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What Is Initial Coin Offering, And How Does It Work?

initial coin offering ico

Cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) are examples of how digital assets continue to expand. With billions of dollars invested in ICO funding sources and over a thousand distinct cryptocurrencies already available, these rapidly evolving marketplaces appeal to investors.

Most ordinary investors find it difficult to understand these complicated investment products and evaluate the risk levels associated with them. In this article, we will look at initial coin offering.

What Is ICO In Crypto?

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) is a new form of raising money promoted by entrepreneurs basing their business initiatives on the blockchain. 

More than 1,700 cryptocurrencies have been launched to date; however, not all have been successful or have had a significant influence.

For the company’s crowdfunding, ICOs issue “tokens” of a chosen cryptocurrency in return for a fiat cryptocurrency.

You can purchase tokens directly on the company’s online platform at various stages of the ICO, known as pre-sale and sale. The number of tokens purchased can later be sold or leveraged to get goods and services.

Initial coin offerings (ICOs) are among the cryptocurrency market’s branches. In place of traditional channels such as banks or venture capitalists, startups and current firms are turning to nontraditional sources of finance. They can offer the internal worth of their company by selling “tokens,” or units of the chosen cryptocurrency, much like a traditional company would do with an IPO.

Of course, investors expect a short-term gain in the token’s value if the ICO issuers have a good and viable company idea, which is often presented in a policy statement. 

Nevertheless, greedy participants frequently engage in fraudulent activities. Thus it is critical to identify apparent symptoms of illicit money-raising in advance.

Types of Initial Coin Offerings

In the cryptocurrency market, there are two basic types of initial coin offerings, which are outlined below:

Private Initial Coin Offerings

Only a small proportion of investors are allowed to partake in private initial coin offerings. In essence, qualified investors – financial institutions and high-net-worth individuals – are only allowed to participate in private ICOs, and a firm can opt to establish a minimum initial contribution.

Public Initial Coin Offerings

Crowdsourcing takes the form of initial coin offerings (ICOs) aimed at the general population. A public offering is a democratized sort of investing because it allows almost anybody to invest. Due to regulatory concerns, private ICOs are becoming a more viable option than public ones.

The prominence of ICOs is being boosted by the emergence of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. In 2017, more than $7 billion was raised through initial coin offerings (ICOs). In 2018, the number nearly doubled. 

Telegram, a provider of instant messaging services, held the most extensive initial coin offering (ICO) to date. The UK-registered corporation raised almost $1.7 billion during a private ICO.

Steps To Benefit From ICOs?

An initial coin offering is a technical procedure that involves a thorough understanding of technology, finance, and the law. 

The fundamental idea behind ICOs is to use blockchain technology’s decentralized networks in capital-raising efforts to align the interests of multiple stakeholders. The following are the steps involved in an ICO:

Identifying Investment Objectives

Every initial coin offering (ICO) starts with a company’s idea of raising capital. The business defines the target audience for the crowdfunding campaign and produces materials for potential investors to learn more about the business or project.

Creation Of Tokens

The generation of tokens is the next step in the initial coin offering. Alternatively, the tokens are blockchain representations of an asset or utility. The tokens are tradeable and exchangeable. 

Tokens, unlike stocks, do not often provide an equity stake in a corporation. Instead, most of the tokens offer their owners a share in a company-created product or service.

Campaign For Promotion

A brand will typically undertake a promotion campaign at the same time to attract possible investors. It’s worth noting that most campaigns are run online to engage as many investors as possible. 

ICO advertisement is now prohibited on several significant websites, including Facebook and Google.

Initial Offering

After the tokens have been generated, they are offered to investors. The offering will likely be split into several parts. 

The company can then leverage the ICO money to create a new product or service. Concurrently, investors could either use the tokens they bought to benefit from this product/service or wait for the tokens’ value to rise.

What’s The Difference Between Initial Coin Offering (ICO) And Initial Public Offering (IPO)

Traditional businesses have a few options for raising the capital they need for development and expansion. A startup can take baby steps and develop as its profits allow, with only the company owners as its creditor. 

This, however, implies that they may have to wait an extended period for funds to accumulate. Companies can also seek early funding from outside investors, who will provide them with a quick infusion of cash in exchange for a piece of their ownership interest. 

Another option is to go public and raise capital from private investors by selling shares in an initial public offering (IPO).

While IPOs only deal with investors, ICOs, like crowdsourcing gatherings, may deal with supporters who want to invest in a new project. However, ICOs differ from crowdsourcing in that ICO backers are motivated by the potential for a return on their investment, whereas crowdsourcing campaigns are essential contributions. ICOs are often described as “crowdsales” for these factors.

At least two fundamental differences exist between ICOs and IPOs. To begin with, ICOs are mostly unregulated, which means they are not supervised by government agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). 

Furthermore, ICOs are considerably more structure-free than IPOs due to their decentralization and absence of regulation.

ICOs can be built in several different ways. In other instances, a company will set a specified financial target or limit, implying that each token sold in the ICO will have a predetermined price. The overall token supply will remain constant. 

In other scenarios, the number of ICO tokens is constant while the funding objective is flexible. The amount of money raised in the Initial Coin Offering determines how many tokens are distributed to investors; the more the total funds are raised in the ICO, the higher the overall token price.

Alternatively, others use a dynamic token supply based on the amount of money received. In some cases, the price of a token is fixed, but the total number of tokens is infinite.

Benefits and Drawbacks Of ICOs


In an initial public offering (IPO), an investor obtains shares of a company’s stock in exchange for her money.

There are no shares per se in the event of an ICO. Instead, organizations soliciting funding through an ICO issue a cryptocurrency token, which is the blockchain equivalent of a share. In most cases, investors trade an existing popular token—such as bitcoin or Ethereum—for an equal number of new tokens.

It’s worth stating how simple it is for a corporation to create tokens through an ICO. Online services make it possible to generate cryptocurrency tokens in a matter of seconds. 

When comparing the differences between shares and tokens, investors should remember that a token has no fundamental value or legal protections. 

ICO managers create tokens in accordance with the conditions of the ICO, receive them, and then distribute them to individual investors according to their strategy.

Early investors in an ICO are typically enticed to purchase tokens in the hopes that the scheme will work once it is launched.  If this occurs, the value of the tokens they acquired during the ICO will rise above the price set during the ICO, resulting in total profits. The prospect for extremely high profits is the main benefit of an ICO.

Many investors have become millionaires as a result of ICOs. In 2017, for instance, 435 initial coin offerings (ICOs) were successful, with each raising an average of $12.7 million. 

As a result, the total amount raised in 2017 was $5.6 billion, with the top ten projects accounting for 25% of the total. 

Additionally, in dollar terms, tokens purchased in ICOs returned an average of 12.8 times the initial investment.


With the rise of ICOs in the bitcoin and blockchain industries, they’ve brought with them new difficulties, risks, and possibilities. 

Many people invest in ICOs in the hopes of getting a fast and accurate return on their money. The most successful initial coin offerings (ICOs) during the last several years are the source of this optimism, as they have delivered enormous returns. 

This investor zeal, on the other hand, has the potential to lead individuals astray. ICOs are rampant with fraud and scam individuals aiming to prey on exuberant and poorly educated investors because they are generally unregulated. 

Funds lost due to fraud or incompetence may never be recovered because financial regulators such as the SEC do not regulate them.

In early September 2017, various governmental and non-governmental groups reacted to the rapid rise of ICOs. The People’s Bank of China has declared ICOs illegal, deeming them harmful to macroeconomic stability.

The Chinese central bank restricted the use of tokens as currency and banned banks from providing ICO-related services. 

As a result, both bitcoin and ethereum values dropped, fueling speculation that further cryptocurrency regulation is underway. 

The prohibition also applied to offerings that had already been performed. Facebook, Twitter, and Google banned ICO adverts in early 2018.

How Safe Is The Crypto You Got From ICO?

When it comes to ICOs, there is no confidence that a user will not become a scam victim. Investors can take the following precautions to avoid ICO scams.

  • Ascertain those project developers have a comprehensive understanding of their objectives. Whitepapers for successful ICOs are often simple, comprehensible, and have basic objectives.
  • Get to know the programmers. Investors should expect a company launching an ICO to be completely transparent.
  • Look for the ICO’s legal terms and conditions. Since other regulators rarely monitor this industry, it is up to investors to guarantee that any ICO they participate in is legitimate.
  • Ascertain that ICO coins are held in an escrow account. This can help protect you from scams, especially if a neutral third party holds one of the keys.

Examples Of ICOs

Early investors in a project are typically encouraged to purchase crypto coins with the expectation that the strategy will succeed once it begins, resulting in a higher cryptocoin value than what they paid for it before the project began.

The smart contracts network Ethereum, which uses Ethers as its coin tokens, is an example of a successful ICO project that proved profitable for early investors. 

The Ethereum project was introduced in 2014, and its initial coin offering (ICO) raised $18 million in Bitcoins. That makes it $0.40 per Ether. The project went online in 2015, with an ether value of up to $14 and a market capitalization of over $1 billion in 2016.

EOS raised $4.2 billion in its year-long ICO, which was more than the three largest venture capital rounds of 2018 combined – Epic Games, Uber, and e-cigarette maker Juul.

Regulations Of Initial Coin Offering

In the fields of finance and technology, the initial coin offering is a brand-new phenomenon. 

In recent times, the introduction of initial coin offerings (ICOs) has had a tremendous impact on capital-raising operations. On the other hand, regulators around the world were unprepared for the introduction of the new crowdfunding approach in finance.

Several countries have different strategies to regulate initial coin offerings. ICOs are prohibited by the governments of China and South Korea, for example. Many European countries and the United States and Canada are working on statutory provisions to control the conduct of ICOs.

Concurrently, many countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates, have already released guidelines regarding ICOs (UAE).


ICOs are a brand-new means of obtaining funds, and everyone is attempting to figure out how to use them without feeling frustrated. 

If you think you can make a killing on a potential new ICO, ensure you do your research first. ICOs, like cryptocurrency, are all about taking on high risk and reaping a high profit.

You need the help of a professional to work you through the crypto journey, and we are here for you—link on this link for a consultation.

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