Lithuania and Estonia are considered to be an anomaly in the ICO world, these tiny Baltic countries have become the leading ICO investment hotspots
Presently, an initial coin offering (ICO) is the way to raise funds for an entrepreneurial blockchain project. According to Token Report, ICOs have raised nearly $5.95B in 2017. Despite possible new regulations and promised Google’s crypto advertisement ban, ICOs already raised nearly $3B in 2018, with no signs of this trend slowing down.
While the U.S. and China are responsible for the biggest share of ICO funds raised in total, there is an unlikely leader of funds raised per capita in the market: the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, with their combined population of $6M. Lithuania and Estonia, in particular, have quietly become the crypto haven no one saw coming. This year already Lithuanian ICOs have raised over $250M, placing the country third in the world for funds raised, while Estonian capital Tallinn belongs to the top ten cities in the world that are closing the most ICOs.
How have these small Northern European nations managed such a feat?
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- First successful Baltic ICOs launched before the ICO boom and set a great example for the entrepreneurs in the region. Although the first crypto tokens were sold as early as 2013 – with projects like ETH fundraising in 2014 – ICOs didn’t really pick up globally until 2017. When they did, the Baltic states – primed with innovative ideas and aptitude for technological knowhow – successfully launched several ICOs. Lithuania’s Monetha,a decentralized trust and reputation system for global commerce on the Ethereum blockchain, raised 95000ETH (then equivalent to $37M) in 18 minutes. Edgeless from Lithuania was another ICO that launched early in the game and became the most successful Ethereum-based gambling ICO at the time.
- Startup innovation crossed over to blockchain industry. Startups in the Baltics receive worldwide praise for being trendsetters and innovators. Unsurprisingly, there certainly were a lot of ‘firsts’ that the Baltic ICOs introduced to the blockchain industry. BitDegree raised $22.5M to establish world’s first blockchain-based free education platform with token scholarships and talent networking. CarVertical raised $20M as the first decentralized car history registry built on blockchain and just A new ICO, Dragonglass, is the world’s first in-game cryptocurrency mining project. The project was launched with an already working app that allows the general public to mine cryptocurrency tokens while playing a mobile game. Having received a lot of praise from gaming industry and blockchain experts for its unique concept and technology, Dragonglass merges mobile gaming and blockchain to introduce cryptocurrency mining to everyone.
- Blockchain industry received support from the Baltic states themselves. Last November Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia pledged official support for blockchain innovation. Some noteworthy examples include projects like the new Blockchain Center in Vilnius, Lithuania, which became the first international center in Europe for education and development of decentralized technologies. In addition, The Bank of Lithuania has issued a call for proposals for software developers interested in contributing to the development of LBChain, a regulatory sandbox platform for blockchain projects. Meanwhile Estonia is working on the national cryptocurrency – EstCoin.
- Cooperative environment promises project longevity. Several ICOs in the Baltics have fostered a new cooperation culture, creating innovative ecosystems that use blockchain technology to disrupt existing industry standards. For example, WePower has teamed up with various energy industry actors and producers in Estonia to design a full-cycle tokenized green energy platform, from industrial production to consumer consumption. It functions on blockchain green energy trading platform and has raised $40M to become the largest ICO in the energy sector. Another example – Lympo incorporated in Estonia – raised $11.5M and allows users to track their fitness and mindfulness activities and goals through smartphones and wearables. Users are motivated with token rewards for meeting milestones, which they can redeem on health products and services.
So what does the future hold for the ICOs in the Baltics?
Both Lithuania and Estonia show no signs of slowing in ICO innovations. The blockchain startup culture in these small dynamic economies is supported by the collaborative energy between ICOs and supportive governments. This is a sign that the Baltic region needs to be closely watched by everyone following the blockchain innovation and involved in cryptocurrency investment.