Cryptocurrencies have revolutionized the process of fundraising capital. The ICO (Initial Coin Offering) model allows projects to bootstrap themselves without needing to go through traditional venture capital funding. More recently, STOs (Security Token Offering) created a way for projects to tokenize assets and give holders equity within the company.
However, crypto evolves quickly, and now there is an even newer funding model called the IEO (Initial Exchange Offering). IEOs enable crypto projects to fundraise directly on digital exchanges themselves which is why they’re generating so much buzz lately. Are IEOs just another passing fad, or are they a crypto trend that’s here to stay? Let’s take a deeper look to find out.
History of Initial Exchange Offering
Initial exchange offerings are an entirely new frontier for the world of cryptocurrencies. The precedent for IEOs was set by the world’s largest exchange Binance. Late 2017 saw the creation of Binance Launchpad, a token creation platform that allowed new cryptocurrencies to be sold directly from the exchange.
IEOs went relatively under the radar after that, but Binance’s recent push to introduce more cryptocurrencies directly from their platform drew significant interest from investors around the world.
Binance’s Launchpad recently completed two IEOs, Fetch and BitTorrent, the latter of which has since increased 600% over their initial price. Return on investment (ROI) figures such as these have catapulted IEOs into every investor’s watchlist.
Difference Between ICOs & IEOs
At first glance, the difference between an ICO and IEO may seem subtle. We’ve seen it before with ICOs — projects create a digital token and raise funds by selling them. What’s so different when an exchange sells them?
The significant difference is that the coin is immediately tradable on the platform following the sale. Ask any investor what the worst part of participating in an ICO is, and they’ll say the uncertainty of seeing the token listed on a reputable exchange. The overwhelming majority of ICOs take months to list and distribute their tokens, fueling the increasing dissatisfaction with the initial coin offering model.
On Binance Launchpad, upcoming IEOs are announced, and the token is made available on a first come, first serve basis. Once the hardcap is reached, the sale is concluded, and investors are able to trade the token on Binance’s exchange right away.
Although IEOs introduces an intermediary to the decentralized fundraising model, it also gives investors a strong sense of confidence when participating. Due to the fact that many ICOs have turned out to be scams, investors have become distrustful of token sales. By partnering with trusted exchanges, up-and-coming projects will gain much-needed credibility.
Another difference is that ICOs generally mint their tokens after their funding is complete. In IEOs, projects generate tokens and send them to the exchange.
Why Do Exchanges Have IEOs?
Exchanges participate in IEOs because they generate a whole new use case on top of their platform. Binance’s Launchpad has garnered significant awareness because their IEOs have been incredibly successful.
Before IEOs, digital exchanges were just platforms for users to trade cryptocurrencies. Now, IEOs have introduced a new business model to add value to their platforms. Exchanges can decide to charge a fee for listings, or they can use IEOs as a new method for gaining more users on their platforms.
Exchanges also choose to have IEOs because they’ll be the first platform to list a token. In the case of Binance’s Launchpad, Fetch and BitTorrent were initially only available on Binance’s exchange. This made Binance the first platform to allow the trading of these two tokens, giving them a significant advantage over competing exchanges.
Another advantage is that IEOs provide free advertisement. Since ICO/IEO-related websites will promote upcoming offerings, the participating exchange will receive exposure by association.
Who Can Invest In An Initial Exchange Offering?
Anyone can invest in an IEO as long as they are not from a restricted country. Just like ICOs, IEOs will use compliance methods such as KYC to confirm a user’s identity. Once KYC is complete, users will be given access to the sale.
In most cases, citizens from the United States, China, Venezuela, New Zealand, North Korea, and many other countries are barred from participating. The reasons behind these restrictions are due to each respective country’s laws regarding digital assets.
Update 14 may, 2019: SEC warn IEO Buyers and Issuers (USA)
Valerie Szczepanik, the US SEC Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation mentioned during the Concensus 2019:
“Platforms seeking to list these tokens for a listing fee or bring buyers to the table for issuers are probably engaging in broker-dealer activity. If they are not registered they will find themselves in trouble in the U.S., if they have a U.S. issuer or U.S. buyers, if they are operating on the U.S. market.”
How to Invest In An IEO?
You can invest in IEOs by merely having an account on a participating exchange. You must pass their KYC screening and not be from a restricted country. Once you pass these requirements, you can begin investing in an IEO.
IEOs are more user-friendly than ICOs. In the past, ICOs required investors to create a private digital wallet (such as MyEtherWallet), and send funds to the token sale address. The idea of sending hard-earned crypto to another address was stress-inducing, and this kept many prospective investors out of the ICO market.
IEOs do away with requiring external wallets since they are completed on the exchange’s platform. An exchange will already have built-in wallets, and you’ll be able to buy an IEO directly on the exchange’s website. Purchasing IEOs streamlines the process of buying and selling newly tradeable cryptocurrencies.
How to invest in an IEO if you live in the USA
If you live in the United States of America and you are not an accredited investor, there is still ways to invest in IEO. Recently, Saturn Network launched the first Decentralized Initial Exchange Offering. This should give a chance to any U.S citizen to invest in IEO.
In an article published by Saturn Network, we can read:
It also allows anyone to access and participate in your token sale without the need to create an account or submit to an exhausting KYC process – they simply need to know how to use an Ethereum dApp browser such as MetaMask, Saturn Wallet, Cipher, Trust or more.
Even better, as a DEX, Saturn give back profit from the trading to their token holder:
Furthermore, as Saturn implements a shared ownership model where exchange profits are distributed among Saturn DAO members. If you buy SATURN tokens, your project can enter a unique position where you raise development funds through your token sale’s IEO on Saturn & also receive a percentage of your participants paid trade fees.
At the moment of this writing, Saturn Network is still a small exchange with low volume, but giving their innovative way of thinking it wouldn’t be surprising to see a big growth of their user base, especially if U.S investors start using it to buy IEO.
Upcoming IEO Platforms
Competition is growing among exchanges to offer the newest IEOs. Kucoin exchange recently announced that they are building an IEO platform called Spotlight. Bittrex, another major exchange, recently announced plans of offering IEOs. Huobi exchange is also on the cusp of releasing the IEO platform called Huobi Prime.
Whether IEOs are just a passing fad is anyone’s guess, but the recent IEOs conducted on Binance show that this new funding model is here to stay. Both Fetch and BitTorrent sold out within seconds and have become a popular topic on online cryptocurrency forums. The upcoming IEO of Celer Network on Launchpad is nearly guaranteed to follow its predecessors.
With so many major platforms rolling out IEO products, it’s more likely than not that crypto has changed the way it raises funds yet again.