As the ICO Dust Settles: Looking Forward to Blockchain in 2019
It’s fair to say 2018 has been an emotional year for blockchain. Following the hype of 2017, I think the best thing we in the industry can do is be thankful for the experiences gained and be ready to embrace more changes as the space continues to evolve and refine itself next year.
Although I run the risk of sounding click bait-y, I think these kinds of lists can help us realign our perspectives by taking a step back to look at the bigger picture. At a time when most of us are feeling disheartened, it’s necessary to see how many developments — both good and bad — have been made, while admitting that there’s still a long way to go.
We’re still in early days, and it’s impressive to see how rapidly things are developing and, thankfully, how the mentality is shifting away from moons and Lambos towards something more tangible, sustainable, and future-focused.
Regulations: A Blessing in Disguise?
There are already many resources out there about the new regulations that have taken place this year. However, I want to mention this as it signifies a turning point in the industry.
Whether you agree with the approach the SEC has taken, it’s impossible to deny that it’s helped to filter out scam projects, such as the infamous Pincoin, Plexcoin, and of course Bitconnect, among many others.
Ultimately, this has forced legitimate players to have necessary discussions about their technology, team, ethics, and long-term vision. Gone are the days where you can get funding with just an idea and a whitepaper.pdf.
At a recent STO-focused meet-up in London hosted by Nazareth Qarbozian, we debated the impact of regulation, especially as many of the attendees were also at Malta Blockchain Summit and feared that lack of regulation, or too-harsh regulation, would drive people out of the market.
Many in the room felt that the SEC’s regulations in the US would stifle innovation, while others believed that not taking action to publish any guidelines would have an even worse effect, as it would deter people from developing their projects from fear of working blindly before getting hit by unfavourable regulations later on.
Although many of the attendees were unaffected by the SEC regulations as we are predominantly UK and EU-based, we all felt the impact. These regulations, amidst others, have forced us all (in case we weren’t already) to reassess what we want for the future of blockchain and token projects. Not a bad thing at all, if you ask me.
Stay Agile & Keep Pivoting
If working in blockchain has taught me anything, it’s that we have to be agile and prepared to pivot when things don’t go to plan instead of getting stuck on FOMO.
It’s so easy to get caught in the buzz around emerging technologies, but I think 2018 has proven that it’s more important than ever to take things one step at a time rather than rush to have everything done yesterday.
One of our clients at Sea Foam is a perfect example of this. We started working with them at the beginning of this year with the intention of launching an ICO in February. As we all know, everything takes longer than expected or hoped for in this industry, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Instead of launching in February as planned, we ended up pushing the date to make sure we got everything done right. This was right as the ICO market began to collapse under itself, crushing those projects that launched at the beginning of 2018. Today, we are patiently waiting for the dust to settle, finishing their app and marketplace build and mapping out plans for an STO instead.
This year has proven that it’s necessary to take things at a realistic pace and remember that this industry and market are still inconsistent, with standards and best practices that are ever-changing. As such, projects in 2019 have to be ready to roll with the punches.
The STO Shift
With more people moving towards private funding and hybrid models, I’m confident we’ll continue to see increased interest in STOs. In July of this year, Coinbase acquired Keystone Capital to become a Securities Exchange, which everyone expects to manifest in 2019. This could be the catalyst for a major surge of interest and investment into the blockchain and crypto space with a much-needed layer of regulation and stability on top of it.
That being said, it still remains to be seen how this evolution of tokenised capital formation will develop, but it will certainly help weed out illegitimate players if STOs do replace the ICO model.
In a recent episode of the Crypto 101 podcast, Jamie Khurshid and Mike Greenacre compared blockchain to the gold market, while stating that:
‘We need to have more information from approved sources and more education and understanding of what the products are and to get to know what the risks are.’
Because we’re talking about comparatively new technology, we need to make sure we don’t get caught up in the trends and instead focus on the bigger picture. I practice this by listening to podcasts that lean more towards philosophy, engaging in discussions with people outside the blockchain sphere, and attending meet-ups to stay up-to-date and to join in on the debates.
After the hype of 2017, this year has shown us that there is still a lot of work to be done within the blockchain and crypto space. While new regulations seem promising as far as the newfound sense of legitimacy they may bring to the industry, relying on this alone won’t be enough. If we want to avoid a repeat of the embarrassing period of ICO scams, it’s crucial that we focus on refining our long-term vision and ensuring that the projects we support are backed by realistic ideas and experienced teams.
Sea Foam Media is a blockchain, ICO & STO agency headquartered in San Francisco, with global representation. I work out of our London office as the Director of Media. You can find me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Sea Foam Media provides end-to-end services for our clients, including whitepaper development, technology vision and architecture, token economics, digital marketing, PR, web and mobile app development, investor relations, private blockchain network development, and smart contracts.
Find out more at www.seafoam.media!