What will be the Spotify of crypto? #ripico #sto #ntut

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The cryptocurrency market just experienced a small break-out and it almost seems like we all are profiting again. However, it has become virtually impossible for any ICO to (1) attract a decent amount of funding, (2) maintain token price within reasonable value, (3) return the money to the investors, (4) produce any of the blockchain ecosystems promised or (5) make any money at all.

“I therefore declare ICO as dead and buried forever. But it is not the end.”

A new wave is coming. STO (Security Token Offering) is taking the lead in being the most appealing alternative way of fundraising for 2019. In a nutshell is the ability to issue tokens backed by real value. Too many “pitchers” in 2017 and 2018, promised an ICO token that would have appreciated in value for the mere reason that it was scarce (as in limited issuance). Wrong. A million times wrong. Because unlimited ICO multiplied by limited tokens, still makes unlimited token supply as a result, as long as the herd kept producing tokens on ERC20 and list them on an exchange.

I foresee the renaissance being based on 2 ecosystems and 2 tokens.


The first ecosystem will be common to all projects and all trades: a pure financial ecosystem fuelled by Security Tokens (ST). No hidden agenda. Purely for the purpose of making money. Too many times, from the stage of yet another blockchain conference, the CEO of the next big wannabe ICO has promised an ecosystem with a real utility use case. Too bad that token buyers only bought the stinky tokens hoping to go to the moon with their Lamborghini, in the same fake fashioned way Tesla pretended to send one of their cars in outer space. This Financial Ecosystem is only designed to make money.


The second ecosystem depends on the trade. It could be a Lifestyle Ecosystem for a gaming company (one of those who doesn’t have a Problem/Solution slide, but makes ways more money that those who want to “save the world with blockchain technology”). A project aiming to tokenize real estate could, for instance, create an Education Ecosystem, sharing tips and secrets of the trade. A company aiming to tokenize a portfolio of wealth management could create a Financial Networking Ecosystem. The options for naming here are endless. Whatever is the name assigned to this ecosystem, there will be a Non-Tradable Utility Token (NTUT) that can never ever in its lifetime be exchanged for fiat currency or any other crypto/token/coin or whatever. So it is basically useless unless you use it in the ecosystem.

For example, if you are running a gambling project, for every time your user wins/loses more than a certain amount of dollars on your platform, you give them a load of NTUTs, which can only be exchanged to customize the look of the chips, but never to be exchanged for chips. Or, if you are tokenizing real estate, you could use NTUT to access premium content in an educational directory. And if your ecosystem does not have a way to reward users with value, then it would be great to connect with third-party partners able to do so. For example, a telco could offer 1Gb of data as a way to connect with new potential clients.

I believe that the industry is not dead. Only the format. The death of vinyl discs and music cassettes did not kill the music industry, but rather introduced new ways of playing songs with CDs, DVDs, then MP3 and currently Spotify. What will be the Spotify equivalent in this industry? Nobody knows yet.

Stefano Virgilli, CEO at VOX.sg


How blockchain could disrupt passports and immigration

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The oldest piece of technology that everyone carries around for a lifetime is indeed the Passport. There is nothing in my opinion more obsolete than a piece of paper with stamps on it meant to track the places that we have visited. In my wildest guess, I would not be surprised if in 10 years from now we could be actually laughing at the idea of carrying around our passport country by country.

Blockchain could once again be the solution. It is not a mystery that I believe in blockchain being the greatest innovation opportunity of our times. The concept is so simple and yet so misunderstood by the most, that occasionally I catch myself commenting:

“People do not need to understand how blockchain works, they just need to use it.”

And for as radical it might sound, it is actually quite acceptable in pretty much any other aspect of our life.

Less than 1% of the world population knows how to program an app for a smartphone, and yet such innovation has taken the world by storm. In extreme terms, everybody has one or more cell phones in their pockets, and yet nobody knows how it works at its core. The same goes for computers of course. And by larger definition, let us think for a moment about the stock market or insurance policies. Do we really know what a hedge fund is? Do we totally be 100% confident about understanding every single clause of our insurance? Even further? Do we need to be able to cable or plumb our house before we move in? Of course, some people do, but for an innovation to succeed on a large scale, adoption is far more important than understanding.

Blockchain has been seen fully implemented over the past nine years almost exclusively with regards to cryptocurrency, and because of the word “crypto”, it ended up sounding scary ever since day one. However, the potential implementation of blockchain in other parts of our life makes it so promising that it is hardly imaginable how could it fail.

Given the idea of a shared ledger, blockchain will in future allow health records to be tracked globally for everyone. So if John Smith has a car accident while on holiday in Thailand, the doctors would immediately be able to track any allergy to medication even when the patient is unconscious. In our super modern society and with all the most advanced technologies that we hear about, isn’t it so primitive that doctors need to ask their patients whether or not they have any medication allergy? Blockchain could answer the question for everyone at any point in time.

Back to the main topic of passports, if we look at the issue from square one, we understand that the only reason why a country would ask any visitor for passport identification is to track entry and exit to avoid overstay. In other words, we need to track date one as entry and date two as the exit. There are also some small variables of course, such as visa extensions, reasons for visiting etcetera, but let us keep it simple for a start.

A country would not want to have overstay of foreign citizens that are inclined to crime and create harm to society. This can also be prevented by blockchain. In simple terms, a country’s custom wants to check whether a visitor has any criminal records in any other country. This is virtually impossible with paper passports, despite the deeply integrated international systems, but if we were to adopt blockchain as the main mean of transferring data fully, we could be able to find all the answers in a second. In fact, all criminal behaviors and arrests could be tracked by local police officers and validated block by block by other police authorities or simple citizens.

I imagine the blockchain requiring a parallel internet to run the profile of every single person in the world, that at will can disclose which relevant part of their lives can be exposed. On Facebook, we can all be happy, honest and successful, but on the blockchain, nobody could lie.

For example, citizens could publish in the public ledger their income statements and make it accessible on demand to the requesting institutions. Banks could clear the person’s credit in a snap while embassies could cross-examine the account balance without asking the visitor to present a bank statement. Everything could be transparent at will, and most importantly fast and secure.

I imagine a world where every citizen could travel from country to country without a passport, by carrying only their footprint on the blockchain as a form of identification.

Stefano Virgilli

TEDx Speaker, Marketing Blockchain & ICO, Singapore PR

Title photo by: Himesh Kumar Behera


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STO (Security Token Offering) is a token offering that is similar to an ICO (Initial Coin Offering), but the main difference is that STOs are regulated. STOs have become so popular because over the past four years, approximately, pretty much every ICO failed to maintain at least one of the five promises that I call success criteria. 

1. Most ICOs failed to attract enough investment.

2. The majority of ICOs failed to maintain a stable price of the coin or to increase the value of the coin, and so it dropped dramatically.

3. Some of ICOs failed to return the money to the investors.

4. Many ICOs failed to be able to produce the software technology or the ecosystem that they were promising during fundraising.

5. Almost all of them eventually failed to be profitable.

If you take into consideration all the success criteria, in four years, I would bet that no ICO has ever managed to achieve the five points altogether. That is the reason why the STO hope is given a more stringent requirement in the fundraising and backing the value of the token with physical assets, shares or profits could increase the likelihood of success.


The crude reality of ICO is that basically the fundraising exercise was simply designed to sell tokens (as borderline securities) to non-qualified investors, without a license to do so. That was all that ICO was about. Basically, those startups that fail to connect with venture capitalists started looking in other directions, i.e. the community. When the community worked, it was because the value of Ethereum was growing so dramatically that it transformed ordinary citizens into millionaires. They were happy to make investments in companies when they didn’t understand exactly how they would have made money.

However, when the community failed to back most projects and when the cryptocurrency stopped growing, startups went back to venture capitals and funds, asking them to invest in their ICO or startup. That is because eventually, even until today, whoever is running an ICO still wants to have an investor, a large investor precisely, to come in and gobble up as many tokens as possible.


Startups have always been looking for investors for the purpose of growing and developing business. And those that are currently planning to launch an STO understand that ICO is finished, despite the fact that going with STO will require much more regulation. But in terms of costs, it will probably be similar to ICO. Because running an ICO is very expensive from a marketing perspective, while running an STO could be quite expensive from a regulatory perspective, the cost might be comparable in the end.

For those who are doing an STO, it is crucial to take a close look at the current and future regulations. Startuppers should be guided by professional lawyers, accountants, and advisors. It is no longer a ‘cowboy’ type of market where anyone can launch an ICO and attract the community to invest in their projects. Nowadays, it is back to the ‘big boys’ market. So everyone will need a lawyer, a banker, tax advisors, and compliance advisors to explain to them what they need to do in order to be compliant and to stand a chance of success in fundraising through an STO.

What will happen in the future?

After all, STO sounds like the new thing to do, it might go out of fashion quite quickly, probably by March or June 2019. They will start slowing down, and then by September, it could be completely out of fashion. I would compare ICO to vinyl discs, and STO to music cassettes. After the music cassettes, there were CDs and DVDs then the MP3, then Spotify.

We don’t know yet what will come next yet. The industry is still the same, it was music then, and now, similarly, the medium that is used for fundraising has changed and will further evolve, as in the current transition between ICO and STO.

The next transition will be between STO and something else. My current prediction is that there will be fundraising with two ecosystems. One is for fundraising (a financial ecosystem) and the other one for onboarding community, like a point system, and I call it a lifestyle ecosystem, fueled by NTUTs or non-tradable utility tokens. I think this is going to be the next big trend. It is a token that can never be exchanged on an exchange for monetary value but just used as a pure utility to onboard new potential STO investors.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels