Legal Challenges of Initial Coin Offerings (ICO)

Revue Trimestrielle de Droit Financier (RTDF), n° 3, 2017, pp. 54-65

12 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2017 Last revised: 19 Dec 2017

See all articles by Iris M. Barsan

Iris M. Barsan

University Paris-Est Créteil (UPEC)

Date Written: November 2, 2017


Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) – a term intentionally mirroring Initial Public Offerings (IPO) – seem to be the new hype of the virtual currency community leading to an all-time high of the bitcoin of almost 5,000$ this year1. There is indeed a frenzy developing around ICOs reaching a record high of $1.7 billion in 20172 sparking an increasing interest from regulators on the American and Asian continents. Thus, ICOs have become a venture capital-raising tool for start-ups developing projects and applications on the blockchain and trying to escape the constraints of regulation.

Regulation however seems to chatch up with ICOs. This paper analyzes ICOs from a legal perspective with a particular focus on European and French law.

Keywords: ICO, Initial Coin offering, Blockchain, Bitcoin, Ether, Ethereum, The DAO, tokens, virtual currencies

JEL Classification: K22, K33

Suggested Citation

Barsan, Iris M., Legal Challenges of Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) (November 2, 2017). Revue Trimestrielle de Droit Financier (RTDF), n° 3, 2017, pp. 54-65, Available at SSRN:

Iris M. Barsan (Contact Author)

University Paris-Est Créteil (UPEC) ( email )

61 avenue du General de Gaulle
Creteil cedex, 94010

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