PricewaterhouseCoopers has released a new ICO study in collaboration with Crypto Valley.
PwC is a tax and accounting company with approximately 200,000 employees and billions of dollars of yearly revenue. In November 2017 the company started accepting Bitcoin payments and giving customers advice on ICO investments. Crypto Valley is a government-supported economic zone in the Swiss city of Zug. It has become known as the Silicon Valley of cryptocurrency.
The report is called “A strategic perspective”. It paints a positive picture of the ICO market.
The period covered is up to May 2018. The study notes that as cryptocurrency prices are very changeable, the figures displayed may not reflect current values.
Since records began in 2013, just over $21 billion has been raised in total from 11,568 ICO projects. More than half of that ($13.7 billion) was raised in the first five months of 2018 by 537 projects.
Compare this with the just over $7 billion raised in 2017 by 552 projects, and we get an impression of a dramatically growing market.
ICOs that hit the $1 billion mark have gained a new nickname – unicorns. There have so far been two unicorns – Telegram, which raised $1.7 billion, and EOS, which raised $4.1 billion. These both occurred in 2018 and so are responsible for a large part of the recorded volumes.
On this subject, the report notes that regulation worldwide is inconsistent and it identifies three broad approaches: the US is securities-drive, Europe is balanced, and Asia is “binary”, by which it means that on that continent ICOs are either allowed or are completely illegal.
The study lists the general environment of the US, Switzerland, and Singapore. It says that they all have a positive attitude overall, but the latter two treat tokens as assets while the USA has decided that they are securities. In fact, this is not strictly true – the SEC has decided that Ethereum is not a security and Ripple is currently working this matter out in court. Comparing the three, the lack of clarity of US regulation makes it appear less attractive than the other two.
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The report also mentions the fact that Gibraltar, Malta, and Liechtenstein have been actively trying to attract cryptocurrency companies.
Developing regulation has affected the geographical distribution of the ICO market. In 2017 the top three countries were:
USA (87 projects, $1.7 billion)
Switzerland (33 projects, $1.4 billion)
Singapore (35 projects, $641 million).
The ranking has changed in 2018:
Cayman Islands (10 projects, $4.2 billion)
British Virgin Islands (16 projects, $2,227 billion)
Singapore (53 projects, $1.1 billion).
Other interesting developments include Estonia, Lithuania and Israel appearing in the top ten, Japan leaving it, and the UK overtaking Switzerland.
It concludes the study be making recommendations for a successful fundraising season. It suggests trying to raise money through traditional means in addition to the token sale, avoiding promoting the project too aggressively, and transparently communicating with investors even after the money is raised.
It also stresses the importance of legality – checking the requirements in your jurisdiction and sticking to them.
In March, data recovered by CoinDesk found that despite signs that the market was slowing down towards the end of 2017, more money was raised in the first three months of 2018 than the whole of 2017. Another study by Diar found that the 40 percent of the ICO money raised in 2017 came from a very small number of companies, the vast majority of which, worryingly, were not available to talk to. Research from a Russian regulatory organisation published in April 2018 found that a full half of the ICO money raised in Russia in 2017 went to pyramid schemes,