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Initial Coin Offerings: Financial Innovation or Scam

Hillman, Henry


Henry Hillman
Associate Lecturer - FBL - LAW - ULAW0001


In light of the development of cryptocurrencies and their growth in popularity with investors, a new funding model has emerged in the form of the Initial Coin Offering (ICO). Taking the place of an Initial Product Offering (IPO) an ICO allows investors to purchase newly created ‘coins’ from a business, rather than the traditional method of purchasing shares. Computer based crime is prevalent worldwide in the modern age, and this investment vehicle appears to provide yet more options for criminals seeking to dupe individuals out of their money. The growth of ICOs raises a number of questions; what are the rights of the investors? Are the coins redeemable? What is the attraction for the investors? Most importantly, how is the sector regulated? This paper will identify and analyse ICOs, considering them from 4 perspectives; the businesses offering the coins, the investors, the regulators (in this case the Financial Conduct Authority), and the potential criminal. Recommendations will be made on how market participants and regulators should react to ICOs. The paper will draw conclusions on the integrity of ICOs, whether they are a financial innovation or pyramid schemes that have been taken to a new dimension.


Hillman, H. (2019, June). Initial Coin Offerings: Financial Innovation or Scam. Paper presented at FinTech, AI and the Law conference, Liverpool John Moores University

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name FinTech, AI and the Law conference
Conference Location Liverpool John Moores University
Start Date Jun 20, 2019
End Date Jun 20, 2019
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2019
Publicly Available Date Nov 13, 2019
Public URL