On Tuesday, Ethereum saw the lowest price it had experienced in 18 months, bringing it down to $135 at 10:00am EST. Based on reports from The Block, it does not look like anyone knows why so many investors are selling off their tokens. However, the news website suggests that the SEC’s new aggression towards implementing enforcement action is an “underlying catalyst.”
Zachary Coburn, the founder of EtherDelta, was charged by the SEC for “operating an unregistered national securities exchange that allowed trading of tokens that are securities under federal securities laws” two weeks ago, according to the block. Then, four days ago, the SEC issued a press release that indicated that both Airfox and Paragon had settled their charges for the capital gained through their ICOs.
As SEC enforces their rules more heavily on ICOs, investors and enthusiasts of the crypto space should expect that this is just the tip of the ongoing iceberg. In the case of Airfox and Paragon, the two firms had to pay finds and register securities as their tokens, along with returning their funds. Many ICOs use ETH for their tokens, which seemed to be the case in this lawsuit. Airfox added that the companies had to reimburse their contributors for the USD value of what they purchased, even including the interest accrued.
Of the companies that hosted an ICO, there are still many that have kept the ETH they raised in a separate treasury. However, these treasuries will ultimately have to be liquidated, if the SEC puts on the same pressure as they did with Airfox and Paragon, the ETH and BTC would have to be sold off to refund their investors. However, it is possible that much of the market is already expecting this, considering how many platforms are liquidating.
Based on the research offered by The Block, the total of ETH in ICO treasuries is about 3.57 million ETH, which accounts for about 3.5% of the total number of ETH in the global supply. Back in April, the treasuries held almost 1 million more ETH than that, which suggests that 23% has been liquidated since those numbers were recorded. The ICO treasuries at that time held $1.76 billion in fiat currency, though now it has dwindled down to $475 million.
Analysts expected the selloff to be substantial, but it has not been quite as severe, even with the ETH price drop. Over the last few months, aggressive sellers like Status, district0x, and Tierion have accounted for 55,000 ETH of the 172,000 ETH that was liquidated. However, after The Block chose to track 57 companies in the market, they discovered that half of them did not make any changes to the ETH in their treasuries.
ICO projects have already liquidated or moved about 64% of what they originally raised, which means that the assumption that every ICO is liquidating a bit dramatic. It would be an educated assumption that the projects have enough cash reserved that cryptocurrency does not need to be sold off yet. However, since ETH is still plummeting downward, it looks like many projects are standing strong until it is absolutely necessary to sell.
According to The Block,
“Since the majority of projects that held ICOs aren’t generating any meaningful revenue yet, they will eventually be forced to begin selling ETH to cover operating expenses. When that selling happens, or when the SEC forces projects to liquidate their treasuries, Ethereum is likely to experience true capitulation.”