Updated: May 21, 2020
ICO’s or Initial Coin Offerings provide risk taking investors with the opportunity to invest within startups. The investment vehicle used by these startups is digital currencies, following the footsteps of its pioneer Bitcoin. The term ICO is a play on the capital raising process IPO (initial public offering) where companies issue stock to liquidate their holdings. Within an ICO investors either get a stake (virtual credit) or a token of the underlying cryptocurrency. Usually within the frenzy all stakes/tokens are bought up within minutes. The digital currency issued, either holds intrinsic value within an application (e.g. within a game or some other online application) OR it has some practical use within the space that the issuing company is trying to solve for. The ICO market raised more than $2 billion in the first nine months of 2017. Due to steep growth, the SEC was forced to bring some order within the market. In a bulletin the regulator mentioned that some ICO’s would be treated as IPO’s which in turn would force issuers to go through the same registration requirements and become subject to strict scrutiny.
The Tech industry spits out Jargon like no other. Ransomware is a term that is becoming increasingly common in the digital space. Its an extremely disruptive form of cyber crime that renders files (or digital assets) inaccessible unless money is paid. Malware is often spread through emails as attachments which once opened holds the device hostage. Although the motivation can at times be unclear – hackers have brought down governments and large corporations alike. One of the largest known ransoms paid out was by a South Korean hosting company that paid $1 Million to gain access to its servers.
War on cash
Credit card various electronic cash providers have begun an initiative termed ‘War on Cash’. Over the years, humans have used all sorts of things as an exchange of economic value to either buy or sell items. This has ranged from rare metals, strings, seashells, coins, cheques to bank notes and even jugs of whiskey. The most recent shift has been towards plastic money in the form of credit and debit cards. “Do we really need cash?” is the question asked by most financial providers. Economists see great value in removing cash from society. It increases efficiency, reduces latency and eradicates any room for error (if reconciled properly). The average major economy uses 9% of cash within fiscal exchange; whilst Sweden has the lowest at 1.7%. Governments argue that within a cashless economy tax evasion, corruption and drug trafficking can easily be controlled and tracked. The latest impact on the average consumer of this “war” can be evidenced by the emergence of companies such as iZettle and Square. What remains a market ripe for the taking is the developing world.