The latest cryptocurrency boom is beginning to stall as regulators worldwide turn their attention to the initial coin offerings, which have driven a precipitous rise in the sectors market value reaching a high of $177bn (136bn).
The total value of the hundreds of tracked cryptocurrencies has fallen by more than 18% to $145bn since Fridays high, according to analytics site CoinMarketCap. The collapse seems to have been triggered by a ruling from the Chinese central bank that declared it illegal to raise money through launching new cryptocurrencies.
An initial coin offering (ICO) is a relatively recent innovation for cryptocurrency developers, and involves selling a number of cryptographic tokens to investors at the launch of the project. These tokens can represent almost anything, from another attempt to make a Bitcoin analogue to exclusive access to an app or service. They have been responsible for some big funding rounds: adblocking browser Braveraised $35m for its ICO, while an ICO for service designed to help ICOs raised more than $150m.
ICOs have even become popular enough for celebrities including Floyd Mayweather and Paris Hilton to jump on board. The hotel heiress has actually been involved in the area for more than a year, having met with the COO of prominent blockchain firm Ethereum in 2016.
Since the concept was first mooted, however, there have been concerns over its legality, with experts warning that selling a cryptographic token which entitles the holder to a share of profits in a business could be a violation of financial regulations.
Now, the Peoples Bank of China has confirmed just that. Individuals and organisations that have completed ICO fund raising should make arrangements to return funds, according to a joint statement from the bank, Chinas securities and banking regulators, and several other government departments.
Some experts still think the sector has hope. Zennon Kapron, director of the Shanghai-based financial technology consultancy Kapronasia, said he suspected regulators were putting the brakes on ICOs in order to better understand the phenomenon, but could ease off in the future.
Regulators globally are struggling to understand what ICOs are, what the risks are, and how to ring-fence and regulate them, he said. China, in many ways, is no different than the US or Singapore in saying: OK, we need to push back on these for now until we figure out how to deal with them. I think it will be slightly a temporary measure.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued its own ruling in July. While not as wide-ranging as the Chinese statement, it leaned in the same direction. The agency said: Depending on the facts and circumstances, the offering may involve the offer and sale of securities.
If that is the case, the offer and sale of virtual coins or tokens must itself be registered with the SEC, or be performed pursuant to an exemption from registration.
The SECs statement was prompted by the conclusion of its investigation into the biggest ICO failure to date, a 2016 experiment called the DAO which ended up losing millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies due to a bug in its software.
The SECs stance has also had a chilling effect on the creation of new ICOs in the US. At least two planned offerings have been put on hold as a result of the document. One, Harbour, said it was a pre-emptive action based on the projects conclusion that there is just too much uncertainty within our current model to forge ahead without some careful assessment and perhaps revision. Another, Protostarr, was cancelled after its chief executive was investigated by the SEC.
Those in the cryptocurrency sector believe a short period of overregulation will eventually be reversed as the merits of the technology become clear.
The initial coin offering is a new business model leveraging blockchain technology and it will remain, said Oliver Bussman, of the Switzerland-based Crypto Valley Association. This is not the end of the ICO absolutely not.
While some ICOs are unambiguously analogous to stocks and shares, many, such as those which offer resellable access to an application to the holders, are more novel, and may survive regulation unscathed.
- Cryptocurrency Exchange Says It Can't Access $190 Million ... - February 5th, 2019
- What's the Best Cryptocurrency to Invest in Today? - January 9th, 2019
- Cryptocurrency Trading Easy tips to get started | AvaTrade - January 9th, 2019
- Thailand Issues 4 Cryptocurrency Licenses, Rejects 2 ... - January 9th, 2019
- NASDAQ, Fidelity Invest in New Cryptocurrency Exchange ... - January 9th, 2019
- Cryptocurrency News | Cryptocurrency News | Blockchain ... - January 9th, 2019
- Differences Between Cryptocurrency Coins and Tokens - January 9th, 2019
- Cryptocurrency Charts - January 8th, 2019
- What is cryptocurrency? - cointelegraph.com - January 4th, 2019
- Blockchain Will Survive A Cryptocurrency Apocalypse - January 1st, 2019
- Cryptocurrency - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - December 25th, 2018
- Is Cryptocurrency Dead for Good? | Investopedia - December 6th, 2018
- Cryptocurrency scammers dupe Singaporeans out of $78,000 in ... - December 6th, 2018
- Invest in Cryptocurrency With Spare Change - Black Enterprise - November 28th, 2018
- What is Mining Cryptocurrency? What you need to know... - November 26th, 2018
- Saudi Arabia Will Launch Its Own Cryptocurrency in 2019 ... - November 23rd, 2018
- Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrency Prices Are Crashing Again ... - November 17th, 2018
- Homepage - Cryptocurrency Army - November 14th, 2018
- Cryptocurrency - Simple English Wikipedia, the free ... - November 14th, 2018
- How To Create Your Own Cryptocurrency - fastcompany.com - November 14th, 2018
- Cryptocurrency price plunge worse than bursting of dotcom ... - September 18th, 2018
- Iran, North Korea and Venezuela turning to cryptocurrency ... - September 12th, 2018
- SEC halts trading in two cryptocurrency products, citing ... - September 12th, 2018
- Cryptocurrency News, ICO Reviews & Blockchain Updates ... - September 9th, 2018
- Cryptocurrency "miners," utilities look for ways to get along ... - August 29th, 2018
- Cryptocurrency: Virtual money, real power, and the fight ... - August 28th, 2018
- Pornhub Now Accepts PumaPay Cryptocurrency - August 27th, 2018
- NK hackers target Mac users with trojan cryptocurrency app ... - August 27th, 2018
- Cryptocurrency: The unlucky investors who got in at the wrong ... - August 26th, 2018
- cryptocurrency coins Archives - The Industry Spread - August 26th, 2018
- cryptocurrency Archives - Page 6 of 6 - The Industry Spread - August 26th, 2018
- Cryptocurrency investment in SMSF - hallandwilcox.com.au - August 26th, 2018
- How To Choose The Best Cryptocurrency Wallet - Crypto News AU - August 26th, 2018
- Courses | Cryptocurrency Australia - August 26th, 2018
- What Every Investor Should Know Before Buying Cryptocurrency ... - August 26th, 2018
- The biggest cryptocurrency hack in the history of blockchain - August 26th, 2018
- After the Bitcoin Boom: Hard Lessons for Cryptocurrency ... - August 21st, 2018
- Cryptocurrency Rankings | CryptoSlate - August 14th, 2018
- Bitcoin price falls after SEC postpones key ETF decision - August 12th, 2018
- Brokers Cryptocurrency Deals Are Focus of SEC Review ... - August 7th, 2018
- 7 Cryptocurrency Predictions for the Rest of 2018 - August 7th, 2018
- Have a Cryptocurrency Company? Bermuda, Malta or Gibraltar ... - July 31st, 2018
- Bitcoin price live: Latest updates as cryptocurrency ... - July 22nd, 2018
- 2018 Bahamas Blockchain & Cryptocurrency Conference - July 16th, 2018
- Best Cryptocurrency Trading Platform 2018 | Top Crypto ... - July 13th, 2018
- Cryptocurrency: Advantages And Disadvantages Explained - July 12th, 2018
- ATB Coin - The fastest and most secure payment system - June 19th, 2018
- An Illustrated Glossary of Cryptocurrency Slang (Infographic) - June 19th, 2018
- Apollo All-in-One Cryptocurrency - June 3rd, 2018
- Cryptocurrency News, ICO Database, Coin Rankings and ... - May 25th, 2018
- CoinLib - Cryptocurrency prices now - May 21st, 2018
- Cryptocurrency Market Capitalizations | CoinMarketCap - May 4th, 2018
- CryptoCurrency Market , Coin Prices & Charts, Crypto ... - April 28th, 2018
- Nasdaq open to cryptocurrency exchange in future, says CEO - April 27th, 2018
- The 4 Top Cryptocurrency Mining Stocks -- The Motley Fool - April 27th, 2018
- One in five financial institutions consider cryptocurrency ... - April 27th, 2018
- New hacks siphon private cryptocurrency keys from ... - April 27th, 2018
- What Is Cryptocurrency? - dummies - April 21st, 2018
- Cryptocurrency Market Surges to $365 Billion, Start of a ... - April 21st, 2018
- BTCMANAGER | Bitcoin, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency News - April 16th, 2018
- How to keep your cryptocurrency safe - CNET - April 11th, 2018
- How do I report Cryptocurrency Mining income? - TurboTax ... - April 4th, 2018
- When do you report Cryptocurrency investments? - TurboTax ... - April 4th, 2018
- Trading Cryptocurrency in 2018: The Definitive Guide - March 14th, 2018
- How would one operate a Cryptocurrency Mining Pool and ... - March 13th, 2018
- Coinbase cryptocurrency index fund - Business Insider - March 10th, 2018
- Cryptosomniac | Cryptocurrency Price Tracker - Bitcoin & Eth ... - February 24th, 2018
- Cryptocurrencies News & Prices | Markets Insider - February 22nd, 2018
- I started cryptocurrency mining at the end of 2017 and was ... - February 20th, 2018
- Cryptocurrency News - Bitcoin, Ethereum, NEO, ICO startups - February 8th, 2018
- 7 Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges to Buy/Sell Any ... - February 8th, 2018
- Electroneum. The Mobile Cryptocurrency. - February 8th, 2018
- Cryptocurrencies trading | your guide in the world of trading ... - February 5th, 2018
- Robinhood trading app introduces cryptocurrency - money.cnn.com - January 28th, 2018
- Robinhood adds zero-fee cryptocurrency trading and tracking ... - January 28th, 2018
- Cryptocurrency Price Prediction, Comparison, Analysis - January 22nd, 2018
- South Korea's major cryptocurrency exchanges ... - reuters.com - January 13th, 2018
- Bitcoin-crazy South Korea may face a ban on cryptocurrency ... - January 13th, 2018
- Cryptocurrency - IC Markets - January 13th, 2018
- Kodak launches cryptocurrency, stock pops 125% - Jan. 9, 2018 - January 10th, 2018