Behind the Scenes: What It Takes to Launch a New Cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrency exchanges are the gatekeepers to an onslaught of cryptocurrencies. They’re the bridges that allow investors around the world to buy, sell or trade a token, spurring interest and adoption. They spark the “due diligence” everyone talks about doing before making an investment in a project. Interested investors, who often discover new coins on exchanges, will start following roadmaps, latest developments, blogs, press, Twitter accounts, Reddit communities, chat rooms, mainnet launches, token burns, and – hopefully – real world adoption.
It’s about engagement. But with over 1,500 coins listed on WorldCoinIndex, there’s a lot of noise in the crypto space, and many ways for a newbie to get lost. So developers often turn to professional publicists to help them shape clear messaging around their project, formulating tag lines and a simple narrative that non-technical people can digest and understand.
The best publicists are effective communicators who can navigate the waters and connect projects that have sound fundamentals with news outlets and influencers that can attract an interested audience, building a community.
It takes time, energy and lots of money at every stage of development. For Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), it takes money to make money in order to get the word out about a token sale. Once the ICO is complete, the real work begins: getting listed on an exchange. The bigger the exchange, the greater the liquidity – increasing the chances for success.
Fees to get listed on an exchange vary. Speaking with Business Insider, former CIO of UBS Oliver Bussmann of Bussmann Advisory estimates that a listing can cost anywhere from “$50,000, up to $1 million,” depending on the size of the exchange. “Usually, if you do a proper ICO, with legal, accounting, et cetera, it’s half a million to a million,” said Bussmann. “Then another million for listing? It’s not a fair relationship.”
But some exchanges may charge zero, or they may charge different fees for different projects.
According to Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, “What we do is we don’t negotiate, and we don’t ask for a price. The project team, when they submit an application, they tell us what they want to pay. And you can say zero, which we will accept. And we have listed coins that have said zero.”
Certain exchanges that don’t charge listing fees may charge other fees or stipulate other requirements.
@hermis2008 There is no fee to list a coin. We charge a fee for an ICO escrow and we allow people to pay for spotlight marketing.
— Bittrex (@BittrexExchange) July 14, 2014
Exchanges can also rely on their users to vote for new coin listings. Or they can use a hybrid process.
All applications for the token listing vote will go through a preliminary review process by our listing review committee. This preliminary review weights 50% of the whole process. We will examine the applications based on the following listing criteria. If policy risks are found in your projects or your project is suspected to be shell entity, your project will not be eligible for OKEx Token Listing Vote.
Listing criteria (including but not limited to):
Qualifications & policy (project objective, legal opinion, company background)
Business model & market size (degree of association to blockchain, level of adoption and growth rate, existing users and conversion rate)
Ecosystem & distribution (nature of the project, distribution plan, lock-up agreement, applications, market capitalization and liquidity)
Core team members & investors (investment and financing background, background of team members, technical background of the executives, responsibilities of team members)
Community & marketing promotions (media coverage, referring supporters to our social channels like Twitter, campaigns and events, user participation and feedback)
Transparency (project roadmap, development status, the frequency of technical codes update, the frequency of official announcement)
There are also plenty of rumors on both sides of the aisle: exchanges asking for a cool million dollars to get listed and VC-rich companies offering exchanges a million bucks for a coveted spot.
But before a development team begins the process of applying to an exchange, which may not make a decision for months and months, it needs a marketing budget to promote the project.
The budget is often used for seven key pillars in addition to many other efforts:
- Hiring a publicist
- Attending expos and blockchain summits to get the word out
- Generating web content for media (i.e. press releases and articles)
- Running banner ads
- Developing communities on Reddit, Telegram, Twitter, Facebook or Discord
- Developing real-world communities through Meetups, colleges and universities
- Hosting hackathons and other events
In an industry that prides itself on decentralization and being able to shift power and capital away from central banks and corporate elites to everyday people, the system of creating and promoting a cryptocurrency is starting to look a lot like the launch of a Hollywood blockbuster where filmmakers need to budget for expensive domestic and global marketing campaigns, attend press junkets and spend real time on the festival circuit.
Innovative developers will always find a way. Some teams are trying to reinvent the process from the beginning.
A listing on Indiegogo for Collegicoin, which aims to help students afford tuition and textbooks, makes an appeal.
“The cost for listing on coin exchanges, continued development, and marketing, are the three big areas we need help with. One of the smaller exchanges, Cryptobridge, charges 2 Bitcoin to list on their exchange (over $12,000) while other larger exchanges like HitBTC charge 60 BTC (or about $400,000)!
It’s not easy to start a coin and the environment right now in cryptocurrency is set up so only the large businesses, who already have money, can continue to make more. This is why we need your help.”