Following the sky-high rise of the Initial Coin Offering in 2017, the market is dead set on building on the success. January started on the same note as December had ended, i.e. with 2 billions of dollars raised in record times. However, ICO might stay the same on the surface, but deep down it is rapidly evolving, and the experts have already identified a number of trends that separate ICO 2018 from ICO 2017.

Gradual transition from crowdsales to private sales

Although 2018 is on a pace to surpass the ICO revenues of 2017, most of these funds come from private investors. The analysis shows that 84% of 2018 sales come from pre-sales and private investors. One can see the logic behind it: crowdsales have to attract the attention of the public to be successful but are left exposed to risks. Most of the ICOs of these year chose to include detailed KYC procedures to their whitelist application forms. Legolas, a high-profile exchange startup, required all participants to provide a detailed disclosure where their bitcoins came from.

Increased regulation

Standardization and regulation of ICOs is inevitable. Most experts tend to think that it will be for the better: ICOs should be associated with fair and legitimate investment, not with scams and unprofessionalism. Financial authorities in Singapore, Hong Kong, USA, Russia, Canada are deliberating on whether to consider ICOs securities. SEC (the US Securities Exchange Commission) has already declared that it will consider specific types of tokens securities. Other countries will very likely require token sales to comply with financial regulations as well.

Classical investors join ICOs

Or is it the other way round: ICO gradually shifting towards the IPO model? What we are witnessing now is the convergence of two models, with ICOs becoming more trustworthy, professional and geared toward private investors and venture capital paying more and more attention to ICOs. Several large venture funds have added cryptocurrency to their assets, while VC startup investors like Andreesen Horowitz are supporting ICOs.

Shifting from Ethereum to alternative blockchains

Ethereum will remain the undisputed ICO launchpad of choice though, however, its scalability problems won’t be resolved in near future, which will lead some startups to launching their ICOs on alternative platforms supporting smart contracts like NEO, Stellar, Waves, Cardano or Stratis. NEO acquired some twenty ICOs this January, however, some of them reported technical issues. MobiusICO, though, running on the Stellar platform, was a great success, raising $39 million over two hours.

Traditional tech companies joining in token sales

Big tech companies are undoubtedly closely watching the news from the crypto community and will be very interested in generating additional profits via ICO. There were rumors about Facebook issuing tokens, and Telegram hit headlines with their $850 million pre-ICO snatch. Expect more real economy tech companies going this way, however, big-name companies will likely watch the ICO craze from the sidelines.

Successful ICOs have a working product

In 2018 expect companies with a minimum viable product be far more successful in their ICOs than the ubiquitous “two dudes and a whitepaper”. Most ICOs in 2017 were raising money to build their non-existing platforms, but in 2018 the market is open for new player from real economy. With VC money flowing to the market, we will likely see more companies turning to blockchain to present their existing product.

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