By Judith Rinearson and Rizwan Qayyum
On August 10, 2017, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) jointly published a Consumer Advisory document which urged consumers to exercise due diligence before investing in digital tokens, with particular emphasis on the emergence of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). In Singapore, several ICOs have taken place in the past year and this has resulted in organisations raising millions of dollars in a few days since their launch.
An ICO is a crowdfunding method, facilitated by blockchain, through which a project or venture, usually a start-up organisation, raises funding by creating and selling its own digital asset, currency or token in exchange for digital currencies or assets of immediate value such as a Bitcoin. The practice is thus far unregulated and enables a new brand of alternative finance. An ICO campaign ‘runs’ for a defined period during which investors are able to support the project, with the aspiration that this digital asset becomes successful and their investment reaps profit.