LONDON – There is a new digital goldrush underway worldwide in 2017: the ICO.
Startups and entrepreneurs have raised over $1 billion since the start of the year through so-called “Initial Coin Offerings” (ICOs).
This is where a business issues a new digital currency online — think bitcoin — in exchange for real money. These coins can then be used for projects that the entrepreneurs are working on.
ICOs can be set up in as little as an hour — far quicker than a traditional venture capital fundraising drive which could take months.
However, many people are starting to express alarm at the loose controls on the market and many of the projects that cash is flowing into. The Financial Times Kadhim Shubber pointed out this week that a startup raised $200 million selling a coin that it expressly said has no use or purpose.
David Rutter, a Wall Street veteran who now heads up fintech company R3, told Business Insider he thinks it’s a “bubble” and said: “Many of them are based on powerpoint decks and not a lot more, not fundamentally sound business plans.”
The market is currently dominated by tech entrepreneurs looking to raise money and the ideas range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Because the barrier to entry is so low for an ICO, it seems like every man and his dog is pitching an idea at the moment.
Given the mania, Business Insider decided it was only right to test prospective investors’ guile — can you spot the real ICO (as per ICOtracker.net and ICOchecker.com) from the fake ones we’ve made up?
Take the quiz below (Note: may contain traces of humour):
Altocar — Personalized taxi aggregator with the Digital Economy implementation
Altocar is raising money to build a kind of decentralized Uber (yes, I know Uber is a decentralized network, now is not the time) that it wants to roll-out across Russia. Altocar will build an open network where any drivers can log on to and accept jobs, getting paid in Altocar tokens.
What do you reckon?
It’s real! The company is based in Russia and “has four years experience in the development and promotion of taxi aggregators,” according to its website.
Don’t get too excited though — it has currently raised just $32,111 from 12 investors after 10 days of its ICO. Anyone who buys Altocar tokens will be eligible for free trips and discounts.
Gasee Coins — The decentralized energy trading hub
Gasee coins will be used to buy and sell excess power generated by solar panels and other localised energy sources. Anyone will be able to use Gasee coins to buy extra power when they need, while sellers will get paid on the blockchain-based network using the coin. It is being developed by a startup called ITL in Germany, where local power generation is common.