UpFront and Others Mulling ICOs

by Peter Moreira | Aug 08, 2017

The Dalhousie business students said they weren’t seeking equity investment for the company, which uses blockchain to stop scalpers from jacking up ticket prices. They plan to finance it through an Initial Coin Offering in the autumn.ICOs have been in the news recently but it was the first time I’d heard of an Atlantic Canadian company proposing one. To understand what it means, we’ll have to explain the whole craze of blockchain, cryptocurrencies and the evolving regulatory environment surrounding ICOs.

Blockchain is the technology that allows the issue of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies — digital currencies that are “mined” over time as specialists unlock the encryption on this electronic money. Blockchain is a series of ledgers in which cryptocurrency transactions can be recorded.

Because these ledgers are permanent and open, startups are finding a range of new uses for blockchain, such as state-of-the-art identity systems.

UpFront, for example, plans to use blockchain in a ticket management system for concerts. Daly and Gardiner want to use blockchain to create an identity for each concertgoer, and the ticket would be added to a digital wallet attached to that identity.

“Since the ticket can only exist on our platform, the promoter could place a price ceiling on the ticket,” said Daly. Adios price-gouging by scalpers. Over time, UpFront would provide promoters invaluable data about their audience.

To finance the development of the system, the two Dal students are considering an ICO — a financing technique that blockchain-based companies around the world have used to raise more than $1 billion already in 2017. An ICO, or token sale, is a crowdfunding campaign in which people subscribe to cryptocurrency that a company will produce using its blockchain over time. Subscribers pay now for the right to own the cryptocurrency when it is mined. Some companies will mine their own currency, or tokens, which would include features that enhance the interaction between the company and its clients.

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