(Yicai Global) Sept. 8 -- Platforms have been busy buying tokens back from investors after Chinese regulators prohibited initial coin offerings (ICOs). Some opportunists scooped up digital assets that survived the ban at a discount in the wake of the policy announcement.
"At around 3.00 in the afternoon on September 4, we were caught off guard by a message spreading via WeChat Moments ( a feature whereby users update their friends with photos, captions or info that is then disseminated within their networks) that all the tokens we had just released had to be drawn back, and we had no idea at all how to refund investors," said Wang Lei, a programmer at a blockchain startup.
"Since that notification was released three days ago, we actually haven't returned much to investors, for we have to handle so many investors, including those directly engaging in ICOs, those trading on the secondary market, as well as some private placement investors," he said. "Block confirmations take time. Even with another ten days, I might not be able to finish."
An ICO is a form of unauthorized public financing that may involve illegal fundraising, financial scams, pyramid schemes or the illicit offering of coins, token money or securities, the People's Bank of China said in a statement jointly issued with six other national ministries and commissions on Monday. All coin offerings must be stopped immediately after the promulgation of the statement, the authorities said. All ICO platforms and projects must return ICO proceeds, they said.
Many platforms have said that they will repurchase coins in line with regulations and halt ICO services, but some have not. Buying in was easier than getting a refund is proving to be, and progress is not going off without a hitch, investors said.
"The refund process has two parts, namely the refund for investors directly engaging in ICOs, and the refund for investors trading ICO tokens on secondary markets," said the co-founder of a blockchain startup. Investors who directly engaged in an ICO can get a refund through ICO platforms, and this part is easier to handle, he said.
"The refunds for ICO [coins] on secondary markets is rather troublesome," he said.
"As it has been a while since the financing for some projects ended, some of the pooled funds have been put into the operation of projects, and we really have no idea about how to return all of them to investors at one time." He said that he hopes regulators will give additional information about how to implement the buyback.
Wang said the only thing that has made him happy in the past three days is that the prices of cryptocurrencies that are still available for trading, such as bitcoin and Ethereum, dropped sharply on the news that ICOs are illegal. Wang bought in on the dip on Tuesday.
"My intuition told me that only ICOs will be prohibited this time rather than bitcoin," Wang told Yicai Global. "Even though bitcoin trading platforms might be next, the price of bitcoin will still soar during this period. So, I invested all my overtime pay from recent days." The price of bitcoin has rebounded 30 percent from the low it hit on the day Wang made his purchase.
The market suffered heavy losses after the government forbade ICOs on Monday, but the price of Bitcoin has been rebounding since Tuesday evening. Bitcoins fetched more than USD4,650 (CNY30,000) on Japan's bitFlyer on Wednesday and more than CNY29,000 on Bitfinex and Coinbase.