The East-West ICO Divide


The saying “East is East and West is West” curiously even applies to ICOs. You might have assumed that there was a universal view of ICOs, but it isn’t so: in the West, enthusiastic support for an ICO is primarily based on the ‘ideas’ that the ICO platform brings to the blockchain party, while in the East they are much more concerned about the ICO’s ability to generate a return on investment.

The divide exists in other ways as well. For example, the Asian market took off on its own, informed by the ecosystems around bitcoin and ethereum but also distinct from them. Zhuling Chen, co-founder of Aelf, a cloud computing startup based in Singapore, attributes this to the fact that, “At the very beginning, the information coming from Asia to the US was very limited. We didn’t know what’s really going on.”


The differences between the Asian and U.S. ICO markets became more clearly visible during Blockchain Week in NYC. Brady Dale, writing for Coindesk says:

“If one common theme ran through our conversations about Asia, it was this: retail and institutional investors all want returns to realize much more quickly than investors do in the U.S., which may help explain why it has always had a vigorous ecosystem of exchanges.”

Another Asian investor explained it more succinctly: “Asians love to gamble.” Jason Fang told Coindesk:

“They don’t want long lockup periods like so many Western projects expect. Instead, they want to see tokens get released, listed and realize some of the gains that come from retail investors and market makers buying into a new coin.”

Another view, according to Ricky Li of Altonomy, one of Asia’s largest crypto funds, also pointed out that Asians want in and out quickly, and that they have a tendency “not to diversify their portfolios over time.” He also said:

“Chinese companies and their neighbors will raise funds in ether and largely maintain those positions, sometimes failing to lock in gain or riding volatility through their whole portfolio.”

A lack of software documentation in Asian languages has been another divider between East and West. But overall, it seems that the demands of ICO investors are quite different, and ICOs trying to please a global audience will need to take this into account when building their roadmap and strategy.





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