Fintech start-ups have raised a record $1.27 billion by selling bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies through initial coin offerings (ICOs), the initial public offerings (IPOs) of the digital world, a report has found.
Funds raised by ICOs far outstripped venture capital investment in start-up companies, according to the report by equity and research firm Autonomous. It found that the level of ICO investment rose from $26 million in 2014 to the enormous sum of $1.27 billion in the first half of 2017.
"The crypto economy is growing outside of traditional venues – this has happened before with video game gold farming and virtual economies, but not on such a global scale," Autonomous said in the report.
"The culture of the early internet is directly connected to ICOs and investor personalities in the ecosystem."
The research firm said that real-world adoption of ICOs, which it called "token launches", was comparable to virtual currencies in video games, "where in-game gold has value only for internal use by players."