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Risks and Criticisms of the ICO Space
Although there are successful ICO transactions on record and ICOs are poised to be disruptive innovative tools in the digital era, investors are cautioned to be wary as some ICO or crowdsale campaigns are actually fraudulent. Because these fundraising operatives are not regulated by financial authorities such as the SEC, funds that are lost due to fraudulent initiatives may never be recovered.
The rapid ICO surge in 2017 incurred regulations from a series of governmental and nongovernmental In early September, 2017, the People's Bank of China officially banned ICOs, citing it as disruptive to economic and financial stability. The central bank said tokens cannot be used as currency on the market and banks cannot offer services relating to ICOs. As a result, both Bitcoin and Ethereum tumbled, and it was viewed as a sign that regulations of cryptocurrencies are coming. The ban also penalizes offerings already completed. In early 2018, Facebook, Twitter, and Google all banned ICO advertisements.
To make sure you don't get scammed when you invest in an ICO, follow these steps:
1) Make sure that project developrs can clearly define what their goals are. Successful ICOs typically have straightforward, understandable whitepapers with clear, concise goals.
2) Know your developers. Investors should expect 100% transparency from a company launching an ICO. This means that you should know who is involved in the project, what their business plans are, where they are located, what the timeline for the project is, and so on.
3) Look for legal terms and conditions set for the ICO. Because outside regulators generally do not oversee this space, it is up to you as an investor to ensure that any ICO you buy into is legitimate.
4) Make sure that ICO funds are being stored in an escrow wallet. This is a wallet which requires multiple keys in order to be accessed. This is a useful protection against scams, particularly when a neutral third party is a holder of one of the keys.
There is no way to guarantee that you won't be on the losing end of a scam when you invest in an ICO (For more, see: How to Identify Cryptocurrency and ICO Scams). That is a risk that you must be willing to take. On the other hand, ICOs can offer tremendous rewards as well. The key for investors is to take necessary precautions to avoid making irrational or uneducated decisions, and to learn as much as possible about the ICO world in order to best capitalize on its excellent potential.