BlockchainWeek The hype around blockchain is just as frustrating for people trying to legitimise the technology as it is for those watching from the sidelines – but behind the fluff, its proponents argue there’s real potential. With Bitcoin prices dominating the news and every Tom, Dick and Harry jumping on the blockchain bandwagon, most people are getting sick of the distributed ledger technology.

And speakers at last week’s London BlockchainWeek conference certainly did their fair share of pearl-clutching about the tech’s breathless publicity. (Although such messages were arguably undermined by the wealth of “fund my company’s ICO” pitches spread across the event, and the Bitcoin fanbois cheering every mention of rising share prices.) Panellists in debates across the two days condemned scam initial coin offerings, where firms offer nothing but a nice idea, and came down hard on a situation that they said had led to too much money being thrown at immature businesses.

But they also tried to temper the gosh-isn’t-all-the-hype-terrible, arguing that the dotcom bubble faced a similar situation and still pushed out a few successful companies. Some maintained that the “bad players” would be weeded out over time, leaving the market open for the genuine companies.

Not everyone agreed, though, expressing concern about the ICO funding model, which sees companies raise money by selling cryptocurrency and digital tokens, ostensibly to develop a platform to support them. However, investors described being swamped by 30 to 40 white paper pitches a day – so many they couldn’t hope to properly consider them – and others warned that increasing numbers of ICOs would saturate the market and spread cash too thinly.

But a broader concern was the intangibility of what these firms are offering. “I’m uncomfortable with ICOs at the minute,” said William Piquard, head of strategy at Hong Kong-based token exchange Gatecoin Limited. Read more from…

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