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Meme coins add 2017 ICO-style 'utility' to offerings – Protos

Google queries for meme coins have quintupled in the last 30 days with some leading tokens rallying millions of percentage points. At today’s heights, some are calling for the bubble to pop.

This month — somewhat unbelievably — dozens of new meme coins have raised nine figures simply through their founders tweeting a Solana wallet address. No whitepaper, website, terms, or agreement.

Now, with the memetic bubble reaching fever pitch, hundreds of smaller coins are already trying to attract attention from the leading tokens’ breathtaking valuations by adding ‘utility.’

It is the ICO playbook all over again.

Seven-year rewind

For context, during the 2017 initial coin offering (ICO) craze, founders tried to avoid US securities regulations by focusing on the utility (rather than profit potential) of their tokens. Because US law forbids most founders from raising money on the promise of profit without SEC registration or exemption, ICOs emphasized how their tokens were merely useful for non-profit-oriented activities like computation, ticketing, gameplay, authentication, or otherwise.

These so-called utilities were mostly pretexts, serving as alibis for founders to claim they never raised money on the promise of profits. Utility became a tongue-in-cheek way to speak about tokens people bought with no intention of using any utility except the sell utility — at a hopefully higher price than the buy utility.

The SEC has explained its position

It became common knowledge that ‘utility token’ was a euphemism for an unregistered security. Eventually, three SEC officials stated the obvious.

  • “Every single ICO I ever saw was unlawful on multiple levels,” said the founder of the SEC Office of Internet Enforcement.
  • “I believe every ICO I have seen is a security,” said SEC chairman Jay Clayton.
  • “I find myself agreeing with Chairman Clayton,” said SEC chairman Gary Gensler in reference to Clayton’s above conclusion.

Over the years, the SEC has named over 100 token offerings as unregistered securities and explained its designations in public court filings.

Investigative reporter Coffeezilla calls out a meme coin scam.

Read more: Explained: Crypto assets deemed as securities by the SEC

Nevertheless, the creators of small meme coins have revived the 2017 ‘utility’ euphemism. Amid the raging bull market with most attention going to meme coin leaders like DOGE and PEPE, newer projects are bolting ‘utility’ onto their mascot-based tokens. Some have also published whitepaper-like roadmaps describing future utility.

Bloomberg sends a push notification about meme coins to users of its popular app.

Meme coin’s ‘utility’ for nurturing wealth

Take Fill The Wick (FTW), for example. It takes only two sentences into the Solana-based token’s website to begin the 2017 ICO-era utility spiel. “Hold, receive, and grow with a community focused on nurturing and distributing digital wealth.” 

The “utility” of nurturing wealth — it doesn’t get any more euphemistic than that.

The meme coin’s website administrator throws in plenty of other money-focused ‘utilities’ for good measure. “Remember, to earn, you simply hold. No sales, just consistent rewards. Holding FTW qualifies you for a steady flow of airdrops from emerging Solana tokens. The more FTW you hold, the greater your share of the airdrop spoils.”

Through the massive allocation of supply, FTW leaders will pay developers who integrate it into their apps as part of their explicit intention to transition from a meme token into a utility token.

Another example, Bonk Inu, has a whitepaper that could be easily mistaken for one from 2017. In it, its authors emphasize utility and disclaim responsibility for price speculation dozens of times.

It claims its goal is to be the top meme token for crypto gaming and DeFi. It claims utility via 119 app integrations and 33 exchange listings. Nearly all of those uses are, of course, primarily for price speculation.

There are countless additional examples.

  • Milady Meme Coin has a roadmap for future utility, including some community elements, but mostly exchange listings. Exchanges could care less about a digital newsletter or ‘gated Discord’ and make listing decisions, by and large, based on price and liquidity.
  • HarryPotterObamaSonic10Inu has a utility “Roadmap to $10bn.” It doesn’t get more explicit.
  • Volt Inu offers classic 2017-era utility elements: a crypto debit card and a video game integration.

So far, these memecoins have yet to show much promise of being truly useful. Most seem interested in riding the coattails of DOGE and PEPE. All of them are definitely trying to avoid an SEC investigation.

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