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Nearly half of 2017's cryptocurrencies have already failed

Jon Fingas
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The surging price of bitcoin (among others) in 2017 led more than a few companies to hop on the cryptocurrency bandwagon with hopes of striking it rich almost overnight. Many of their initial coin offerings seemed dodgy from the outset... and it turns out they were. Bitcoin.com has conducted a study of ICOs tracked by Tokendata, and a whopping 46 percent of the 902 crowdsale-based virtual currencies have already failed. Of these, 142 never got enough funding; another 276 have either slowly faded away or were out and out scams.

The number of casualties might be higher in practice. Another 113 ICOs have either stopped talking on social networks (a good sign interest has died) or have so few adopters that success is very unlikely. And the survivors aren't necessarily doing much better. Only a "handful" raised over $10 million, which left an uphill battle for the rest.

It doesn't take much divination to understand why many of these virtual coins fell flat. Excluding the scams, a large chunk of them were targeted at niches like dentistry, freight trucking or real estate -- they were never going to attract broad audiences. Others, meanwhile, were me-too efforts that had no real advantage over pouring money into an established format, where prices were more likely to climb.

ICOs are still popular options in 2018, but it doesn't look like the new wave will fare much better. We've already seen Kodak and other companies start cryptocurrencies for little more than a momentary stock boost. Pair that with falling prices and many ICOs face daunting prospects.

Bitcoin.com, Tokendata