On the historical day of Feb 20th, 2018 Venezuela launched Petro, its oil-reserve-backed crypto currency, to finance its crisis and sanctions hit country.
So there is a community (the ruling political party in this case) pushed to the margin of mainstream and they fight for their survival by the new blockchain technology.
I believe there are two ways to see this: the Sith-way and the Jedi-way.
The Sith-way: The rise of warlord financing
By this ‘Petro-event’ we have just got a step closer to the day when a third-world warlord issues a crypto-currency to finance his next military venture. (I am not suggesting that Venezuela or its ruling party or its leader is similar by any means to any warlord I am just inviting my readers to a thought experiment.)
Let’s imagine a third-world warlord’s white paper promising the profit-sharing of a diamond-mine after he had taken it over by brute military force. The ICO pitch would be like:
“…Buy my diamond-mine token so that I can buy machine guns, recruit enough children to kill the current security forces and invade the premises…”
That would be a one-of-a-kind offer, wouldn’t it?
But there is also the Jedi-way to finance a marginalized community.
Let’s imagine a Christian congregation in the same third-world region who cannot have a bank account and be financially active to build anything or to help any of its members because their faith is against the ruling religion or ruling atheism and they are banned from the banking system completely.
This congregation can also issue a token asking for funds to build a church or to help the sick and elderly in their community. And they can also attach promises to their token like the payback of funds with a modest interest based on the growth of the community or the celestial payback by their Creator.
Either way there is a new aspect to consider when we analyse or advise ICOs: the moral aspect.
Normally I analysed ICOs by the next four areas: token sales characteristics, digital footprint, community management and the ICO team. And these four approaches used to give a clear view of possible profits and the reliability of the project team. But in the case of a warlord’s ICO or the ICO of a religious organisation a new aspect, morality, should come into the picture.
So we all have to make our choice: Am I a Sith Lord or a Jedi Knight when it comes to token purchase?
Would you mind financing weapons and murder if the profits of the coin were high enough and the delivery of the issuer’s promises was secure enough?
And would you serve your God by financing a locally illegal religious group to help their survival?
In the past such moral dilemmas in the form of investment opportunities were only available for groups of financial elites and some special agencies that were designed for handling such dilemmas. But from now on any micro crypto investor could face such moral challenge.
You can say that we have been able to buy Lockheed Martin or Boeing shares for a while so the retail investors are ready to face such moral decisions. But I believe publicly traded military suppliers and a third-world warlord or church are not the same. They are not even in the same neighbourhood…
Since the ‘Petro-event’ ICOs are not about millennials and their tech start-ups anymore. From now on ICOs are about our core values and our courage to stand up for them.