Cryptocurrency bonanza raises questions for investors and regulators

At a recent conference on blockchain technology in London, a panel discussion about initial coin offerings (ICOs) was drawing to a close. As the audience began to digest what they had heard about the flood of money making its way to companies that were creating and selling their own cryptocurrencies or digital tokens to fund projects, a woman raised her hand.

She refused to give her name, but claimed to have worked in investment banking during the dotcom bubble. “I remember feeling quite nauseous bringing some of those companies to market,” she said. “This is a thousand times worse. I think people here are wilfully blind about what’s going to happen.”

On Thursday, Baroness Mone and her businessman boyfriend Doug Barrowman launched the public ICO of their own digital token. The move allows anyone with $100 (£71.62) to join investors who secured access to an earlier discounted “pre-sale” by committing $100,000 or more.
Mone, who made her name as the entrepreneur behind bra brand Ultimo, hopes to raise $75m from the process before inviting holders of “Equi Coin” tokens to back early-stage companies through an online platform that provides access to venture capital-style investments.
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