Initial coin offerings (ICOs) are proving to be the investment of the day, with over $9 billion so far raised in the first six months of 2018.

Despite a drop in cryptocurrency prices, interest in ICOs doesn’t appear to be waning. Figures from CoinSchedule indicates that within the first half of the year, more than $9.6 billion has been invested into this form of fundraising. March saw the highest amount raised, coming in at $3.8 billion from 59 ICOs.

When it comes to the top-ranked ICOs, in terms of return on investment (ROI) against the U.S. dollar, which ones make it in the top 10.

The following is in no way an endorsement of ICOs, and potential investors should always conduct their own research before investing their money.

This handy infographic by ico_analysis details what those top 10 ICOs of 2018 are.

Credits

Back in February Credits launched its public crowdsale, hitting its hard cap of $22 million within 17 hours. As an open blockchain platform with smart contracts and an internal cryptocurrency, Credits is reported to have fast transactions up to one million per second and unlimited scalability of the network.

Matrix Chain

The Matrix Chain is also a blockchain platform that supports smart contracts as well as machine learning services. Its public sale launched in mid-January, with a fundraising goal of $12 million. Rated as the next generation blockchain that leverages AI with the blockchain, Owen Tao, CEO of MATRIX, claims it’s a ‘game changer in blockchain technology.’

Switcheo

Built on the NEO blockchain, Switcheo is a decentralized exchange (DEX) that allows for trustless exchange of NEP-5 tokens. It launched its public crowdsale in March with a hard cap of $8 million. It aims to be the first multi-chain DEX for cross-chain token exchange.

Nucleus Vision

Nucleus is an end-to-end technology solution that captures and provides previously inaccessible data to retailers and other ‘brick-and-mortar’ businesses. It achieves this through its proprietary blockchain and real-time sensor technology. In January it reached its hard cap target of $40 million from the backing of prominent blockchain-focused investment companies. It also canceled its public ICO due to rising ethereum prices, deciding instead to list its token directly on exchanges.

Bluzelle

This data service brings together a sharing and token economy. The platform enables people to rent out their unused computer storage space while developers pay to use it with a token. Bluzelle’s token sale ended in January with a target of $19 million.

Zebi

Zebi is a blockchain service that is aiming to become the blockchain network of India. In February, it reached its ICO goal for 30 percent of the token total. It aims to provide individuals, businesses, data requestors, and data providers with a platform to exchange information.

Tomocoin

This is a blockchain infrastructure for the Internet of Value, where people can trade assets, such as stocks, votes, and securities, securely. It will connect to Tomocoin and Ethereum to support cross-chain protocols. Its ICO ended in March with a target of $8 million for 40 percent of token total reached.

Holochain

Holochain is a cloud storage solution provider that is aiming to deliver a decentralized hosting ecosystem. Its token sale ended in April where it had a target of $20 million.

Zilliqa

This is a new blockchain platform that is designed to scale in an open, permissionless distributed network securely. A core feature of it is sharding, which enables it to scale and is a problem it is attempting to solve in the industry. Its public sale was at the beginning of the year with a hard cap of $22 million to raise.

Ontology

Built on the NEO blockchain, Ontology is a network that connects ‘distributed identity verification, data exchange, data collaboration, procedure protocols, communities, attestation, and various industry-specific modules.’ Unlike conventional ICO sales, Ontology didn’t have one, but instead only airdropped to subscribers in March. Distributed by the NEO Council, 20 million ONT tokens were sent to the community.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Blockchain

A joint survey by PwC and VeChain has found that most enterprises prefer to setup their own in-house research and development (R&D) teams to investigate the blockchain.

The survey, 2018 Market Survey Report for (Non-Financial) Application of Blockchain in Chain, was conducted between November and December 2017, taking the form of online questionnaires and focus group discussions.

The research found that among the companies that have already introduced the blockchain, 53.3 percent have setup in-house blockchain technology R&D teams. Those who corporate with blockchain startups was at 30 percent; corporation with well-known large businesses was at 13.3 percent; and investing in or acquiring external blockchain startups was at 3.3 percent.

The authors of the study, Chun Yin Cheung from PwC and Kevin Feng from VeChain, wrote:

When it comes to technologies that have impact on the underlying architecture of the business model, an enterprise usually prefers to build a R&D of its own. On the one hand, in-house R&D team can facilitate system maintenance, information security and cost reduction. On the other hand, enterprises prefer to keep the underlying architecture of the business model under their control.

According to the findings, it also found that management plays a significant role in driving the technology to maturity. This accounted for 35.1 percent, followed by a lack of industry standards at 18.9 percent of the findings. Notably, 10.1 percent indicated that it was down to having no budget that was preventing them from implementing the technology.

Yet, when it comes to the application that best applies to the distributed ledger, security traceability was the most recognized at 85.70 percent.

Most respondents believe the core features of blockchain technology are tamper-resistance and distributed system. Obviously, security traceability becomes one of the fields most demonstrating the features of blockchain technology, the authors wrote.

Second and third to that were distributed data storage and identity authentication, which came in at 68.40 percent and 63.90 percent, respectively. Out of the 10 listed applications that best apply to the technology, market forecasting was last at 15.80 percent.

With the distributed ledger now being used across a wide range of industries it is showing its potential to change the way systems work. The findings show the fields were it has a promising future are logistics, government, and the medical field at 63.3 percent, 47 percent, and 44.4 percent.

With respondents mainly clients from PwC and VeChain, they received more than 130 questionnaires while two focus groups engaged over 40 respondents. Respondents were from around 20 industries, involving more than 10 functional departments.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Bitcoin Pineapple Fund

An anonymous donor who set up a philanthropic project using bitcoin for charitable causes has announced that it’s time to say goodbye.

In December 2017, the Pineapple Fund was set up by an unknown individual with the intention of giving cryptocurrency donations around the world. It has also been claimed to be among the 250 largest holders of Bitcoin in the world. Known simply as ‘Pine’, the anonymous person announced via Reddit last year that they were setting up the Pineapple Fund to donate 5,057 BTC, worth about $86 million at the time, to charitable causes.

According to the website, it states:

Pineapple Fund was an experiment in philanthropy with cryptocurrency wealth. What happens when your ‘play-money’ becomes a treasure chest, and you’re past the satiety point of money?

Now, five months later Pine has come back to say that it’s time to say farewell, as well as taking the time to thank those who have supported or made charity suggestions. In the end, and timed with the 2017 cryptocurrency price surge, the Pineapple Fund managed to raise 5,104 BTC, representing $55 million for charities.

Some of the causes the donations have funded include $2 million to Watsi, an innovative charity building technology to finance universal healthcare; $1 million to the Water Project, a charity that is providing sustainable water projects to suffering communities in Africa; $5 million to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana; and $500,000 to TreeSisters, a grassroots network of women planting over two million trees a year in the tropics, to name but a few.

In December, BitGive.org, a nonprofit organisation that solicits bitcoin donations for its charitable causes, announced it had received $500,000 from the Pineapple Fund. According to the fund’s website, it has since donated $1 million to BitGive.org.

Amazingly, in such a short space of time the fund has demonstrated the good that can come from people’s generosity. As one Reddit user said:

I really hope this sets an example. If by any chance a raise in Bitcoin value happens again to a point many of us will have a fortune, I really expect people doing exactly what the Pineapple Fund did and, who knows, maybe leave the world a better place than it was before crypto.

Interestingly, even though the fund has come to an end, Pine has said that they won’t be revealing their identity.

I’m going to remain anonymous, because the point of the Pineapple Fund is not me.

This, essentially, sums up what charitable giving means. At the end of the day people who give money to charity shouldn’t need to feel like they should be thanked. They should donate because they want to and because they want to bring about the change that will make the world a better place.

Featured image from Flickr via Kyle McDonald.

Even the Federal Reserve understands about Bitcoin’s potential now. Bitcoin could eventually become a contender to replace fiat as a means of payment as it rapidly drives out the use of cash, according to a report from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank.

Even though cash has its advantages the end of it may be near due to political reasons, reports the St. Louis Fed. This is primarily down to three reasons: it’s inefficient and more expensive than electronic means, it promotes crime and aids money laundering and tax evasion, and it hinders monetary policy.

Technological reasons also apply, such as the growth of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Consequently, the report predicts a transition from fiat to digital currencies, arguing:

In the near future, a close cash substitute will be developed that will rapidly drive out cash as a means of payment. A contender is bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency.

It adds that cryptocurrencies have drawbacks, namely high payment fees, scaling issues, and low adoption rates. Yet, these are issues that can be remedied with the use of large-scale off-chain payment networks, such as bitcoin’s lightning network.

The report from the St. Louis Fed that cash may eventually be replaced by a cryptocurrency is nothing new. Yet, it adds to the way of thinking that many people view and the eventual expectation that cash will get left behind. Another proponent who believes that cash is on the way out is venture capital investor Tim Draper, the founding partner of Draper Associates and DFJ.

He’s said that in five years no one is going to be using fiat to pay for things, as people turn to cryptocurrencies to make purchases. Taking to social media last month, Draper also projected that the price of bitcoin would be worth $250,000 by 2022. Furthermore, such is his faith in the way bitcoin is heading that he has predicted that it will be bigger than Tesla, Hotmail, and Skype combined.

In the grand scheme of things five years is a relatively short amount of time for cash to be replaced by a cryptocurrency. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see if such an outcome does actually come to fruition. Yet, for those who may not be particularly tech-savvy or feel comfortable paying with something that isn’t tangible, what does that mean for them?

It may be true that cash will see its supply dwindle – Sweden could become one of the first to eliminate it and rely solely on electronic payments – but more certainly needs to be done between now and five years if digital currencies are to be a contender for cash’s replacement.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Ripple

Ripple has announced that it is donating $29 million to popular teaching fundraising site DonorsChoose.org to help bring teachers classroom dreams come true.

DonorsChoose is a nonprofit organization that uses crowdfunding to help public school students and their teachers so that students in every community have the experiences they need for a great education.

Now, in a bid to help the educational establishment reach its goals across America, San Francisco-based Ripple has announced that it is giving students and teachers across the country their #bestschoolday. This means that the company has pledged to pay over 35,000 classroom requests on the DonorsChoose website.

Making the announcement in a YouTube video, Monica Long, senior vice president of marketing at Ripple, along with Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose, explained that this was a chance for Ripple to thank the teachers who helped them get to where they are in their careers today.

After sending an email to Chris Larsen, founder of Ripple, Best thought his request for donations would be shunned. However, according to Long, the idea behind DonorsChoose resonated with the team. As Ripple is about making payments faster, inclusive, and more accessible to people around the world, so too is DonorsChoose making education more accessible and inclusive for students.

Responding to the announcement, Best said:

“The teachers behind these projects work with more than a million students who are now going to get materials and experiences that they need to learn. I do not believe there has ever been a day when this many classroom dreams came true.”

The funding by the company, the single biggest cryptocurrency donation to a charity, was under tight wraps in the lead up to the announcement. While there have been large donations that funded every request in a state or city, this is the first time that all requests on the website have been funded by one organization.

Converting the XRP tokens into dollars, DonorsChoose will now be able to fulfil requests such as buying lab coats for science students, insect kits, new school furniture such as chairs and desks, sports equipment, musical equipment, and coding cards to get students on the path to learning about code work, to name a few.

Having reached over 27.5 million students, with nearly 1.5 million projects funded since DonorsChoose started in 2000, the organization has gone from a one-man band to a charity with offices in New York and San Francisco working at helping teachers and donors connect.

Featured image from Shutterstock.