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Initial coin offerings suggest financial system fragility

Panic buying of altcoin offerings is an obvious bubble that hints at a far more worrying loss of faith in the world monetary system

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There is a fin de siècle feel to the sudden desperation of investors to throw away their money on cryptocurrency start-ups funded through initial coin offerings. ICO has come to appear in financial headlines more frequently than IPO in recent months. For the uninitiated, ICOs are offerings of the tokens used to exchange value on blockchain networks. The most famous token is bitcoin but there are now dozens being exchanged and traded, including Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, Dash, Monero, IOTA and Stratis.

In theory, the more a network is used the higher the value of its associated tokens and so if a business idea takes off, early investors should benefit – rather like holders of private equity in a conventional start-up.

More and more conventional companies are accepting payment in cryptocurrency. Overstock, the US based online retailer that competes with Amazon selling furniture, household and kitchen accessories, bedding, décor, and more, announced in August a deal with altcoin exchange ShapeShift, to accept all the major cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash, Monero, and the new Bitcoin Cash.

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