The Emerging ICO Landscape - Some Financial and Regulatory Standpoints

25 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2018 Last revised: 5 Mar 2018

See all articles by Marc Pilkington

Marc Pilkington

Université Bourgogne Franche Comté

Date Written: February 8, 2018


In this article, we examine the emergent global ICO landscape through financial and regulatory lenses. In a first part, we provide the conceptual definitions, and trace back the recent emergence of this new way of financing start-ups through cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology and ICOs. We insist on the year 2017 marked by a spectacular boom in ICOs. We also provide a comparative and critical comparison with the more traditional venture capital financing strategy, and show its limitations and associated risks for blockchain-related ventures. In a second part, we adopt the regulatory standpoint, by examining the dangerous relationship between ICOs and money laundering activities, and by surveying some recent regulatory initiatives in a selected number of proactive countries. Finally, we conclude by pointing out the transformative potential of ICOs not only for the financing of blockchain start-ups, but also for the global financial landscape.

Keywords: ICO, blockchain technology, startup financing, venture capital, regulation

Suggested Citation

Pilkington, Marc, The Emerging ICO Landscape - Some Financial and Regulatory Standpoints (February 8, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Marc Pilkington (Contact Author)

Université Bourgogne Franche Comté ( email )

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