Lacking Consistency and Incentives
In an industry that banks on providing transparency and accuracy to every dataset available for public viewing, the verifiable sources of information look bleak. Much of this is attributed to the lack of uniform industry standards available for the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector, while conflicts of interest may come into account to explain the remainder of such instances.
Tokens issuers in 2018 raised $22 billion in 2018 according to CoinSchedule, an ICO listing site, or just $11 billion if data from Autonomous Research is considered. The two figures represent a mammoth difference in the number of funds raised and form a concern for investors, journalists, and academics who look towards researching the cryptocurrency market for making strategic decisions and publishing educational content.
Alex Buelau, the co-founder of CoinSchedule, cites a lack of incentive for information dissemination platforms as a prime reason for listing inconsistent data in the absence of industry-standards. In addition, sites like his make profits based on advertising revenue and sponsored token listings, which may mean displaying inflated fundraisers to attract unassuming investors.
For a $200 billion industry banking on a few startups to access information, Buelau’s comments point out a problem larger than the lack of usable applications for cryptocurrencies; the absence of establishing a common truth for dynamic developments in the nascent sector.
The cryptocurrency exchange RubyX, for example, has raised a massive $1.2 billion if CoinSchedule is trusted, a paltry $200 million based on ICO Rating, and is altogether excluded from Autonomous Research due to a lack of “online footprint.” A more extreme instance is of the controversial Venezuelan cryptocurrency Petro, which raised $3.3 billion if President Nicolas Maduro’s statements are to be believed, but only $735 million if ICO Rating and CoinSchedule are assessed.
Elementus’ co-founder Nuria Prunera notes on-chain data must be relied upon to track ICO investments, instead of an online database. But, a major issue with such a method is the inability to capture fiat payments for tokens.
Autonomous Research claims it uses 50 trackers to determine token information and manually removes any datasets it deems fraudulent or inflated. However, head of strategy Lex Sokolin ascertains the trackers lose effectiveness over time, especially as the “economics of a database weaken.”
The advent of token “pre-sales,” or making fundraising available to an elite set of investors prior to public offering, also makes ICO data difficult to fully compute. Tokens firms are increasingly offering private deals to venture capitalists, wealthy investors, and crypto hedge funds, without the token’s price, conditions, and lock-in periods available to retail investors.
Meanwhile, crypto-specific funds have been cashing in on similar private deals since inception, which contributes vastly to the disparate funding reports provided by various listing firms. While making huge profits matter to individual investment businesses, it threatens to relegate cryptocurrencies to the very sector it aims to differentiate from: the corrupt world of IPOs, pre-IPO deals, and public misinformation.