Risks and Benefits of Initial Coin Offerings: Evidence from Impak Finance, a Regulated ICO
33 Pages Posted: 29 May 2020
Date Written: May 1, 2020
This study provides a better understanding of the business and legal environment surrounding Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). Key stakeholders involved are the firms launching ICOs, the investors and the financial regulators. We conducted a case study of a firm that launched an ICO, impak Finance, the first regulated ICO in Canada. Based on the interviews of key respondents and documentation analyses, we developed a framework identifying the main risks and benefits for firms to perform an ICO and differentiating between unregulated and regulated ICOs.
Our study makes a number of research and practical contributions. First, we document the case of the first legal ICO in Canada through the examination of documents and interviews with key stakeholders. The interviews conducted provided access to privileged insider information. Second, very few studies have been conducted on the economic impact of disruptive technologies, such as blockchains, as an important investment financing innovation vehicle. ICOs using blockchains is disruptive not only from a technology standpoint but also from a financial standpoint. While the possible applications of blockchains are unknown to us to date, we do know that blockchains have the potential to challenge the traditional financial system monitored by financial regulators. Lastly, the study identifies, through a framework, the risks and benefits of performing an ICO in an unregulated versus a regulated context, which has practical implications for firms operating in the FinTech space. We trust that this framework will be useful for future research, for firms operating in the crypto space and for financial regulators.
Keywords: Initial Coin Offering; Blockchain; FinTech; Impak Finance
JEL Classification: M13; M4; M48
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation