-high levels in recent times, and the value of most tokens, assets, and cryptocurrencies has risen in the past several months as a result of renewed interest. ICO has become a buzzword, and more and more people are throwing money into new projects, requiring thorough analysis of their utility. These assets would then be tradable on these decentralized exchanges, and they wouldn’t have to wait for approval from the exchanges. That is, as soon as you have an asset, you’re free to trade it. It can be safely assumed that there will be several types of thriving decentralized exchanges in the near future.

Who is Behind NVO

NVO CEO Ton Bi used to work for Coinpayments.net, which is a payment rail that many altcoins are able to use in order for stores to be able to quickly and easily accept their token. He claims five years total experience in the cryptocurrency space.

Lead developer Yanni Bragui says he has 14 years of software development experience. He has previously worked at Veserus, which is also a cryptocurrency exchange.

Imed Boudali founded Veserus and is the one who will be developing the adapter for the Safenetwork.

We see a lot of experience and talent in the team, and this should lead to at least a quality product which could, hopefully, for the investors at least, lead to a solid return later on. The ICO offering has been ongoing, and only has about ten days left at time of writing. That it it is still running at all is evidence that there is not an overabundance of hype surrounding this particular ICO, as we have seen some fund in minutes no matter their goals.

The Verdict

There are going to be a lot of plays like this one. If it’s really a space you are interested in, then you should probably put a small amount into each play, and hope that one takes off, to pay for those that don’t. This particular one has some nice features, like its eventual ability for fiat integration, and so we’re going to give it a 6.5 out of 10 in terms of interesting/good/probably-profitable investment.

Investment Details

You can currently invest in the NVO exchange by going to NVO.io and registering. The whitepaper mentions a fixed cost of 99 cents USD as a price for each token, and that a total of 15 million tokens will be issued – no more, no less.

Important: Never invest money you can't afford to lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here.



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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. magicnipples

    June 18, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    thank you for this analysisis, could we get a review about CIVIC coming very soon?

  2. juliengro

    June 18, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    Yes Please do one for civic

  3. drawarms

    June 19, 2017 at 6:57 am

    are you investing in NVO?

    • P. H. Madore

      June 24, 2017 at 11:40 pm

      No. If I invest in something, it will be noted in the article. I did invest in Creativechain, and took a healthful 400% gain from it.

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ICO

ICO Analysis: Lydian

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The market for initial coin offerings (ICOs) is exploding, as early-stage startups turn to crowdfunding for capital raises. But there’s a serious problem in this largely unregulated market: how can investors tell the difference between legitimate companies and dubious copycats?

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The SAFT protocol, which the author firmly supports, is one way in which the cryptocurrency community is vetting both coin sales and investors. Its proponents argue that SAFTs can create and sustain a self-regulated cryptocurrency market, something that is sorely needed.

Of course, regulators know nothing about SAFT, and are instead pursuing hard bans on ICOs. China and South Korea are the most prominent examples. As it turns out, some of the marketing and capital raise tactics used by ICOs can be downright abusive.

To its credit, Lydian has quickly caught on to the problems plaguing this nascent industry. Its gripe isn’t just with fraudsters, but anyone looking to bullshit their way to an ICO using the unsavory practices of rent-charging, abusing marketing and half-assed campaigns. This isn’t entirely due to neglect.

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Lydian’s market research finds that the average ICO spends between $100,000 and $500,000 on digital marketing. Unfortunately, their delivery method is archaic and poorly executed. To make matters even more complicated, companies must continue to advertise aggressively long after the token sale has ended. After all, the end of a token sale is when the work really begins.

The LydianCoin attempts to solve the problems plaguing token raises by offering AI-powered digital marketing services. The coin itself doesn’t have any magical powers; it simply represents a way to pre-pay for the services of Lydian’s parent company, Gravity4. Of course, its services aren’t limited to ICO issuers, but any company in need of marketing analytics.

Gravity4 markets itself as “The World’s First AI Big Data Marketing Cloud.” It currently boasts Fortune 1000 companies and makes use of advanced technology to deliver personalized marketing solutions.

So, why are they launching the blockchain-based LydianCoin? Probably as a way to reduce costs, raise hype and continue to scale up its niche marketing prowess. The company appears to be on to something with its MonaLisa platform, which is itself built on a blockahin. Through MonaLisa, Gravity4 is looking to combat fraud in the advertising industry.

Fraudulent marketing practices are actually a huge deal. Even Facebook has admitted to inflating its ad metrics. (In fact, they came under scrutiny again in September.)

The LydianCoin Token

Lydian (LDN) is an ERC20-based Ethereum token that will form the basis of the company’s forthcoming ICO launch. The token sale will accept bitcoin and ether payments for its capital raise. Early indications are that the LDN token will be valued at $5 USD.

LDN is described as a “value-stabilized cryptocurrency,” which can be negotiated back to Lydian to obtain marketing services that leverage years of aggregated marketing data. This includes marketing placement and customer interaction metrics and disintermediate advertising channels. The end-user is promised superior marketing metrics at a lower net cost. The tokens may be used immediately upon issuance.

The total value of the proposed raise is expected to be $100 million. The company will use the proceeds as reserves against the provision of future digital advertising and marketing services.

Lydian’s pre-sale is currently active, and has raised $10 million in 72 hours. Until Nov. 20, investors will receive a 25% bonus on their investment. The official issuance date is Nov. 20.

For two hours after the issuance date, the token will be available for a 15% discount that drops to 10% over the next 22 hours. From the day after the issuance date through Nov. 27, no bonus will be available.

The Team

Lydian’s crowdsale is headed by the executive team at Gravity4. As we mentioned previously, Gravity4 has already delved into the world of blockchain with its MonaLisa platform.

The founder of the company is Gurbaksh Chahal, an entrepreneur with 17 years of experience in digital advertising. He has his fingerprints on numerous successful internet advertising companies, including ClickAgent and BlueLithium, which sold for a combined $340 million in separate deals.

However, the news surrounding Chahal isn’t all positive. In 2014, the executive pleaded guilty to abusing his then-girlfriend. Now, he faces possible jail time for violating probation in another case of violence against women. He is also being sued by four previous employees for harassment and discrimination – claims Chahal says are “baseless” and “frivolous.” (All according to Forbes.)

The company’s Managing Director Grant Allaway and Kevin Huang have a combined 32 years of experience.

Gravity4 has also retained Mazars Ireland as its auditors and added legal advisers Dentons U.S. LLP and Berger Singerman LLP.

Solid team, if you look past the possible legal issues facing the founder.

Verdict

Lydian  is backed by a solid digital marketing company. Its tokens serve a viable business function for customers and vendors in pursuit of customized marketing solutions. For actual investors, the benefits are less compelling. (After all, the token is a reserve against future digital advertising and marketing services.)

That being said, the company faces several legal challenges that extend far beyond the key executive’s past behavior. These need to be weighed carefully to determine whether the $100 million valuation is justified.

The company is also endorsed by Paris Hilton, so take that for what it’s worth.

Risks

  • The head of Gravity4, Gurbaksh Chahal, has pleaded guilty to domestic violence and faces possible jail time for violating probation. If you’re a holder of LDN, this doesn’t exactly stoke feelings of confidence in the executive team or its direction. Let’s also not fail to mention that the company has four outstanding lawsuits.
  • The main purpose of the Lydian token sale is to pay for Gravity4’s services in dollars. So, really, what exactly is the point of the token? There are other ways to obtain upfront or advanced payments for your services. Why go through all the trouble of minting a cryptocurrency?
  • The only real value proposition for  giving Gravity4 your money is the promise of “exclusive access” to features it is developing in the future. What are those features, exactly?
  • Industry experts, once again cited by Forbes, suggest that LydianCoin meets the SEC’s definition of a security. In deeming DAO to be a security, the SEC used what is known as the Howey test. Lydian seems to meet the criteria set out in that test, which could put it in regulatory hot water.
  • For all the hype surrounding the ICO, the company makes very little effort to engage the community. There’s a couple thousand followers on Twitter, but no direct engagement model on other channels.

Growth potential

  • Lydian’s parent company has a proven track record in blockchain. This is somewhat of a rarity for ICOs, at least the ones the author has reviewed.
  • Gravity4 has serious growth potential, especially in terms of scalability. The business model allows the company to grow without risking too much overhead or intermediary costs. The application of AI and big data to marketing has many people excited.
  • The token sale raised $10 million in 72 hours, so clearly people are lining up to participate.

Disposition

As you’ve probably noticed, the author has omitted an individual score on each of the risks and growth drivers. That’s because he believes the risks far outweigh the rewards, but doesn’t feel justified giving a “negative rating.” That’s because Gravity4 seems to have a good business model and something real to offer the advertising community. How does this translate into an ICO raise? Well, it doesn’t.

Although the ICO has sucked in eight-figures in less than three days, that itself doesn’t justify buying it. There are too many red flags involving Chahal and the regulatory circumstances surrounding the “utility token.” The author doesn’t see any long-term benefits to the crowdraise, unless it’s to bank on the cryptocurrency craze.

Against this backdrop, we’ve assigned Lydian a rating of 2.5 out of 10. The token might succeed from a crowdraise perspective, but that doesn’t mean you should buy.

Investment Details

  • Type: Crowdsale
  • Pre-Sale: Ongoing
  • Opening Sale: Nov. 27, 2017
  • End Date; Dec. 4, 2017
  • Platform: Ethereum (ETH)
  • Total Supply: 40 million (20 million to be sold via token sale)
  • Total Supply Available for Advertisers: ~800,000
  • Token Price: $5.00 USD (with discounts available)
  • Fundraising Goal: $100 million USD
  • Payments Accepted: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash, ZCash, ZEC, Waves, Credit Card, USD wire transfers.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest money you can't afford to lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here.



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ICO

ICO Analysis: Datum

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Did you know the word Datum is singular for data? I didn’t!

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As the name suggests Datum’s business model revolves around data.

The Datum network allows anyone to store structured data securely in a decentralized way on a smart contract blockchain. The DAT smart token enables optional selling and buying of stored data while enforcing data usage rules as set by the data owner.

Nowadays data is an asset which is as valuable as oil and machines used to be in the past. It has become a strategic asset that allows companies to acquire or maintain a competitive edge. User data can find many applications and uses, most important being advertising and research.

“If you are not paying for the product, you are the product.” – Andrew Lewis, 2010.

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Internet conglomerates like Facebook, Google, Twitter provide their services for free but in exchange exploit a user’s personal data. Sensitive information like personal emails are accessed by Google to sell information to advertisers. The data ecosystem is now worth billions of dollars, however the most important component of this system i.e the user, is the only one who is not actively involved. Datum is creating a decentralized network where users will have all the control over their data and will get paid for sharing it.

Datum network is based on smart contracts which enable the sharing and exchange of data. Datum client will be a web and mobile based application where user submits the data along with its usage terms. The data gets encrypted and stored in decentralized form using IPFS and BigChainDB. Users will have to pay some fee to the network storage miners. Once buyers submit their requirements, smart contracts match the attributes and release data in exchange of access charges taken from the buyer.

Apple’s Healthkit is similar to what Datum aims to offer. However the data stored on Healthkit is centrally located and owned by Apple, and the users don’t get paid for sharing their data. The team has not given many usecases of the product usage in their short whitepaper apart from a few examples of data monopoly of internet giants like Facebook and Google. Newly launched AirToken also pays users for enabling access to data. The concept of Datum is somewhat different, you can check our review of AirToken here. Companies like Papyrus,Qchain are creating digital advertising ecosystems in which users get paid for sharing their data to advertisers. They are limited to advertising ecosystem, while Datum aims to cover other domains as well, although we don’t exactly know which ones.

Token and Crowdraise

DAT is the only token to be used on the platform. DAT will be used in various stages of the product offering. Users will have to pay DATs to access the network and store data. Data buyers will pay DATs to register on the network and access user data. Third party services of CIVIC, IPFS, BigChainDB will be used in the network.

The ICO will begin on 29th October. The total supply of DAT will be 3 billion of which 1.53 Billion will be available for the ICO. There is a softcap of $5 million and a hardcap of $45 million. One DAT is valued at around $0.03. 20% of the total supply of 3 billion is kept for the team. 60% of the funds raised will be used for development and 15% for marketing.

Team

CEO Roger Haenni is a serial entrepreneur with extensive experience in big data systems. He has cofounded 4 companies one of which includes StockX. StockX is a venture capital backed e-commerce site for global sneaker resale market. The whitepaper lists 8 members in the team and 1 adviser. Adviser Daniel Saito is the cofounder of MySQL. A recent blogpost shows addition of 3 new advisers and a few more team members. The core team has no prior blockchain experience, they have hired 2 Stanford undergrads as blockchain engineers. We give an average rating to the team. The team’s lack of blockchain experience should have been compensated by having more advisers who have worked with the technology.

Verdict

Even after a user downloads Datum, what is stopping Facebook, Google, Amazon from sharing user’s data. That’s how the internet economy works. Facebook, Google are providing free services to users only because they get the data. The “only users have access to their data” part of the advertising campaign is somewhat misleading. IF very strict antitrust laws come up which prevent internet giants from collecting user info without their permission, then the business model might find value. Atleast for the decentralized digital advertising bit, companies like Papyrus, Airtoken seem to be much better placed. As for the other usecases, there is not much information available. There is a mention of car data, where users will sell data that their car generates using Datum. But then how are they planning to do that? Are they actively seeking partnerships with car manufactures like Dovu does? Overall we feel the idea is good, but the scope is too broad for a single team to handle. We hope the team shares some more details through blog posts etc.

Risks

  • The scope of the project is too big for small team to handle. Many projects are working on the issue of data ownership, but they are focused on niche segments. -3
  • The whitepaper leaves you with many questions in mind. -2
  • For a project of this scale a large adviser network is needed. The whitepaper mentions only one adviser. A blog post informing about addition of 3 new advisers was posted on 14th October. Did they add 3 new advisers just two weeks before an ICO where they want to raise $45 million? -0.5

Growth Potential

  • The concept of data ownership holds a lot of potential. +2
  • Datum can definitely scale in usecases like medicine, where something similar to HealthKit can be created. +4
  • Tokens used in transactions will be burnt, creating value for token holders as the network scales. +2

Disposition

We arrive at a score of 2.5 out of 10 for Datum. The score seems valid considering the many underlying grey areas.

Investment Details

The ICO begins on 29th October. You can register for the whitelist here.

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ICO

ICO Analysis: Worldcore

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From the perspective of ICOs, Worldcore stands apart for the fact that it is already known as a successful payment solution. Established in 2014, the Czech-based company offers an online transfer service that specializes in bank wires, prepaid withdrawal cards, instant credit card payments and free money transfers.

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The company only recently announced plans to create a peer-to-peer lending platform hosted over the blockchain. While some may say Worldcore is being opportunistic, it boasts a client base of more than 25,000 people across the globe. In 2017, it has already cleared $100 million in transaction volume.

As a regulated payment solution with an EU license to operate in the Czech Republic, Worldcore has had great success in its first few years. It has an established track record, a decent business model and aspirations of global expansion. It also picked the right time to enter crypto.

But that doesn’t mean Worldcore doesn’t have limitations. As we’ll discuss in the following sections, the company’s lofty valuation is more than just a pat on the back for the good work it has done in recent years.

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If that isn’t enough, we invite anyone to visit the company’s site (or is it, this one?) and try to make sense exactly what it is that Worldcore offers. The author isn’t proud to admit he had to visit several third-party websites just to figure out that the company is an online transfer service. You might be thinking, bad copywriters? Maybe. But what if we told you Worldcore is also planning to launch a 24/7 TV service? From the scant details we were able to obtain from the whitepaper, WorldcoreTV will be launched if and when the company raises $25 million. On that note, the whitepaper is a 73-page poster that doesn’t offer much to the tech-savvy investor.

Worldcore Token

Worldcore launched its WRC token Oct. 14 on the Ethereum blockchain. One WRC is valued at $0.10 USD, with a total market cap of $100 million USD. A total of 1 billion tokens will be circulated during the ICO. Investors can participate in the raise using fiat currencies like the euro and U.S. dollar, as well as cryptocurrencies.

Worldcore’s motivation for the crowdraise is to leverage the blockchain in pursuit of bigger business. The company isn’t just dabbing its foot in the ledger technology, but actually converting its business operation to enable greater blockchain capability.

In its whitepaper, the company emphasizes the following target audience for its services:

  • Freelancers
  • Big companies
  • Fundraisers
  • Online shops and retailers
  • Online marketplaces
  • Common people
  • All kinds of small business

With a list like that, it’s clear Worldcore is thinking very big. The company’s global reach is demonstrated by the fact that it has translated its website into more than ten languages.

Anyone who wants to send money overseas, facilitate business-to-business transactions and utilize unique security enhancements like voice recognition is Worldcore’s target market.

The company has an aggressive roadmap that begins by obtaining membership of the major credit cards, SWIFT and SEPA networks by Q1 2018. With $10 million in funding, it plans to open “5 fully-packed offices in 5 more EU countries” by Q1 2019. If it reaches $25 million in funding, it will launch its WorldcoreTV service, “the world’s first 24/7 hybrid of TV channel and digital media focused on Fintech & BlockChain industries with online and international 24/7 broadcasting through Satellite and IPTV.”

At $50 million raised, the company plans to transform into a Swiss bank. It believes it can do this by mid-2019.

WRC tokens are essentially a stake in the newly developed blockchain-focused company. In other words, think of your WRC tokens as stocks. There doesn’t seem to be any direct use of the tokens within the company’s network, except to reap profits from Worldcore’s business growth. Worldcore is offering 30% profit to its investors.

If “slow money” isn’t your style, you can trade the WRC token on the digital currency exchange. This option will be available to token holders immediately. The company says it will provide a full list of exchanges where WRC is accepted at the end of the ICO.

The Team

In terms of personnel, there’s quite a bit of clout behind the Worldcore executive. Founder and CEO Alex Nasonov was listed in the Financial Times annual ranking of New Europe 100 changemakers in Central and Eastern Europe. The company also has a solid list of general partners that includes Bitpay.

Against this backdrop, the author has little doubt that Worldcore is home to a solid team. However, very little information is provided about them, their credentials or the advisers they’ve selected.

Based on the whitepaper, Worldcore is home to at least three developers, 20-plus support and development staff and a core team of managers. The company also consults with advisers, but does not name them.

The team operates in accordance with EU law, so there’s little to be concerned about from the perspective of legitimacy, regulation and business ethics.

Verdict

Worldcore is a highly ambitious company with a proven track record in its niche market. But as an outsider, understanding the company’s service offerings and assigning it a valuation has proven difficult. We feel that the strategy behind the capital raise veers away from the company’s core service offering. As an outsider, the roadmap for growth seems a little far fetched (as a reminder, Worldcore says it can become a full-fledged Swiss bank in less than two years).

Risks 

  • At $100 million USD, Worldcore is significantly overvalued. Although the company doesn’t state its revenues, the price tag is too high for what it currently offers. Of course, this hard cap is based on potential, but the author isn’t too excited about WorldcoreTV. -5
  • The roadmap for growth makes very little sense. Capital raise via ICO makes even less sense from the information we gathered from the whitepaper and the website. -3
  • Although the development team has been involved in blockchain since 2016, there’s no mention of blockchain or cryptocurrency expertise or experience. The team has done a good job offering an online payment service, but what exactly does this mean from the perspective of blockchain? By the looks of it, Worldcore is taking a deep dive into this technology. Can we really be sure it’s going about it the right way? -3
  • Competition looms large for any blockchain-based payment service. This will work against Worldcore, which, again, has very little experience. -3

Potential Growth

  • Worldcore is scaling up its core services quickly, and the company expects to clear $150 million in transaction volume this year. +4
  • The company’s CEO has established a good track record that has not gone unrecognized. +1

Disposition

Based on the above, we assign the Worldcore ICO a rating of 1 out of 10. The holes in the business plan are simply too glaring to even consider funding a project of this nature. We certainly don’t take anything away from the company’s growth, but the project idea does not compute.

Hacked.com members have a high propensity for spotting shoddy whitepapers. The Worldcore write-up is one of the weakest seen. Once again, we invite our members to give it a read and share if they have any unique or differing perspectives.

Investment Details

For more information about the Worldcore token raise, visit the main website.

  • Project Type: Crowdsale
  • Opening Date: Oct. 14, 2017
  • End Date; Nov. 14, 2017
  • Platform: Ethereum (ETH)
  • Total Supply: 1 billion tokens
  • Token Price: $0.10 USD (all unsold tokens will be burned upon the ICO’s closure)

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest money you can't afford to lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here.



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