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How the ICO Market Has Been Regaining Investor Faith

How the ICO Market Has Been Regaining Investor Faith

In 2018, funds raised from initial coin offerings (ICOs) fell dramatically from over USD 1 and a half billion in January, to under USD 75 million in December.

However, new data showing the activities of the month of May so far indicates that investor faith has begun to regain strength in the light of increasingly highly-rated ICO projects, with 85% of the total projects receiving a high rating between 3-3.5 stars. This is a significant increase, even from April 2019 which claimed an average of just 68% of projects gaining this trusted star rating.

As many viewed ICOs and similar token events as a groundbreaking new way to fund startup projects in the blockchain space, the slow fizzle out of popularity last year was highly disappointing. It seemed to be that these token offerings had collapsed under the weight of up to 80% scam projects flooding the market, as well as crashing prices across nearly all cryptocurrency.

ICO bench data shows that 157 ICOs have been launched in May so far, expanding the total number of published projects to 5,512. There are currently 287 ongoing ICOS, with a further 140 expected in the near future.

A summary of the ICObench ICO Market Half-Monthly Analysis May 2019 report can be accessed for free with a trial subscription on the platform.

Moving away from the established model

Trends away from the established ICO model are likely in reaction to the poor quality and trust standards that became prominent amongst ICOs, beginning in 2017.

The month of May 2019 has so far been overwhelmed by Bitfinex’s USD 1 billion initial exchange offering (IEO) — a relatively new model available to investors where they can participate in a centralized cryptocurrency exchange’s token offering. The exchange involved operates the sales, vetting both the project and prospective investors.

Bitfinex’s IEO has contributed significantly towards this month’s roughly USD 1.075 billion collected in token sales — the highest total funds raised in 2019 to date.

This year has also seen a rise in popularity of security token offerings (STOs). STOs claim to offer a more trusted model than the ICO as the security token issued to investors represents an investment contract, acting similar to ownership information given to investors in the stocks or bonds, just recorded on the blockchain via the token instead.

STOs can be seen as a lower risk than ICOs because they are protected by securities laws that the tokens must comply with, legally enforcing transparency and accountability from the project behind the token.

STOs raised USD 1 and a half million in March 2019; this figure jumps up to over USD 5 and a half million in May so far.

Indeed, because active ICOs have a higher average trust rating than one year ago, it enforces greater trust in investments made across the cryptocurrency market.

The move towards alternative token investment models such as STOs and IEOs could certainly be one reason investors are regaining trust in early blockchain project investment. However, May’s bullish market performance could certainly have also had a great impact on the number of investors willing to participate in token offerings.

 

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Exclusive: Streamr and DATAcoin Co-Founder on Blockchain and AI

Listen to the interview with the co-founder and COO of Streamr and DATAcoin on the 2 November 2018 BitcoinNews.com Daily Podcast below.

Streamr and DATAcoin (DATA)

BitcoinNews.com spoke to Risto Karjalainen, the co-founder and chief operating officer (COO) of Streamr and its native cryptocurrency DATAcoin (DATA), on the topic of blockchain and AI, who says, “Streamr is a data protocol for the decentralized net. Effectively what we are doing is making real-time data tradeable using a blockchain.”

On Streamr, blockchain technology is used to access data and crypto is used to pay for data streams but the data itself is not stored on the blockchain. Karjalainen believes that the Ethereum network is still “too slow and expensive for that”, and has considered using a Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) and other blockchains scalable for data storage, but has chosen to perfect Streamr on the Ethereum network.

Launched in October 2017, DATAcoin is used to buy real-time data on Streamr, which is a cryptocurrency with a USD 30 million market cap and USD 6 million of daily trading volume as of 1 November 2018, placing it at #157 on CoinMarketCap out of 2,089 total cryptocurrencies.

Streamr focuses entirely on delivering real-time data in an automated fashion and this requires integration with the internet of things (IoT). Karjalainen says, “Data comes from the IoT, sensors, or smart cities, and different devices, but IoT is the typical source of the data.”

Some of the real-time data streams available include financial, transportation and weather data but really there is no limit to the data that can become available on Streamr, as long as it can be measured.

Blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI)

Streamr itself does not develop AI technology but Karjalainen says, “We are partnering with AI companies who want to use our technology to acquire training and learning data for machine learning and AI. Additionally, there are companies which offer data that has been created or refined with AI, and they sell it on Streamr.”

AI depends on massive amounts of data to increase its intelligence, so companies can utilize blockchain and Streamr to acquire that data.

The Zug-based entrepreneur sees a couple of areas where the merger of blockchain and AI is particularly useful. AI needs data to operate and that is what Streamr is focusing on. Also, AI needs a large amount of computing power and storage, blockchain can be used to build decentralized networks that aggregate computing power and storage, and crypto can be used to incentivize the process. Beyond this, AI can be used to improve a cryptocurrency or blockchain platform’s code but Karjailenen does not think AI is powerful enough yet to truly write code.

One very interesting possibility is an AI program could live within a blockchain. Karalainen says, “What might be fascinating is an AI living in a blockchain, and it would earn tokens, make a living that way, and improve itself, like a lifeform.”

The present and future of AI

In the current AI field, there are several types of intelligence being pursued including machine learning, deep learning, recurrent networks and pattern recognition. Karjalainen feels that the industry is still in the early days of “building true artificial intelligence”.

When it comes to everyday reasoning or building mental models of the world, he estimates AI to be on the level of a 4-5 year-old child. However, for pattern recognition and image processing AI is as good or better than humans, according to him.

Karjalainen asserts that AI does not have any self awareness or consciousness at this time, but says, “I think there is potential, and I think it is a very interesting idea… I do not think there is anything in the mechanics that would stop a machine from being conscious. You can replicate a brain cell by cell and that is what you would get.”

When asked if the AI singularity will happen, which is when AI becomes smarter than humans and then rapidly and recursively improves itself, Karjalainen responds that it could very well take place, especially if the AI has access to energy and manufacturing equipment.

In regards to popularly fiction scenarios in which machines turn against humans, Karjalainen says, “They might have their own objectives which are very different and inconsistent with having people around.”

 

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Sony Reveals Digital Copyright Management Blockchain

Japanese multinational electronics conglomerate Sony has launched its own blockchain dedicated to managing digital copyrights.

A press release on Monday detailed the new system that specializes in managing the rights of written work on a blockchain, utilizing features that track the original date and time of electronic content creation. Users will also be able to verify themselves as the original content creator and securely share their work on the blockchain, knowing the integrity of their work will be preserved.

While standard copyright management procedures are said to be processed manually by industry organizations or creators, Sony believes that the blockchain can provide a far more efficient way to do so in terms of both time and money.

The electronics firm say that the system will prove compatible with many forms of electronic works, including e-books, music and films and notably various formats of educational content.

While right now it remains for private use, Sony says they are considering commercialization of the system.

Sony added that future blockchain solutions might well be on the way in areas of data management and distribution throughout the company’s various business domains, but right now the emphasis remains on the field of education.

Sony Global Education is cited as ”continuously carrying out technological development and prototyping towards the use of blockchain technology in the educational field.”

China-based news outlet iPR Daily last month indeed revealed that Sony has filed as many as 23 blockchain patents. Further research from iPR shows that IBM and MasterCard have some of the most substantial numbers of blockchain applications, with over 80 apiece.

Despite these major players launching themselves into the blockchain, a recent survey of executives found that the majority of enterprises are finding blockchain adoption more difficult than initially expected.

The 57% that responded this way cited hardware security and scalability as major issues, with over half of non-blockchain dedicated companies struggling to process high volumes of transactions on the blockchain network quickly.

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Brazil’s Central Bank Reveals Blockchain Data Sharing Platform for Regulators

Brazil’s central bank, Banco Central do Brasil (BCB), announced on Tuesday details of a new data sharing platform for use by the country’s financial regulators.

Blockchain security

BCB detailed that the new blockchain-backed platform would provide a secure channel for relevant, domestic regulators to share data. Blockchain has been praised by BCB for providing an immutable data chain, as well as a horizontal information network.

The platform is being called ‘Pier’ and will assist in professional data exchanges, including punitive processes and the management of corporate entities that BCB oversee. The use of blockchain will allow each member to authenticate the source and origin of the content.

The blockchain on which Pier has been built is not disclosed, although in an interview last November, a spokesperson for BCB said that proof of concept was being developed on four platforms including Ethereum and JPMorgan’s Quorum.

Pier is currently in the final stages of testing at the Department of Informatics (deINF) at the Federal University of Maranhão, where much of the technical development took place. The launch is planned for the end of 2018.

Several entities cited to use Pier include the country’s Superintendency of Private Insurance (SUSEP), the Brazilian Securities and Exchange Commission (CVM) and National Superintendency of Complementary Pensions (PREVIC).

Still anti-Bitcoin

Despite the central bank’s successful blockchain experimentation, the president Ilan Goldfajn last year condemned Bitcoin, likening it to a pyramid scheme. He continued on to describe it as a ”typical bubble”, and a facilitator of illicit online activities.

Goldfajn made a point to separate technology companies from practices facilitated by Bitcoin.

Blockchain technology has been accepted and appreciated by institutions on a much greater scale than cryptocurrencies, with even NASA conducting deep space research this year on the Ethereum blockchain.

 

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