For those of you who have been under a rock, we are currently in a bear market for cryptocurrency prices. While there has been over $20B invested into ICOs, the downward trend of prices started around this time last year during tax season and when there were rumblings of regulatory crackdown from the SEC. Since then, the pre-sale market for ICOs has been relegated to private accredited investors, sometimes only non-US investors. In addition, projects and investors are waiting until at least 1 year after the transaction to start trading/issuing these assets.
Until there is more regulatory clarity from the SEC, token projects have avoided retail. I’ve always speculated that instead of projects building their own crowdfunding portal or using 3rd party crowdfunding portal for retail investors, if exchanges got into the crowdfunding, it would change the game. Exchanges already provide the liquidity channel for tokens, do KYC of users, and can whitelist/blacklist depending on criteria.
Enter the IEO or Initial Exchange Offering and this is going to be a huge trend on how token projects raise from retail investors and do regulated crowdfunding for the foreseeable future.
What is IEO?
IEO, or initial exchange offering, is the process of developers sending minted tokens to an exchange (or multiple exchanges) that in turn sell to individual investors. Instead of sending cryptocurrencies into a smart contract that governs the ICO, participants need to create an exchange account and purchase the project token directly from the exchange. The exchange acts as a guarantor and conducts a project due diligence check on the project team, and developers are no longer required to perform KYC (know your customer) verification.
For exchange platforms, they benefit through an IEO by collecting listing fees, obtaining new users that may eventually become loyal, and engaging in joint marketing with the IEO teams.
Here are some information on IEO platforms and their past projects.
KuCoin announced an initiative called Spotlight that will serve as a launch platform for the exchange to partner with blockchain projects on IEOs.
Huobi will have its own IEO service through launching the Huobi Prime platform later this month. The CEO of Huobi has stated that unlike Binance Launchpad that assembles a large crowdfunding platform, Huobi Prime is a selective token listing channel based on Huobi Token.
The IEO service of Binance is called Binance Launchpad, which announces the date and time of project launch site wide and notify its users the details (accepted cryptocurrencies, token supplied on Binance Launchpad, and individual cap) of the launch. One of the recent token sale for fetch.ai took only 11 minutes and 14 seconds to meet the 6M cap. Celer Network today raised $4m in 17 min today. Other IEO projects include BitTorrent. There is a $1,500 cap per person, and the BNB token is needed in most cases.
BitMax introduced the concept of “reverse mining” offering a separate incentive structure for market makers, and launched margin trading of up to 10x leverage for many of its trading pairs.
DOS Network (DOS) launched a community token promotion program for BitMax.io users, and the the promotion was sold out within 1minute and 34 seconds. Bitmax has now announced more listing partnership with tokens like Alluva and Fantom.
Bittrex cancelled its first initial exchange offering of RAID that was supposed to take place on March 15. After e-gaming data analytics company OP.GG issued a statement distancing itself from RAID, Bittrex made an announcement that it will no longer continue with the scheduled IEO.