The blockchain technology and the cryptocurrencies built on it have the possibility of revolutionizing any of a number of industries, from banking to aviation safety. Unfortunately, like any exciting new technology, crypto has attracted its fair share of ill-intentioned. A number of high-profile frauds and the average person’s inability to tell a legitimate ICO from a pyramid scheme has lead to advertising bans on most major online platforms, making it difficult for quality ICOs to find investors.
An ICO list and rating system is one way to bring together start-ups and investors. The goal is to provide an unbiased rating of each new ICO, so that even newcomers to the crypto community can invest with confidence, or avoid a potential scam.
Let’s take a look at three of the best-known ICOs resulted in having legal issues and unfair behavior and how a listing and rating system could have helped.
Looking at the details of BitConnect, it’s almost amazing that so many people invested in it. Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin called it a “Ponzi scheme” on Twitter in November 2017. You’d expect that to be enough to dissuade anyone from investing, but if you’ve ever had a friend or family member get involved in an MLM, you know how hard it is to convince them that they’re part of a pyramid scheme.
Like any multi-level marketing company, BitConnect focused its efforts on recruiting investors, who would recruit more investors under them, and earn a percentage of what their downstream brought in. People were promised a daily 1% return on investment. The idea of earning $50m on an initial $1,000 investment within three years blinded many to the gaping holes in the plan, and BitConnect’s BCC token reached a peak value of $400.
Those with a skeptical mindset were suspicious of BitConnect from the start. The fact that their entire platform was based on the supposed existence of a “trading bot” that would invest your funds and share the profits with you seemed shady. It’s like the old question – why would a psychic give you some lucky numbers, rather than winning the lottery themselves?
Any legitimate ICO ranking system would have flagged BitConnect as potentially dangerous, based on its suspicious MLM-like structure and its hiring of MLM marketers to promote its ICO and platform. BitConnect didn’t promise to revolutionize any industries, only to make its users piles of money – and that’s not a good foundation for an ICO.
In some ways, BitCard was the total opposite of BitConnect. While BitConnect just promised people money, BitCard vowed to replace nearly all components government, business, and trading. Ambitious, to say the least.
These big goals brought big investments. BitCard raised a staggering $5m via their ICO, held in May of 2017. They hadn’t provided any details on how they intended to achieve their goals, but investors bought into the dream of blockchain innovation.
Shortly after the completion of the ICO, BitCard’s development team dissolved without completing any part of the promised project. It’s hard to say whether this was always intended as a scam, or whether this was just another example of friends dreaming big with no actual ability to back it up. Of course, the difference between this and a group of college roommates planning a big European backpack trip is that their failed dreams cost other people millions of dollars.
An ICO listing and rating system would have had some concerns about BitCard’s viability. Crypto experts are immediately concerned when a project has numerous large stated goals, and no concrete plans to achieve any of them. This would have been flagged as a high-risk investment.
Confido’s ICO had a solid promise – they intended to start a smart contract company. Smart contracts are a popular use of the blockchain technology, with many applications, including anonymous escrow accounts. Investors felt confident they were backing a legitimate project, and the ICO raised a tidy $375,000.
When Confido abruptly shut down, they claimed they were involved in legal disputes with a contractor. While that might sound only mildly suspicious but plausible, doubt grew when CEO Joost van Doorn claimed that he had deleted all of his social media accounts (and those associated with the company) due to death threats.
Could an ICO listing and rating system have predicted Confido’s threat, as many experts are claiming? It’s hard to say. There weren’t as many red flags with this project as there were with BitConnect and BitCard.
That said, a review board could have asked if Confido was really proposing to do anything unique with smart contracts. There are already numerous smart contract options on the market, and so it only seems like a wise investment if a company is proposing to do something novel with the technology.
One thing’s for certain, if anyone involved in Confido becomes involved in a new ICO, it would be grounds for concern about that project’s viability.