Token Issuance (ICO) Best Practices and Resources

The information in this article is for informational purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or investing advice or instruction. It is a collection of other articles and sources. 


Should you consider the token model?

ICO-Summit 2017–10- ICO best practice
How to Raise Money on a Blockchain with a Token
Against Tokens: Part II
All of the World’s Money and Markets in One Visualization
Mapping the blockchain project ecosystem


  • Product
     — Is your product solving real issues?
     — Is your product different?
     — Do you have a beta version?
     — Are tokens used as an incentive system or as a utility?
  • Team
     — Does the team consist of a mix of business, technologist and financial members?
     — Does the team own between 10–50% of the token?
     — Can the team execute?
  • Board of Advisors
     — Does your advisor believe in your project?
     — Is he or she known in the industry?
  • Governance
     — Where is your business incorporated?

Best Practices for Token Sales
Discussing Cryptotoken Best Practices
What I Look for as an ICO Advisor


Does your whitepaper contain the following?
 — Investor Summary
 — Team
 — Product
 — Audience
 — Market
 — Risk Factors
 — Warranties
 — Metrics
 — Budget
 — Reporting
 — Compliance Requirements
 — Governance
 — Blockchain History (if applicable)

White Paper Examples:
 — Monetha
 — Filecoin
 — Aeternity

How to structure an ICO white paper
How to write a cryptocurrency white paper
How to Develop White Paper for ICO: Do’s and Don’ts
How to Write a Good White Paper for ICO: Tips and Examples
Best Practices in Transparency and Reporting for Cryptocurrency Crowdsales
ICO Whitepaper
Best Practices in Structuring Initial Coin Offerings


Determine the following:
 — Purpose of the token
 — Functionality or utility of the token
 — Distribution and allocation of the token
 — Budget forecast for five (5) years
— Spend distribution: Development & operations, legal & compliance, marketing and community outreach
 — Lockup period for company and insiders
 — Cap, if any
 — Pre-registration, if any
 — Time period
 — Geo-fencing, if any
 — Types of investors (individual or institutional investors)

 — Type of blockchain (Komodo, Ethereum, NEM, etc)

Would your token pass the CrapCoin Checklist?

The ICO Handbook
The Pre-ICO Checklist, with William Mougayar and Ty Danco
Guide to launching an ICO — Suggestions
Guide to launching an Initial Coin Offering (ICO)
10 keys for evaluating Initial Coin Offering (ICO) investments
How to Invest in ICOs
Framework for Securities Regulation of Cryptocurrencies


The following is a list of smart contract and token issuance platforms. The most popular platform is Ethereum ERC20 Tokens.

Ethereum ERC20 Tokens
 — Komodo Assetchains

 — Counterparty

 — OpenZeppelin

 — NEO

 — Waves


 — COMSA platform for Token Sale & Exchange Listing

ICO smart contracts Documentation
Analyzing Token Sale Models
Many similarities with official Ethereum website — which one to choose?COMSA: The ICO solution for centralized businesses to adopt blockchain technologies
How To Create Token and Initial Coin Offering Contracts Using Truffle + OpenZeppelin
Your Guide To Running An Initial Coin Offering, For Better Or Worse
Using Stellar for ICOs


Here are a few known attacks:

— Attacker execute malicious code within a transaction
 — Order of transactions is manipulated
 — Timestamp of a block is manipulated
 — Gas limit in a block occurs because you are paying out to everyone at once

Here are a few things you could do:

— Upgrade broken contracts
 — Pause the functionality of a contract
 — Delay an action of a contract

Ethereum Smart Contract Security Best Practices
Known Attacks
Security Tools
Software Engineering Techniques


If you are issuing an utility token, promote the token based on its functionality. Consider the following:

— Your main token buyers may be underwriters, investors, traders and organic users and consumers of your product
 — Translate your content in different languages
 — Attend and speak at Conferences for 4–6 months in North America, Asia and Europe
 — Build community
 — Create landing page for the token issuance. Examples include Filecoin, district0x and 0x protocol
 — Make ICO website
 — Draft an explainer video
 — Update Github repository
 — Ensure a flawless User Experience
 — Place your event on Exchange Listing Assistance
 — Consider bounty campaigns
— Set up social media including Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube
 — Send out a newsletter
 — Be on BitcoinTalk and Reddit
 — Write a blog
 — Communicate via Slack
— Pay for advertising
 — Be mindful of privacy notices in the EU and UK including direct marketing best practices.
— Hire a PR Firm
- Press
- Interviews
- Events
- Podcasts

Anatomy of ICO For Blockchain Investors and Entrepreneurs
Your Guide To Running An Initial Coin Offering, For Better Or Worse
Guide to launching an Initial Coin Offering (ICO)
The ICO Handbook
Civic Token Sale the new ICO Best Practice
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs): What They Are and How to Market Them
ICO — Initial Coin Offering Marketing


Is your token a security or utility?

Lawyers will help you determine using the Howey Test. According to the Howey Test, a transaction is an “investment contract” or a security if all the four (4) elements are met:
 — Money is vested
 — In a common enterprise or company
—The investor expects profits from the investment
 — The profit comes from the efforts of others other than the investor

According to the SEC, US Securities Law apply despite the following:
 — Corporate form of the issuing entity
 — Jurisdiction in which the entity is domiciled
 — Whether you accept only crytocurrencies or cash

Examples of securities include the following:
 — Ownership interest in a legal entity
 — Equity interest
 — Shares of profits and/or losses

Token functionality includes the following:
 — A right
 — A reward
 — An ownership
 — A toll
 — Currency
 — Earnings

What is the Howey Test?
Tokens Can Be Securities? Even ICO Advisors Agree with the SEC
Forbes magazine quotes Lee Schneider on the Howey Test and Blockchain Tokens
Safe ICO Practices (SIP)
Tokenomics — A Business Guide to Token Usage, Utility and Value
A Securities Law Framework for Blockchain Tokens
Appcoin Law: ICOs the Right Way
ICO Offering a New Paradigm
Food for Thought: SEC Turns Up the Heat on Utility Token Sales
SEC Statement on Cryptocurrencies and ICOs
Recent SEC Enforcement Actions and Public Statement in the Blockchain Space
LabCFTC Releases Primer on Virtual Currencies without Broadly Addressing Blockchain Tokens
Video: Blockchaingers Legal Deep Dive: Keynote Address by Lee Schneider at Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets
Debevoise update on the SEC’s DAO Tokens report
Debevoise update on pre-functional tokens
Zug Crypto Valley event and video (1 of 18)
Cardozo Tech Talks panel discussion, “Structuring Legally Compliant Token Sales” featuring Lilya Tessler


Would you structure your ICO as a SAFT?

According to the SAFT Whitepaper,
 — Already-functional utility tokens most likely cannot pass the Howey Test and be characterized as a security because they rarely satisfy the “expectation of profits” and “from the efforts of others” elements of the test.
 — Pre-functional utility tokens most likely can pass the Howey Test because the “efforts of others” element is likely satisified when utility tokens are sold before launch and actual utility.

The SAFT Whitepaper examines the SEC’s position, Federal Money Services Laws, Federal Tax Laws and Policy Concerns with the Direct Token Presale Model.

According to the SAFT Framework, the SAFT itself is most likely a security. It works for utility tokens, not security tokens; and it provides investors with the rights to fully functional utility tokens. The tokens are delivered once the product launches and the tokens are fully functional.

An example of the SAFT transaction is also included in the SAFT Whitepaper:

“Step 1: Developers publish their whitepaper, incorporate a Delaware corporation called Developers Inc., and secure commitments from accredited investors.

Step 2: Developers enter into a SAFT with the accredited investors relying on the exemption set forth in Rule 506(c)[69] of Regulation D of the Securities Act, and the accredited investors transfer funds in the amount of $15 million to Developers Inc. The SAFT offers investors a discount on the final token sale and is a security, so the developers file a Form D with the SEC disclosing the sale.

Step 3: Developers Inc. uses the proceeds to develop the network into a product that provides genuine utility to its users.

Step 4: Developers Inc. launches the network and delivers the tokens to the investors. The investors (and potentially Developers Inc.) begin sales of the token to the public, either directly or through exchanges.”

Benefits of the SAFT Framework include the following:
 — Accredited investors are given a better token compliance platform, which means more adoption
 — Such framework provides more clarity for token issuance companies
 — Access and participation from US audience without complete exclusion

The SAFT Project
The SAFT Project: Toward a Compliant Token Sale Framework
SAFT Arrives: ‘Simple’ Investor Agreement Aims to Remove ICO Complexities
ICOs and the SAFT — Why, What, and How
CoinList & the SAFT: The Imperative of Blockchain Token Compliance
Venture capital has a new way of cashing in on blockchain bonanza — here’s what you need to know about SAFTs
Thoughts on the SAFT
SAFT Project criticism (includes link to SAFT project documents)


What are your tax options? Here a few best practices:

— Keep in mind how token issuance is taxed. Income from the token issuance is considered operating income.
 — Consider place of incorporation. For example, corporate income tax is approximately 14% in Zug, Switzerland.
 — Plan the timing of your token issuance. The earlier you conduct token issuance, the longer you will have to spend them in the first critical year before having to pay taxes.
 — Diversify your crytocurrencies.

The ICO Handbook
Best Practices for ICO Accounting and Token Management


Are you in compliance with KYC and AML?

— Know Your Customer (KYC): Verify your investor’s identity
 — Anti Money Laundering (AML): Do you have a red flags checklist?
 — Is your investor on the denied person list or embargoed country list?
 — Is your investor located in a country that bans ICO?

The 3 Most Important Things When Launching an ICO
Considering an ICO? Consider AML/KYC Compliance
English version of the Chinese announcement of the ICO ban


Here are a few best practices after the token issuance:

— Convert cryptocurrency into fiat in order to have runway for at least two years
— Keep some of your crytocurrency
 — Update your token holders regularly
 — Recruit new advisors if appropriate to achieve product market fit

The Post-ICO Checklist: Replace Your Advisors


Smith + Crown
 — BitcoinTalk Alt Announcement
 — Cyber.Fund
 — ICO Calendar 
 — Cryptocurrency Market Capitalization



Please consult your professional financial, investment, and tax advisers before making any investment or launching an initial coin offering (“ICO”). does not provide investment or financial advice and does not endorse or recommend investment in any ICOs advertised on this site.